Living in your father’s shadow is something not many young men would like to do. Recently, Generation Iron director Vlad Yudin had an opportunity to interview Sergio Oliva Jr to discuss “Destroying ‘The Myth”, his perspective on following in his father’s footsteps. “The Myth” was the moniker given to his father Sergio Oliva Sr., the 3x IFBB Mr. Olympia as well as one of only three men to beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bodybuilding contest. Today, Sergio Oliva Jr. is also an IFBB Professional Bodybuilder and winner of multiple bodybuilding contests so far in his career.
Being the son of a prolific figure such as a 3x Mr. Olympia poses its own set of challenges and trying to not be just like Daddy could seem nearly impossible. As a grown man, I wish I could be an adopted child of Sergio Oliva Sr. just so I could say that he was my Dad! Unfortunately, I am not but fortunately, I have a son of my own. While listening to the nearly 14-minute interview, you can hear and almost feel the sadness and grief as Sergio talks about what it was like growing up with his father. I can only imagine the level of discontent Sergio Oliva Sr. felt towards bodybuilding having coming up through the ranks at a time when racism and social injustices were the norm. “A hard head makes a soft behind” is an old adage that is reiterated throughout many American homes. However, a child’s behind could be spared with a little care and nurturing in order to grow the person mentally as well as physically. It seems that Oliva Sr. did not wish to break loose from the “old school ways” and stop being so bitter about whatever or whoever he feels may have wronged him.
It can become challenging when our children travel down a path which we did not pave. Moreso if we don’t agree with that path! However, I would like to believe that a sensible parent would accept whichever life-choice their children choose and assume a role that is supportive and helps them grow. That being said, I will not pretend as if I am the beacon of perfect parenting. I can become frustrated when my children do not share my interests. For example, my ten year old daughter loves to workout in our garage gym with Dad but my eight year old son is content with never lifting a single weight! Their attitudes toward training could change as they age but that doesn’t stop my emotional reaction when my son would rather play Xbox than knock out a few squats before school.
What keeps me from lashing out toward my boy is the fact that I know he will train with Dad when he is ready. I cannot force him to do something that he genuinely does not want to do. Instead, I search for what interests him and bond with him in that way. Whatever path he decides to take, I will do my best to learn everything I can about it in order to do my part with preparing him to be the best that he can be. At about one-third of the way through the video, Sergio Oliva Jr. who is a member of Team Labrada as a sponsored athlete, referenced his apparent jealously toward Hunter Labrada for his bond and connection to his father, Lee Labrada. At that moment, I knew that the best thing I could do for my son is to support him in whatever he likes and chooses to do; assuming it is legal and ethical of course.
I will not attempt to judge a man that I have never met or could ever live up to. Sergio Oliva accomplished more in his lifetime than I ever could dream. However, I could learn from the information presented by his son, the one who shares his name, and could maybe use it to become a better father towards my own children. In this life, the only thing – besides taxes – that is certain is death. How we choose to live our lives is up to no one but ourselves. When we finally meet our end and pass on into what awaits us on the other end, what will our legacy say about us? I cherish my legacy. My children are that legacy. Their perception of who I am, or was, as a person means everything to me. Therefore, I must do all that I can to ensure I leave more positive influence on everyone that depends on me.
Becoming a father is certainly a blessing and has an inexplicable joy that accompanies it. But being a parent is not designed to be an easy job. It is often thankless and unenviable. Many people avoid it like an infectious disease. Being a father does not come with a manual which explains what to do when faced with the numerous challenges of fatherhood. Please don’t let this frighten you. As fathers, one goal we have in our lives is rearing our children in the image of what we believe success should be. It doesn’t matter if it’s following in our footsteps/path or allowing the child to achieve their own destiny.
Mike “Bird” Parrott has been certified as a personal trainer and is currently studying as a strength coach. He provides nutrition counseling and exercise programming. Two of his athletes have become National champions with numerous others achieving many National, American, and Military records while under his tutelage. Moreover, he has assisted with and facilitated over 10 powerlifting meets spanning a 5-year period. He is also a certified state-referee for USA Powerlifting. With only a few years of competition experience under his belt, he is a member of the U.S. Air Force Powerlifting team and is credited with a 245 kg/540 lbs. squat, 152.5 kg/336 lbs. bench press, and 275 kg/606 lbs.* deadlift for a (cumulative) total of 672.5 kg/1,479.5 lbs. with a bodyweight of 86 kg/189 lbs. Contact Mike by filling your information in the contact form below!