Since Jay Cutler’s bodybuilding career has been in passing gear the past couple of years, I guess it’s only appropriate that the Ultimate Beef speeds into the Alexis Park Hotel lot in a spiffy black BMW X-5. Cutler has come to the Las Vegas inn on July 27 to zip me back to his new fortress in Summerlin, where Jay and wife Kerry (who was kind enough to lend her hubby the vehicle for the ride) moved three weeks earlier from Aliso Viejo, California. A group of stunned youngsters, in town for a dance convention, recoil in amazement as the massive blond enters the lobby. Less than 30 minutes later I get my own up-close-and-personal tour of the residence. Since the 3,600-square-foot home is still not completed, members of the labor force are everywhere; in the backyard several workers are putting together the final touches on the rock-formation swimming pool and Jacuzzi, complete with three waterfalls.
The Cutler pets, Scraps, an eight-year-old cockapoo, and eight-month-old Trace, an Airedale terrier, make sure I feel at home as they help lead the walk-through of the three-bedroom, 2 1/2- bath house.
Jay smiles as he points to his Arnold Classic trophy, the result of his first-place effort last March in Columbus, Ohio. He grins with pride as he shows off the granite shower (‘a shower for a king, brother’) and the immense, walk-in closet.
We often laugh about the comment I made in 1996 after the NPC Nationals, where Cutler earned his IFBB card at the tender age of 23 and I said he’d never make a great pro. Still a blocky white guy, I told him. He always reminds me of my apology to him in the News & Views after he leveled the field at the ’00 Night of Champions.
After feasting on pasta, chicken and rice cakes, washed down with a tall glass of iced tea, the easygoing Goliath with the humble beginnings sits on his living room couch and opens up about his youth in Sterling, Massachusetts, his controversial loss to Ronnie Coleman at last year’s Mr. Olympia, the failed drug test that was overturned weeks later, his win at the ’02 Arnold and his future plans.
LT: I’ve been checking out all these covers you’ve been on lately. You’re starting to age, bro. Pressures of the sport finally getting to you?
JC: Hey, I’m still the youngest-looking guy in bodybuilding! Do you agree? I’ll be 29 next Saturday. I was born August 3, 1973.
LT: Being the youngest-looking guy in the pro ranks ain’t sayin’ much. Shoot, most of the top contenders almost passed on the Olympia so they could attend their 20th high school reunions. [Cutler and L.T. laugh]. You’re an East Coast guy, raised in a large family.
JC: Yes, I have three brothers and three sisters. I’m the youngest of seven kids.
LT: Didn’t you start working in the family construction business at an early age?
JC: My brothers [Bob, Keith and Randall] had a construction company’Cutler Brothers’ Concrete’and both my mom and dad worked, so my brothers took care of me. I worked with them from the age of 11. I was running around, getting tools for them and whatnot. But by the age of 14 I was out there doing the same things everyone else was. I was carrying forms, which is basically the frames, into which you poured in the concrete. I was carrying heavy planks. I also worked on the family farm, doing wood in the wintertime, haying and taking care of the animals. I was always around physical labor, and that definitely contributed to building a good physique at an early age. Working in the family business not only helped build my physique when I was a kid, but it also gave me the focus that would be so valuable when I decided I wanted to be a professional bodybuilder.
LT: I Imagine you played some football in high school.
JC: I played fullback and defensive tackle in my sophomore through senior years. I was 5’9′ and about 180 pounds.
LT: Did you pump a lot of iron in high school? How would you describe your physique at the time?
JC: Not really. I was always working when the kids were in the weight room at school during summer vacations. I had wide shoulders, no legs and was pretty lean and muscular. I ate bad but was very active, so I burned everything off. I was never lying around on the couch watching TV; I ate poorly’burgers and pizza’but only ate once or twice a day. ALL LT: You met Kerry in high school. When did you ask her out for the first time?
JC: We started dating at the end of our junior year. I had known her since our freshman year’she was the freshman homecoming queen’and I was always attracted to her, but never had the opportunity to go out with her until a couple of years down the road.
