Jim Morris is in his seventh decade and he's probably in better shape than you are. At 77 years old, Morris has had a 50-year body building career and is a vegan. His fitness career has provided him with the opportunity to travel around the globe and plenty of excitement.
Morris' body-building career started at the age of 19, when a coworker invited him to go to the gym. At the time, Morris had never been to a gym outside of his school, where there were no weights. The visit was at the beginning of the summer though and, while he liked the environment, he vowed to return at the end of the season, when it would be less sweltering. He returned to the gym on Labor Day and says that he went into a trance. By Thanksgiving, he had gained 35 pounds of pure muscle.
By 1966, Morris won Mr. New York, followed by Mr. California in 1970, Mr. America in 1973 and Mr. Universe in 1977. At the time, he was an anomaly in the bodybuilding world; he was only the second black man to win Mr. Universe (the first won in 1970) and was openly gay in a time when no one was. Bill Pearl, a former competitor, said that before that, "if you were black and had the greatest physique in the world at that time, you were not going to win a major physique contest." Morris and his contemporaries helped to usher in the idea that bodybuilding was not just a hobby, but a sport.
Since then, Morris' peers have left the area, left the sport or passed away. Even the Mr. America competition has folded. But Morris is still active. For 15 years, he was Elton John's bodyguard. He ended his 19-year retirement from bodybuilding to compete and win in the over-60s division for the Mr. Olympia tournament.
He credits his austere diet for his physique; he became a vegan at the age of 65. Morris basically only eats beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables - no animal products, no oatmeal and no butter.
"God, no," he said, disgusted, to the last item.
"I would get 2 [to] 3 colds yearly and allergy attacks as often. Since becoming vegan all my health problems have completely disappeared," Morris said in an interview. "Most miraculously, after wearing eyeglasses for 35 years my sight improved to where I only wear them on rare occasion for extremely small print. I no longer take any medication. I do take a weekly injection of Testosterone and [Vitamin] B-12. My yearly checkups are perfect."
He leaves in Venice Beach, California and works as a personal trainer.