I'd read that in 1997, Governor Pete Wilson instituted a "get-tough prison policy" that forced inmates to trim their hair and shave off their beards, long sideburns, and muttonchops. Governor Wilson also banned dumbbells and other free weights from prisons "to keep prisoners from bulking up and becoming more formidable adversaries both in prison and when they are released." But I later learned that the free-weights ban didn't extend to work camps, like the Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown, California. And prisoners not eligible for places like Jamestown found other ways to get strong.
A gentleman who counsels former inmates told me that Tony typified a certain cycle of outlaw life. "These guys have changed their bodies in extreme ways that you or I could never imagine."
Tony told me that in 1988 he took a break from doing drugs and going to jail. He started going to a place in Santee called the Valley Barbell Club.
"Every time I'd clean up, I'd always go back in the weight pile. I'd start working out again. In 1988, I quit drugs altogether. Everything. I quit smoking. I quit drinking. I quit doing dope. But I started doing steroids.
"I started lifting again, and my cousin was power lifting. In fact, he won the nationals a couple times. He was a power lifter, and I started working out with him. I started out at the old Valley Barbell Club. I was off and on there for years. It was maybe 1000 square feet, or a little more. It wasn't that big. I mean, even the mirrors were all broken. It was a nasty place. You could see the outlines of where sweaty, dirty guys leaned their bodies against the walls and mirrors. Anybody and everybody could lift there. I think the main thing about it was that it was 24 hours a day. It didn't matter if you wanted to go work out at 3:00 a.m. Nobody ever came and cleaned the place.
"There were just enormous guys working out there. Absolutely enormous. These guys were as big as houses. Probably 30 to 40 percent were bikers. Long hair, tattoos. I mean, it would be nothing for a guy to be in the Valley Barbell Club and for him to bring a case of beer and work out. That's just the way it was. It was crazy. These guys, they could drink a case of beer and they didn't even have a buzz. These guys were monsters. You don't get that big without using steroids.
"There were a lot of construction workers who went there too. You know, carpenters. They're very vain about being big. It's like my buddy had a T-shirt one time. I always thought it was funny. The T-shirt said, 'Life's too short to be small.'
"So I started lifting again, and after a couple months, well, it takes about eight weeks to start seeing it again. It's all still under there, but you start showing it in about eight weeks. And I knew that [my cousin] used to do steroids, so he got me some Dianabol. Little blue pills. And I started taking those and BAM! I started making gains like I'd never seen before.
"It started out I was going in the mornings for at least two hours. Hour and a half, two hours. You couldn't get it done in any less time than that. Every day. I would be on four days, off one, on four, off one. It didn't matter what day of the week it was. And I would generally go for at least an hour and a half in the morning and then another hour and a half in the evening. I was having to eat 8000 calories a day, at least. Because of the steroids. I would just eat everything in sight. I didn't care. Twinkies. You just eat, eat, eat. And protein was absolutely essential because of the steroids. But I was stacking a lot of steroids.
"I was no longer doing the pill form 'cause of the [liver damage] thing. I heard that was bad. And I had a connection who sold me Equipoise, which was a big 50 cc bottle. And it had pictures of animals on it. It was actually an animal steroid and had pictures of horses and stuff on it. And I was doing all three kinds of testosterone. You had 3 cc in your syringe. You would take, like, 1 cc of Equipoise and 1 cc of testosterone, and then 1 cc of maybe Blasterone and pull that all up in the syringe and pound it in and then, boom! Deep intramuscular.
"I spent hundreds. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars. I was easily spending $600 to $700 a month on steroids, and then another $600 to $700 a month on supplements. A cycle would be anywhere from six to eight weeks. And then after six or eight weeks, you had to go on a ten-day cycle of a thing called HCG, which is a derivative of pregnant women's urine. What it is, you mix it up, and you get ten 1 cc shots of that. What that does is it causes your body to start producing testosterone, 'cause once you take steroids, your body quits producing testosterone. The HCG would start your body producing its own.
"As somebody who was always an angry person, it just got worse. I got acne, a lot of acne, all over 'cause [the steroids] were almost all oil-based. So I'd be breaking out on my shoulders. And I was extremely short tempered. Just like a maniac. And you know how it is when you're laying that weight down. You can get yourself just mad enough to lift it, even if you weren't strong enough. You'd just get mad enough to do it.
"When I cleaned up, I weighed about 160 pounds. By the time I quit that weight-lifting run, I'll call it, which was a couple of years, I was over 245 pounds. I went from not being able to bench-press even 200 pounds to being able to bench-press 405 pounds. My [biceps] must have been 19 inches or better, and my chest was at least 54 inches."