LT: Hey, Kerry, what did you think of Jay at the time? Hear he was the homecoming fiend.
KC: [Pauses] Well, he had his locker two down from me. He was a player in high school.
LT: Is that why they called him the Ultimate Beef? [Jay smiles and nods affirmatively; Kerry winces.]
KC: He was a flirt and was always into riding bikes, stuff like that.
LT: Jay, when did you finally call her?
JC: I asked my friend to pass my number along to this girl’because I wanted to take her out. She was on the list. [L.T., J.C. and K.C. bust up].
LT: Kerry, were you ready for Jay’s rap when he called?
KC: Yes. I was tired of cheating men, so I didn’t want to date anyone. I really don’t know why I went out with him. I had seen him the week before he asked me out and had mentioned to my friends that he was in great shape. I had no idea he was going to call me.
JC: [Cuts in] Yes, I was a player, L.T., but I had the reputation of being a pretty solid guy. I never treated anyone poorly and had a mix of friends. I hung out with the jocks, with the burnouts, with the metal heads, the skaters. I got along with everyone in high school.
LT: What did you do on your first date?
KC: We went to Beaman’s Tavern in West Boylston for dinner; then he asked me if I wanted to go back to his house. I was afraid because he said his father was away and I didn’t want to be alone with him. I decided to trust him but sat on the other side of the room. Then a thunderstorm hit, and that really scared me. But he was very nice, and we went out again the next night. We ate Chinese food at the Wind Tikki in Worcester and saw ‘Days of Thunder.’
JC: My dad was on vacation at Busch Gardens that night’and that’s where I was hoping to be in a couple of hours. [L.T., J.C. and K.C. bust up’even the dogs are choking.]
LT: Jay, did you get any action?
JC: Nah’I kissed her.
LT: So it took you a few dates before the fullback scored a touchdown?
JC: Not really’the fourth date.
KC: I plead the fifth!
LT: Rumor has it you told Kerry on your first date that you were going to be a pro bodybuilder. You hadn’t even trained at that point.
JC: That’s true. People always told me I had a great physique and that I should get into the sport. I knew nothing about it and started looking at the magazines. I remember seeing Bob Paris and Chris Dickerson. I still think Bob Paris’ physique is one of the best in the history of the sport. I mean, if you wanted a physique like someone’s, his was it. I don’t have that type of physique, yet he was someone I admired when I first started following the sport.
LT: When did you hit the weights seriously?
JC: On my 18th birthday I bought a membership at Gold’s Gym in Worcester. I put on 50 pounds in my first year of training.
LT: How long before you made your posing debut?
JC: I tore it down and competed after a year. I got second in the local Gold’s Gym Classic. The second show, which I won, was in 1993 and was a qualifier for the Teen Nationals. It was called the Iron Bodies Invitational and held in New York. I did the Teen Nationals that same year and won my class. Branch Warren [who earned his pro card by winning the Heavyweight class at the ’01 Nationals] won the Overall. I was 214 at that contest. LT: Then you came west for a contest. I saw you onstage for the first time in 1995.
JC: True. In 1995 I entered the Tournament of Champions, held in Redondo Beach, California. I weighed in at 241 and won the Overall. I had just turned 22.
LT: You made the pro ranks a little over a year later.
JC: Yes, at the Nationals in Dallas in 1996. I won the Heavyweight class and beat Tom Prince. Willie Stalling won the Overall. That was right around the time you told me I would never be a great pro because I was a blocky white guy.
LT: Well, you are blocky, at least compared to people like Flex Wheeler, Dexter Jackson, Chris Cormier and Melvin Anthony. And you certainly are white. The Swami sure looked good when you bombed in your pro debut at the ’98 Night of Champions. You tied for 11th, a gift.
JC: I was out of shape there, for sure. That was the first year they tested for diuretics, I think.
LT: You came back and had a splendid 1999 season.
