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Cover – Val Vasilef – Mr. America, Russian Bear & Vitol Products

Val-Vasilef-210

Val Vasilef

Rags To Riches
1971 Elvis Aron Presley

By Ed Bertha

Photography by Giovanni Lunardi

Layout by Christian Lunardi

Acquaintance by Christine Vester

If I Can Dream
1968 Elvis NBC-TV Special

Val’s father, Bob, was from Bulgaria. His mother, Anna, was from Russia. At 16 they ran from oppression to the states and established the good life. Raising four children the good life suddenly changed when Val’s father was severely injured, plunging the family into a life of poverty and a journey of hardship. Without income the Vasilefs were moved from their comfortable home and found themselves without electricity and running water. Pumpernickel bread spread with peanut butter, garnished with tomato and mayo, was consumed by the family like a gourmet meal.

Determined to make the best of the situation Val’s mother assured the kids they would survive. Her first goal was to become self-sufficient and grow their own food. A shed on the property held shovels, axes and buckets, all weathered and splintered. Wondering what they would plant Val’s mother surprised everyone by producing packages of vegetable seeds.

Val-Vasilef-410Planting the seeds became a contest of who could till a 100 foot row. Val won the blistered hand contest and thought the next day would be easy. Mom thought otherwise and assigned him to plant the seeds and then the water detail. Priming the pump, filling the bucket and carrying it back to the garden, little did Val know that this would be his introduction to strength training.

“Initially it took quite an effort to pump the water. I had to use both hands and was puffing, out of breath filling one bucket at a time. Eventually I made it a game filling five buckets at a time. With my strength increasing I began pumping with one arm,” Val reminisces.

Chopping wood, tending to the chickens, weeding the garden, life went on and Val continued to get stronger. One day Val and his brother decided to dig a swimming pool and dug for a week. Where did the water come from? The pump, bucket by bucket.

Val the entrepreneur then arrived, selling flowers from the side of the road. Next, Val traded two days’ work for an old bicycle frame. Assembling a working bicycle he then hitched a wagon, took a block of ice and began selling shaved ice cones at the lake.

As a young carpenter a developer inquired if he could handle 55 homes. A competition was set up to see who would win the job. At age 17 Val’s team out worked (and out smarted) the “professionals” and Trio Contractors was formed. Success would fade just as quickly. At age 19 Val’s mother died from cancer and Trio Contractors was abruptly dissolved. There was no one of age to sign legal paperwork and the bank demanded full payment on their equipment. When the tow truck arrived and took Val’s Cadillac convertible his heart was broken. Everything he worked for was gone, and again he would need to start over.

These life experiences growing up instilled a deep sense of appreciation and pride on what was accomplished, and yet to be. “As I look back, it influenced my way of thinking for years to come. Success is not given to you; you must live in reality and earn it,” he shares.

Fame and Fortune
1960 Elvis’ Golden Records Volume 3

Val-Jukebox
A little Elvis anyone?

Val’s journey to fame began by entering a novice competition where he won his weight class and best overall lifter. Bob Hoffman, Olympic lifting coach and publisher of Strength and Health Magazine was in attendance. Mentioning Val’s name in his magazine’s event coverage gave Val the inspiration to become a champion. “It was an honor to be noticed by such a powerful person in character and name who was known worldwide,” he states emphatically.

Winning many first place awards Val felt unfulfilled. He then targeted professional bodybuilding and Olympic weightlifting. Again winning many events, Val decided to just concentrate on bodybuilding. The titles began to come. Mr. Camden County. Mr. South Jersey. Mr. New Jersey. Mr. East Coast. Mr. Atlas. Mr. Physical Fitness.

But could he win the prestigious Mr. America title? Should he invest the time to chase this goal? Could he endure punishing his body training seven days a week? Would he manage the mental discipline training for this title would require?

Digging deep down Val decided to go for it, but he would do it his way. There would be no steroids, the shortcut to the top. He would stick to a regime of alternating training his upper body five hours a day and lower body four hours a day. With a laser focus Val was now training harder than ever, seven days a week.

Val’s first attempt at Mr. America earned him eighth place out of fifty athletes. His goal was now within reach and the battleground set. The competition underway Val recounts, “The tension was so thick you couldn’t cut it with a chain saw.” Prejudging eliminated many competitors and Val made the cut. The lineup was ultimately reduced to five, and Val was a finalist.

