Robby Robinson
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Who is Robby Robinson?

Robby Robinson, also known as The Black Prince and Mr. Lifestyle, is a purveyor of traditional bodybuilding.

Before entering the professional circuit, Robby participated in more than 300 amateur bodybuilding contests, making him one of the sport’s most devoted athletes.

Short Career of Robby Robinson

Robby Robinson was the first ever Mr. Olympia in the Master’s category, the first black man to be featured in a muscle magazine, and the first professional bodybuilder to compete in his 60s and 70s in top condition.

Robby has repeatedly stood up for what he believes in when it comes to racism and inequality in the sport of bodybuilding. This brave stance ultimately resulted in a double lifetime suspension from the IFBB and his retirement.

One of the best in the sport, he has never ceased training even though he is no longer competing.

“I still have a 29-inch waist and both arms that are 20 inches long. I started with that in 1975, and I’m still using it today.

Body Measurements of Robby Robinson

Full Name: Robby Robinson
ERA: 1970, 1980, 1990
PROFESSION: Bodybuilder, Personal Trainer, Actor, Bodybuilding Coach, Artist, Actor, Writer
ALIAS: The Black Prince, Mr. Lifestyle, The Bad Boy of Bodybuilding
HEIGHT: 5’7” (170 cm)
WEIGHT: 205–215 pounds (88.5–93.0 kg)
ARMS: 20”
WAIST: 29”

Robby Robinson

“When you win the first of something, it gives you a feeling of real achievement. So winning that Sandow kind of shook all those second places off.”


Most Notable Competitions

  • 2000 – Mr. Olympia – Masters Over 50, 1st
  • 1997 – Mr. Olympia – Masters Over 50, 1st
  • 1994 – Mr. Olympia – Masters – IFBB, Winner
  • 1991 – Musclefest Grand Prix – IFBB, Winner
  • 1989 – World Pro Championships – IFBB, Winner
  • 1988 – Niagara Falls Pro Invitational – IFBB, Winner
  • 1987 – Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 5th
  • 1981 – Mr. Universe – Pro – NABBA, Winner
  • 1979 – Pittsburgh Pro Invitational – IFBB, Winner
  • 1979 – Night of Champions – IFBB, Winner
  • 1979 – Grand Prix New York – IFBB, Winner
  • 1979 – Best in the World – IFBB, Professional, 1st
  • 1978 – Professional World Cup – IFBB, Winner
  • 1978 – Night of Champions – IFBB, Winner
  • 1978 – Mr. Olympia Heavyweight, 1st
  • 1977 – Mr. Olympia – IFBB, Tall, 1st
  • 1976 – Mr. Universe – IFBB, MiddleWeight, 1st
  • 1976 – Mr. Universe – IFBB, Overall Winner
  • 1976 – Mr. International – IFBB, Medium, 1st
  • 1976 – Mr. International – IFBB, Overall Winner
  • 1975 – Mr. Universe – IFBB, Medium, 1st
  • 1975 – Mr. World – IFBB, Medium, 1st
  • 1975 – Mr. World – IFBB, Overall Winner
  • 1975 – Mr. America – IFBB, Medium, 1st
  • 1975 – Mr. America – IFBB, Overall Winner

“Yeah, you have to feel what you are doing. It is the same thing as a relationship, if you want to love someone or something; you have to feel the movement.

I am in touch with the muscle fibers, I am in touch with the exercise, I am in touch with the barbell.”

Biography of Robby Robinson

Early Years & Fitness Discovery

Born in 1946 in Damascus, Georgia, and reared in Tallahassee, Florida, Robby Robinson was one of 14 children, the son of an illiterate mother who was abandoned by a bootlegger father, and he experienced racism and poverty as a child.

Even though Robby’s childhood was challenging, it didn’t stop him from discovering a passion for fitness. When he was just 12 years old, he came across Jack La Lanne, a legendary fitness figure who gave him the motivation to begin working out.

From that point on, Robby takes La Lanne’s lead and develops a passion for fitness. Three years later, his regular training helped him succeed in becoming a high school football star and a track and field athlete.

Robby decided that he wanted to pursue a career in bodybuilding around this time:

When I first saw the illustration of Joe Weider in “Muscle Builder” with gorgeous women hanging off of his arm, I was convinced that I wanted to be a bodybuilder.

Robby was confident he could succeed in the sport after observing how quickly his body changed in response to weight training.

Competitive Bodybuilding

Due to the period, Robby had to build his gym when he first started working out. After several trips to an abandoned sawmill, he created his own set of free weights out of salvaged scrap metal, which would be his first step toward creating his magnificent physique.

As time passed, Robby became an impressively carved slab of pure muscle that was ready for the stage, building on his athletic, high school football player physique.

He began entering as many amateur competitions along the East Coast and in Florida as he could since he needed to get his name out there.

