Interview, by Ron Avidan
his first pro show, the Southwest Pro in Dallas, Texas, George Farah
became one of the few bodybuilders to place in the top three, and
qualify for the Mr. Olympia. What what is even more amazing about
George Farah is that three years ago, he was shot at point blank
three times, and almost died. With 133 stiches on his chest and
stomach, George has shown the bodybuilding world than anything can
be attained, and his dream of competing in the Mr. Olympia will
finally come true. I spoke with George a few days after the Southwest
Pro, after his stunning pro debut in third place. Here is more about
what did you think of the Southwest Pro Show?
I think it was a very good lineup for me. It is basically like the
'Night of the Champions' line up, just missing a few people here
and there. The show in the beginning was very intimidating for me.
I was backstage, seeing all the guys, and said 'Holy shit, these
guys are big!'. It was my first pro show! I was quite nervous until
I heard my name on the first call out, and that made me relaxed
quite a lot. I knew I was in shape. I would never go on stage without
being in shape. I am basically like a guru on the East Coast, getting
quite a number of bodybuilders ready for shows, so I knew how to
handle it. I felt I was in the best shape of my life at this show,
and I think I added between 30-32 pounds of muscle since the NPC
Nationals in 2000. But I was still worried when I was backstage,
with guys who are 240-250 pounds, and I was only 204 pounds. But
when I got the first callout, it was like 'Oh my God!'.
How did it feel being at the Southwest Pro? Were you nervous?
It's really not that different from the NPC show, but here, you
are competing with people that you see in the bodybuilding magazines.
So you initially are quite intimidated by their presence there.
But I started walking around, and looking around, and I realized
that I am just as good as them, if not better. I breathe the same
air, I trained hard. I did my homework, so there is nothing to worry
about. I really don't get too nervous that easy. I grew up in the
war country, I got shot a few times. I am very calm, and that is
one of the reason's I stayed alive.
Were you surprised at being in the first call out?
Yes, and no. I knew my conditioning was going to carry me into the
show. I personally think I have one of the best symmetry out there
right now, and people were calling me 'the new Lee Labrada'. It
felt pretty good. I got the first call out in the symmetry round,
and I got the first call out in the Conditioning Round. So I knew
when I got that, that I would be somewhere in the top three in the
placings. So I was not worried anymore, because I knew my posing
routine was pretty decent. I knew how to handle the crowd, and I
had fun out there. When the prejudging was over, Shawn Ray came
up to me and told me 'George, you shocked a lot of people out there.
Good job'. I don't even know the guy, but here is the great Shawn
Ray telling me this! Then King Kamali comes up to me and tells me
'This show is between you and Darrem Charles. Darrem is beating
you from the front, but when you show your back, you are just beating
everybody.' I felt like my back was one of my strongest points.
My hamstrings, the back, the lower, the glutes, everything was right
on, and tight. I was really, really excited after prejudging. Even
during prejudging, I was smiling the whole time.
What was your routine like at the Southwest Pro?
I did my routine on a song by Rob Zombie, called Dracula. Because
I will never die. Usually everybody does a slower song, but I wanted
to do something different.
Are you going to compete in the Mr. Olympia?
Oh yes, I got to do the Olympia! It is like every bodybuilder's
dream to be in the Olympia. As for the Toronto Show, I would like
to rest instead of waiting three weeks to compete, but I signed
a contract, and I am going to honor that. If you back out, the IFBB
can fine you a large amount. It would have been nice, given me an
extra three weeks to rest, be nice and clean and all of that good
stuff, and then, 12 weeks before the Mr. Olympia, start my training
You are not going to compete in the Night of Champions?
No, I am not. I did not even sign up for it. Originally, when I
signed up for the contests, I thought that the Southwest Pro Contest
would be first, and then the Toronto Pro was supposed to be this
weekend. But then they changed the whole thing on me, so now I have
to wait three weeks in between. If I had known that, then I would
of done the Night of Champions. But it's all right. I am going to
try to duplicate the condition which should not be a problem. Maybe
I will be a couple pounds heavier. For the Mr. Olympia, I am thinking
I definitely need to be heavier, in the range of something like
6 - 8 pounds heavier with the same conditioning.
What about the other competitors in the Southwest? The judges?
