Meet Wex­ford’s Mr Uni­verse!

FOULKSMILLS BODY­BUILDER LOUGH­LIN (LOCK) GAN­NON, THE FIRST IR­ISH­MAN EVER TO BE CROWNED MR UNI­VERSE, TELLS RE­PORTER DAVID LOOBY ABOUT THE RIG­OR­OUS REGIME, THE DETER­MI­NA­TION, AND THE BATTLE TO BEAT CAN­CER, THAT DROVE HIM TO THE TOP OF A VERY TOUGH SPORT

Wexford People - - INTERVIEW -

LOUGH­LIN (Lock) Gan­non fuliflled a life-long dream when he won Mr Uni­verse in Birm­ing­ham on Novem­ber 10. He turns 36 this month and is show­ing no signs of slow­ing down as he plans to cap­i­talise on his big win. Boast­ing 20 stone of mus­cle, 6ft 1 Lock wowed judges with his physique. He is the first Ir­ish­man to ever lift the tro­phy,

The son of Lough­lin and Mary Gan­non, Lock at­tended Bal­lymitty NS and Good Coun­sel Col­lege. From Foulksmills, he is ex­cited about his fu­ture af­ter win­ning the com­pe­ti­tion.

‘I couldn’t be hap­pier. I’m still wait­ing for it to sink in. I’ve been dream­ing of achiev­ing this for 20 years,’ Lock said.

He has en­tered the world’s strong­est man and Mr Uni­verse com­pe­ti­tions eight times so far and plans to con­tinue com­pet­ing at the high­est level.

So what is it like be­ing Mr Uni­verse?

I couldn’t be hap­pier. I’m still wait­ing for it to sink in. I’ve been dream­ing about this for 20 years. As far as am­a­teurs go it’s the best known ti­tle on the planet.

Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger won it in the late 1960s. As far as am­a­teurs go this is the best ti­tle on the planet.

How pre­pared did you feel go­ing into the com­pe­ti­tion?

I knew com­ing into this one that I couldn’t have cov­ered any more bases; bases I may have over­looked in the past. There was noth­ing ex­tra that I could have given and there was no-one else I could have leaned on. I was in the best con­di­tion of my life.

What did it mean to you to have your name called out as Mr Uni­verse?

It was my life’s dream to get Mr Uni­verse but to get the over­all prize was the ic­ing on the cake.

When did you get into body-build­ing and why?

I got into it when I was 18 be­cause I tried out the gym in Good Coun­sel and liked it. Be­fore that I never had much di­rec­tion in life, (well I was only 18). I was lucky that I found some­thing that I could ded­i­cate my­self to. It be­came my dream. Through all that time I’ve had far more dis­ap­point­ments than suc­cesses, but the love and the pas­sion for it just kept it go­ing re­gard­less of where I was at any stage in my life.

Was there a body-build­ing scene in the county at the time?

There was noth­ing. Bar Dublin and Lim­er­ick what was go­ing on in Wex­ford was ab­so­lute zero for the first decade of my train­ing. It wasn’t un­til In­sta­gram. It was me just do­ing my thing be­cause I loved it. I al­ways said I didn’t have any­one to val­i­date me, I had to val­i­date my­self. I couldn’t turn to In­sta­gram for generic likes or any­thing like that. I did body-build­ing purely for the pas­sion for it. I think that’s what’s sorely miss­ing from the sport to­day. The pas­sion doesn’t run near as deep as it once did. There are still a very small group who truly love it and would do it in the morn­ing if ev­ery­thing else dis­ap­peared. For me it was al­ways just for the love of it, the love of train­ing and noth­ing more. That’s all I ever needed to keep go­ing.

How much train­ing do you do for com­pe­ti­tions like Mr Uni­verse?

Be­cause I did the worlds back in June which went very poorly for me. I made a cou­ple of bad calls in the last hour or so and it pushed me out of the top six. Then within a week or two I left my­self with no choice men­tally but to do Mr Uni­verse. It meant I was on a per­pet­ual diet for six months. I had a short pe­riod be­tween fin­ish­ing the worlds and start­ing di­et­ing for the Uni­verse. All in all as the Uni­verse started reach­ing its peak I would have been train­ing ev­ery day, or twice a day de­pend­ing on what I was do­ing. All the while it was re­stricted calo­ries and just try­ing to ex­ist while try­ing to get the body ready for it. It in­volves a lot of de­pri­va­tion, a lot of be­ing hun­gry ba­si­cally!

