Plantation’s 75­-Year-­Old Bodybuilder Richard Rabin Hopes to Go Pro

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In 1994, Richard Rabin migrated from snowy New Jersey to Plantation. The 54-­year-­old retired union leader and former bodybuilder was ready to spend his days taking it easy in the warm weather, entertaining his four grandchildren when they came to visit. Adept at computers, he took up graphic design as a hobby and made birthday and holiday cards for loved ones. 

At first, it was a pretty typical retirement. But Rabin — who had started bodybuilding in 1962 when he was 22 and won the 1986 Mr. New Jersey contest as well as the 1988 USA Masters for the over­ 40 category – decided to start working out again, at Gold’s Gym in Pembroke Pines. Two years passed, and he was ready to compete. At age 56, he won the National Physique Committee’s over ­50 category. But victory didn’t feel the same. He felt too old to go pro. He quit competing altogether, abstaining for the next 12 years.

But Rabin, with his classic X­-shaped figure, was addicted to posing in the mirror. In 2014, the 73­-year-­old signed up for the National Physique Committee’s Southern States Championships. He won first place in the over­ 70 category. This year, he has signed up again for the July 8 competition. Now 75, Rabin is the oldest contestant. If he wins for his weight class, he’ll receive his pro card and be eligible to compete for cash money prizes — a dream he has always had, but one that he thinks is somewhat unrealistic.

“I was considering competing professionally. There’s a considerable amount of money involved,” Rabin says. “But at my age, competing with the younger guys is hard.”

Rabin isn’t giving up just yet. He’s eating lean proteins and green vegetables — anything without carbs. He’s diligent in eating small meals every few hours. He’s working out every day. At the gym, he focuses on a different body group each day: legs, arms, shoulders, abs. “Last competition, I lost a lot of weight. I looked too lean,” Rabin says. “This time, I’m coming in a lot bigger.”

Rabin doesn’t look 75. He doesn’t even look 55. His skin is tanned to look like polished leather. His hair is dyed black. Muscles and veins are bulging out of him. His live-­in girlfriend of the last nine years is his biggest fan. She encourages Rabin to keep with the bodybuilding, to keep going to the gym, to practice his poses. “She’s very supportive,” Rabin says. “She eggs me on. At the championships, she’s my biggest fan. You go on stage and she screams and carries on.”

In the 1980s, Rabin idolized Arnold Schwarzenegger. “He was the big guy at the time,” he says. “I like him. I would watch his movies. Now I think I could beat him.”

A lot has changed since Rabin began bodybuilding in the 1960s especially the poses. “When I first started, I did four turns and that was it. Now you have to do a whole routine on stage.”

But Rabin loves it. He prepares 60-­second choreography consisting of various poses to flaunt different muscles. He wears a black, glitter Speedo. He performs to the tune of the 1982 Whitesnake song, “Here I Go Again.”

“It’s my song,” Rabin jokes.

See Rich Rabin Compete at the NPC Southern States Championships Friday, July 8, and  Saturday, July 9, at War Memorial beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $30. Visit npcsouthernstates.com

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