By Mario Strong

I can still remember as if it were yesterday. It was the first time I ever saw a copy of Dan Lurie's Muscle Training Illustrated. On the cover was legendary bodybuilder Boyer Coe flexing his prize winning biceps in his signature pose. Throughout the pages of Dan Lurie's MTI were inspirational and informative articles illustrated by the champions of the day. One story, however, stood out about a skinny young kid who wanted to make his high school's football team in Staten Island. The article was about a person who had a desire to become something special. Not a doctor, lawyer, or teacher, but someone unique with abilities that very few can achieve. It was about a young man with the will and desire to bring himself past the ordinary barriers of existence and rise up to super human levels of strength and physical performance. The story was about Leon Brown, a young man who rose to fame from his home town of Staten Island and became a national champion during the golden days of bodybuilding.

leon490.jpgAs fate would have it back in the early 1970's, I attended an A.A.U. weight lifting and bodybuilding competition held on Staten Island with my brothers John and Domenic. It was my first ever attendance at an Iron Competition so my expatiations were high. There had been a buzz in the audience that Leon Brown would be at the show sometime late in the afternoon. I'd had never met Leon but new well of him since he was somewhat of a legendary figure in the metropolitan area as well as a constant feature in the muscle magazines. Around 4 PM, while watching the show I noticed people in the audience turning around and gazing toward the back of the auditorium. Naturally, I also looked back and could not believe what I saw. Larger than life, there he stood, grinning and shaking hands with all that greeted him. 'Leon Brown was in the house' and the show practically came to a halt as the Brown Bomber's presence nearly stole the show.

There was the Brown Bomber, this legendary muscle artist from Staten Island, wearing fitted corduroy's with a dark purple knitted muscle shirt revealing a muscular physique that glowed transparently through. The crowd just stood and studied this celebrated national physique champion. Then one fellow yelled out , ''look it's Leon Brown'', Leon always the master of comic relief answered back in a terminator style dialect, ''No, you are wrong, it's Leon Purple'' sending the crowd into a laugh as they gathered around to welcome their muscle hero. My brothers and I also introduced ourselves and were instantly psyched by this Herculean figure, who on this day possessed a muscular structure rarely seen on Staten Island before.

It would be several years later before I would meet Leon again. In 1976, I opened Staten Island's first bodybuilding gym. The club was named Staten Island Bodybuilding USA, and was equipped with York Barbells, Nautilus Time Machines, and a rare set of solid Jackson dumbbells, which dated back several decades. One day, early in the gyms history, Leon Brown walked through its doors with an aura that completely captivated its members.

Here he was, the Brown Bomber, Staten Island's legendary bodybuilder, right there in my gym. Immediately, the clubs members bombarded Leon with questions ranging from training and nutrition, to posing and muscle folk lore. Leon just stood there for what seemed like an eternity, happily answering all, while adding a few stories about the Golden Days of Bodybuilding, which were deeply absorbed by the crowd. After a while, I managed to get Leon's attention and welcomed him to the club by giving him an honorary lifetime membership to Staten Island Bodybuilding USA.

Our friendship has lasted through the decades, as our passion for the sport of bodybuilding has never wavered. Leon Brown has served as an inspiration for generations of bodybuilders, continually guiding them as a motivational force through the barriers of time. There are so many stories to tell and laughs to share for just knowing Leon Brown you can't help but wonder where this powerhouse of energy got his spark for life that still shines brightly till this day. Today, with more than 40 years since the 'iron bug' first bit him, Leon continues to march forward with the fever still burning deep in his heart for the sport in which he loves.

Leon Brown is an old school bodybuilder. He has trained with and competed against some of the greats in bodybuilding. His history in the sport is rich as evidenced by bodybuilding's documentary bible ‘‘Pumping Iron'', in which photo's of Leon are spread throughout the publications pages along with legendary muscle icons Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Frank Zane, and Lou Ferrigno, to name a few. He has seen champions rise and fall and relishes for the pre-anabolic days of ‘Guts and Glory'.

The Brown Bomber continues to trains heavy, full squatting over 500lbs. for reps, while displaying a muscular physique that would rival any national competition. Where others have laid their posing trunks to rest, Leon Brown defies time, continuing to compete on the posing dais, flexing against the best in the World, with the same style and grace he has shown throughout his muscular career. With his Never Say Die attitude, Leon Brown, Bodybuilding's Living Legend remains hungry for the Glory Days of Iron, when True Bodybuilders reigned supreme throughout the realms of Muscledom.