JC: I stripped my bodyweight down lower than I was when I took the Nationals. I placed third at the Pro IRONMAN, fourth at the Arnold Classic and 15th at the Olympia. I was 240 at the IRONMAN, 246 at the Arnold and 260 at the Olympia.
LT: I thought you could have finished several places higher at the Olympia, but you didn’t spend too much time pouting. You came back and dominated the field at the ’00 Night of Champions before placing a solid eighth at the Olympia. Jay Cutler had arrived.
JC: A lot of people thought I was washed up after placing so low at the ’99 Olympia. After finishing eighth at the ’00 Olympia, I got second to Ronnie Coleman at the grand prix in Rome and England. I was really happy with my look.
LT: The stunner came a year later. You show up at the Olympia at a chiseled 267 pounds. You led Coleman by six points after the prejudging, but the Big Nasty came back to pass you in the final two rounds to retain his crown. To say it was a controversial decision is like saying Anna Nicole Smith needs to spend a few sessions on a treadmill. You’ve been pretty reserved about the outcome, so let’s cut to the chase. Can you beat Coleman?
JC: Yes, I can. I did it once already. The scorecards at the Olympia prove it. I was ahead after the prejudging, which is basically the contest. People can claim Ronnie’s posing routine, or whatever, was better than mine, but like I put in my music at the Arnold Classic, he went up there and shook his butt and won the judges’ decision. But in my eyes’and in almost everybody’s else’s’I should have been the winner.
LT: Were you devastated when you were announced in second?
JC: No, because at the same time I was happy to be second. I moved up all the way from eighth the year before, I was in my best shape of all time, but after nearly a year of guest posing I feel I should have won. I’ve talked to a lot of people, have seen the pictures, the video. I hear Ronnie’s training harder than ever right now. If he thinks he should have won last year, why is he training as if I’m doing the show?
LT: After your down-to-the wire defeat more controversy hit when you failed the drug test for diuretics, a ruling that was quickly overturned. What happened?
JC: Well, I still stick to my original ground. I failed on diuretics I did not take. Obviously, the decision was overturned for a reason.
LT: You threatened to sue when you first got the news, didn’t you?
JC: It never got to that point because they really had no grounds. The testing was upside-down. There’s certain procedures that the IOC mandates for testing [that were not followed]. I’m stubborn and fight till the end if I believe I’m right about something.
LT: Can you be more specific about the procedures that weren’t followed?
JC: First of all, we were all supposed to be tested at the same time, in the same room. That didn’t happen. I was tested at the night show, while the majority of the testing was done in the morning. We were all tested in the same room but not at the same time. You can’t just drag guys from time to time in a room if you are following IOC regulations. The samples are supposed to be sealed and put into a safe place, but the room was unsecured.
LT: Are you saying the samples could have been tampered with?
JC: I’m not saying that’well, I guess that is a possibility with that type of testing going on. Test samples could easily have been mixed up. LT: If they’re going to test, I don’t think they should only ban certain types of drugs. Your thoughts?
JC: First of all, if you’re going to test for drugs in the professional bodybuilding ranks, you have to have testing at every single contest. Don’t pick and choose. Don’t send out materials saying this show is going to be tested, then not do it. It’s not fair to any of the athletes. If you’re going to drug-test one show, you should have to test them all. Of course, the variety of drugs should be expanded too. There’s a lot of recreational stuff that’s going on.
LT: Even though you’ve said you will not be on the Olympia stage this year, some people think it’s a bluff, that you’ll be in your posing briefs come game day. What’s the real story, and why?
JC: I will not be competing in the Olympia this year. There are a lot of reasons. Of course it was disappointing last year when I finished second and should have been first. But first of all, I’m a businessman. My schedule is absolutely insane now, filled with guest appearances. I’m guest posing next week on my birthday at the Southern States. I’m making almost as much money doing appearances throughout the year as I can at the Olympia.
LT: Are you saying that if you did the Olympia this year, you wouldn’t win?
JC: Let’s put it this way’many people are saying I was right there last year, that I’d win this time. Well, if I ever was close enough to win, it was last year.
