by Christian Duque
First and foremost I’d like to say that we all mourn the passing of The Brazilian Hulk Valdir Segato. For whatever it’s worth, he loved what he did and he lived life according to his own terms. Beyond that I don’t know very much about him but here I am writing an article about his passing. I send my deepest and sincerest condolences to his friends, family, and supporters.
That being said, to call this guy a bodybuilder does no favors for the sport or for the countless physique-based athletes that eat clean, train hard, and take quality supplements for years and even decades on end. To compare Segato’s look to that of Arnold is whimsical at best and downright absurd at worst. But that’s exactly what the mainstream media has been doing, from The Sun to the New York Post. Unlike in prior decades when sports writers and paparazzi publications had less knowledge about what in fact bodybuilding was all about I could understand the mistake then, but most of these writers know better today.
In fact, many of the stories that were run speak directly to the fact that Valdir’s physique was oil-based. It’s very clear that he hadn’t built any quality muscle because the only areas that showed huge size were the muscles he shot up. Many of these guys might have big arms or big delts or big chests but everything else looks like that of a normal in-shape person. In more glaring situations some of these “synthol” freaks have blown up body parts while the rest of their bodies hold fat and no noticeable musculature of any sort. And just to be clear, we use the term “synthol” very loosely. What they are injecting is actually nothing like the site enhancement oils used by most bodybuilders. These are homemade concoctions that really run the gamut.
When it come to those who are badly out of shape and fat – it’s all the more abundantly clear that what they’re dealing with has no foundation in either physique-based or strength-based sports. Rather than being honest with their reporting, however, many writers and publications are motivated by hits and clicks. They will ignore the obvious. They play down the fact that these guys train with minimal weight, that they have no range of motion, that they can’t flex and that they lack any semblance of symmetry. These poor, pitiful souls are walking trainwrecks but they provide for easy stories and thus are inundated with interview requests and coverage.
There’s a reason why so many of these guys take to pinning themselves nonstop. They know the huge risks involved – from horrible infections, to amputations, to death. While they’re usually not well-educated and oftentimes come from the poorest regions of Brazil and Eastern Europe it wouldn’t be accurate to say they’re stupid or have a deathwish. Some of them may have bigorexia and some of them may love bodybuilding but nothing about their actions seem to speak to it.
They’re not after leading a healthy lifestyle or learning about how nutrition, training, and quality supplementation works. All they truly want is attention. They know they could eat clean and look great, but so what? Some may even know how to build a good physique and they could probably get on gear and get a pro card, but that’s not enough. Having ripped abs or nice arms might get you some followers but it’s not going to prompt TMZ traveling to the Amazon. No one is going to bring their cars to a screeching halt over a guy with a good-looking physique. Whether they want to admit it or not, many of the guys who walk around with shitty physiques equipped with 23” balloon arms (like the late Brazilian Hulk) see their efforts as a vehicle to get them out of their reality. Fame becomes as addictive and sought-after as money or material wealth.
I mean what on Earth would possess a 55 year old man to pump bottles and bottles of B12 oil into his arms? Who’s going to cast a person with such a look in a major motion film? What company would want them in their commercials? Do women find that attractive? Although we all know the answers to these questions we also know that getting attention by the mainstream media and developing an overnight social media presence can be tantamount to all the rewards that would normally come with success.
If you live in modest conditions in a poor region of a poor country and all of a sudden journalists and camera crews are looking for you, that’s enough to create a level of fanfare reserved for politicians and millionaires. Many of the synthol freaks like The Brazilian Hulk or Europe’s Klaus Doring didn’t necessarily have huge followings on social media, but being perceived as a celebrity in their local communities was enough. Then you factor in the fact that most people in these poor regions of these poor countries maybe don’t have a clue about what bodybuilding is, and it might be enough to fool most if not all people involved.
Although these guys are playing with their lives and it’s aggravating to see the amputations and close calls many of them face, it’s hard to put the blame entirely on them. The paparazzi have a huge amount of the blame and the more of these stories that come to light the greater my animosity for them becomes. These outlets trip over themselves to give these guys attention as they provide huge amounts of traffic at very little to no cost.
Have you ever wondered what guys like Valdir were paid for their time? As previously stated, many of these outlets send full-on teams to cover these guys. Many times they’ll follow them around. They’re with them at the gym, in their homes, it’s almost like a documentary with endless stories coming from a 1-2 day stay. They get hours of usable footage, hundreds of photos, and may even get exclusivity agreements signed. And what do guys like Valdir see out of it? A hundred bucks? Maybe five hundred? What’s $500 going to do when your days are numbered? None of these guys got rich off the coverage they received – you can bet on that!! It’s very much a one-sided deal.
My critics will argue that I’m making excuses for stupid people and that they have only themselves to blame. That’s true to a point but the media outlets that fawn over these guys also have a huge amount of blame as far as I’m concerned. If no one cared about how ridiculous these guys looked, I’d bet my paycheck that most of them wouldn’t put themselves through this. Many probably lead what they believe to be insignificant lives and they’re willing to kill themselves just to feel like they matter. That’s a really sad reality.
The passing of the Brazilian Hulk is truly a tragedy but there will be more. He wasn’t the only guy engaged in this bizarre lifestyle and he certainly won’t be the last. Even to those around him, who knew him and saw what this insanity got him, I doubt they’ll be discouraged. In a very real way those who pursue this approach to making a name for themselves probably suffer from mental illness and will continue to be taken advantage of by media outlets with little to no moral scruples I’m doing so.
What’s your take with regards to the guys destroying their physiques in this way? Whether it’s oil, implants, or dangerous homebrew concoctions. Should we mourn their passings as tragedies or chalk it up to the stupidity of people who should know better?