Dennis James has been bringing on a wide variety of guests to join him, Milos Sarcev, and Chris Cormier on The Menace Podcast. One recent episode had two guests, Dave Palumbo of RX Muscle and former bodybuilding great Dennis Newman. All five gentlemen in this episode have a connection to the bodybuilding scene in the 1990’s. Newman, specifically, turned pro by winning the overall at the 1994 NPC USA Championships. However, he didn’t get to celebrate that accomplishment for too long because he could tell something was off while he was onstage.
“The white blood cells took over the red blood cells, and I was losing oxygen,” Newman told the panel. “I couldn’t catch my breath, and I couldn’t understand why. The photo shoots the next week were gruesome.”
Newman was diagnosed with leukemia, and as quickly as he rose to prominence, he was brought right back down to Earth. Instead of competing in shows and qualifying for the Mr. Olympia stage, he was trying to stop the disease from advancing to a more serious stage. That battle would take three years, but Newman survived it. He returned to the stage in 1998, being the first known bodybuilder to pull off such a feat.
Newman said, “It was the first of a kind that somebody had come back (to compete) after having cancer.”
Newman would compete four times as a pro between 1998 and 2001 before calling it a career. He still trains but admitted he isn’t connected to the sport now. He and the rest of the guys did talk more about Newman’s leukemia battle, memories with Cormier and Palumbo, how the competitions worked back in his era, and they all shared several entertaining stories.
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