Ormond man overcomes traumatic childhood injury
Mike ‘Broc Man’ Ives fulfilled a lifetime dream July 19. The 57-year-old won his body building “pro card” at the Central Florida Classic Pro Am at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center. After nearly losing his arms in a childhood accident, and body building for 30 years, he can now call himself a professional.
The tournament was one of three natural body building tournaments, where contestants are only allowed to take natural supplements and vitamins, organized by Jim Mora of Ormond Beach. Ives had tried to get his pro card in natural body building for 15 years.
Becoming a professional was a long road.
When he was 15, he worked at a paper mill, and one day was asked to substitute for the person who runs the baler, the machine that uses tremendous force to compress stacks of paper.
He said he took his eyes off the job for a second, and the machine crushed the paper down onto both arms, up past the elbows. He was there for hours before someone checked on him.
“I went to heaven that day,” Ives said. “God said, ‘I’m not ready for you.’”
He said his entire life flashed before his eyes, back to his early childhood.
“People ask me about the pain,” he said. “I say, ‘What’s the definition of infinity? That was the pain.’”
The doctors wanted to amputate, but he heard his dad in the hallway, telling them no.
After months in casts, and years of therapy, his arms were undeveloped, and he often didn’t have feeling in his hands. He still had pain, and said he learned to meditate to overcome it.
Then one day he saw a magazine with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the cover.
“I went out and bought one of those 110-pound weight sets full of sand,” he said. “I bought a heavy bag and a speed bag and started working out.”
He entered the Mr. Philadelphia contest, where he grew up, when he was 21 years old. He didn’t place, and said he went home and cried.
He said after that he had dreams of getting a first place trophy. “I thought about it every day,” he said. He worked out for years, and finally in 2005, he won a first place trophy. He won first place in the novice heavy weight division at the Mr. Daytona Competition in 2005.
“That’s when my career took off,” he said.
He won other titles, but a pro card is only given in a sanctioned tournament where there are at least five competitors in the division. Natural body building is a growing sport, but still relatively young, and often does not draw that many contestants.
Five years of sacrifice
Lex Kovacks, who attended Tomoka Elementary and Ormond Beach Middle School, and now lives in South Daytona, can testify to the difficulty of earning a pro card. At age 25, he finally got his card the same night as Ives at the PAC.
“It took five years of dedication and sacrifice,” he said. Kovacks had an extra burden. He works as a traveling salesman, and to eat right on the road, packed all of his meals in a cooler. To work out, he often got up at 4 a.m. to go to a gym before seeing clients.
He said he now plans to enter professional competitions with cash prizes.
‘Exercise is free medicine’
Ives, who performs in the 50 to 60-year-old class, said he’s looking for a sponsor, such as a vitamin company, and plans to take part in professional shows.
He also wants to study nutrition at Daytona State College, and help others get fit. He has worked as a certified personal trainer.
“The number one thing you need is patience,” he said. “People will say they want to lose some fat on their body; I ask them how long it took to get it.”
The important thing, he said, is to get started and set a goal.
“Give yourself an honest chance for fitness,” he said. “Exercise is free medicine. It will change your attitude, your happiness.’
Natural body building
Ives is grateful for encouragement and help by Bill Mora, of Ormond Beach, who organizes three natural body building shows in Ormond Beach each year. He also sells natural supplements on his website, muscleshopnutrition.com.
Mora believes natural body building is the way to go, to maintain the best health.
“I try to promote natural body building to kids that are just getting started,” he said.
He said getting a pro card in natural body building takes a lot of commitment.
“People who get a pro card are the ones who don’t stray from their nutrition plan,” he said. “It’s a lifestyle.”
Ives is known by everyone as “Broc Man.”
In 2005, when getting ready for the Mr. Daytona show, he ate nothing but chicken, for protein, and broccoli, for carbohydrates, for 16 weeks.
“I did it for 16 weeks,” he said. “Then one day I looked in the mirror and I swore I saw a head of broccoli.”
Ives can be reached at 215-287-9974. On Facebook, search for Broc Man.