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
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
“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
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.