Robinson was recruited into the Vietnam War in 1969, which prevented him from competing; he was stationed in the Dominican Republic and didn’t see action; however, after serving for two years, he returned to the United States more eager than ever to rejoin the tour.

Proposal and Departure from Florida

When Robby received a letter from Joe Weider inviting him to train with the pros at Gold’s Gym, Venice Beach in 1975, he was already an experienced bodybuilder without ever turning pro at the age of 27 and had competed in over 300 amateur events

His calling was in this.

Robby abandoned everything to pursue his ambition at Gold’s Gym despite having a wife, three children, and a position as wire room manager for Tallahassee’s largest newspaper at the time.

Robby knew it was a hazardous decision, but he felt his willpower and genetics would see him through. All he needed was to be in the right spot, and California was that place.

Reaching California

When Robby stepped off the plane in California, no one was there to greet him, and after waiting around for a while, Robby decided to take matters into his own hands and walk 9 miles to Gold’s Gym, directly from the airport.

He couldn’t believe his eyes when he arrived at Gold’s and saw the bodybuilders he had admired for years altogether and hard at work.

Robby remembers the moment he entered, thinking: “This was where he belonged.

“All my idols in one room! Arnold and Denny Gable, Bob Birdsong, and Franco Columbu; these beasts working out with no shirts or shoes and a swarm of people watching from the street,” said the athlete.

Obtaining Gold’s Acceptance

The gym’s manager, Ken Waller, quickly interrupted Robby’s awe when he observed Robinson’s sculpted 20-inch arms and tight 29-inch waist and said, “He doesn’t appear like a man who’s showed up merely to gaze at his members — he’s there to join.”

Robinson appeared to fit the role, but Waller wasn’t sure if he had the strength to carry it off. To earn acceptance, he gave Robby a mission that would test The Black Prince to the maximum.

He assigned Robinson to bench a pair of 150 lb dumbbells, the heaviest weight Robby had ever seen, for a single set of 10 repetitions. Somehow, against all odds, Robinson succeeded:

I have no idea how I completed that set, but the rush of adrenaline and desire to fit in with them seemed like a double dose of steroids and B-12.

Robinson earned the right to train alongside other legendary athletes of the era after demonstrating his mettle.

Circuit of Professionals

By the end of 1975, Robby Robinson had won the titles Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe.

His years in the trenches had served him well, and he was quickly becoming one of the biggest bodybuilders in the business. Robby’s first year in the IFBB is arguably one of the most impressive of any other competitor’s.

Robinson acknowledges that anabolic steroids may have contributed to his performance at this time; he was first exposed to them soon after arriving in California, and he recalls the following incidents:

I was in the gym about two weeks before the Mr. World when an older man approached me and asked, “Well, Robby, what are you taking?” I replied, “Nothing. Come back this afternoon.

I recall the person telling me it was one of the two, Primobolan Depot or Durabolin-50, and I took one shot, winning Mr. World and all the body parts.

Robinson doesn’t entirely attribute his success to drugs, though. He maintains that all of his rivals used identical stacks and that hard effort still played a significant role in his successes; the steroids simply leveled the playing field.

Arnold, Pumping Iron, and Controversy

Robby received a request to appear in the successful bodybuilding film Pumping Iron in 1977.

Robby proposed that he and the other bodybuilders participating receive paid for their participation given the amount of money being invested in the film and the amount of money that Arnold Schwarzenegger was anticipated to make.

Robinson was incensed to see Arnold get so much money while the others earned so little since, at the time, bodybuilders were poorly compensated from competitions and needed all the help they could get.

As a result, Robinson alleges that the backlash exposed him to racist hatred.

Robby provided his account of events in an interview in 2003:

We eventually received $100 a day, but not before further racial epithets of “nigger-nigger” were hurled at me for standing up for myself and the other guys.

“I walked out of his house refusing to be involved in the movie if we did not get paid something,” one of the guys recalls.

We all then signed $10,000 contracts with White Mountain Film Company and Arnold; to this day, Arnold has not paid us a penny, which the public and the media are unaware of.

Robby, however, asserted in 2012 that hostilities have since subsided:

Although I adored the film, I don’t feel bad about it. It greatly influenced the period, the sport, bodybuilders, and Arnold’s ascent.

Difficulties with Arnold

There were more instances than in Pumping Iron where Robinson and Schwarzenegger did not agree.

Mr. Lifestyle was in peak condition, had little body fat, and was aggressively sculpted; in contrast, the Austrian Oak was in shape but appeared “softer” and “puffier” than Robby. Robby thinks Arnold was envious of him at the Russ Warner Classic in San Jose.

Robinson recalls what transpired at the banquet that followed the competition, where everything came to a head;

“After the performance, there was a large banquet. We were all enjoying ourselves and dancing when Arnold entered and began yelling, “Down with the blacks, niggers this and blacks that,” for approximately 10 minutes.

