Mr Muscles taking on world

MUSCLE MAN: Bodybuilder Phil Kuklinski.
MUSCLE MAN: Bodybuilder Phil Kuklinski.

Trying to bulk up for rugby sparked a 20-year career in bodybuilding for a Taranaki man and now a chance of becoming Mr Universe.

"I was really small and started going to the gym to get bigger so I could take the knocks," Phil Kuklinski said.

"I loved it and kept going."

The 53-year-old Inglewood man won the national title in Christchurch last month and will now captain a team of five competing at the Mr Universe event in Seoul, South Korea, later this month.

"It's been 13 years since I've won nationally," he said.

"Two years ago I snapped my Achilles on stage in front of 5000 people and they said ‘you're finished, you've had a good run'. That really motivated me."

Last year Kuklinski was given a TSB Bank Community Trust grant which helped him get to the world champs in Italy, where he placed sixth.

Kuklinski said bodybuilding was half sport and half art-form.

"It's like an artist with a piece of stone, all year you're chiselling away at it," he said. "Instead of a piece of granite it's your own body."

When it came to competition, judges looked at how much muscle each person had, the definition of the muscle and the symmetry between each side and the upper and lower body, Kuklinski said.

"It's satisfying when you see that what you've got is better than everyone else."

Kuklinski's chiselled body not only impresses judges, but also his wife Chantelle.

"Yeah I like it," she said. "When my workmates see photos they go ‘wow, I didn't know he looked like that under his shirt'," she said.

Kuklinski, who works as a petrochemcial operator, said controlling what and when he ate was an integral part of looking good.

"I've been on a strict diet since Christmas," he said. "It's basically chicken, fish, steak and vegetables. I eat every three hours."

And what is the food bill like?

"Shocking," he said.

Taranaki Daily News