By Laura Lufrano
Staten Island Advance – September 1980

With nearly as many titles to his credit as there are contest, a role in Jeff Bridges movie “Stay Hungry” and regular appearances on the pages of various bodybuilding magazines, there isn’t much that Leon Brown has missed.
Except for winning the Mr. America contest.

Brown, a former Mr. Staten Island winner from New Brighton, is not about to rest until he nails down the one title that has eluded him. He’s not about to rest if he does, either, having hit the comeback trail after a 2½-year layoff with his sights set on turning professional.

leonold98.jpgBrown, who has won the short class of the Mr. America but settled for second for second place in the overall competition three times, will give it another shot tomorrow in the Mr. America contest in Los Angeles. And, after spending almost half of his life training as a bodybuilder, the 32-year-old Brown feels he is finally ready to win the biggest of all amateur contest.

“I think I have a good chance to win this time,” Brown, who currently divides his time between Manhattan and Staten Island, said, “I came very close a few times and I’ve been training hard core since making a comeback.”

Brown, who turned to bodybuilding as a 115-pound 16-year-old because he was to skinny to make the football team at Curtis High School, became well-known in the bodybuilding world before a car accident and personal problems forced him to cut down on his training about three years ago.

Mr. New York City, Mr. New York State, Mr. East Coast, Mr. Eastern America, Mr. Western America, Mr. International and Mr. USA are just some of the titles he amassed before returning to returning to the scene last year, in addition to continued acclaim for his back and muscularity.

The “new” Leon Brown has won the Mr. Tri-state title and has taken second place – to big Lou Ferrigno who plays the “Incredible Hulk” in the Mr. International contest, both in preparation for Mr. America.

The 5 ft. 6 in., 185 pounder has been working out three hours a day, six times a week. He can often be found at Staten Island Bodybuilding in New Dorp, where he would like to begin managing the gym after the contest. “Leon is better than ever, “ Staten Island Bodybuilding owner Mario Strong said. “He has less body fat, more muscle tone; his posing is better and he has just been maturing over three years.”

“Ever since he started training again, I can really see a spark lit up in him – he really wants to win this time,” said Strong.

Brown, who will be appearing in this months “Iron Man Magazine” and who has become familiar to readers of “Pumping Iron,” is looking ahead to seminars, exhibitions and pro shows that come with winning the Mr. America title.

“I have 150 trophies,” Brown said, “so I don’t need any more of them. Now I’d like to go on as a pro.”

And winning tomorrow will make the road much easier.