For once he got caught out of shape and I was in contest condition, and my being in excellent form threw him in a negative light and a bad attitude. All of his animosity and rage were directed at me.

I wanted to punch him in the face, but it wouldn’t have helped, so I walked out of the room holding all of my anger inside.

It appears that their working connection ended soon after 1975:

Although I have the utmost regard for him as a professional bodybuilder, I am unaware of him as a person because of the overwhelming number of, shall we say, unfavorable interactions.

Mr. Olympia, IFBB victories, and industry corruption

Robby was dominating the professional circuit in 1977 after winning every IFBB contest he entered, and it was just a matter of time until he pursued Olympia.

For a first attempt, it was an outstanding performance; he won the 200lb+ category but lost the overall victory to Frank Zane. That same year, he took the plunge and began preparing for the Olympia, the biggest challenge of his life.

Robinson attributed his defeat to the IFBB’s racism, saying:

For marketing purposes, “they desired a white Mr. Olympia.”

When history repeated itself in 1978, Robby was beginning to have doubts about the IFBB and how they treated black athletes. Robby won his category but came in second place overall.

Many in the black bodybuilding community agreed with Robinson’s claims that judges favored black bodybuilders who had “the most white traits” and that some competitions’ lighting was unfavorable to black contestants.

Robby thought it strange that he could show up in the best shape of his life and still not win the Olympia, despite a track record of impressive victories at other events, which contributed to the growing hostility between Robinson and the IFBB.

He went to Amsterdam in the 1980s and only returned to the United States for competitions because he was so concerned about the politics in the sport.

He frequently voiced his concerns about the organization and quickly earned the moniker “The Bad Boy of Bodybuilding.”

Mr. Olympia The Masters

The first of its kind, this Mr. Olympia was designed for bodybuilders over 40 and avoided the disadvantage of competing against men in their prime. Robinson was motivated to win it when it first debuted in 1994.

According to rumors, Lou Ferringo had recently signed a new deal with Joe Weider for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and winning tournaments would help keep him in the public spotlight and make him more marketable.

However, Robinson triumphed, becoming Mr. Olympia he had been training for all those years. After his victory, Robby would win the tournament twice more, in 1997 and 2000, finishing first in the Over 50’s division and fourth and third overall.

Ban for Two Lifetimes

Robby kept advocating for black bodybuilders in the community far into his senior years.

Bodybuilders would be paid much less than they are today if Robinson hadn’t been around, according to 8-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.

The Weider brothers didn’t take well to The Black Prince’s criticism of the business, but the final straw was when Robinson claimed that no black bodybuilder had ever been awarded a contract with the Weider company.

Following this, the IFBB took action against Robinson and handed him a double lifetime ban, making an example out of him.

In a 2012 interview, Robby was much more sympathetic to Joe Weider’s choices, saying that Joe could never again participate in the IFBB.

Everyone asks me, “Well, why didn’t Joe Weider give you a contract?” Maybe this wasn’t what I needed at the time; perhaps he wasn’t in a position to do that, but the fact is that he made an impact by promoting me and making a positive statement.

The Accident and Retirement

Robby continued to pursue fitness after leaving the IFBB at the age of 56, becoming increasingly active in the field in a variety of capacities, including as a coach, writer, personal trainer, and actor.

The first few years of Robby Robinson’s retirement, however, were anything from smooth sailing. In 2001, Robinson was involved in a serious vehicle accident that sent him flying through the glass, out of the front seat, and onto the road.

The fact that he miraculously got up after the mishap and continued to the gym to exercise was amazing, but it was also a very risky decision that would eventually catch up with him.

Recovery from an Accident

A few days later, Robby woke up at two in the morning in the middle of a grand mal seizure, but even this didn’t convince him to go to the doctor.

As his condition deteriorated, Robby started experiencing 4 to 5 seizures each day. He continued to push forward and train tirelessly in the hope that the seizures would go away.

To receive the care he required, he eventually checked himself into a VA (Veteran’s Affairs) medical facility and stayed there for 6 months.

Robby claimed that it took him 12 years to fully rebuild himself to the level he was at before the accident, therefore his road to recovery was difficult.

After Recovery

Robby thinks he is stronger than ever after his recuperation, perhaps even stronger than when he was younger.

Robby has taken up a strong objection to the usage of steroids in the sport considering the dangers and damages it may cause to competitors attempting to stay ahead. He is known to guest post in many NABBA tournaments and continues to be in great shape.

According to him, the government needs to do more to protect the welfare of participants because delaying action could eventually harm the sport.

“I believe in the fundamental exercises; I adore the clean and press, the T-bar row, and the deadlift. Those are the exercises that lay the groundwork, so you can always return to them.”

