Berry De Mey sings praises of bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall… so why didn’t he ever go pro?

Berry De Mey is a former pro bodybuilder and currently a well respected bodybuilding coach. His evaluation of physiques and the sport as a whole carries a significant weight due to his knowledge and insight into bodybuilding excellence. So when he calls a competitor one of the most talented that ever lived – it’s an eye catching statement. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Berry De Mey explains why amateur bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall was one of the best bodybuilders of all time… and the likely reason he never went pro.

Beloved bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall sadly passed away earlier this year. He was a bodybuilder known for an immensely pleasing physique. But despite this, he never actually went pro in the sport. During our latest video conversation with Berry De Mey, Mendenhall’s name and memory were brought up. De Mey was quick to claim that, in his opinion, Mendenhall was one of the most talented bodybuilders that had ever lived. That’s a major statement – especially for a competitor who never ended up going pro.

So we asked Berry De Mey to speculate exactly why Matt Mendenhall never became a pro bodybuilder. If he was truly that talented, how could he have not made it into the elite ranks and at least tried to compete and win a Mr. Olympia? De Mey believes that, at the time, Mendenhall never brought in his conditioning enough to earn him a pro card. While his conditioning never came together, it was clear to De Mey that he could have gone the distance once he overcame that hurdle.

Berry De Mey had the pleasure of training with Matt Mendenhall for quite some time. During those training sessions, it became clear to De Mey that Mendenhall was a spectacular talent. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 – and looking back now, De Mey honestly believes that Mendenhall could have become an iconic and legendary pro in the sport. If he had only gotten that pro card, De Mey is confident that he would have become a Mr. Olympia champion.

Berry De Mey isn’t alone in this outlook of Matt Mendenhall. Over time, his name and physique had grown to legendary status despite never going pro. Upon his tragic passing, the bodybuilding community sent an outpour of tributes to the late great bodybuilder. A true testament to how memorable his talent was regardless of his status in the pro league. Perhaps in a different timeline – he would have been a Mr. Olympia great on the same level of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dorian Yates, Lee Haney, or Ronnie Coleman.

When discussing the greatest athletes of all time, it’s easy to focus on statistics such as championship wins. But the truth behind all sports is that there is simply not enough room for all great talent to reach ultimate victories. It’s part of the beauty behind competition. There are a variety of factors that can determine who rises to the top and who doesn’t. In life, there have always been well deserved beloved figures and at the same time unknown genius talents that never get recognized until much later.

That’s why it’s so encouraging to hear a respected name such as Berry De Mey speak to Matt Mendenhall’s legacy. He might not have statistically been the greatest bodybuilder of all time – but in the hearts of many, he was one of the most talented bodybuilders that ever lived.

You can watch Berry De Mey speak in full about Matt Mendenhall in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.