German bodybuilder Tim Budesheim started his own Podcast serie entitled “Muscle & Mind”. Last week (20.09.2020) he had the honor to interview Dennis Wolf!
Tim: How it all started? Did you always have the vision to become a Pro?
Dennis Wolf: I was just a school boy, 18 years old and during my vacation I started lifting weights. Then I was back in school and nobody recognized me. I woud guess 1997 or 1999 was my first competition. I trained two years and was 21 years old.
There was a guy backstage, he said: “Man you almost won, you have to start at Men’s Class”
Dennis Wolf about Mind Set and Fearness in Bodybuilding
“I never feared of competing against Jay Cutler or Gunter Schlierkamp. I wanted to fight against big wolves. After years of competing, Jay Cutler told me ‘In line up you are just a MONSTER’
The professionals started recognizing me. I realized I don’t need to hide myself.
BACK STAGE STRATEGIES
Dennis: “There are two kind of bodybuilders. Some athletes just didn’t want to show their muscles, so they are always wearing clothes and on the opposite there are bodybuilders wearing always their posing trunks”
2008: Dexter Jackson vs. Jay Cutler
Dennis: “In 2008 I remember Jay Cutler was always wearing his clothes. All in the years competing against and with Jay Cutler, he never wore clothes…but then he’s competing against Dexter Jackson in 2008..I realized Cutler seemed to be “ashamed”… I don’t have the right words…”Ashamed” is too much, but you know?
There are bodybuilders who are wearing clothes because they are not in their “best form”…and there are bodybuilders just feeling ready and competitive. They are always wearing their posing trunks”
“Sometimes I belonged to the unsecure bodybuilders.”
Albert Busek (German Sports Minister & Best friend of Schwarzenegger) once told me ‘Oh, you don’t look great. I know there’s somebody, who made a big impression on you’.. [Timestap: 11:00] I may not agree with what he said, but he’s an expert in the World of Bodybuilding”
Tim Budesheim: How long was your amateur career?
Dennis Wolf: “I started at the NRW National Championship and placed first. Then I was qualified for the German Championships and I placed fourth. I competed against great bodybuilders like Boris Kleine. It was a cool time.
Since 2002 it was quite around me..I was back in 2004, I placed second at the German Championships .One year later I won the German Championships IFBB, then I was really happy about it and started to contact Erich Janner (Sports Minister) and asked about my “Pro Card”.
Erich Janner didn’t gave me the pro card.. He said: ‘Go to the World Amateur Championship and try becoming Top 5’
So I travelled to the World Championship in China. I had in my mind ‘Just become top 5, then I would earn my PRO CARD’….Fortunately, I placed first. So from 1999 – 2005 I was an amateur!”
Tim Budesheim: So your peak during amateur time was in China at the World Championship in 2005?
Dennis: Yes, it was in Shangai, China..Overall Winner and If I am thinking about that competition…I just can not realize it. It was not only one Worldchampion in each class…there were couple of them!
The Men’s Class was brutal..That was rare.
Tim Budesheim: “I know what you’re talking…It’s basically only an Amateur World Championships. But back in the day the level was incredible! I remember dressed athletes, who looked like school boys..But then I saw them again without clothes. WOW, they seemed to be sculptured/painted like X MEN.”
Dennis Wolf vs. Roelly Winklaar (2005)
Dennis: Yes, they are looking just hard! And the level was high. At the competiton were “Robert Piotrkowicz”, “Roelly Winklaar” and “Quincy Winklaar”. I just didn’t know that Roelly competed in my class!
I am just still impressed about the level at the AMATEUR Championships in 2005. Ah, I remember there was an Italian Bodybuilder, who died in 2006 at the young age…Daniele Seccarecci. He weighed 125 Kilo and I weighed just 109 Kilo.”
