by Christian Duque
George Peterson was a larger than life bodybuilding superstar, reaching Top 3 Olympia placings in not one, but two divisions. He dominated the Classic Division and then he went on to dominate The 212. He made fans wherever he went and his content spread like wildfire. The Queens NY native was often seen at the East Coast Mecca of Bodybuilding, Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym and he landed a major sponsorship with Redcon1. Although Aaron and I made peace long ago, the companies I’m loyal to, and my general disposition, put me at a distance from RC1, and as a result, of George, too.
After the 2020 Olympia, however, I thought it was silly of me to avoid him. If I ran an instagram page bearing the name @212Bodybuilding I certainly couldn’t ignore one of the driving forces of the division. I reached out to him and much to my surprise, he allowed me to repost his photos. He was a really nice, down-to-Earth guy, who loved bodybuilding, and couldn’t have been happier doing what he was doing. He was a coach, a writer, an influencer and a competitor.
Who knows where he would have placed this year? I guess at this point, that’s probably the least important thing to discuss, but it’s important that we show respect for this man’s very serious commitment to being the very best. He never got on stage to do anything short of that. In fact, he was so good, that many pundits, fans, and commentators alike, often urged him to go to Open Bodybuilding. Had he done so, I am quite convinced he would have dominated there, as well. Unfortunately, we’ll never know what he would have done, because we’ve lost him.
2021 has been one of the saddest years in our sport. Da Bull’s memory will live on, particularly at the 2021 Olympia, but I’m absolutely stunned, to say the least.
I just can’t understand it. I can’t understand how he made a video just 24hrs ago and looked healthier than a tank. He looked happy and sounded happy. No one really knows what he died from. Some speculate heart issues, others have suggested that his passing was the result of a blood clot. Whatever the cause of his death may have been, I can’t believe it wasn’t something preventable. It probably was.
I always like to think that the best competitors in the world are closely monitored by medical doctors and specialists, but what do I really know? I think I’m like a lot of bodybuilding fans, who assume for the best, who want to believe in the myth that our favorite stars lead these amazing lives, where everything is smiles and good times. The truth of the matter is, we really don’t know. We don’t know what it really takes to compete at the most elite levels of the sport. Maybe there’s pain and maybe there’s suffering and not the kind you push through and feel like a champion. Maybe there’s the kind of pain, where you feel like your entire body is shutting down. Ignoring that kind of pain is utter insanity. Maybe that happens; maybe it doesn’t. What do I know?
I’m not going to suggest that George’s passing was the product of any substance; perhaps, if he did pass from heart or blood condition, perhaps it was a preexisting condition, maybe it was a family trait, or yes, maybe it was the product of an agent. I want to say, that that doesn’t matter, that that’s not something we should discuss. Normally, I’d be all for that, because I think it’s the empathetic thing to do. Now is not the time; however, we have seen many great bodybuilders pass and we have heard about change, but change, seemingly, can’t come fast enough. What’s going on here?
Just a few moments ago, I caught a portion of Shanique Grant’s IG LIVE and in it, she made a really key point. She spoke to how many competitors in our industry never live to see 40 years of age. George died at 37, two days before hitting the stage, and 24hrs after making a video where he looked and sounded, healthy as can be. If he had any inkling that his health was in such bad shape, that he could be dead in 24hrs, I highly doubt he would have done the contest. I highly doubt that he would have been sitting around doing an Instagram video!!
Maybe he knew and maybe those in his camp did as well, but that seems unbelievable to me. The only thing that his fans can take comfort in knowing, is that from many reports that I’ve heard, George passed in his sleep, without suffering, but this type of death isn’t unique to George. In fact, if Petersen died in this way, it would be one of many in the sport.
Change isn’t happening fast enough. Physique-based athletes need closer medical supervision. I’m not sure how you implement that and/or if it’s even feasible to do from contest to contest; however, there needs to be something done. Then again, who’s to say that a routine medical examination could prevent these types of deaths?
Perhaps what’s required are full medical work-ups, full blood panels, and close analysis of preexisting conditions, family histories, and richer understanding of how drugs work in combination with other drugs. Most physique-based athletes stack a number of supplements, some ages-old and others so new & experimental that a Big Pharma scientist hasn’t even heard of them. And should that type of medical analysis fall on federations or promoters? Should it fall on sponsors or coaches? Should it fall on the athlete themselves? Should we be promoting personal responsibility? I don’t know. I don’t know what we can do and I don’t know what would actually work, but people are dying.
To quote Marc Lobliner, “do your own research.”
If you’re an athlete – I know many of you read my articles – don’t trust blindly in anyone. Don’t trust blindly in your coaches, sponsors – anyone. Trust only in your medical doctor and that medical doctor should be board certified and reputable, not some quack in a lab coat.
We’ve lost so many great athletes. Whether it’s Dallas McCarver at 26, George Da Bull at 37, or John Meadows at 49, there may very well be a common denominator. We need change. We need it now! Lip service just isn’t going to cut it.
Rest in peace, George. Your fans will keep your memory alive. You were a great bodybuilder and from everyone who knew you, that I know and trust, you were an amazing person, with a heart of gold.