Boyer Coe The Mysterious Bodybuilder

Boyer had a huge career, winning an unprecedented SEVEN shows in 1981 alone, despite having unusual muscle bellies. His biceps were exceptional with a very visible split between the two heads. Boyer’s training philosophy was unique and here’s a great piece of bodybuilding history written by Shelton Leger – Mr. Berg

Boyer Coe: The Mystery by Shelton Leger
It’s Monday morning, 2:15 a.m. I’m out of bed, putting my workout clothes on. Hey! You must figure I must be sleepwalking; I Mean why else would I be putting my training gear on at 2:15 a.m.

Well, I’ll tell you why, because on the other side of town someone else is doing exactly the same thing. His name is familiar to everyone in the iron game, a great individual and champion, Boyer Coe. Our workouts begin at exactly 2:45 a.m., and I certainly don’t want to keep him waiting. But when I get to the gym I usually find him there already into his ab work. After a good morning gesture, I start my ab routine.

But hold it! Before I go any further into this story, let me go back a few months to when all this began for me. To be exact, it was October 1974. Boyer had just returned from London after a disheartening loss at the Universe. The photos, the crowd, everything said he was winner, but the judges said otherwise. Well anyway, this was about the time I was considering to enter my first physique contest. I had 24 months of training and I figured that I was ready to try my hand in this great and unusual sport. Determined to enter prepared, I sought Boyer’s advice.

At first I was a little fearful that all I might get was an uninterested attitude from him. After all, how many great champions show any genuine interest in a rank beginner in any sport. Well, not this guy! I began to learn just how unselfish an individual he is. Later on I learned that he had helped many others in the past, some of the names: Paul Hill, Steve Michalik, Robbie Robinson, Dan Tobol, Pat Neve and Roy Duval, to name a few.

He showed a real interest in my problem when I approached him with my idea of entering a physique contest. Well, needless to say, we went right to work on a posing routine. He made me pose until I thought my muscles would just rip themselves from their attachments.

It was well worth it as I went on to win my first contest. Without his help and guidance I know it wouldn’t have been possible.

After my win I was overjoyed, Boyer, seeing that I was serious about physique competition, said it was time for me to get into some real serious training.

He was interested in having me as a training partner. Wow! You bet! I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. He warned me it wasn’t going to be easy and it would involve hard work and sacrifices to reach the top. I am sure that he can attest to that, in the 14 years he’s been involved in the game, he has had to make many sacrifices.

I told myself, it can’t be that hard. Next, he told me that we would start training the next morning at 2:45 a.m. Man! That knocked me for a loop.

Being fearful of questioning him, I meekly said, “Why?” He explained that he had always trained early and more recently due to the great popularity of Red Lerille’s Health Club, more trainees were using the gym in the early morning hours.

Boyer desires speed and deep concentration in his training, with no disturbances. He had decided to start at this early hour so we would be finished before anyone else came into the gym. I don’t think he had much to worry about because the only others up at this time would be the milkman and perhaps a burglar trying to break in somewhere.

I was game if he was; after all, here was my chance to learn everything from one of bodybuilding’s all time greats. Yes, October 1974 was a date for me to remember. At first I thought I would never last, training at that hour, plus trying to keep up with this human machine. After about six weeks of breaking into this new routine my strength seemed to zoom; also my physique started to improve right from the start. With six months of training with Boyer I had improved to the point where I was able to win the Mr. Louisiana title. Oh man, was I excited!

But getting back to Boyer – he seemed to train with a vengeance. Losing to London had really fired up his competitive nature. All he ever said when I asked him about it was that “things would be different next time.”

He went through the training routine like a computerized machine. His intense concentration is unbelievable. He constantly sets goals for himself each workout, whether it be a heavier weight or more reps in a particular set.

Our training schedule consisted of 4 workouts per week, each session lasted about two hours and about 12 to 15 sets a body part. This is a great contrast from some of the super-duper blitzing routines that others claim to use, but it’s the result that counts. Each workout we strove to use heavier weights, but always with perfect form. In other word, we strove for a quality workout always a deep pump. 

We were now into April 1975 and Boyer was training for the Professional Mr. Universe contest that promoter Chris Devin was to hold in New York. One of the biggest thrills for me was to be able to go up to New York with Boyer for the show; it gave me a chance to see a really big contest for the first time. When May rolled around Boyer was ready. He had a chance to match muscles with Chris Dickerson again.

Dickerson looked great with his classical type physique but was not match for Boyer, and it was a very clear cut victory.

Boyer seemed pleased with himself, but I think he was happier about Ralph Kroger winning the Mr. USA contest held in conjunction with the Mr. Universe event. Boyer and Ralph have been friends for years, since they first started competing in the AAU Mr. America.

Boyer is strange, in that once something is over, he hardly ever mentions it again, and immediately looks for something else to do and sets another goal.

At once he set his sights on the Mr. World, wanting to win it five years in a row. I think the only reason that he wanted to enter again was that last year, Rick Wayne, who came in second made a little speed on stage to the effect that he did not have enough time to train properly and that he would be back next year and that he would win.

I think Boyer had it in his mind to make Rick stick to his promise of entering; unfortunately, he did not show. Also Dan Lurie had billed the Mr. World as the rematch of the century, meaning between Boyer and Chris Dickerson.

Boyer was unbelievable, every muscle fiber demanded attention from the astounded audience. Much of this same audience had seen Boyer a few months earlier. They just could not believe how someone so fantastic a few months earlier could stand before them and look even better. I think it blew Howard Alpert’s mind (Howard is a regular author for the bodybuilding publications.)

The crowd roared approval as Boyer went from one great pose to another. The packed house went wild when Boyer did his special split bicep pose. Even Sergio Oliva could be heard lashing out praise in his heavy Cuban accent, “Goo-d Boy-er, Marvee-lous Ba-bee!”

Boyer’s routine was an absolute work of art that night. It was 21 first place votes for Boyer, one for Chris.

I also might add that Ralph Kroger won the Mr. America, so it was really celebration time that night.

It was 21 first place votes for Boyer, one for Chris. I also might ass that Ralph Kroger won the Mr. America, so it was really celebration time that night. But, as I said before, Boyer doesn’t let things rest for long. As soon as he got back from New York he started right up getting ready for the Universe in London – it was only two weeks away. He was very confident that he would win and I have to admit I could not conceive of any human being able to defeat him.

Boyer is not one to get excited easily, and about the only time I’ve ever seen him this way was right before he left for England. I think he looks forward to seeing all his friends over there as much he does for the competition. Yes, he did go on to win in London and amaze everyone with his great improvement over the year before.

Leave a comment