“Make way for the biggest bodybuilder in the world!” Towering at 6’4” tall and weighing anywhere between 330 and 420 pounds depending on the season and competition, Greg Kovacs was certainly the biggest bodybuilder in the world with most professionals never even coming close to tipping the scales at 300 pounds. Truly a legend for his size and competitive streak, the Canadian professional enjoyed the peak of his success in the late 1990s and early 2000s when he boasted massive 27-inch arms, gigantic 35-inch legs and a jaw-dropping 70-inch chest. So, how exactly did he build such a massive frame and where is he now?
Born on December 16, 1968 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, Kovacs was a star athlete but put his sports dreams aside by the time he entered college and pursued a degree in electrical engineering. Spending most of his time playing soccer and hockey rather than studying, he eventually gave up on his plans of becoming an engineer. Instead, he decided to use his impressive size to his advantage and quickly developed an interest in bodybuilding.
After months of training, Kovacs packed on more muscle than ever before and entered his first bodybuilding contest at the 1996 Canadian National Championships. Winning the title and earning his status as an IFBB professional, he officially became the largest and strongest professional bodybuilder in history, which earned him widespread publicity in addition to covers and feature stores in publications like Flex Magazine. But, just how strong was he?
Literally towering over his competitors on the stage, Kovacs was noted for his impressive strength after bench pressing 700 pounds for two reps, doing 500-pound bent-over rows, lifting 500 pounds on the shoulder press and 2,025 pounds on the leg press. As for his competitive streak, his tenure on the stage was surprisingly short-lived and disappointing with 16th place finishes at the 1997 IFBB Night of Champions and the 1998 IFBB Ironman Pro Invitational. He competed in the 2001 IFBB Night of Champions but did not place and wrapped up his career with a 13th place finish in the 2004 Arnold Classic and no ranking in the 2005 Toronto Pro Invitational.
With growing disappointment over his poor finishes on the professional circuit and with no signs of victory in sight, Kovacs announced his retirement in 2005 at 37 years old in an article published by Muscle Insider magazine. In the article, Kovacs described the realization that his body was more suited for size and power than the symmetry and shape required in competing. Hoping to launch his own company and train other competitive bodybuilders, Kovacs did exactly that and trained thousands of athletes around the globe while hosting seminars and giving lectures in Russia, Germany, Greece, England, Spain, Hawaii and Australia.
In 2010, Kovacs’ life took an interesting and tumultuous turn when he was arrested on extortion charges. The story behind the incident was that the Canadian bodybuilder and another man allegedly demanded that the owner of a nutrition supplement store withdraw a large sum of money from his account at the TD Bank in Mississauga, Ontario. Fortunately, the business owner told the bank teller about the threat and, in turn, the staff alerted the Peel Regional Police who sent an undercover tactical squad to the store. Kovacs and the other man were both arrested. Over a year later, Kovacs shared an update on RX Muscle. “A large weight, and I am not talking about a squat bar, has been lifted off my shoulders,” he wrote. “Many of you have probably already heard that I was arrested and charged with extortion… My last court date was on December 12, 2011 and I plead out to a deal that will hopefully end with the possibility of no criminal record…”
Obviously grateful to have a second chance, Kovacs was happy to share the wisdom he learned from the situation with his fans on the RX Muscle website. “Life is too short to waste it worrying about losing a small amount of money, and sometimes it’s just best to get on with your life and write off the loss,” he wrote in “The Kovacian: Trisets, Supersets and Giant Sets…Plus Kovacs Legal Update! “People who know me, know that I’m a big ol’ teddy bear and I wouldn’t hurt a hair on top of a beaver’s head.”
Sadly, Kovacs did not have much time to enjoy his second chance as heart failure claimed his life on November 22, 2013 when he was found unresponsive in his condominium in Mississauga, Ontario. The 44-year-old left behind his mother, father and two sisters in addition to an outstanding legacy as the biggest and strongest bodybuilder in history.
Today, Kovacs is widely revered among amateur and veteran bodybuilders alike for his dedication to building muscle without letting his genetics do all the work alone. Known for training hard at the gym and sharing his expertise with athletes around the world, Kovacs truly gave back to the bodybuilding community even if he never won an IFBB competition. Instead, he was a man whose great deeds and passion for training others fueled his decision to give up bodybuilding and pursue his greater passion—coaching. Because of that, he will always be remembered as the biggest, strongest and perhaps even one of the most compassionate bodybuilders in the world who, despite a minor setback and run in with the law, still managed to give back and share his passion for a sport he truly loved.