by Matt Weik
In the past I have expressed my frustration with the media several times when it comes to bodybuilders and what journalists report. It seems like every time you see the word “bodybuilder” on the news it’s about steroids, “roid rage,” the injections of oils that caused side effects, murder (ahem, Craig Titus), pretty much all negatives you can think of. Until this latest story, nothing good is said about bodybuilders in the news.
The Canadian IFBB Pro bodybuilder Mahmood Al Durrah last stepped onto a competition stage at the 2018 Mr. Olympia. Then, after back surgery, he realized the harsh reality that his competitive days are probably over. However, that did not send him into a downward spiral. In fact, as well as stumbling upon his own coaching company, Durrah stumbled upon a situation that opened up a truly formidable new challenge for him – being Batman.
For starters, I’d like to thank not only Mahmood Al Durrah but also CBC in Canada for sharing this story. I hope this opens the eyes of journalists everywhere and shows that bodybuilders and the sport of bodybuilding are not as cocky and narcissistic as they make them out to be. Bodybuilders have feelings and emotions and the ability to do many good things in community – just as Mahmood Al Durrah did in this case.
The most muscular Batman you will ever see
The story of Durrah dressed up as a superhero starts years before he ever thought of becoming the most muscular Batman you would ever see. In fact, the original reason for Durrah to dress like a superhero was to help his son.
While Durrah’s son was at daycare, he complained that he was bullied and the children didn’t like him. Knowing how brutal children can be to one another, Durrah decided to take matters into his own hands. He grabbed a Spider-Man pajama set and mask and made his way to his son’s kindergarten.
When he arrived, the staff allowed his son to go outside, and Durrah played off with Spider-Man visiting him (his son had no idea it was his father). As you can imagine, all the children were standing by the windows and watching the encounter between the boy and Spider-Man. Needless to say, the kids now thought he was “super cool”, that he could talk to Spider-Man and the bullying stopped. But Durrah didn’t stop there.
With so many people affected by the pandemic and lockdowns, Durrah came up with the idea of putting on a superhero costume again and dressing up as Batman. His encounter with his son showed him how much children love to see and meet superheroes and decided that he could do more to make a lasting impression on children. After buying a full Batman costume, he set out to work with parents of special needs children and put a smile on their faces.
Durrah isn’t sure how long he’ll continue to dress up as Batman, but for now he’s thoroughly enjoying the process, seeing kids smile and delight that Batman paid them a visit.
(I mean, seriously … how cool is that?)
A call to ALL bodybuilders
Here’s what I’d like to see after hearing about that story of Durrah dressing up like Batman … What if more bodybuilders took the same approach?
Think about it. One person who did a great job dressing up and making kids smile is the late Andy Haman. If there was one person who could put a smile on children and adults alike, it was Andy. What better way to not only help children but also pay homage to Andy Haman’s legacy than to take action?
Bodybuilders in public are considered “freaks”. It’s like a traveling circus wherever you are. However, when a bodybuilder puts on a costume, he becomes a real superhero and eyes go big.
Wouldn’t it be great if bodybuilders from different states all banded together and dressed up as superheroes to go to different hospitals in their area? Of course, they’d have to follow all of the hospital’s guidelines as well as the pandemic restrictions, but how cool would that be? Do you want to get bodybuilding in the media (for all the right reasons)? Do good to others and they will get noticed.
What was once taboo and a “freakshow” would now be viewed from a different angle. When bodybuilders are in the news, it’s very rare that there is a good reason. If a bunch of bodybuilders decided to heed my call to action, it could easily go viral for bodybuilders to help put a smile on kids’ faces who don’t have much to laugh about these days with the pandemic and their health / special needs.
So here’s my appeal to bodybuilders … Jay Cutler, Brandon Curry, Kai Greene, Phil Heath, William Bonac, Akim Williams, Nick Walker, Hunter Labrada, Steve Kuclo, Cedric McMillan, Sergio Oliva, Jr., Flex Lewis and Lewis Bless Awodibu (if you are not on this list, consider yourself on this list – just take action). I would be happy if you all participate.
It would be fulfilling not only from a personal standpoint to make a difference, but also to think about all of the children that will affect you and how the media and public will view bodybuilders and the sport of bodybuilding in the future. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Think about it. But don’t think too long. Drop me a message or email me if you need my help getting things started and I’ll do what I can to help.