“If I have to die tonight, if this weight is going to kill me tonight, so be it!” Praised as one of the most famous bodybuilders of the 21st century, Kai Greene is certainly a force of nature both on and off the stage. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Greene was placed into foster care at only six years old before he was transferred to a handful of residential treatment centers around the city. A rambunctious child, Greene’s mischievous behavior at home often went unnoticed but, at school, it was widely considered problematic thanks to growth spurts that left Greene towering over both his teachers and his classmates. Luckily, his 7th grade English teacher knew Greene was looking for discipline and introduced him to bodybuilding to help the young man focus his mind, find an outlet for his energy and regain control of his body.
Instantly hooked on bodybuilding and the results of seeing his hard work pay off from the moment he set foot in the gym, Greene entered his first competition as a teen before he went on to compete in the National Physique Committee. With mixed success in these competitions, he never lost sight of his goal to eventually enter the professional circuit with the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB). However, everything changed in 1999 when he won the NPC Team Universe contest and was left so disappointed and disheartened with the competition that he considered leaving bodybuilding for good. Instead of giving up on his dreams, he took a five-year hiatus from competing.
Fortunately for the world of bodybuilding, Greene made his grand return as “The Predator” and “Mr. Getting It Done” in 2004 when he took home the title as the NPC Mr. Universe, which qualified him as an IFBB professional bodybuilder. Setting his sights next on the Mr. Olympia title, he spent the next few years training and even had director Mike Pulcinella document his “mind-muscle connection” training routine in the 2009 and 2013 documentaries Overkill and Redemption, the latter of which showed his Arnold Classic win for the second year in a row.
By 2011, Greene took his training to the next level and hired preparation coach George Farah whose expert guidance helped him win the New York Pro Championship in addition to securing a third-place finish at his first Mr. Olympia competition in 2011, which qualified him to compete in the 2012 contest held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Finishing in second place in Sin City, Greene was obviously on a roll as he competed and finished in second place in the 2013 and 2014 Mr. Olympia competitions and left many to anticipate that he would finally take the title in 2015. Amid a flurry of rumors, however, personal circumstances prevented Greene from competing in 2015 as fans and the media speculated that he had been banned from the contest due to steroid use. Denying the rumors and refusing to elaborate on the real reason he wasn’t competing, Greene left the response up to the Mr. Olympia officials who said that he failed to register for the competition before the deadline despite receiving numerous reminders and extensions to do so.
Since his noticeable absence from the Mr. Olympia stage in 2015, Greene refused to let the rumors dishearten him and returned to the stage in 2016 with three first-place finishes in the Arnold Classic, the Arnold Classic Australia and the Arnold Classic Brazil. As if to prove he had even more to offer after years of endorsing products and representing magazines like Flex (while enjoying the perks of sponsorships, of course), he launched his own supplement brand—Dynamik Muscle—as well as his own training program known as The 5P, which is an acronym for “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.”
As many in the bodybuilding industry anticipated, The 5P embodies Greene’s longstanding belief in the “mind-muscle connection” that he refers to as the number one factor in training. “You develop it over time by posing your muscle and also by paying close attention to how your muscles feel when you work them,” Greene says. “Eventually, you get to where your mind can read the feedback your muscles are providing, and your muscles can react to the stimulus your mind is providing… Eventually, your mind and muscles will speak the same language and communicate back and forth.”
Apart from his mind-muscle training, competing and promoting his own personal brands and products, the 41-year-old Greene has plenty to do as he fills his days with podcasts and interviews for various fitness magazines in addition to appearing in documentaries like Generation Iron, which followed the 2012 Mr. Olympia competition. Most recently, he’s even shifted his focus to the silver screen after traveling to China’s Guizhou province in November 2016 to film his part as the villain in the martial arts flick Crazy Fist, which is set to release in 2018. Of course, acting isn’t all “The Predator” has up his sleeve these days.
Despite his tough-guy appearance, Greene is an artist at heart who often creates self-portraits to better envision his ideal self. “As a professional bodybuilder, I’m a master sculptor,” Greene said during an art exhibition featuring his work in 2011. “The art show made me realize that I’ve always been an artist: my medium the human physique. My life is what I make it, just like the art I’ve produced on canvas and on stage. This art show makes this statement. I’m celebrating some personal accomplishments and my own artistic expression.”
As for what’s next for the bodybuilder, actor, artist and trainer, only time will tell. All we know for sure is that there seems to be plenty of opportunities on the horizon for a New York foster kid who’s transformed himself into one of the best-known bodybuilders of the century.