Former Olympia Promoter Wayne DeMilia Reveals How Flex Wheeler Lost His Kidney

Wayne DeMilia recounts Flex Wheeler suffering kidney failure.

The nature of bodybuilding brings with it a great deal of positives. Not only does a promote building quality strength and living a healthy lifestyle, but also building confidence as well. But there is a darker side to bodybuilding, one that many refuse to discuss.

Professional bodybuilders push their physiques to the limit. If you have dreams of becoming Mr. Olympia then it requires doing anything necessary. For many that has resulted in high level competition victories. For others it has meant losing their lives in search of glory.

To put it bluntly, the drug use in bodybuilding has proven to be a double-edged sword.


During the 90s era of bodybuilding competitors pushed themselves way past their physical limits. Not only did that trained to excess but they also utilized drugs that many bodybuilders refuse to use today.

There are have plenty of cases of bodybuilders taking things too far and losing their lives. Some of these cases were seen first hand by former Olympia promoter Wayne DeMilia.

Regarded as one of the best promoters of all-time, Wayne DeMilia has seen many bodybuilders succumb to reckless drug use. From Mohammed Benaziza to Mike Matarazzo, DeMilia has witness countless high level bodybuilders in dire straits.

Another such bodybuilder was the legendary Flex Wheeler.

Wayne DeMilia (left) and Flex Wheeler (right)

In his interview with Valuetainment, Wayne DeMilia revealed an eye opening story about how Flex Wheeler lost his kidney.

“We had incidents with Flex twice on the tour with diuretics. And one time when it happened in Spain we took him to the hospital, they gave him some saline solution, normalized him. They were going to send him home.

“I said ‘I don’t feel secure putting him on a plane from Madrid to LA, ten, twelve hours. What if something happens over the ocean?’ No, he’ll stay with us.

“So we go to Germany and we’re giving him fluids and then he starts passing out. I was there with Kevin Levrone. We get him back to the hotel and I call an ambulance again. Of course he didn’t want to go, but he’s got to go.”

But it appeared that was only the beginning of the drama as Flex Wheeler took a turn for the worse.

“He was in bad shape. I go back, and the doctor says to me ‘What is this man doing chemically. I know bodybuilders do drugs, but his left kidney is basically shut down, and his right kidney is weak.’ I said ‘Flex, you gotta give me your bag of goodies, we gotta know what you’re on so we can do all this.’ So we found out, this and that, and he was in the hospital close to a week.”

This incident of utilizing diuretics no doubt led to Flex Wheeler’s kidney failure. As a result he eventually had to undergo surgery.

Incidents like these make you wonder how far is too far to secure victory? While having glory will allow you name to ring out through history, it could mean paying the ultimate price.

What do you make of Wayne DeMilia and his story about Flex Wheeler? Would you sacrifice your body for glory?

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Managing Editor at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.

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