// photo by Agnes Lopez
Dexter “The Blade” Jackson recognized three things as an aspiring bodybuilder. People will disparage your dreams, your focus must remain steadfast and you must consume so much canned tuna that you become dizzy at the thought of eating any more.
“All I ate was canned tuna and veggies, I wanted to throw up. I was tuna’d out,” laughs Jackson.
As a 21-year-old living on the Westside, Jackson worked at a Publix warehouse, fathered an infant daughter and continued to pursue his dream. “The guys at the warehouse, they always laughed about my [competition] outfit,” Jackson says. “As a five-foot-six, 137-pound bodybuilder I wasn’t expected to go far. Leading up to my first pro-qualifying competition I said, ‘Ya’ll know if I win this thing I’m not coming back’.” He didn’t go back. But the financial spoils of victory didn’t arrive immediately.
It wasn’t until Jackson was hand-picked to compete in the 1999 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic that his career took off. He soon found himself as the posterchild for Muscle Tech and Hydroxycut, leading up to a 2008 victory at the Mr. Olympia competition— regarded as the world’s pinnacle of bodybuilding.
“Until the Arnold my girlfriend and I were pretty much sleeping on the floor, raising our children and training,” says Jackson, who, with 78 top-five finishes and 28 wins, is an icon in the sport. And at 47 years old he is still ranked second in the world.
Now, all 250 pounds of “The Blade” are sustained by a strict dietary regimen of eight ounces of steak, six ounces of salmon, two cartons of eggs, 14 ounces of chicken, five cups of rice, 12 ounces of potato, five ounces of grits, a few apples, pineapple and walnuts spread out over six meals daily. That fuel enables Jackson to spend Mondays squatting 650 pounds, Tuesdays benching 550 pounds, Wednesdays shoulder pressing 500 pounds… the list goes on.