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The Item: Tribute to a Champion, Andrew Oye's IFBB Pro Athletes Roundup

The Scoop: Just Reported: IFBB Pro Mike Matarazzo passed away at 48 (November 8, 1965 -- August 16, 2014).

The "So What?": A former boxer, Mike Matarazzo left Boston, Massachusetts, to pursue professional bodybuilding in its "Mecca" -- Venice, California. He won the 1991 NPC USA Bodybuilding Championships, earned his IFBB Pro card and entered the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness. 

As reported in "Andrew Oye's Pro-Muscle Report," although the 5'10", 250-pound Matarazzo never won a 1st place victory in a pro bodybuilding contest during his decade-long career, he competed on the prestigious stage of the Mr. Olympia Championships at Joe Weider's Olympia Weekend seven times (spanning the reigns of three Olympia Sandow-trophy winners): in 1991 (won by IFBB Pro Lee Haney); in 1993 and 1996 (won by IFBB Pro Dorian Yates); and in 1999 and -- his final contest -- 2001 (won by IFBB Pro Ronnie Coleman). He also competed at the Arnold Sports Festival's IFBB Pro Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Bodybuilding Championships in 1992 (won by IFBB Pro Vince Taylor); 1993 (won by IFBB Pro Flex Wheeler); and 1994 (won by IFBB Pro Kevin Levrone). Matarazo's highest placing was at the 1997 Canada Pro Cup, where took 2nd place to IFBB Pro Milos Sarcev and finished ahead of IFBB Pro Chris Cormier and IFBB Pro Gunter Schlierkamp.

A previous edition of the Pro Athletes Roundup (in the MUSCLE INK Magazine "Boston Mass" feature) noted that Mike Matarazzo was renowned for his tremendous biceps and calf muscles, his brashness and his charisma during competitions, because, as he said, he was a fan as well. "I try to get as much fan participation as possible," Matarazzo explained. "When I first turned pro in 1991, I was the first bodybuilder to [leave the stage and] jump into the audience...These fans pay their hard-earned money to come see us. We should give them a show...When it's time to party up there, it's time to party and you should make [the fans] a part of it." This crowd-pleaser mentality was evidenced by his memorable 1999 Olympia routine that transitioned from classic posing to a ballad into a rock-and-roll beast-mode show.

Contest History
1991 NPC USA Championships (Heavyweight, 1st and Overall)
1991 IFBB Mr. Olympia
1992 IFBB Arnold Classic (15th)
1992 IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational (5th)
1993 IFBB Arnold Classic (6th)
1993 IFBB Night of Champions (8th)
1993 IFBB Mr. Olympia (18th)
1993 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Invitational (2nd)
1994 IFBB Arnold Classic (9th)
1994 IFBB San Jose Pro Invitational (8th)
1995 IFBB Florida Pro Invitational (7th)
1995 IFBB South Beach Pro Invitational (7th)
1996 IFBB Grand Prix Czech Republic (9th)
1996 IFBB Grand Prix Russia (9th)
1996 IFBB Grand Prix Switzerland (9th)
1996 IFBB Night of Champions (5th)
1996 IFBB Mr. Olympia (13th)
1997 IFBB Canada Pro Cup (2nd)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix Germany (11th)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix Hungary (10th)
1997 IFBB Grand Prix Spain (10th)
1997 IFBB Night of Champions (4th)
1997 IFBB Mr. Olympia (13th)
1997 IFBB Toronto Pro Invitational (2nd)
1998 IFBB Night of Champions (3rd)
1998 IFBB Mr. Olympia (9th)
1998 IFBB San Francisco Pro Invitational (7th)
1998 IFBB Toronto Pro Invitational (3rd)
1999 IFBB Mr. Olympia (11th)
2000 IFBB Night of Champions
2000 IFBB Toronto Pro Invitational (6th)
2001 IFBB Night of Champions (5th)
2001 IFBB Mr. Olympia (21st)

Andrew Oye's Verdict: Massively popular among fans and fellow competitors, Mike Matarazzo's passing drew an outpouring of condolences from other IFBB Pro League athletes for the family-oriented nice guy who, ironically, passed in Palo Alto, California, awaiting a heart transplant, on nearly the same day as his father's passing date 11 years ago (August 17, 2003).

IFBB Pro Bob Cicherillo: "Although we competed against each other, Mike was always there with encouragement...He was one of the first to wish congrats when I finally won the USA [Championships] and said, 'Welcome to the family.' I met Mike's dad some years back and he was exactly what you would older version of Mike. He was a big man and Mike got the biggest kick out of having his father show us his calves. 'See where I get it from, look at those mawnsters!' His thick Boston accent ever present. Rest in peace, my friend."

IFBB Pro Milos Sarcev: "Mike was known for his two passions: bodybuilding and incredible love for his father, his adored hero. Mike Matarazzo made a point to introduce all of us to his father, who was in a wheelchair, sometimes having extremely hard time being there, but he would never miss a single contest Mike entered and he was a gentleman like no other. He knew all of us competing against his son and...would approach each and every one of us, wishing us good luck just before we would step on the stage and congratulate us afterwards...Mike was beyond proud of his father (and vice versa). Rest in peace, Mike. It was an honor competing with you."

IFBB Pro Shawn Ray: "One of the true hardcore bodybuilders who never forgot where he came from or who he was...which spoke volumes to how much he thought of his father and now he's reunited with [him]...I feel grateful to have known Mike and the kind of person he was...He made a life out of this sport, saw the world, inspired many and became known all over the world based on his blue-collar training. Iron Mike, may you rest in peace and give your father a big hug for me."

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