What We Can Learn from Mike Katz, The “Superhuman”
If you’re someone who is looking for motivation, wherever you are sitting in your life right now, the story of Michael Katz’s phenomenal career will not disappoint you. You may find yourself extremely inspired after reading this article.
The world is filled with many great inspirations – from talented artists, actors, motivational speakers… athletes – who all serve as incredible influencers for people across the globe. However, if you have not heard of famous bodybuilder Michael Katz, today is the day you will learn to adore him.
Michael Katz was born in New Haven Connecticut on November 14, 1944. Throughout his life, he has achieved a myriad of things. He starts a career in pro football and continues to become a professional IFBB body-bulider. Today (2019), he stands strong at the age of 74.
As a young, skinny Semitic boy, things were not always easy for Mike Katz as he was often bullied and discriminated for his faith and physical appearance. The kids around him treated him badly, and he found his confidence crumbling to pieces.
Little did those kids ever imagine that the kid they were picking on would grow up to be one of the world’s strongest and most successful athletes known in history.
Despite struggling through his issues as a child and facing criticism from people who constantly told him it was near impossible for him to pursue a career in football, he proved every single one of them wrong and pursued a career not just in one sport – but in TWO sports.
Growing up with a father who had a successful career in football, it was inevitable that his family and friends would expect him to follow in his footsteps. His father’s friends would ask him questions like “what do you want to do when you grow up?”, to which he would reply, “a professional football player”. Despite his certainty, nobody actually had faith in him.
However, he tuned that noise out as he started his career in sports when he played college football for the Southern Connecticut State University. He soon carried on as a professional athlete when he started his NFL career and played for the New York Jets.
While playing for the New York Jets, he builds a reputation as one of the strongest players in the 1950’s, earning himself nicknames like “Superhuman” and “Big Mike Katz”.
During his days in pro football, Mike Katz was fond of weight training, hence, these are the names he was given. He would spend nearly every Friday night underneath the NY Jets manager’s office lifting weights. Even though he was told not to practice weight training as this would affect his performance on the field, he continued as he believed this would make him stronger and faster than his opponents.
Unexpected Turn of Events
However, after he encounters a major knee injury in 1968, his career takes a drastic turn. He had to make major decisions and had to contemplate on his future in sports. But even when he had a badly injured knee, he hardly had the chance to recover when he was asked to play 6 more games.
With his immense size and strength, he pushed himself further before finally ending his career in football.
Although he didn’t go down in history as one of the best football players known in the world, he still created an incredible name for himself next to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Soon after his career in football, he decided to get over his fears and push his physical limits to chase after his dreams in bodybuilding.
When he was about 11-years-old, he went to go see the Hercules film starring Steve Reeves. Needless to say, he walked out of that theatre extremely inspired by the character’s big muscles and knew he had to have some for himself.
At the age of 15, he joined the ‘Teen YMCA’ in Waterbury, his first bodybuilding competition. Since then, his love for competing in contests never wavered.
Having limited resources to train for these contests, he created a makeshift bench out of empty milk crates he found lying around.
Before his successful professional career, Katz became known as one of the 1970’s bodybuilding underdogs. He continued to prove that the once small child that he was, had turned out to be one of the world’s greatest athletes.
He worked hard and trained vigorously, earning himself the pride of becoming one of the toughest tall-class and heavyweight competitors between the 1960’s and 1980’s.
Although there are no known records for his first competitions, here is an impressive list of his accomplishments:
- 1963 Mr. Connecticut 2nd
- 1963 Mr. Insurance City 9th
- 1964 AAU Teen Mr. America; 4th Place
- 1964 AAU Teen Mr. America Most Muscular, 5th Place
- 1965 Mr. New England States 1st
- 1969 IFBB Mr. America Tall, 40th Place
- 1970 IFBB Mr. America Tall & Overall, 4th Place
- 1970 AAU Mr. East Coast Tall & Overall, 4th Place
- 1971 IFBB Universe Tall, 3rd Place
- 1971 Beat Brandon Lewi for the Heavyweight Championship of the World
- 1972 IFBB Mr. International Tall, 4th Place
- 1972 IFBB Universe Tall, 4th Place
- 1973 IFBB Universe Tall, 3rd Place
- 1974 IFBB Mr. International Tall, – 4th Place
- 1975 IFBB Universe Tall, 4th Place
- 1976 Mr. Olympia Over 200lbs, 2nd Place
- 1980 NBA Natural Mr. America Professional, 4th Place
- 1980 IFBB World Pro Championships Did Not Place
- 1980 Retired after losing to Cooper Hayman in the National Strongman Competition
- 1981 Mr. Olympia 15th Place
Working Out and Nutrition
There is a long list of impressive things this man has done throughout his life, but one of the most impressive things he’s done for his bodybuilding career is the fact that he used zero steroids.
Mike Katz would spend 1.5 hours a day dedicated to cardiovascular workouts with strength training. Although this sounds quite extreme, he once shared in a documentary that he would spend over 3-4 hours every day to work on his body.
To match his intense training sessions, Mike would fill his body with a load of carbs and protein every three days so that he could keep up.
After working hard for competitive sporting endeavors, Katz’s empire lives on as he opens a good number of gyms across the country, which to this day, runs successfully with the help of his son.
The ‘Big Mike Katz’ did not go down in history as the great man that he is known for without any hurdles thrown his way. I am sure that you would agree that anybody who is bullied and discouraged growing up will definitely have some anxious thoughts hanging over their heads – I’m sure we’re all guilty of such – but Mike did not let any of that hover over him for too long.
When he went on to fulfil the dreams people expected of him, it did not turn out the way he planned. No doubt it was heartbreaking when he had to end his career in football. However, an unexpected turn in his football career did not stop him from bringing justice to his name.
Instead, he used everything that would naturally take him down as fuel to become bigger, stronger and more confident and build himself up to become the man that he is known for today.
He drew his focus from his previous career towards bodybuilding, a profession where he was given the chance to get to know himself better and build his empire.
Today, our generation evidently faces many insecurities and challenges – physically, mentally and emotionally – triggered by the portrayal of media and the society we are immersed in. Being challenged by such thoughts and people lead us to believe that it is impossible to reach our dreams.
Now that you have an addition to your list of great inspirations after getting to know the great Mike Katz, the next time you find yourself in a pit of constant discouragement and let-downs, just remind yourself that you can fight against the world that is trying to bring you down.
Forget the people who say you “can’t” or the thoughts lingering at the back of your mind reminding you of the setbacks, let your motivation and dreams shout louder than that.
If you find yourself in a certain spot and come to realize you are no-good there, don’t allow that realization to be a discouragement and continue to seek your passion. You may not have achieved your goals in one area, but that does not mean you are limited.
Just remember, you CAN fly high and become your own Superhuman.
Who would have known that Michael Katz, a once-bullied, marginalized child, who grows up to start a football career only to break a leg, would become one of the strongest and most inspiring bodybuilders in the world?
Think about it. Your empire is in the works. Don’t let ANYTHING in this world discourage you. Mike Katz did it, you can too.