Talkback – Letter to the Editor


The first article I always read upon receiving my copy of FLEX magazine is Nassertions, because I respect Mr. El Sonbaty and his approach to the sport of bodybuilding.

In the May 2002 issue of FLEX, Senior Editor Jim Schmaltz had some rather unflattering remarks about Nasser [see “Oh, Happy Jay”]. I wish to take issue with the following quote: “Let’s face it: The old guard is showing its age. Nasser El Sonbaty was marooned in 10th place. His attempt to bounce back from a ninth-place finish at the 2001 Mr. Olympia fell short, and his physique now sports the battle scars earned over a long and storied career.”

Mr. Schmaltz, your article, though rather amusing, lacks substance, as does the sport of bodybuilding in the past couple of years. Achievement, respect and ability seem to have taken a back seat to glitz, imagery and the promotion of sports entertainment.

Nasser El Sonbaty has done more for the sport of bodybuilding than most of the gentlemen who grace the pages of FLEX. Nasser is a champion deserving of respect because he offers dignity and principles, and he does not deserve to be referred to as battle-scarred. Nasser is a man’s man who stands upon achievements that are not created by hype and imagery.

Douglas Nehring

Alpena, MI

Jim Schmaltz’s comments were focused solely on Nasser’s Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic performance, and were accepted as such by Nasser That Nasser is indeed a champion deserving of respect is acknowledged fully by us here at FL EX as evidenced by him having his own regular column.


After years of restoring old cars into high-performance vehicles with powerful engines, beefed-up suspensions and new paint jobs, I decided to restore a 1952 Madson — that’s me. It actually took less time and money to restore myself than it did to restore a chopped 1950 Mercury lead-sled. So now I have the experiences of a 50-year-old, the body of a 25-year-old and the imagination of an 18-year-old. When I say that, people usually laugh! So you make the call. I have created the Madson Birthday Club Challenge for the FLEX staff and all its readers. I have done radio interviews and contacted athletes across the nation, but I have not found anyone who can do the challenge yet! I have been doing my Birthday Club Challenge for the last five years, and it is a great way to turn back the hands of time.

The Birthday Club Challenge came about because I wanted to develop a challenge that would be equal for all dedicated athletes’ that are the optimum weight for their height and give the younger athletes a chance to compete against us “old guys.” It is based on your age and five exercises.

1. Your age in pullups. I’m 50.

2. Your age in dips. I’m still 50.

3. Twice your age in pushups. That’s 100 for me.

4. Climb up a 16′ pegboard, twice in a row.

5. A true one-handed pullup — with each hand.

6. Do all five exercises in 25 minutes.

Don’t believe it? Check out my Web site,, and let me know if you succeed!

Mark Madson

Clinton, WI


I am a U.S. soldier stationed in Bosnia, and I find that I have plenty of time to work out. Most people around here have started to get serious about their workouts and we all — males and females alike — love your magazine. American magazines are a hot item here, especially yours, because of all the time we (16 of us) spend in the gym. All the guys here think your pictorials are better than those in Maxim. Even the females stationed here read about the fitness professionals.

I am 5’9″, 210 pounds and have been training heavy for two years. My muscle mass and strength have increased dramatically because of the tips and in-depth articles in FLEX. More and more people are asking me lately what they can do to get bigger and more cut. I can only tell them what I learned from reading your magazine. Right now, in our day room, we have six back issues and we have all read them about a hundred times.

Once in a while, I take off my headphones and listen to the buzz around the gym. I know a lot of the people who read FLEX also like WWF wrestling. We rank Triple H up there with Craig Titus, Nasser El Sonbaty and Jay Cutler. I would love to know what kind of training split he uses and what he has done to come back from his knee injury.

Sgt. Dean Michael Parks

Camp Doboj, Bosnia Glad to know that FLEX is so popular with our military You’ll want to check out our July 2002 issue with Triple Hon the cover and an in-depth interview inside.


Enclosed is a photo of my good friend Bob Delmonteque and me. I started doing chinups at age nine and, at 19, I won a trophy for best abdominals in the Teenage Mr. Michigan. I am now 43 years old and I can do 21 1/4 squats with 700 pounds. Bob Delmonteque is 80 years old and is going strong.

The key to staying young is hard training and lots of vitamins E and C to get rid of free radicals that make you age. Keep reading the best bodybuilding magazine: FLEX.