Willie Stalling looked real good, but he just needs to work on his
legs, and he would have been on! J.D. Dawodu is good standing by
himself. He is big and huge. But he is the nicest guy, and he could
have been in the top three, but it was a close competition. To be
honest with you, I think the judges did a phenomenal job, especially
for me, as I am coming from nowhere, in my first pro show, and for
them to pick me first in the call outs makes me very happy. I try
never to bash any other competitor because I believe that everybody
gets what they deserve.
Were you surprised that Craig Titus, Tom Prince, Melvin Anthony
did not place as high as people thought they would?
Well, this is my theory. If you are going to go on the stage, don't
blame your low placings because you are going to peak at another
show, that is bull. I think you should just go and peak for that
show, because the judges are not going to sit down and guess that
this competitor is going to peak for an upcoming show, so lets give
him a better placing at this show. The judges want to see the results
right there and then, at this show, at this moment. You are always
going to hear people talk about the judges, how they are unfair,
this and that. You need to start worrying when the winners start
to say that the judges did not do a good job. So far, I have no
problem with any of the judges. They did a great job. They did not
even know my name and I was up there. If you come in great condition,
they can't deny you. Just like my buddy, Ahmed Haider. The first
year he competed, he did not do that good, but this year, he is
doing phenomenal. The judges could not deny the kid. He surprised
everybody at the February pro shows. We are both going to be at
the same stage at the Mr. Olympia. That is fun!
What do you hear about the theory of mass monsters vs. smaller
I have no problem with mass monsters, but I think the sport also
need smaller competitors, like me, and, and Ahmed Haider. Because
it felt so good after the night show, when I was on stage, and I
received my trophy, people came up to me and gave me hugs and said
'Your physique is something we can achieve. 200 pounds is not an
impossible goal for other people to achieve, so they will come and
talk to you and compliment you when you look that good. Good symmetry
is key. Some people in the audience don't want to look or be like
the big freaky guys because for them, it is impossible to be like
that. So many people were very happy that I placed ahead in front
of many of them. The sport sometimes needs a different view.
What do the judges think of you.
Some of the judges think and told me that I can be the next 'Lee
Labrada'. They told me than I need to add ten more pounds for the
Olympia, and I will be very, very powerful. Just add ten more pounds,
but do not lose your symmetery. I have a 28-29 inch waist, 28 inch
quads, 21 inch arms. I have very small joints, and the judges tend
to like that look, hopefully.
What is your full name?
George Victor Farah
When were you born? Your religion?
August 10th, 1971 in Beirut, Lebanon. I am Christian, as you can
tell by my name George.
How Tall Are you? How much do you weigh?I
am 5'6" tall, and I weight between 228-230 pounds off season.
I came in 204 pounds in this contest.
Where did you grow up? Family life?
I basically grew up between Lebanon and Europe, and I came to the
United States when I was 15. I moved to the United States because
my mother is a citizen of the United States. I have four brothers,
and two sisters. I am the sixth child in a family of seven. I also
lost a brother in the war. My brother was a Marine.
Where do you currently live?
I live in upstate New York, in Rochester.
Are you married?
No, I am single, but taken.
parent's live in Lebanon?
They are between Lebanon and the United States. They have nieces
and nephews here, and nieces and nephews there.
What do you do in terms of work?
I am a personal trainer, and I have a business for myself. I am
in the process of getting a nutritional degree; I have one more
year to go. I actually went to the University of Arizona Tucson
for two years, and also went to the Upton Community College in Chicago
for a while, and am now in the MCC College in Rochester. It is kind
of hard for me, as I am by myself, supporting myself, helping my
family back in Lebanon, my mom and dad.
How did you get started in bodybuilding?
I was very young. I saw Samir Bannout training, one time in the
gym in Lebanon, and I was just amazed by the guy, so I said 'Wow,
someday, I would like to be like Samir'.
When did you get to be more serious about bodybuilding?
I always trained on and off, and I always knew that I can have a
very good physique, but I competed in some local shows, and won
them with no problem, but I never took it any further until, believe
it or not, until I got shot, and then I started thinking more about
it, around 1999.
When was your first bodybuilding contest?
I was a teenager, in 1990, Niagara Falls Gold Classic.
What was your best experience in bodybuilding?
Coming back from the dead, after being shot, after being in a coma,
and making a comeback to the bodybuilding stage. Just walking on
that stage brought great emotions 'Like, Oh my God, I'm alive again.'
