HomeArticlesChristian Duque

The Passing of Shaun “Dinosaur” Davis

by Christian Duque

The passing of Shaun “Dinosaur” Davis brings a tear to most bodybuilding fans’ eye. Here is a competitor that gave his life to the sport of bodybuilding without reaping the benefits of major wins or big prize money. When I heard about the passing of this warrior I was truly taken aback because I had often been familiar with his work at the various expositions and seminars throughout the 1990s.

As someone who has interviewed some of the best bodybuilders of the 80s and 90s, the name Shaun Davis was one that I heard often. And although he had been able to receive a kidney transplant he spent many years on dialysis and hoping for the best on the transplant list. With over 300 lbs of rock solid muscle, this competitor was a throwback to the days when freaks ruled the fitness industry.

People often forget but Dorian opened the door and since that point it’s been all about mass. But not about the mass with class that Lee Haney spoke about but rather the mass that freaks people out. And this is why I believe Davis was such a huge star at the expos and why I believe mass monsters continue to command large lines at these events throughout the world.

There’s a fundamental difference between a physique that wins a bodybuilding competition and the kind of physique that sells supplements and accessories. At the end of the day the Dinosaur commanded a tremendous amount of popularity many years before the advent of the internet as a mainstream application and way before that of social media. One can only imagine how big this superstar would have been today with Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and the others. Nonetheless his passing should cause many of us to think about the perils involved in taking the sport to the absolute limit.

I don’t care what anyone else says, there is a correlation between heavy drug use and bodybuilding and things like renal failure, high blood pressure, and early deaths. When John Romano makes the point of show me the bodies I point to people like Shaun Davis.

Although steroids may not have been the direct cause of his death there is no question that walking around at over 330 lbs of muscle while lifting aggressively in the gym will and did take a toll on his life. Now of course there are people that have pre-existing conditions, family histories, and other hereditary complications that may make them more vulnerable to certain things like renal failure. That being said, it is not normal for a human being to take in massive amounts of synthetic exogenous hormones over a long period of time.

Let’s not forget that many of the guys in the 1990s that truly wanted to push the freak card never really came off. They were blasting year-round and they were taking massive doses. Let’s also not forget that back in the 90s a lot of the gear was real. So not only were they taking massive doses but they were taking massive doses of actual compounds that were not intended to be used at that dosage nor at that frequency. At some point the body just stops and it may mean a kidney transplant or it might even mean heart surgery or worse. We have seen guys literally drop on stage, guys as young as the late great Dallas McCarver.

I don’t want to be the person that makes the connection between anabolic steroids and the deaths of bodybuilders. Whenever we lose someone I always dread the idea that the mainstream media might get a hold of it and use it for their own ulterior motive. They have never understood bodybuilding and they probably never will. They see it only as a drug culture and fail to realize the sacrifice that many of these competitors take. It’s not a habit or a fad. It’s a way of life. from what you eat to when you eat it to how much you train to how much you pose. Guys like the Dinosaur were not bodybuilders for a period of time or to land a magazine cover or supplement deal. They ate, slept and dreamt of bodybuilding. This is why I think Davis had so much support in the bodybuilding industry even many years after he stopped doing expos and seminars. People know who the real ones are from the wannabes. If there’s one thing there is plenty of in the fitness industry it’s fakes.

That being said, I really wish we didn’t have to write articles like this as journalists in the bodybuilding world. 57 years of age is very young. It’s nowhere near old enough to retire and quite frankly there is so much life left to live that it makes me very depressed to know that we have lost yet another superstar to what may likely be the after effects of long drug use.

And again I don’t want to be the one to blame steroids for everything but to not even consider their role in the death of a bodybuilder that walked around at over 330 pounds with very low body fat would be extremely naive. And perhaps more so than naive, being in complete denial.

There are people out there that will look at everything except anabolic steroids because they also have their agenda. While the mainstream media’s agenda is to attack steroids for everything – there is also an ulterior motive in steroid apologists that will not attribute absolutely any fault to these powerful substances. Both sides in my opinion are wrong because extremes rarely, if ever, really speak to the truth at hand.

What’s crazy about this particular case is that even after a successful kidney transplant, the body was still probably suffering from the extensive drug use and the amount of size this competitor carried for a period of time in his life. If we are to recognize that smoking and drinking can cause serious health issues even years after a person quits them, then it stands to reason that walking around with this amount of muscle and this amount of weight probably took a toll on this bodybuilder’s life and on his body. and even though he may have come down in size and gotten off all the compounds. The damage may still have been done.

Even after a successful transplant, he may still have been at risk. I think the take-home message here is that we just honestly don’t know how long the side effects of prolonged use of gear can be. A lot of people assume that once the size comes off the body will somehow snap back into action as it was before the size was put on. Not only is that unrealistic but even saying it out loud seems utterly nonsensical.

We need to understand more about health and we need to make health more of a priority. I believe that it’s very easy for bodybuilders whether they be competitors or influencers to get caught up in the moment and not give themselves the emphasis their health requires.

Longevity is a concept that has been lost on many many individuals in this sport. it’s all about the here and now, the next expo, the next event. People live for what they’re going to look like and less about how they’re going to feel. And far less about what’s to come in the next 10, 15, or 20 years. The body can only withstand so much and at some point it may be too late. I am very very saddened to hear this news and send my deepest condolences to everyone in The Dinosaur’s immediate family, his friends, and of course the fans. I absolutely hate writing this type of article but it needs to be said and it needs to go out. We are not talking about the way things used to be many years ago. In a very real way, drug abuse in our sport is as prevalent today as it was in the 90s. Unless we want to read more articles like this, competitors need to put their health and well-being at the forefront. Nobody should be walking around at over 300 lbs ripped to shreds. If that is what the sport requires to be successful, then f*** the sport. That’s just my personal opinion. What’s yours?

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