Eric Wooden, initially from Jackson, is a North American bodybuilding champion

They came from the most remote parts of the country. Men who looked more like statues carved out of granite bent and posed. All were judged. One stood high among the others.

Jackson High School graduate Eric Wood beat 121 other bodybuilders and recently took first place at the North American Bodybuilding Championships in Pittsburgh. The victory secures him a place in the ranks of professional bodybuilders and gives him the opportunity one day to fight for the title of Mr. Olympia.

“It was a big moment for me,” said Wood. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. The chance to make a living from it is very exciting.”

Wood beat competitors from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It was a far cry from where his love for sports was born in the Jackson area.

“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Wood. “When I was 19, I put on a number of weights and just fell in love with them. I’ve always loved training, but that was something that made sense for him to take part in some competitions. “

The lifestyle seems glamorous but requires a lot of dedication and endless hours of hard work.

“I exercise about three hours a day,” said Wood. “I do an hour of cardio in the morning and two hours of weightlifting in the evening, and I try to plan one rest day a week.”

This includes a strict diet that must be adhered to at all times in the run-up to a competition.

“The diet is pretty boring,” said Wood. “You have to eat a lot of chicken, steak, oatmeal and eggs. When I am growing, I eat about six times a day. Even so, I am almost always hungry.”

Jackson High School graduate Eric Wood poses with his professional bodybuilding card after winning the North American Bodybuilding Championships in Pittsburgh.

Wood has some time to enjoy his win. His professional debut is not planned for an event in Texas in the summer of 2022.

“I will probably try to start a growth phase in early June,” said Wood. “I hope to gain 15 pounds of muscle before this first pro event.”

The ultimate goal is to become Mr. Olympia. Something Wood knows can take time.

“To qualify for Mr. Olympia, you have to win a pro show,” said Wood. “They also have a points system and you can qualify for it if you collect enough points in enough different events. The guys who usually win Mr. Olympia are usually in their mid-thirties. I still have some time before I get there . ” Period and it may take me some time to get to that level. “

Given the dedication and impressive results of his career so far, it would be unwise to ignore Wood.

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