LT: Why should Jay Cutler have unseated Ronnie Coleman?
JC: I think I had a better overall package. My conditioning was great, my symmetry was great, my muscularity'[trails off]. I mean, Ronnie is great in certain areas, but one point they are supposed to grade down on is a distended stomach. And he did have an extended belly at the show; I didn’t. I’ve never seen the IFBB rule book on the matter, but if there are supposed to be deductions for this, it didn’t happen at the Olympia. Hey, it’s a sport based on opinion, and I’m sure Ronnie has his supporters. That’s why I’ve never complained about it. But the guy who can stand there and look like the winner in the lineup usually is the winner. How much does somebody’s posing routine mean? I don’t think Coleman poses any better than I do. If it really did mean something, why doesn’t Melvin Anthony win every posing round he competes in? Where did Vince Taylor finish in the posing round at last year’s Olympia?
LT: You went to the Arnold Classic and won a unanimous decision over Chris Cormier, not to mention 100 grand and a new Hummer. Next would be the rematch with Coleman. At least that’s what most of us’including the promoters’thought.
JC: I never committed to doing the Olympia, so I should not have been in any of the ads. [Cutler’s picture appeared in the early ads but not the more recent ones.] I feel bad for the fans who’ve bought the tickets to see me, because I will not be onstage. I’ve already booked my guest spots around the show. I moved to Vegas’that’s another reason I’m not doing the show. Construction is still going on here. I couldn’t prepare for a show properly with all of that commotion going on.
LT: You are going to defend your title in Columbus again?
JC: Yes, I’m hungry to compete again, and I miss not competing at the Olympia. But I’ve never made a bad decision.
LT: Will you do the Olympia in 2003?
JC: [Pauses] I’m undecided at this point. LT: Would it leave a major void in your life if you never won the Sandow trophy?
JC: Not really because I feel right now that the Arnold Classic has the reputation of being the ultimate title in bodybuilding. The Mr. Olympia has the prestige as the best in the world, but if you’re an athlete and you’re going to train for the ultimate prize in bodybuilding, what would you do? I’m going to train for the biggest prize’$100,000 and a Hummer. The Olympia is $110,000. [The most recent ads list a Pinnacle Performance Muscle Car as an additional prize for the winner.]
LT: So last year’s decision played no role in your passing on this year’s show?
JC: No, I’m just trying to be a good businessman. Plus, to go on and win the Arnold Classic convincingly, I need to train one year and to make the improvements I need. The judges look for improvement. I don’t want to be one of those guys who show up exactly the same every year. If you want to make money in bodybuilding, you have to do the guest spots. It’s very hard for me to refuse some of the money that’s being offered to me. I mean, look at this house. The position I’ve put myself in the past two years’dreams do come true.
LT: You moved to California in 1999. Didn’t stay long, though.
JC: I thought I would be in California for a very long time, maybe forever. But I saw a better opportunity here in Las Vegas, a bigger home for my family. I made a lot of money when I sold my condo in Aliso Viejo a few months ago, and I feel the same way about this property. As far as real estate goes, I think it’s the best return on your money that you can find. I’m certainly not going into the stock market these days.
LT: You’ve been in Vegas for three weeks now. Like it?
JC: Love it. I train at one of the Gold’s Gyms’it’s open 24 hours. I didn’t have that. You know, my lifestyle is pretty simple. I don’t do much outside of bodybuilding and business. We’re not clubgoers’you know, we’re not big social bugs. I like spending time with my family, I eat eight to 10 times a day, and I train twice a day.
LT: Even in the off-season?
JC: Yes, I do. I don’t change anything precontest to off-season.
LT: You talked in the past of retiring by the age of 30. Still feel that way?
JC: Well, you never know. Actually, I’m signing a lifetime deal with ISS Research to close out my bodybuilding career. I first signed with them in 2000, a three-year contract. It expires a year from November. I have a renegotiation clause; I’m signing what amounts to a six-year deal’a five-year extension.
LT: You raised more than a few eyebrows when you left Weider for ISS. You are obviously very happy with the company.
