He captured the Mr. America title in 1973–and just one glance at his flexing biceps and bulging chest today indicates that bodybuilder Jim Morris has lost none of his amazing physique.
What’s even more surprising is that when most seniors opt for spending their golden years in retired splendor, Morris, at the age of 72, works as a personal trainer who still pumps iron daily.
Morris, who lives in Venice, Calif., won the Mr. America title at the age of 37. He is only the second black to win Mr. America, and he was the first black bodybuilder to admit that he was openly gay.
Since then, Morris has captured dozens of bodybuilding titles that span 37 years. The last title he captured was Mr. Olympic Masters, which he won at the ripe old age of 60.
And Morris is dedicated to the craft-he weightlifts six days a week.
Morris was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Queens. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and was working as a clerk at the main branch of the New York Public Library when a friend persuaded him to start weightlifting at a gym in the South Bronx.
“I was 19, and I’d never been in any gym other than in school. I walked in the gym and I was amazed,” said Morris. “I was looking at all the well-built guys there, but that’s when I had an epiphany and realized they’d built themselves.” That first bodybuilding experience for Morris was a personal revelation. “I loved it. My body felt so good. I had sort of found my place,” he said.
Morris continued bodybuilding when he joined the Air Force in 1961. His superiors were so impressed with his massive physique that he was put in charge of the Air Force’s fitness program. By 1966, Morris was competing in contests on the East Coast. During the ensuing years, he became a firefighter and even served as a bodyguard for Elton John for 15 years.
Over the years, Morris said he learned how to isolate, define and control the lines of his body by seeking advice from other professional bodybuilders and by reading classic anatomy books such as the The Anatomy Coloring Book by Kapit and Elson.
A personal trainer since the mid-80s, Morris said he is religious about his training regimen. And his amazing accomplishment has not gone unnoticed–Councilperson Jan Perry honored Morris at her 7th annual “Seniors Celebrating Life Social” last October at the Los Angeles Convention Center. As for his diet, Morris, a vegan, said he eats nothing but nuts, vegetables, and fruit. He shuns foods such as cheese, butter and oatmeal. “I don’t even use any seasoning on my food now–no salt, no pepper, nothing,” he revealed.
Morris, who was featured in the October 2007 issue of Iron Man magazine, said that he is highly disciplined about his diet and exercise regimen. “How we live determines how we age. The major factors of living–nutrition, activity, stress and rest–are also the major factors of aging, all of which are totally under our control. The responsibility of how you age is yours and yours alone,” Morris said.
Jim Morris can be reached at his web site www.Gymmorris.com.