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Bodybuilder to Gladiator to Actor: Mark Smith

Plus, I discovered as any committed bodybuilder realizes, that competing at high levels involves a great deal of sacrifice. Everything else in your life must take second place – work, relationships, everything. When you are 18 years old that kind of sacrifice looks different than it does when you are 10 years older.”

When Mark Smith got the opportunity to try out as a Gladiator, he had some advantages. “I had been a boxer and won four bouts. The importance of this is that, while the Gladiator program is a show, it is also a very intense form of combat. You have people crashing into you and not everybody is able to take that kind of contact and survive both physically and mentally. There have been a lot of Gladiators injured just preparing for Gladiator tryouts. Not everybody is able to survive and thrive when it comes to physical combat.”

Performing in one event after another is also tiring. But Mark says at one point he ran several marathons. So, he was no stranger to extended and exhausting physical effort. While others would tire over time, Mark was the “energizer bunny” and just kept going. “If you can’t out-muscle competitors,” he says, “sometimes you just have to out-last them!”

Anyway, one thing led to another when it came to Mark Smith’s career. Bodybuilding prepared him for being a Gladiator and getting lean and mean for that motivated him to slim down and develop more muscularity, which perfectly prepared him for an acting career.

“Everybody has heard that the camera ads weight to your appearance,” Mark says. “And that’s true. Look at Sylvester Stallone in Rocky. He played a heavyweight while he was barely even a light-heavyweight. But he was so defined and muscular that he came across as much bigger than he really was. When you are big and smooth on film, sometimes you just come across as a large lump.”

Mark “Rhino” Smith was born in London and has a hugely colorful heritage – Jamaican, Cherokee Indian, White, and Chinese. “In this age of international jet travel,” Mark says, “ethnic mixture is becoming more and more common. Just look at somebody like The Rock.” Mark starred in the IVT Gladiator series for five years, which led to other acting gigs and finally relocation to Los Angeles as an actor and producer. “I have been fortunate to appear in Creed, Criminal Minds, and other movies and TV shows. But I have always stayed aware that what got me here was my body and my ability to train to be aesthetically muscular.”


“I really enjoyed shooting photos in the legendary Gold’s Gym in Venice,” he says. “I grew up reading magazines like Muscle & Fitness and Flex and seeing all my idols and role models working out in the gym. I think a good bodybuilder should be able to train in any properly equipped gym but there is no double that some environments are more inspiring and stimulating than others.”

Here’s how stars like Arnold, The Rock, Stallone, Dolph, and Hugh Jackman got it done.


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