Miami – Cristobal Gutierrez turns 72 on Christmas Day, but that isn’t keeping him from preparing for a Miami bodybuilding contest in April at which he’ll share the stage with competitors less than half his age.
Gutierrez, who deadlifts 315 pounds in 10-set repetitions, has won the Mr. Miami and Mr. South Florida titles in the over-55 category.
Remarkable? Sure. Divine? Possibly.
Gutierrez credits his faith for allowing him to keep lifting and pursuing his passion for bodybuilding.
“I’ve always had this in my life,” he told Fox News Latino recently. “God has a purpose for me.”
A former World Wide Wrestling Federation pro who wrestled under the name Chief Running Deer, Gutierrez shows no sign of slowing down, hitting the weights for hours just like he did when he first started as a scrawny teenager in Colombia in the late 1950s.
“I was skinny,” Gutierrez recalled recently at his Miami home. “I didn’t want to continue that way.”
So he turned to the fitness magazines and icons of the era for inspiration.
“I watched the movies of great bodybuilders like Steve Reeves,” he said, “and also read magazines featuring Larry Scott.”
He told FNL, “My body changed naturally. I didn’t take any vitamins or protein.”
Diet helped. “I had an old-school diet like Colombian Indians – eating fish, yucca, plantains, corn and everything else that we could get our hands on.”
But, he said, “I learned to eat well thanks to Charles Atlas. I bought a bodybuilding encyclopedia which I still use.”
Of course, there weren’t a lot of gyms back then.
“I created my weights using concrete in the backyard,” Gutierrez recalled, although that wasn’t altogether unusual. Back then, he said, there were a lot of “guys in the bodybuilding world who started to lift in their garage.”
Gutierrez arrived in the U.S. in the mid-60s, and he started wrestling professionally as “Chief Running Deer,” wearing a Native-American outfit in the ring.
He didn’t last long in the WWWF (the precusor to the WWE). He suffered three herniated discs and went on disability.
During his recovery, Gutierrez couldn’t wait to lift. That's when he started taking bodybuilding more seriously.
The father of two has been married to the same woman, Titi, for 40 years now. He said he stays away from alcohol and cigarettes and says he hasn’t taken any steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.
And he now follows a strict diet that helps him look lean with bulging abs and biceps. For breakfast, he eats nine egg whites with turkey followed by five small meals daily.
On any given muggy South Florida afternoon, the 5’7”, 140-pound Gutierrez can be found pumping iron in his backyard, where he has built a gym constructed out of second-hand equipment.
He incline bench presses and dead lifts and does cardio for about 30 minutes four times a week. He focuses on training one muscle a day.
When he isn’t competing at events, he keeps busy working installing bathrooms and tile in homes.
Over the years, he’s suffered a couple of injuries, including one to his left shoulder, but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his passion.
He still has a few months left before his next competition, but he poses in front of a mirror to make sure his body is defined. He had been training for a November event, but his wife became ill, and he had to cancel.
Gutierrez is grateful for his health and gives back to his community by visiting local senior centers to speak words of encouragement.
Although he realizes he is not a teen anymore, he has no plan of quitting.
“I will never finish,” he told. “I will leave it to God who is the only one that can take me out of bodybuilding.”