Tony Pearson has the best shoulder to waist ratio in the history of bodybuilding.
He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. After suffering a knee injury from wrestling in school, his coach took him to a bodybuilding gym to help him rehab. Within a couple of months his legs and his knee were stronger than ever. The owner of the gym took an interest in his training and after six months of intensive workouts he had gained 20 pounds of solid muscle. In a way he is thankful for that injury because it introduced him to his forte in life.
Another six months later he decided to move to California as he really wanted to fulfill his dream of becoming a pro bodybuilder. He arrived in Los Angeles on a one-way bus ticket with just two pairs of jeans, $75 in his pocket, and a heart filled with optimism and self-confidence. He headed straight to the “Mecca of Bodybuilding”, Venice Beach. Barely two months later he entered the Mr. Venice Beach Bodybuilding Competition. This was his first contest and he won it!
A few days later, while training on Muscle Beach, Arnold Schwarzenegger came over to him: “I have been watching you – you train very hard, let me take you through a workout.” Arnold showed him a couple of great exercises and wrote down Joe Weider's address: “Go there, tell him that I sent you. He should write an article on you for his magazine “Muscle Builder”.”
His bodybuilding career began to take flight as he worked his way through the amateur competitive ranks in 1978 winning the Mr. Los Angeles, Jr. Mr. USA, Jr. Mr. America, and finally, the frosting of the cake, Mr. America. He was featured in Muscle Builder and Arnold's first “Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding”. Tony has appeared on more covers internationally, than any other bodybuilder in history.
In February 1979 the owner of Gold's Gym asked him to guest pose at the Mr. L.A. Bodybuilding Championships together with Lisa Lyon. He hesitated at first because it was the first time, that a woman and a man flexed their muscles on stage together, but then he thought it's worth to give it a try. Obviously, this was the beginning of women's and couples bodybuilding. Before practicing their routine, Lisa, the true artist, came up with the idea to hire a saxophonist to play live on stage. To add even more drama, they should use two spotlights only. Finally on stage, in the middle of the routine, he said to himself: “This is bad. Although the place is completely full, I could not hear a sound except the saxophone”. But at the end of the performance, they got a standing ovation. Complete Pandemonium!
Lisa and Tony had created a magical moment for couples posing and women's bodybuilding. The same year Lisa won the first Women's World Pro Bodybuilding Championship in Los Angeles. A few months later she promoted her first own Pro Show which was won by Rachel McLish - and the rest is history.
In the same year Tony won the Pro Mr. World as well as the Pro Mr. Olympus in New York and in Italy the WABBA Mr. World. Following the footsteps of his mentor Arnold, he captured the Pro Mr. Universe title in London the following year.
After conquering the individual aspect of competition, the more dramatic style of couples competition appealed to his artistic side. Combining his stage charisma with the dance of two finely tuned physiques worked well to his advantage. In an unprecedented winning streak, he garnered six pro world mixed-pairs titles with different partners in 1982 and '83 (Shelley Gruwell), '84 (Carla Dunlap), '85 (Tina Plakinger), '86 (Juliette Bergmann), and '88 (Carla Dunlap).
After retiring from competeing 1994 he started his personal trainer business sharing his knowledge of a 20 year career.
In 2007 he was inducted into Muscle Beach Bodybuilding Hall of Fame along with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane. He has made guest appearances on "Good Morning America", "NBC Sportsworld", and "Soul Train", and dabbled in show business appearing on “Empty Nest” and “Man from Atlantis”. He also competed in the now defunct World Bodybuilding Federation's shows launched by wrestling mogul Vince McMahon. They dobbed him THE JETMAN!
In 2010 he made a spectacular comeback, giving guest appearances in Europe at the age of 54! They say he is in better shape than ever. He is still a personal trainer and nutritional consultant to the stars both in Los Angeles and in Europe.
Tony Pearson is showing by example, that bodybuilding is a true lifestyle of good health and being in fantastic shape is not a question of your age. After a 35-year career, he is still in the game and always looking for new avenues to get his message out there to the younger generation and to encourage them to follow their dreams. "Always keep your goal in sight. Stay focused no matter what the obstacles, because there will always be challenges along the way, no matter what you pursue. But if you are persistent, have a positive attitude and surround yourself with positive people, you will achieve your ultimate dream."