Is this a healthy sport; some­thing you can rec­om­mend to a lad of 17?

Oh God no! My ad­vice to any­one that young is not to com­pete. Just to fo­cus on the gym; good diet, good nu­tri­tion and train­ing and let the body build up a solid base. I’m not a big fan of un­der 21s com­pet­ing. I am very vo­cal about that, but it ex­ists. I would rather see guys spend­ing the first three to four years not even look­ing to get on stage. If they de­cide it’s some­thing they want to do, then go for it, but a pre-con­test diet is not overly healthy, for a cou­ple of rea­sons, some moreso than oth­ers. It de­pends on the in­di­vid­ual. Off sea­son recre­ational body-build­ing, with gym and a good diet, it’s one of the health­i­est things any­one can ever do. It’s just there are cer­tain re­stric­tions that can run it in to a neg­a­tive place, but then it’s only tem­po­rary. Like in most sports at the extreme end of it you have to push very, very hard to get to those up­per lim­its (of suc­cess).

Hav­ing suf­fered from tes­tic­u­lar and stom­ach can­cer, where do you feel you get your men­tal tough­ness from?

I think if some­one re­ally finds some­thing they are truly pas­sion­ate about in life, they will find it’s there within them. If you are not truly pas­sion­ate about some­thing you are go­ing to fall off, here and there, but if you are truly pas­sion­ate about some­thing you won’t. Time and again these days you see a lot of peo­ple who think they love some­thing but when things aren’t go­ing their way, do they re­[email protected] Any­one can be mo­ti­vated and pas­sion­ate when there win­ning, but when they take a loss here and there do they still re­ally love what they’re do­ing? You’ll find that that is the real acid test for most peo­ple. I have had more down­ers than I’ve had up­pers.

The worlds must have been a big body blow?

The worlds was the biggest con­trast you could find. I came in and I was way out of the top six. I’d say a lot of peo­ple wrote me off. It was another loss for me and then I came back.

How fine are the mar­gins and how is the Mr Uni­verse com­pe­ti­tion judged?

The three facets of body-build­ing are mus­cu­lar­ity, how big and mus­cu­lar you are, your over­all con­di­tion tak­ing in how low your body fat is and how dry you are and how vis­i­ble ev­ery­thing is un­der the skin and pro­por­tion and sym­me­try, how well your over­all physique bal­ances out– how wide are your shoul­ders, how pleas­ing you look on stage.

You have one guy who looks like an x-ray and another guy who looks like a fridge. It’s all vis­ual. The judges see it com­pletely sub­jec­tively. One judge might see him in first, or sec­ond, or fourth. Ul­ti­mately there are nine judges and they are added up. There is al­ways the po­ten­tial for de­ci­sions to be ques­tion­able, but 99 per cent of the time the judges are go­ing to get it right. It just leaves the door open for peo­ple to say they were robbed, but they are not. The judges do have it bang on most of the time, but it is a very sub­jec­tive thing and what­ever the judge sees, the judge sees.

Who has sup­ported you?

My girl­friend Janet Gilbert de­serves a very spe­cial men­tion. Body-build­ing is a very lonely sport but when you have the right sup­port be­hind you, like the fam­ily, it makes things so much eas­ier to get through, es­pe­cially the harder pe­ri­ods.

Are there any fi­nan­cial sup­ports for you?

I have great spon­sors; Tal­bot Fit­ness gave me mem­ber­ship for the full year, along­side my girl­friend, and pretty much any­thing I could ask for was taken care of in the lead up and for the year af­ter and Fo­cus Fit is where I take care some of my clients. West­gate De­sign be­cause they pretty much took care of all of my food and my big spon­sor is up in Monasterevin, a gym up by Naas. They funded so much of my pre-con­test. They took care of my flight tick­ets and put me up in a ho­tel.

It will prob­a­bly open doors on many fronts from body-build­ing and from set­ting my­self up for the rest of my life, to cap­i­talise from a busi­ness stand­point. For the first time I felt like I achieved a dream. A dream has come through so for the first time my mind is clear so I can re­lax and switch off. When I came back I trained the next day and have been train­ing ev­ery day since, apart from a break in Cork. I just love train­ing and I want to train more. For the next while my fo­cus is on grow­ing and get­ting stronger. There is the pro show and I could go Strong­man. I could go power-lift­ing. There are lots of op­tions and they all feel wide open for me now for the first time ever and it’s very ex­cit­ing.