JC: They’ve been very, very good to me. ISS made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. At the time I was one of many athletes at the Weider organization’they treated me well, but I always wanted to be the main athlete with a company I could build with. It was a new company at the time, and you’re seeing it grow. We’ve been a sponsor for the past two years at your collegiate show [now called the Western Collegiates], and I’ll be guest posing at the contest next year.
LT: In contest shape too! At what, about 275?
JC: Oh, I’d say about 300. You get what you pay for [L.T. and J.C. bust up].
LT: Kerry has the BMW, what do you tool around town in?
JC: I have a green ’00 Corvette convertible.
LT: And a Hummer on its way.
JC: Yes, it is. It should be here in a couple of weeks.
LT: If you win it again, what will you do with two of them?
JC: I don’t know. I’d like to start a fleet. I think I can mold the two together and start a limousine company [heavy laughter fills the room]. LT: You got married on July 9, 1998, at the Rio Hotel in Vegas. You just renewed your vows after four years. I haven’t read anything about you smacking the wife around, getting popped for drugs or things like that. You don’t lie about your age. You don’t claim fraudulent college degrees. [Cutler says’and Kerry swears to it’that he received an A.A. degree in criminal justice from Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester in 1993.] What’s wrong with you?
JC: You always told me I was too normal for bodybuilding.
LT: Kerry’s been a great sport throughout the interview. But, seriously, she’s been extremely instrumental in your career.
JC: That’s for sure. She’s been there for me since the beginning, and I would have never achieved the success I’ve had without her behind me 100 percent.
LT: You seem more motivated than ever.
JC: It’s been a great ride. If you’d asked me last year if I would be this hungry, I wouldn’t have thought so. But success has brought me a little more hunger to be even better. People talk about the rematch with Coleman. Ronnie’s a great champion and all, but last year’s show spoke for itself. I was very confident going into the Arnold Classic, and I proved something at that show. And the best is yet to come.
Ultimate Beef Training
Day 1: Back, traps, abs
Day 2: Quads, delts, calves
Day 3: Chest, hamstrings, abs
Day 4: Biceps, triceps, calves
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Cycle begins again
Pullups 3 x 8-12
pulldowns 3 x 8-12
Bench bar rows 3 x 8-12
Dumbbell rows 3 x 8-12
Seated cable rows 3 x 8-12
Hyperextensions 3 x 8-12
Dumbbell shrugs 4 x 8-12
Dumbbell raises 3 x 8-12
Hanging leg raises 4 x 25
Crunches 4 x 25
Leg extensions 2 x 8-12
Leg presses 3 x 8-12
Front squats 2 x 8-12
Lunges 3 x 8-12
Leg extensions 3 x 8-12
Lateral raises 2 x 8-12
Dumbbell presses 3 x 8-12
Dumbbell front raises 3 x 8-12
Cable bent-over laterals 3 x 8-12
Standing calf raises 4 x 8-12
Seated calf raises 3 x 8-12
2 x 8-12; 4 x 8-12
Incline dumbbell flyes 4 x 8-12
Bench presses 3 x 8-12
Pullovers 3 x 8-12
Cable crossovers 3 x 8-12
Lying leg curls 6 x 8-12
Reverse hack squats 4 x 8-12
Stiff-legged deadlifts 4 x 8-12
Hanging leg raises 4 x 25
Crunches 4 x 25
curls 2 x 8-12; 6 x 8-12
Standing dumbbell curls 3 x 8-12
Barbell preacher curls 4 x 8-12
Overhead cable curls 4 x 8-12
Dips 4 x 8-12
presses 4 x 8-12
Overhead extensions 3 x 8-12
Rope pressdowns 3 x 8-12
Standing calf raises 4 x 8-12
Seated calf raises 3 x 8-12
Editor’s note: To contact Jay Cutler for guest posings, seminars, surefire ways of luring girls back to your pad on the first date or advice on how to build your own limousine business, write to www.jaycutler.com or www.issresearch.com. IM