Tim Budesheim: “At the World Championships you are sleeping in a big hotel. All bodybuilders from the World are staying there. That’s really cool, seeing them to eat and to prepare. It’s really sad that those kind of competitions didn’t exist anymore. How do you think about that? Today’s bodybuilders don’t need to qualiy through the World Championships.”
Dennis: “Yes, you are right. The relation between the federation isn’t great..Back in the day you’ve to be the overall winner at the World Championships and then you’ll get the Wild Cad for the Mr. Olympia…
I remember Gunter Schlierkamp and Roland Cziurlok did it the same way..Ah, I am not sure about Roland Cziurlok, but I know Schlierkamp won the WC. He used to train in Datteln, Germany…it was the time Schlierkampf tried emigrating to the USA…I know Gunter prepared for the Mr. Olympia, because in his Gym were pictures on the wall.”
After the era of Schlierkamp things started changing..Bodybuilders who won the Countries’ Championships (like German World Champion or Spain World Champion) are allowed to get the PRO-CARD.
Ronnie Coleman was the last American World Champion, after that it was not possible. For me it was a big loss. No teams would travel to the World Championships.
Tim Budesheim: Are you a fan of the traditionel way of competing (Step by Step)
Dennis: Yes, that’s logic…. You’ve to start somewhere. You can not repair cars without proper knowledge!
Winning the State Championships then you’d start at the German Championships, World Championships and finally the Pro League!l If you are not able to manage those steps due to the genetic or mind set, then I would guess dreaming to become a Pro is just non-sense. I used to try explaining my german clients, but then they’ll be angry.
Some people are asking me: ‘Hey Dennis, do you think I am able to become a Pro?” then I’d answer honestly “You need time”, “I don’t know” or “NO”.
People just don’t want to hear the truth.
Tim Budesheim: “Oh yes, that’s the same thing I experienced. I am a big fan of step by step. I had in my career some people yelling ‘Tim, you have to compete at the ‘XXX’ and back in the day as a Junior World Champion I had the opportunity to get the Pro-Card. Big Dan Hill did the same thing. But to be honest, I just didn’t want to get the Pro-Card. I was 23 years old and just need more experience. Back in the day I would not match the Pros.”
Dennis: “Just imagine, if you were Junior World Champion, then you would be The Junior Champion WORLD WIDE, but you would not be listed in the Men’s Class. In my opinion you would not be close enough to get the Pro Card. You know?
That does not make sene for me, when they are marking those rules. Just think about it, back in the day there are a lot bodybuilders with the potential to become a Pro, but they quit due to the long journey..many of them had not the chance to win a Worldchampionship. Or maybe the level of the competition was tooo high, you know. Then they will stop bodybuilding.
You have the genetic and potential, but still have to prove that you’ve got it in you, that’s ok for me, but on the opposite.. back in the day I was thinking:
‘Why is he getting the pro card? He only managed to win the German Championships without the proper requirement and later you’ll the results: People, who won the title German Championships….they were not able to go to the Mr. Olympia (besides Ronny Rokel with the bodyweight of 90kg he looked like a Pro. He was a MONSTER). I think the management was not proper.”
Tim Budesheim: “Markus Ruhl won the German Championships too and became a Pro!
Dennis Wolf: “Oh yes right! About Markus…that’s something different. (Boths are laughing)
Markus is not a human!!! Can you imagine a Markus Rühl is losing at the World Championships (again laughing). I think the judges would not know how to review Markus!
Of course Markus Ruhl was born to be a Pro! You saw his progress: Toronto, New York (…)
Those was Markus’ best years. He was young and just BRUTAL. I am not able to find the right words for Markus Ruhl. [29:00] Back in the day of Markus, I was not a Pro and I was a huge fan of him.
