A FORMER bodybuilder nicknamed “Flawless Marvel” is unrecognizable after giving up lifting weights.
Bob Paris, 62, rose to fame in the heyday of the 1980s. body-building and placed in the top ten at Mr Olympia multiple times.
The 6 foot Adonis had departed for California to pursue his dream of becoming an elite bodybuilder and active actor after graduating from college.
Before long, his efforts caught fire and just two years after arriving in Los Angeles, he won the Mr. The Angels and Mr. Southern California.
Throughout his stellar nine-year career, Bob won the NPC American National Bodybuilding Championships and the 1983 IFBB World Bodybuilding Championships.
He’s graced the covers of dozens of bodybuilding magazines and been photographed by some of the world’s top photographers, including Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber.
As a fierce defender of athletes’ rights, he pushed for drug testing in the industry.
And in 1989, Bob became the first active male professional athlete to come out.
He came out as gay in an edition of Ironman and later told talk show host Oprah Winfrey how the courageous move impacted his career.
“I lost about 80 percent of my business. They literally slammed doors in my face,” she said.
“There were several times when my life was threatened. Some death threats came by phone, by mail.”
After retiring from bodybuilding in 1991, Bob lives a much quieter life with his husband, Brian LeFurgey, on an island near Vancouver, British Columbia.
He now has a much smaller figure than he did in his bodybuilding era, but he still enjoys hiking and doing yoga.
Bidding farewell to his weightlifting days, he devoted himself to a writing career, now describing himself as a “memoirist, poet, screenwriter, and novelist.”
He has written several best-selling books and continued his work as a gay rights activist.
His novel Gorilla Suit, which provides an honest, behind-the-scenes look at the world of bodybuilding, was highly acclaimed.
In 2012, he explained that he never wanted to be a “lifestyle bodybuilder”, saying that he had other interests, from theater to books to backpacking.
“It is this diversity of interests that ultimately steered me away from a strict focus on weight training as a central part of my life,” he wrote on his website.
“However, don’t get me wrong. I am fitter and healthier than ever; and certainly the happiest and most authentic.
“I love my intense yoga practice, my cycling, my hikes and trail runs, and yes, my regular moderate resistance training.”
Despite moving on to a different career, Bob’s legacy in the sport lives on.
In 2006, the official IFBB publication, Flex Magazine, named Bob the Most Aesthetic Athlete in Bodybuilding History.
Meanwhile, a boy who became an internet bodybuilding sensation and was dubbed “the strongest boy in the world” was also looks unrecognizable nine years later.