Doug Brolus

Detroit, MI


I have been reading FLEX for more than a year, and I believe it to be the best bodybuilding magazine offered. I have been so inspired by your articles that some friends and I went to the 2001 EFBB British Championships. It was an absolutely fantastic show, and I was even more pleased to see a competitor from my local gym win not only his class, but also the overall championship. The name of this man is Mark Harris. Since this win, he has not let success go to his head, and he is still happy to help anyone who asks for his advice. I have even been lucky enough to train with him occasionally and have found his help and knowledge to be invaluable. I would love to see an article on our British champion in the only muscle mag that matters: FLEX.

Via e-mail

Lyndon Manning



I am interested in the ambitions of pro bodybuilders: personal, bodybuilding and even what they would like to do if they weren’t pro bodybuilders. Could you interview a couple of IFBB pros to answer these questions? I like Reflexions, the question of the month. Maybe you could use my question there.

Adam Cyongyos

Wellington, New Zealand Great idea, Adam. It’s such a good idea that we’ve already done it! Check out Reflexions in the July 1998 issue where we pose the question, “If you weren’t a bodybuilder or fitness competitor, what careers would you most and least have wanted to pursue?” In addition, each month’s The Big Picture includes a few questions about the ambitions you mentioned.


Because I had a bum shoulder repaired in September 2001, I am just now getting around to doing the “2001: A Size Odyssey” program. All I have to say is that the phase two “Power Trip” routine [May 2001] is eating my lunch! How does anybody recuperate in time for the next workout? Wow — what an intense regimen. You were right, this plan ain’t for mooks!

Via e-mail

John Hill

Arlington, TX


I was shocked to hear of the death of another popular bodybuilder of the John Grimek era. Although George Eiferman (1948 Mr. America, 1962 IFBB Mr. Universe) didn’t live as long as some of his muscle buddies also in their prime in the 1940s, the sting of his death is lessened by the fact that he’ll join those such as Steve Reeves in that great gym in the sky — people he was on the go with to bring music, fun and entertainment to others on Muscle Beach, proving that bodybuilding isn’t all work and no play.

I don’t think Eiferman needs a monument to be remembered for the legacy he left behind. But I thank Joe Weider for his wonderful editorial, “A Vanishing Era” [Publisher’s Page, June 2002], concerning his thoughts on the loss of George Eiferman and the problems hardcore bodybuilding is up against today.

I admire Joe for telling it like it is and swearing he won’t allow a gutter mentality to infest his publications. It’s the reason Joe Weider should be publisher of the year, with FLEX the leading magazine on the market today, tomorrow and always.

James “Traps” Ayers

Attalla, AL


I for one am sick and tired of every pencil-neck wannabe Mr. Olympia crowing about how drugs are the only thing one needs to be an IFBB pro. If it is that easy, then they should go get on all the drugs they want; compete and qualify for an NPC national event at a regional qualifier; win the national event and get a pro card; qualify for the Mr. Olympia; and then waltz in on more drugs and win the whole show. Sounds like a cakewalk, right? Wrong!

Look here musclehead, Walter Mitty already had his 15 minutes of fame in the movies years ago. Accept the fact that like me and hundreds of other iron pumpers, you simply lack the talent, drive and passion to make it as a top bodybuilder. Build the best physique you can and shake the hands of the champs that do make it to the pro stage. ‘Nuff said.

Via e-mail

Howard White

Thibodaux, LA

FLEX welcomes letters from readers: Praise us, trash us, whatever, but please write. Send correspondence to Talkback, FLEX, 21100 Erwin Street, Woodland Hills CA 91367. FLEX reserves the right to edit and condense letters for publication. Please include your name, address and phone number for verification purposes.


How is Mandy Blank doing in the pro fitness rankings? I used to see articles and pictures of her all the time, but it’s as if she’s disappeared into thin air. The last I heard, she wasn’t placing too high in shows. If that’s the case, in my opinion, that’s bulls–t! She has one of the greatest bodies out there (and one of the most beautiful faces). I’ve seen her routine, so I know the girl can move. I’d like to see her place in the top five in the Fitness Olympia. Something about Mandy just seems to brighten up the pages of FLEX. If it’s not too much trouble, could you post more pictures of her?

Brian Hartline

Rainsville, AL

Don’t rule out seeing Mandy in action again onstage; however, for the past couple of years, she has put her fitness career on hold to pursue modeling, personal training and acting.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Weider Publications

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