My wife bought all Markus’ DVDs for me. I had that vision in my mind. I was not a world champion, but Markus Ruhl inspired me! Being a Pro, living like a Pro and Training like a Pro. I had the honor to meet Markus..as I was becoming Pro and signing up a contract. I was sponsored by Nutrixx and Markus Ruhl too. We had a fotoshooting for Muscular Development. It was a great time!”[26:20]
Tim: I am familiar with your pics. Really impressive… As a “German” bodybuilder I am really proud seeing them. I believe you were standing behind Markus Ruhl.
Dennis Wolf [30:00]: It was shooting for Muscular Development. I remember it well, because it was my first Mr. Olympia..I injured my biceps and had to stop the foto shooting. The Ex-Manager of Gold’s Gym had to drive me to the hospital. It was very expensive. They just examined me for a short time. So later I arrived in Germany and then in the
Mail-Box I received the bill. I had to pay 600$.
Tim Budesheim: Did you have a “fiber tear” in the bicep”?
Dennis: Yes, it was a fiber tear. But it was not a “torn bicep” The Doctor told me: “Just rest for two days and it’ll be fixed”. As an Athlete I was very carefully …I didn’t jerk the weights off the floor heavily.
Tim Budesheim: Today the structure of bodybuilding has been changed… There are more opportunities to get the Pro Card. In my opinion, it’s cool the huge amount of bb-competitions and the Pro-Card should receive everybody. The only thing I don’t like is the huge amount of Pro-Cards which bodybuilders are receiving nowadays. I am believing the value of those cards is going to fall down.”
Dennis: “Yes, nowadays you have more opportunites to compete and to become a Pro. I don’t know how many Pro-Qualifiers we have, but I saw some guys becoming a Pro and I would say those bodybuilders are actually far away to be a Pro.
Back in the day, we had Amateur World Championships to become a Pro and to get the Pro-Card. In other countries you need only to win the Country Title. Today it has been changed, we have more shows and sponsors.
But you have to look closely to the early beginning. How it all started? It started with the seperation of the bb-federations. And so, people had to create competitions to stay in business.”
Tim: I know you are running you own bodybuilding show!
Dennis: “That’s right. In Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany we had great success with the “Dennis Wolf Classic” . Big thanks to my partner and sponsors. But sadly we had to stop this year.
Next year there are two shows planned: 17th April 2021 Dennis Wolf Classic and 23th October (name unkown)
Tim: At which age did you become a Pro? [36:50]
Dennis: At the age of 26 I became World Champion. Then one year later I was at the Mr. Olympia at the age of 26.
Tim: And you were allowed to go to the Mr. Olympia as an Amateur World Champion??
Dennis: “No, no no..the rules were not the same as in the late 90s. I had to do the Pro-Debut in Texas called Europa Supershow.
Toney Freeman won it.I competed against Johnny Jackson and Silvio Samuel Saviour. But I didn’t like the location, it was at the Expo. I am posing on the stage and there was no crowd. It was my first Pro-Debut and two weeks later I competed at the Montreal Pro Championships (Placed 5th).
Then two weeks later I placed third at the Santa Susanna Pro – IFBB. I competed against Markus Ruhl (2th place), Paco Bautista (1st place) and Jaroslav Horvath.
So I placed third and signed up a contract with Tony Blinn. And then two days later I was allowed to make the Olympia Debut in Las Vegas.”
Tim Budesheim: “That’s crazy…you were 28 years old, right?
Dennis Wolf: “I was 27 years old at that time.”
Tim Budesheim: “Hats off. I think I am not able to reach your level…”
Dennis Wolf: “Ah, nowadays you have more opportunities than just competing. Youtube, Instagram and co. Back in the day we had to compete. We had no other platform. So we had to put the whole energy into bodybuilding. Today’s bodybuilders are more…..”
Tim Budesheim: “distracted?”
Dennis Wolf: “Oh no, they have just more chances. You just don’t need to be a big as a MONSTER. You can be a personal trainer. You can promote yourself with social media”
Tim Budesheim: “Just imagine: You are now in your 20s..Would you manage to lift weights and to take care all the social media stuff?”
