Meet the ‘Egyptian Popeye’: The man with the world’s largest biceps



THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published — Thursday 29 November 2012

Last update 28 November 2012 11:50 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

MILFORD, Mass.: Don’t tell Popeye. It turns out you don’t need to eat your spinach to get the world’s biggest arms.
Massachusetts bodybuilder Moustafa Ismail eats seven pounds (three kilograms) of protein, nine pounds of carbohydrates and three gallons of water each day to help maintain upper arms that measure 31 inches (79 centimeters) around — as big as a small man’s waist.
Skeptics say there must also be steroids or some other artificial means behind Ismail’s beyond-bulging biceps and triceps, and Guinness World Records is waffling on whether to recognize him.
But he insists they are all-natural, the result of a punishing workout regimen he started after a guest at his uncle’s wedding in his native Egypt mocked his overweight frame.
“They call me Popeye, the Egyptian Popeye,” Ismail, 24, said while working out in the Boston suburb of Milford. But unlike the cartoon character, “I like chicken, beef, anything but spinach.”
It’s not easy having the world’s biggest arms. Generous amounts of poultry, seafood and shakes provide the protein he needs to fuel daily two-hour workouts in which he lifts as much as 600 pounds (272 kilograms). He also takes mineral and vitamin supplements and drinks plenty of water to flush out his system.
Then there’s clothes shopping. The rest of Ismail’s body is average, so it’s a challenge finding shirts that fit his arms without making him look like a little kid playing dress-up.
Not to mention the controversy that ensued when Guinness decided to recognize him as having the largest upper arm muscles on earth and critics accused him of using steroids or other artificial methods.
He lost a night of sleep but then decided the criticism “is motivation for me — it’s not something that’s gonna put me down.”
Ismail started building his muscles in his Egyptian hometown of Alexandria before moving to the United States in 2007 and settling in Franklin, southwest of Boston.

To pay for his gym membership and dietary requirements, he worked two jobs as a gas station attendant, but gave up one after his wife complained that he was pushing himself too hard.
Then Guinness called last fall, offering him an all-expenses-paid trip to London for a signature appearance with the world’s shortest woman and others.
He went, but then the controversy started. Strangers claimed online that he used steroids or had implants in his arms. Others speculated that he might have injected his muscles with a synthetic oil substance, synthol, used by bodybuilders to fluff muscle tissues.
“It is hurtful,” Ismail said, noting that he has no scars that would have resulted from surgery and that supporting a wife in the US and family members in Egypt doesn’t leave him with spare cash to buy pricey synthetic oils.
He even went to Tokyo to appear in a Fuji TV documentary program in which independent doctors collected blood samples and X-rayed his muscles. They found nothing abnormal, he said.
Still, Guinness hastily removed references to Ismail from its website. Spokeswoman Sara Wilcox said in October that Guinness was conducting research with medical specialists and reviewing Ismail’s category. She did not respond to e-mailed questions later seeking details about when Guinness would conclude the review and what it entails.
Some fellow amateur bodybuilders at his gym, however, support Ismail and say they believe his arms are natural.
“When I first saw him I thought ‘Oh my God, he’s a freak’ — the big Popeye arms, he’s incredible, but he works out hard, so good luck to him,” said Janice Vincuilla.
Ismail has lifted as much as 600 pounds (272 kilograms) but said he doesn’t typically focus on how much weight he is hoisting.
“It’s not about me lifting heavy weights,” he said. “It’s about me making the right techniques, even with the light weights, but getting good results out of that.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Al-Haramain Train project is described as the largest public transportation project in the Middle East. This vital and strategic project is one of the implementation schemes of the mass expansion of the Saudi railway across the country.Th...
JEDDAH: The number of marriages between expatriates and Saudis has dropped 84 percent to 1,928 since the start of this Islamic year that began on Oct. 24, compared to the same period the previous year.The Ministry of Justice said that there were 12,0...
JEDDAH: Unofficial marriage is a refuge for a divorced mother to lead a married life while keeping her children in her custody but without the knowledge of the former husband who could demand the custody of the children if he learned about the ex-wif...
JEDDAH: Makkah’s health department has set up a committee to verify the sick leave certificates of employees.The department stated it would apply government regulations on sick leave, which includes people providing the address of the facilities wher...
RIYADH: The directorate of roads and transport has registered 20 cases of violations worth SR24,500 in Al-Qassim, where the transport ministry continued its surveillance drive against the companies in the transport business.According to the directora...
RIYADH: Muslims must cut traditionally high electricity use during Ramadan in line with the principles of austerity and self-control they are supposed to adopt in this month, economists say.Economist Al-Sadeq Idris said energy use increases during Ra...
RIYADH: The implementation of an integrated health plan to combat MERS has resulted in a sharp drop in cases, with only one out of 736 samples testing positive for the contagion in the Kingdom in the last six days. Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Khal...
RIYADH: Muslims must cut traditionally high electricity use during Ramadan in line with the principles of austerity and self-control they are supposed to adopt in this month, economists say.Economist Al-Sadeq Idris said energy use increases during Ra...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry will begin next Tuesday to check whether companies are complying with new laws requiring them to place proper price labels on all their products.It is mandatory for companies to stop using phrases such as...
RIYADH: Minister of Islamic Affairs Saleh Al-Asheikh chaired the first meeting with Yemeni scholars to exchange ideas on how to strengthen their role in restoring peace in their country.The first Saudi-Yemen scholars meeting, dubbed the “outreach sch...
RIYADH: To cope with the growing number of applicants (boys and girls) at technical colleges that reached 126,023 last year, a state-run organization launched an online unified portal to ease the enrolment procedures.According to the Technical and V...
RIYADH: A senior government official from Dhaka, who visited Riyadh last week, has sorted out technical issues to expedite issuing 1.5 million machine readable passports (MRP) to Bangladeshi expatriates in the Kingdom. Information and Communication T...
JEDDAH: Jeddah municipality is keen to provide health and food security to residents and visitors of the city, and they are continually conducting inspections of food stores, restaurants, markets and food storage facilities to avoid any violations by...
JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has been awarded a top international prize for his contribution to the propagation of the Qur’an.He was named the “Islamic Personality of the Year” by the Holy Qur’an International Memorization Or...
JEDDAH: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier, minister of defense and chairman of the Economic Affairs and Development Council, held a meeting in Jeddah on Monday with Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, deputy national security advis...

Stay Connected

Facebook