“I’m up by 4:30 and in the gym by 5:30.” With his love of weight training dating all the way back to high school, Troy Alves had high hopes of becoming a big name in the bodybuilding industry as he competed in the Mr. Olympia, the Arnold Classic, the Ironman Pro Invitational and the Europa Show of Champions. Despite his passion for the sport and his incredible 5’8” tall, 220-pound physique, he never secured the prestigious Mr. Olympia title or the Sandow trophy but remained a fierce competitor on the professional circuit throughout his 17 years on the stage.
Born with a competitive streak and obvious athleticism, Alves spent most of his time in high school as a star on the baseball diamond. Determined to add muscle to improve his game, he quickly developed a love for weightlifting and eventually saw his hard work pay off when he earned a full athletic scholarship to Glendale Community College. Unfortunately, an injury during training cut his baseball career short and, without a scholarship, eventually led him to drop out of college. With a child to support and his future on the diamond over for good, he put his dreams on the back burner and joined the United States Air Force.
Refusing to let his injury squash his passion for weight lifting, Alves knew he needed another competitive outlet to be truly happy and content with his life. “After I finished playing sports, I really wanted something to satisfy my competitive hunger, bodybuilding just ended up fitting,” he told www.Bodybuilding.com in 2008. “I ended up loving bodybuilding not so much for the actual posing and everything that goes into competing, but just for the competition itself. I love competing against the best and bodybuilding allows me to do that.”
Looking up to greats like Kevin Levrone, Shawn Ray and Flex Wheeler, Alves continued to build muscle and eventually made his bodybuilding debut at the 1996 NPC USA Championships. Disappointed with his eighth-place finish, he trained even harder over the next year and made a huge comeback when he won the title at the 1997 NPC Junior USA. Over the next few years, he saw top 10 finishes at the 1999 NPC Nationals, the 1999 North American Championships and the 2000 NPC USA Championships before winning the heavyweight title at the 2002 NPC USA Championships. He made his Mr. Olympia debut in 2003 and, although he finished in eighth place, his top-10 ranking earned him praise from the judges as his incredible symmetry and physique were hard to miss. In fact, his poses launched a media frenzy with Alves taking center stage as the topic of numerous fitness and bodybuilding magazines like Flex and Iron Man.
“I think my biggest strength is my aesthetics and overall balance of my physique,” Alves said. “I think my mental approach to the game is also a big strength. I work as hard as I can at bodybuilding and I love it, but I don’t let it control my life. I have a family and they come first… If bodybuilding is all your life is, eventually you may grow to lament it. I believe that having balance in my life allows me to take more pleasure in bodybuilding and look forward more to each workout.”
Channeling that balance and his passion into competition, Alves won his first professional bodybuilding contest at the 2010 Phoenix Pro IFBB Pro Bodybuilding Show in Mesa, Arizona. Winning the title once again in 2011, he also won the 2011 Europa Show of Champions in Hartford, Connecticut. Two years later, he changed his bodybuilding class to the 212-pound class after previously competing in the Men’s Open division. Under his new class, he competed in the 2013 Europa Show of Champions Florida and secured a huge victory. Although his win earned him an invitation to the 2013 Mr. Olympia in Las Vegas, the Europa Show was Alves’ last competition to date.
Despite disappearing from the stage and later confirming his retirement, Alves has remained active in the bodybuilding industry and founded the Troy Alves Classic Show on April 4, 2014. Sponsored by the World Physique and Athletic Association, the first event was held on October 4, 2014 at Muscle Dome Auditorium in Alves’ hometown of Peoria, Arizona.
Aside from his show, the 51-year-old Alves stays busy running his supplement company known as Pro Nutrition as well as Troy Alves Productions, which is his fitness organization that helps amateur athletes find opportunities in the bodybuilding industry. Through the organization, Alves works to host bodybuilding competitions for amateurs around the country in addition to providing training to ensure they gain enough experience to one day join the professional circuit. As for his advice to young bodybuilders, he tells them all the same.
“Take it SLOW! It is not a race. Have patience because it takes time to build a quality physique. You see so many guys at shows today who try to get huge overnight and they end up either ruining their physiques, their health or they get really bad injuries. I worry about these guys who are young and carrying so much weight around. Quality muscle takes time to build, there is no reason to blow yourself up too quickly.”
With no plans to compete again on the professional circuit, the 51-year-old Alves is still a relevant voice in the industry and will likely influence amateur and veteran bodybuilders for years to come. In fact, some argue that Alves’ biggest accomplishment in the sport has nothing to do with his wins at the 2011 Phoenix Pro Show or the 2013 Europa Show of Champions. Instead, it has everything to do with his devotion to helping others succeed and encouraging them to follow their dreams in the same way he did. And for that dedication and compassion, he is certainly one of our favorites.