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Thierry Pastel: Uncrowned 212 King

Thierry Pastel: Uncrowned 212 King

Thierry Pastel


The history of competitive bodybuilding remains relatively short, the first Mr. America contest held little over half a century ago. While the pursuit of muscular perfection and perfecting an ‘art of masculinity’ surely pre-dates the ancient Greeks, the narrow definitions of what we hold competitive bodybuilding now date back to shortly after the second world war. In an art/sport (or whichever adjective the bodybuilding enthusiast prefers) genetics always remain the predominant factor in who ultimately rises to the to the upper echelons. Height is the one that can be truly a proverbial motherfucker to conquer, ultimately hindering ones placing when stacked against taller competition, making a foe appear stumpier and undeveloped. Frenchmen Thierry Pastel possessed quite possibly the greatest genetics for bodybuilding to ever exist, with the exception he stood only 5’2 (In magazines, which always add a couple of inches; reality he maybe stood five foot).

When discussion of the ‘greatest arms’ and ‘greatest abs’ of all times comes up among hairy-backed, pale, obtuse male vultures *coughs* I mean fans, Thierry’s name always comes up. However, when talk of actual ‘all-time greats’ is brought to the table, his name is rarely discussed. Even an untrained eye’s viewing of this photo shows the greatness of the Black Frenchmen. Standing in the center front, he obliterates Rich Gaspari and Francis Benfatto. Benfatto appears blocky next to the ghastly-wasted perfectly proportioned Pastel, and Gaspari appears deprived in muscular from the front. In one iconic photo, he is shown beating both bodybuilding champs at their respective professions.

Thierry Pastel_Rich Gaspari_Francis Benfatto

Standing alone on stage he appeared, not only extraordinary but perhaps ‘alien’, the word flawless the only conceivable adjective to describe his perfections. The French, known for their intricate and fine cooking, Thierry possessed Sine qua non to be a bodybuilding champion (except height:) Titan genetics, perfect nutrition, and rigorous training.

In regards to training, it is rumored that Thierry subscribed to fellow French-man, Serge Nubret‘s school of philosophy and was an advocate of extremely high volume, a system that would surely kill most honkies reading this article. I’ve read different accounts of his regimen, most seem to fall into the line of a 6-hours in-the-gym schedule. Essentially, he would train a body part until failure for 45 minutes, take between 30 minutes to an hour rest (possibly eat or sleep and then train another body part). Personally, I’ve tried this approach myself (not as extreme) and hit the proverbially ‘wall’ after two weeks, getting deadly sick from such volume, meaning overtraining is a ‘reality.’

Thierry Pastel_Lee Priest

A snapshot next to fellow legend of bodybuilding, who’s also of short stature — Lee Priest— Shows Thierry’s utter domination as he dominates Lee in the side triceps pose. If only Thierry were Shawn Ray’s height, he would have been a contender for Mr. Olympia; yet, standing at such a short stature during the most competitive years of bodybuilding history proved to be a hindrance that was unconquerable. Even the Trung sisters of ancient Vietnamese history could not have conquered such adversity, and Thierry appeared as an ant against other (taller) foes such as Levrone, Wheeler, Sarcev, etc. in his era. What if Thierry was the same height? GAME OVER — Lee Haney would have appeared thin and frail next to Pastel.

To get ‘in the guts’ of things, Thierry would destroy today’s current 212lb Olympia lineup. Flex Lewis? I hope you are joking as the comparison is a gong-show…. David Henry? Yes, a genetic marvel, but probably 3/5 the equivalent of Thierry (pardon the pun.) What made him exceptional was his posing. When I describe bodybuilding as an ‘art’ and not simply a sport, Thiery Pastel embodies the definition. Not only is this ‘art’, but it also surpasses art; as I cannot fathom an art that forces an artist to suffer, so very much, to make a masterpiece of a canvas. Striking each pose unconventional and effortlessly, Thierry embodied what it meant to be a living, breathing, sculpture.

If there is any bodybuilder I’d like to embody it’d be Thierry Pastel; yes I’d even give up gargantuan 5’7″ height to look like him. Standing alone on stage, I cannot think of another bodybuilder who embodies such perfection. As an advocate of the ‘art’ of bodybuilding, I cannot fathom a greater sculptor of human perception than Thierry. Cheers to Thierry, probably the greatest physique of all time. A friendly reminder that ‘no matter how great’ you are, it comes down to the judges… Thierry will always remain the greatest bodybuilder of in my eyes. After all the sport is subjective, correct?

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By Danny Manslaughter

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