Lee Priest is without a doubt one of the most iconic figures in the world of bodybuilding. With his experience and multiple titles, he has earned his hero status in this community. The Australian athlete has demonstrated time and again the importance of hard work, determination and consistency in this art. But who exactly is the man behind the muscles and the weights? And how did he end up at the very top of this competitive field?
Below is a complete profile of Lee Priest in terms of his career as a bodybuilder. It will cover details on his lowly beginnings, his moments of glory and his humble bow out of the game after years of impressive work.
An early start
Lee Priest started body building and weight training at a pretty young age. This has a lot to do with the fact that he was born into a family where the sport was already somewhat of a tradition. His mother was a professional bodybuilder while his grandfather was a trainer and enthusiast. With this support at home, Lee was able to start at the tender age of 12.
By the time he was 13 he had pretty much gotten the hang of it. Lee was not only participating in competitions but also sweeping up titles like a veteran champ. He managed to build a name for himself in Australian junior bodybuilding circuits. This early start is arguably one of the main factors that propelled him to his massive global success.
Professional career and key achievements
If we were to list all of Lee Priest’s achievements and work it would probably take forever. There are, however, a few career defining moments in his life that are definitely worth mentioning. Here are 5 of them.
1. The IFBB winning streak of 1988 to 1991 – This all happened between the ages of 16 and 19. He participated in all 4 of the yearly competitions organized by the International Federation of Body Builders. He placed first in all the 4 competitions.
2. Youngest recipient of the IFBB pro card in 1992 – At the age of 20, Lee Priest received his pro card from the IFBB. He went down as one of the youngest body builders in history to earn this recognition. He went on to compete in the franchise for 16 more years. During this time, he got a mixed batch of results including multiple first position placements and disappointing heats where he didn’t even make it to the top ten.
3. First place on the 2013 Mr. Universe NABBA – Lee Priest joined other body building legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Reeves in the hall of fame by winning the 2013 Mr. Universe competition. This came after the athlete took a 7 year hiatus from competing but it is safe to say that he truly came back with a bang. He placed first in both his weight group and the overall competition to nub the coveted title. He was, however, unsuccessful in defending it the next year and lost it to Barny Du Plessis.
4. Successful run as a trainer – When he wasn’t competing or preparing for a competition, Lee Priest worked part time as a trainer. He trained amateur body builders in Australia as well as in other parts of the world. He is also well known for his body building training videos including It’s Not Revenge and Blonde Myth. With these videos, he teaches people how to train properly by sharing his own routine and training regimen.
5. Movie appearances – Finally, like many other super successful body builders, Lee Priest dipped a toe or two into Hollywood. What is probably his most notable and iconic role is as the body double for Avenger’s green monster; The Hulk. And with his toned physique and monstrous build, it is not so hard to see how he landed the role. He also had a role in an Australian TV called Rescue Special Ops. In both instances, his casting and success was based entirely on his build and perfect matching to the character’s physical descriptions.
The injuries that ended it all
In February of 2017, Lee Priest shocked and broke the hearts of fans and admirers when he announced that he was ready to retire. He announced it in a raw and personal Instagram post explaining that his career was no longer worth all the pain he was suffering. So how exactly did he end up here? How did a real life legend get to a point where he admitted to preferring life as a normal person than as half a bodybuilder?
In 2015, Lee was involved in a grizzly accident that changed everything. He had a serious neck injury that did major damage to nerves in the area. Despite multiple surgeries and relentless physiotherapy, he was unable to get full function and range of motion in his neck, left shoulder and left arm. This obviously affected his training with the pain making it all worse. Finally, he decided hang up his lifting gloves and announced his retirement and has not looked back since.
Where is Lee Priest now?
So what became of this legendary athlete?
It has been a little of a one year since he bowed out but he has still managed to stay active and relevant in the body building scene. He hasn’t taken part in any major competition as a result of the effects of his injuries. He has also focused a lot of his energy and efforts into working as a trainer and mentor mainly in his home country of Australia.
In a recent interview with Muscular Development, Lee hinted at chances of getting back into the game. This however, is dependent on the success of upcoming surgeries to his injured neck go. All we can do is sit and wait to see if and when this phoenix will rise from his ashes.
After all is said and done, Lee Priest without a doubt deserves to be acknowledged as a body building legend. His life and story is truly an inspiration to bodybuilding enthusiasts all over the world. So whether or not he does make a comeback, he has definitely already made his mark.
David Sharpe is a former bodybuilding contest promoter and the owner and founder of Davi’s Fitness Facility in Australia where every great bodybuilder from Australia visited his gym.