Would you be open to act­ing, ads, spon­sor­ships?

For sure. I’ve done act­ing be­fore and I’ve been told I am rea­son­ably good on cam­era. I found it a lot of fun. That would def­i­nitely be some­thing I’d like to pur­sue. I like to have fun and would be very open to things. If it feels right to me and I have pas­sion be­hind it there is very lit­tle I won’t take on.

What are im­por­tant vi­tal stats as a body-builder?

When I’m not di­et­ing my weight would be 127 ki­los (about 20 stone). My body fat would be about 12 per

I’VE HAD FAR MORE DIS­AP­POINT­MENTS THAN SUC­CESSES, BUT THE LOVE AND THE PAS­SION FOR IT JUST KEPT IT GO­ING RE­GARD­LESS OF WHERE I WAS AT ANY STAGE IN MY LIFE

cent but when I do diet down I would be 116, 117, my body fat. If you take a cal­lipers to me you won’t read it prop­erly. It’s be­low 4 per cent. I’m left with next to noth­ing.

Do you have any go to junk foods you can en­joy?

Af­ter the show I’ll be con­ser­va­tive so I don’t bal­loon back up. I eat what­ever I want, on top of the nor­mal foods. I en­joy my­self. I don’t eat com­pletely strict all year round, nor should any­one. I’d have a 24 inch pizza, what­ever strikes your fancy.

How much food do you eat when train­ing?

My pro­tein in­take is very high. I’d get through about 2lbs of meat a day and a hell of a lot of greens. Just a lot of sal­ads. It would be very min­i­mal pro-fats. Just a very healthy bal­ance of foods be­tween the calo­ries at the end of the day. You need to have your calo­ries right so your body keeps los­ing fat so lots of tur­key, greens, olive oil, nuts, bas­mati rice and rice cakes and just en­sur­ing you have enough es­sen­tial fats com­ing in and then you’re good to go.

Is the sport clean?

They (drugs) ex­ist al­right. They are present like they are in all other as­pects of sports, Par­tic­u­larly with the young guys com­ing up. I have lot of young guys come to me and be­fore they even ask me about train­ing and diet they are ask­ing me what should I take, this or that. Within five min­utes I know if I’m go­ing to work with them or not be­cause if they are hell-bent on tak­ing drugs I’m not go­ing to work with them. They are show­ing me that they have no pas­sion to ac­tu­ally start in the right way.

It’s the biggest is­sue and high­lights why the ju­nior cat­e­gories are such a prob­lem be­cause if you start off and all you’re in­ter­ested in is drugs you’re go­ing to screw your sys­tem and take away your nat­u­ral po­ten­tial.

For any­one start­ing out if they think they need to take drugs they are screw­ing them­selves be­fore they even start. It’s what’s wrong with the youth to­day: it’s in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion. They want ev­ery­thing here and now and they don’t want to put in the ground work.

Do you at­tribute that hard work­ing ethic to your up­bring­ing?

I at­tribute ev­ery­thing, who I am now, back to my fam­ily. They re­ally did in­stil the best pos­si­ble qual­i­ties in me. I was a pretty good teenager, I wasn’t too much trou­ble. My Mam and Dad, Mary and Lough­lin, brought me up well. They told me I can have what­ever I want if I work for it. My brother Daniel is go­ing for the All Ire­land’s Strong­man. He came sec­ond just this year gone and is go­ing again. We both like our ab­stract sports! We are farmers in Foulksmills. I am calling on him to bring home the Ire­land’s Strong­est Man award next year to match up with the Mr Uni­verse. He is my younger brother, but not my lit­tle brother. He’s 32 now. I’m 6ft 1 and he is big­ger than me. We’ll call it even but he ain’t smaller any­way.

Lough­lin com­pet­ing for the Mr Uni­verse ti­tle in Birm­ing­ham.Where do you go from here? What doors will this open for you?

Mr Uni­verse win­ner Lock Gan­non with his par­ents Lough­lin and Mary.

Lough­lin Gan­non with his girl­friend Janet Gilbert.

Lough­lin af­ter his treat­ment for can­cer.

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