Robby Robinson

Training of Robby Robinson

Robby claims he has never been injured as a result of his training, which is as traditional as it gets.

Robinson’s training split extends across 2 weeks – one heavy week and one light week, three days on – one day off. He still uses machines, but it’s unusual. Robinson feels that the fundamental exercises yield the best results.

To put the muscle under as much tension as possible, the heavy week is extremely regimented, with a predetermined routine and a focus on pausing at the peak of each rep.

The lighter weeks, on the other hand, are largely unstructured, with Robby focusing only on stimulating the muscle and boosting the overall pump.

Example Training Plan

Heavy Week

Day 1: Chest and Back

  • Incline Barbell Press – 3 x 12, 8 – 10, 6 – 8
  • Flat Dumbbell Press – 3 x 12, 8 – 10, 6 – 8
  • Bench Flyes – 3 x 12, 8 – 10, 6 – 8
  • Chin Ups – 3 x 15, 12, 10
  • T Bar Rows – 3 x 12, 8, 6

Day 2: Shoulders and Arms

  • Seated Dumbbell Press – 3 x 12, 8 – 10, 6 – 8
  • Seated Lat Raise – 3 x 12, 10, 8
  • Bent Over Lat Raise – 3 x 12, 10, 8
  • Barbell Curls – 3 x 12, 10, 8
  • Concentration Curls – 3 x 12, 8 – 10, 6 – 8
  • Overhead Triceps Extension – 3 x 12, 8 – 10, 6 – 8
  • Tricep Pushdowns – 3 x 12, 8 – 10, 6 – 8

Day 3:  Legs

  • Leg Press – 3 x 20, 15, 10
  • Squats – 3 x 12, 10, 6
  • Leg Extensions and Leg Curl Superset – 3 x 10
  • Seated Calf Raise – 3 x 10

Light week

When Robby goes to the gym, he only has one goal in mind: the pump. Robby’s light weeks follow a much less regimented approach.

The concept is that Robby offers his body a completely different type of stimulus, targeting the muscle fibers from numerous angles for optimum development. He may perform solo exercises, supersets, or even mega sets (alternating between four or more activities).

It has taken me many years to figure out what works best for my physique, but I’ve discovered that if your nutrition is off, everything is off.

Nutrition of Robby Robinson

Robby considers nutrition to be the most crucial aspect of the bodybuilder lifestyle, and whole, natural meals are among his top recommendations.

He has previously said that anyone who takes their sport seriously should get their meat from family-owned butchers to guarantee that it is as natural and free of hormones and additives as possible.

Foods that Robby Robinson prefers


  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Turkey
  • Ground Turkey
  • Eggs

Complex Carbohydrates

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • Rice
  • Pasta

Fibrous Carbs

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Corn
  • Beans


  • Avocado
  • EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids)
  • Olive Oil
  • Almond Butter


  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberry

Robby is a major supplement aficionado and says one of the reasons he was able to maintain such a well-toned figure in his later years was due to his careful supplementing.

“I advise anyone, but especially an aging athlete, that supplementing makes all the difference. You need to align yourself with vitamins that will aid in your body’s recovery because, as you get older, your body won’t be able to mend itself; you need support.”

Robinson developed the supplement stack he currently uses after conducting his study and reading;

Stack of Supplements

  • TestoFuel – Testosterone Booster
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Glutamine
  • Branch Chain Amino Acids
  • Flax Seed Oil
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Vitamin C
  • Glutathione
  • Essential Fatty Acids

In those days, if you didn’t squat, they laughed you out of the gym, buddy. If you didn’t go over there and deadlift with Franco, they’d be laughing at you.

You don’t want to bench press with Kenny Waller? I mean, they’d run you out of the gym. I remember watching Ed Corney and Arnold squat.

Influences and Idols of Robin Robinson

Jack La Lanne, who introduced Robby to health and fitness, and Joe Weider, whose image appeared in bodybuilding magazines, were his primary sources of fitness inspiration from a young age.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Denny Gable, Bob Birdsong, and Franco Columbu—bodybuilders in the prime of their careers—were Robby’s main sources of motivation as he became more and more invested in his training.

Last but not least, during his competitive career, Robby gravitated toward Mike Mentzer. Mike was very outspoken when it came to the IFBB and training, as was Robby – the two were intensely competitive toward one another.

“Mike was a fantastic man and one of my favorite competitors; I loved him to death.”

“Nutrition and training. If you exercise correctly and combine that with eating, taking supplements, and getting plenty of rest, you can build a great physique.”

What Robby Robinson Can Teach Us?

One of the best athletes to emerge from the Golden Age of Bodybuilding, Robby went on to influence the sport and make it more equitable for competitors rather than just the promoters.

Robby showed us that it’s important to speak up for what you believe in and not let tradition rule your decisions. Robby noticed how some bodybuilders were treated in the profession and made sure his voice was heard.