Tony Roberts has become a jack-of-all-trades bodybuilder
The IFBB Pro League is best known for its athletes, and rightly so, but there are plenty of support players who help ensure the competitions run as smoothly as they do. Some of these people fulfill several roles throughout the year at different times. You may not know their names, but the overall experience of being at a show is maximized by these hard working people.
One such person is Tony Roberts, a man who wears many hats in the industry. The contest promoter, organizer and organizer can be seen at many trade shows, from regional NPC trade shows to Olympia, where he has been accelerating the world’s greatest physical athletes since 2016. In his mind, the best way to know he’s done a good job is if you don’t notice he’s even there.
“It’s an honor to be on this stage in any role. I thought ‘someday I want to work on this show,'” Roberts said of his work at Olympia every year. “But when you’re up there, you want to make sure the league looks good, the athletes look good, the stage is polished and you just want the show to go on.”
This mindset and professionalism can be directly linked to his service in the United States Army. The Nashville, TN native is a first-generation military man, but that doesn’t mean his family didn’t inspire him to join. He made the decision to joining the Army because he didn’t want to force his mother to help him through college.
“I actually had to get my mom to sign for me because I was still in high school,” said Roberts, who was 16 at the time. “We didn’t have the resources to go to university, but I wanted to do something. So that led me to the military.
Roberts enlisted in the US Army and will serve for 21 years. His career has had several highlights, but when asked about his most significant moment, he remembered it like it was yesterday.
“That was the moment I met my drill sergeant, Staff Sergeant Newkirk. When I saw the way he carried himself, the discipline he had and his leadership, I thought to myself at 17 I wanted to be a drill sergeant,” Roberts recalls.He got to see what it would be like firsthand because Newkirk tasked Roberts with cleaning his office every day throughout basic training.
“I just started imitating myself after him, doing things like him. He had a really, really big impact on me. He set the tone for me and my military career.
Roberts would call these lessons he learned the most valuable during his service. His goal would be achieved as he would eventually become a drill sergeant himself, and that would be the rank he held when his active career ended in 2002. Among the honors that Sgt. Roberts received the Army Medal of Honor, Meritorious Service Medal and others along the way. The next chapter of his life will focus more on another passion he has developed – bodybuilding and fitness. His commitment to personal physical excellence came as he tried to improve on the Army Physical Fitness Test.
“The test was a little tougher then than it is now,” he recalls. “Whatever the best score was at the time, I wanted to reach the maximum.”
This motivation has translated into his training and business activities. At the gym, Roberts’ physique improved drastically to the point that he was asked if he had bought a gym somewhere. He had worked as a trainer during his service and he became a personal trainer after retiring from the army.
“I discovered that I could motivate people,” he said. He also decided he wanted to push himself to a new level, and he found it in the form of bodybuilding competitions.
“I started looking Flex and Bodybuilding and fitness magazines because back then you could get complete programs that included training and nutrition,” he explained. He also had someone in his area he could turn to for advice, IFBB Pro Don Long.
“He was like, ‘Tony, here’s what you need to do,’ and he was recommending all these suggestions to me. So in 2000, I went to my first NPC show in Reston, Virginia. I won the general at my first show, and I grabbed the [competition] Thumbtack.”
He never turned professional, but Roberts enjoyed attending shows and wanted to support the sport and the athletes who participated in it. He would begin assisting the Maryland NPC President at trade shows, gaining more experience along the way.
“I extradited, I gave awards, I did everything,” he said. Eventually, he would be guided by legendary promoter Gary Udit as well as Rick Bayardi to promote competitions and support athletes in the DC, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area. Some of the contests it promotes include Armed Forces National Championships and NPC Battle Royale.
“I have to give all my success and where I am in the fitness world to Gary and Rick,” he humbly acknowledged. “
He also has strong support at home in the form of his wife, Viktoria Grygorian. Besides his own military experience and competitive background, Roberts credited him with being a perfect match both professionally and personally.
“When it comes to the business side of the house, we found out very quickly that we worked very well together,” he said proudly. “Personally, she helps me when I go to trade shows because she’s discovered that I don’t stop to rest or eat. So she would remind me to take a break or bring me meals to eat during the day. I noticed that I recovered faster because of it.
Roberts, along with all of the people he is proud to rub shoulders with and be associated with, has accomplished a great deal and had a profound impact on many who follow our industry, but he is a trendsetter and he has its eyes set on what’s to come, including the NPC Armed Forces Nationals 2022 and NPC Battle Royale competitions, which are set to take place on October 1 in Alexandria, Virginia. These events are important to him as they combine both his military connection and his current role in bodybuilding. Ultimately, both are meaningful because of what Roberts is most passionate about – service to others.
“You take care of your people, they will take care of you.”