Val-57
Baby wanta go for a ride?

From Val’s book Journey to Mr. America I share, “It seemed forever before the master of ceremony announced the ‘Doctor/Air Force Captain’ for fifth place, fourth place went to the ‘Professor’, third place called was a ‘Minister’, the silence was deafening, seemed like an eternity when another ‘Doctor’ was called for second place. When the MC said, ‘Mr. America, Val Vasilef’ – it was the loudest mental explosion I have ever heard.”

Val now held the most prestigious bodybuilding title in the world and was the strongest man to ever do so. This was just the beginning of another chapter in Val’s life.

Got My Mojo Working
1970 Love Letters from Elvis

Val needed to portray the title and notoriety into something much bigger. And he did, Val the entertainer and business mogul.

The personal appearances mounted. Fans lined up for autographs. He authored articles on bodybuilding. The magazines called for photo ops. Val graced the front cover of 21 magazines, including T.V. Guide, and 35 back covers, a record for any professional athlete.

Val-Piano
Bella Vista often echos of magical music

Between the crazed celebrity lifestyle Val formed a record company, Globial, where he recorded and released five songs. His first song was “What Ya Got Baby”. It was a hit and landed Val on TV in New York City for a live performance, the first of many television appearances. This rocket to fame temped Val but he didn’t succumb. It was time for another direction.

Val then entered the realm of television where he launched Slim n’ Trim. The show was geared towards women who wanted to train in the privacy of their home. The viewers mounted and the show’s success lead to the opening of three health spas. But there was still more.

Health was always of interest to Val and he decided to pursue it by taking courses in natural healing and nutrition. Four years later Val earned a Doctor of Naturopathy degree parlaying the degree into research in Gerontology (the aging process). Beyond experimenting with lab rats Val’s body itself became a lab subject.

Val studied and worked with anti-oxidants long before they became a buzz word. His work in retarding the aging process was widely published. Working with specialized nutrients propelled him into the world of natural supplements and the creation of the Vitol brand.

Val-Russian-Bear
The magical elixir Russian Bear

Now he had to figure out how to compete against the national giants. “It can’t be done,” fueled Val’s passion to succeed. A series of personal appearances were scheduled, promoted and things grew from there. Vitol lead to Health is Wealth, a natural frozen food line.

Focusing on business Val’s physique began to fade. He was now down to 175 pounds from his once muscular 215 pounds. “I watched in horror as my muscular body got skinnier, and my mass and density took a hike,” he says. “I tried to overcome my muscle loss by training harder. I frantically searched for info on bodybuilding products, hoping to stop my weight loss.” He tried many of the weight gain products on the market but none seemed to work.

The Moscow Circus billed Val’s Uncle John as “The Strongest Man in the World.” People called him “The Russian Bear” because of his fierce, raw power and awesome muscles. Val fell back on his research and international contacts and developed RUSSIAN BEAR.

RUSSIAN BEAR is a completely natural product. It was designed for all levels of bodybuilders and professional athletes in all sports. With the RUSSIAN BEAR system Val’s weight soon climbed back to 215 pounds of hard muscle mass. Val Vasilef is now “The Russian Bear”.

In a most endearing and authentic fashion, Val attributes much of his lifetime success and achievement to the loving values instilled by his dear mother. So what’s next for this Mr. America winner who holds over 80 bodybuilding, power and Olympic weightlifting awards?

“The girls loved Choose Right Guy, Live Wealthy, so I just finished my third book, Twisted Love. I’m in the process of planning my fourth Elvis commercial, have a woman’s beauty product in the works and am working on a RUSSIAN BEAR calendar. I’m still into heavy lifting and not slowing down.”

In closing I ask, “Why Elvis?” Val responds, “Elvis was an inspiration and role model. His life and aspirations were guided by his mother, whom he loved dearly. He was a very generous person, helping those in need. Last, his music was great and I love singing it!”

Val Vasilef
Vitol Products/RUSSIAN BEAR
ValV@verizon.net
www.VitolProducts.net

Copyright © 2014 REAL Exclusive Magazine www.getrealexclusive.com
Links to this article are encouraged

Photography used under license from Giovanni Lunardi Photography
Photography Copyright © 2014 Giovanni Lunardi Photography

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