Walking on the stage, and seeing a thousand people there, a full
house in the auditorium, and when they saw me, they could not believe
the condition I was in. I was 169 pounds when I won the Overall,
in the 1999 New York State Bodybuilding Championships. I also did
the Junior Nationals in 1999 where I placed second. I should of
won that show hands down, but no one knew me, and the other guy
was the favorite. If you go back on watch the video, you can see
what I am talking about. How did this guy beat George?
When did you turn pro?
At the NPC Nationals in 2000, in the middleweight division.
Does it bother you that some fans say you should be in the top
Most of the fans don't say anything bad to me. I just heard one
comment that someone said that my stomach was bloated and fat, and
I did not understand what they mean by that. Yes, I have 133 stitches
on my stomach, from my chest all the way down to my groin, right
in the middle. I am sorry, I am not perfect, but they need to give
me a little respect out there. My stomach is a little loose when
I don't flex it, but when I flex it, I am on. There is no way that
the judges for going to put someone who is in their first pro show,
first time out, only 200 pounds, in the first call out, if he is
not hard as a rock. So you know that my condition and symmetry was
right on the money at this show.
How did you get shot?
August 13, 1998, three days after my birthday, I was on my way to
work, there was an attempted robbery, and some kids, about fifteen
years old, shot me three times with a .45 caliber gun. I was forced
to go into a coma, because of several cardiac arrests. I was pronounced
dead a couple of times. They forced me into a sedative coma because
my heart rate would not drop; this way my heart would stop beating
so fast. I was in the hospital for about 8 months. They removed
my colostomy bag on January 5, 1999, and in May, I was winning the
New York State championships. No one believed in me. Five months
from the removal of the bag to winning the championships! The later
on I won the NPC Nationals. No one thought I could do it. When I
told people that in my first pro show, I would qualify for the Mr.
Olympia, they laughed at me. And I just did it. When can I get respect,
I just don't know?
How many weeks before a bodybuilding show did you start to train?
I train all year round. I am assuming you mean dieting. I diet for
10 weeks solid, but for the Mr. Olympia, I will do 12 weeks, take
it nice and easy, and try to hold on for muscle size, because I
know condition wise I will have no problem, but for this show, I
sacrificed a few pounds that I shouldn't of, so I will be a little
more careful for the Olympia, and take my time.
What do you tell people who want to get into bodybuilding?
You need to set yourself up with small goals. Like say 'I want to
gain 10-15 pounds'. Don't say, I want to be 250 pounds. Train smart,
eat smart, sleep smart. People are surprised on how I put on 30
pounds in a year and a half. But you know what. I do not eat junk.
I eat clean all year round. I train all year. I don't party. I don't
smoke. I never took a sip of alcohol in my life. So this all goes
into account. You take care of your body; your body will take care
of you back.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
I am not sure? Honestly, I want to be a good ambassador to the sport
of bodybuilding. I want to change the sport of bodybuilding if I
can, because there are so many airheads in the sport, it is not
even funny. You need to have more educated people in the sport of
bodybuilding, because I really believe in this sport, as I feel
it as saved my life. Not only did it save my life after the shooting,
bodybuilding also kept me from the temptations of drinking and drugs,
and all that good stuff. I believe that if people have kids, and
the kids are involved in gyms, sports and stuff, they do not go
as crazy as other kids do. So I want to help people, and show them,
that if you train and workout, all of it will pay off.
How do you know Bob Cicherillo?
I am the one who helped Bob get his pro card. I was his trainer.
Who do you train or did train?
I have trained and worked with a lot of people, including Bob Cicherillo,
Matt Duvall, and Jeramy Freeman. I train usually at the Powerhouse
Gym in Rochester. I am basically like a nutritional advisor more
than a trainer. I set up the diet, and other stuff, including getting
them ready for bodybuilding contests.
Like Chad Nichols?
Chad is one of my best friends? He was really a great help for my
show too. Chad is a very good guy.
Are you happy?
I am a happy kind of guy. I thank the Lord every day that I am still
alive after the ordeal I went threw? I love everybody? I love the
sport of bodybuilding? There are a lot of bad people, but even more
good and wonderful people too, that make me feel good.
Have you been on any magazine covers?
The only magazine covers that I have been on have been bodybuilding
magazines from Lebanon.
What do you do besides personal train?
I always have had my own business. I used to wholesale diamonds
and gold, and I have a wholesale car business. I am always working,
I like to keep busy. I am a jack of all trades.