“I’m a dreamer. The world was built by dreamers. I was a kid who left Montreal to the United States and no one thought I would have made it, and I became one of the best bodybuilders of all time.” Keeping the company of giants alongside greats like Lou Ferrigno and Dorian Yates, Paul “Freak-enstein” Dillett is best known for being larger than life with a 6’1” frame weighing anywhere from 284 pounds during competition to 300 pounds in the off season. While good genetics certainly played their part in his impressive physique, Dillett put in his fair share of hard work after first getting his start as a football star in the Canadian Football League. Realizing that football wasn’t his passion, Dillett shifted his focus to weight training and set out to become a professional bodybuilder.
Relocating from Quebec, Canada to Venice Beach, California in the 1990s, Dillett quickly became a regular at Gold’s Gym and soon was the talk of the town thanks to his muscle insertions and bone structure leaving other athletes and aspiring bodybuilders green with envy. With enough confidence to compete in 1991, he entered his first professional bodybuilding competition at the North American Championships where he took second place and instantly became a star. Following up with a first-place finish the following year, he earned professional status and joined the ranks of IFBB bodybuilders.
Dillett didn’t waste any time after earning his professional ranking and entered the 1993 Arnold Classic where he finished in fourth place. He followed up the contest with yet another fourth-place win at the 1993 Ironman Pro Invitational before ending the year with his Mr. Olympia debut where he finished in sixth place. With his success quickly blossoming, Dillett made headlines as he shocked commentators, fans and fellow competitors during the 1994 Arnold Classic when he froze on stage, leaving four event officials to carry him off the stage as paramedics were called to the scene. Like most bodybuilders, Dillett had deprived himself of water and carbohydrates prior to the contest to look as ripped as possible. This left him so dehydrated that his body froze and the veins at the surface of his skin collapsed, making it hard for paramedics to find a vein to start IV fluids. Fortunately, they eventually found a vein and ultimately saved his life with the entire incident later reported in Muscular Development magazine.
Quickly bouncing back from the incident with top four finishes in the 1994 Grand Prix England, Grand Prix France, Grand Prix Germany, Grand Prix Italy and Grand Prix Spain, Dillett improved his Mr. Olympia standing with a fourth-place finish in the 1994 competition. By 1996, he was back on track and spent the next decade competing in everything from the Grand Prix Czech Republic and the Grand Prix Switzerland to the San Jose Pro Invitational, Night of Champions and the Southwest Pro Cup. Always finishing in the top ten, Dillett’s best performance came in 1999 at the Night of Champions where he took first place.
As for his Mr. Olympia standings, Dillett never won the title but managed to make the top five in 1994 with a fourth-place finish. Over the next three years, he ranked fifth place with his last ranking coming in seventh place at the 1999 event. However, although he never secured the title, his efforts were entirely respected as he dedicated himself to staying in pristine shape to ensure he was always a true contender in the most sought after bodybuilding title in the world.
After Dillett’s big victory at the 1999 Night of Champions, several bodybuilding and fitness magazines like Muscular Development celebrated his win with feature stories and covers. Immediately realizing that this was the highlight of his professional bodybuilding career, Dillett never took the publicity or his success for granted although his rankings continued to drop over the next few years at competitions like the 2002 Southwest Pro Cup and the 2003 Grand Prix Hungary. Returning to his native Montreal in 2006 for the Montreal Pro, Dillett placed tenth in his last professional competition. Six years later, he announced his official retirement.
While Dillett seemingly disappeared from the stage between 2006 and 2012, he was busy behind the scenes starting his own company, World Beauty Fitness and Fashion, Inc. Taking his place as the owner and CEO with his wife, Allison, as the Executive Vice President, Dillett founded the company as a way to give models and bodybuilders an opportunity to compete in tournaments and find success and fame in their industries. Furthermore, Dillett has put a new spin on the competition and promotes beauty, fashion and fitness in one category.
What’s even more surprising about Dillett’s WBFF is that the former bodybuilder has built the entire company around the idea that bodybuilding—at least as he knew it—is now dead. “I think bodybuilding is dead,” he told Bodybuilding.com. “It’s nowhere nearly as popular as what it used to be in the 1980s and 1990s when it was at its peak. It was a different time.” Now, Dillett is marketing to a younger generation who wants to look nice with rock-hard bodies but doesn’t want to go to the extremes of bodybuilding. That’s what WBFF is all about.
As for Dillett himself, he’s exceptionally proud of his history in the industry. “I am out of the game, and looking back at everything, I regret nothing,” he said. “I loved the way I looked. I thought it was great. But, like anything else in life, you have to evolve. You have to change with the times. You have to give the fans and audiences what they’re looking for.” Doing exactly that with the WBFF, Dillett has once again proven that he has what it takes to wow his audiences time and time again.