Dennis Wolf: “Oh, that’s complicated. I had in my mind to become a bodybuilder.”
Tim Budesheim: “Sometimes it would be great to push my whole energy into bodybuilding. But times are changing”
Dennis: “With social media you can earn more money. Today’s supplement-companies are not searching for competitive bodybuilders, they are searching for bodybuilders with a lot of followers and likes. That’s the system”
Tim Budesheim: “Is this fine with you?”
Dennis: “Of course, people want to make their business and to make money. “
Tim: “The Supplement-companies don’t care about bodybuilders, who won the World Championship. It seems they are more interested about followers. For me that’s ok, but what do you think about it? “
Dennis: “Back in the day, the contractions were different. If you were a top bodybuilder, then you’d get great contractions. After the Jay Cutler Era….and I was the last bodybuilder with an “oldtime” contraction.
I signed up a contraction with BSN and every weekend I had to work. I used to travel through the States and worked in their Supplement-Stores (Meet and Greet). Every weekend I was on the road…The system was different. No social media.
Today you need social media and you’ll meet the whole crew at the Expo. The whole work is on social media.”
Tim Budesheim: “Are you not angry about the social media situation? There are “Fitness-Guys” making tons of money with just social media”
Dennis Wolf: “Not really, you have to work for success. And those guys worked! They are on social media or on Youtube. They started at zero and build their own business. That’s really ok for me.
If they are passionated with their social media activity…why not? They are not hurting me.
In my opinion the social media guys are working. They are not sleeping the whole day and just getting money.
Tim Budesheim: “Really cool, you are down to earth”
Dennis Wolf: “It’s hard work. Creating content on Youtube is an effort.
For me everybody is allowed to earn their money with passion and fun. We are used to hear: ‘Go to school, college and start working. Waking up in the morning and then in the evening you are allowed to have your “free-time”….From Monday – Friday and at Weekend you don’t need to work.
And the majority don’t like this life-style. It’s really cool to see some people making their own business and earning money plus having fun!
That’s the reason I love America. If you want to be self-employed, then you’ll get support from the State. You don’t need to pay high taxes. I remember in Germany I was self-employed as a Pro-Bodybuilder and the taxes were really high.”
Tim Budesheim: “That’s the german system. There are advantages and disadvantages”
Dennis Wolf: “In America we have advantages and disadvantages too.”
Tim Budesheim: ” About social media: I am making huge effort to create useful content and the click-rate is just lower than the ‘Click-Bait-Videos’ with titles like ‘I will buy an expensive car’……..”
Dennis Wolf: (Laughing)
Tim Budesheim: “Or those reaction videos…. Kiddies with the bodyweight of 120lb reacting to Markus Ruhl’s videos…You know? The viewers don’t want to get useful informations.”
Dennis Wolf: “Yes, it seems entertainment is more popular than useful content. It’s all about money”
Tim: Did you have some pressure during your bb-career? And how you handled it?
Dennis: I was singing up a contraction and had to be at the Mr. Olympia. If you had a two-years contraction, then you have to compete at the Mr. Olympia every year. And the pressure starts there. So I was thinking: ‘What will happen if I am not able to catch the Mr. Olympia Qualifier???”..
Tim: And what will happen?
Dennis: Probably nothing. But I was thinking they will stop paying me. But luckily I was good enough and was able to qualify for the Mr. Olympia every year (11 years).
Further I just wanted to be better every year. Last year I placed fourth then I tried placing third in the following year. And If I was not able to reach my goal, then I’d think quite often about the reason…I’d start analyzing everything…Pressure is everywhere.
In 2009 I signed up a contraction with BSN, and after signing up I placed 16th at the Mr. Olympia. So I thought they will fire me…But the owner of BSN seemed to be relaxed about my bad placement. They said: “Don’t care about it. We have some strategies for your!”… I was really happy about the great support.
One of the biggest pressure will come from yourself!”