Record-Breaking FAMU Bodybuilder Returns PDF Print E-mail
By Latasha Edwards and staff -- Black College Wire   

At first glance, Theodore Atkins may seem like just another face in the crowd.

But the second glance will reveal more.

The Famuan
Theodore Atkins Jr.
After earning multiple academic degrees and placing fourth in an international bodybuilding show, this Florida A&M alumnus decided to return to campus with a desire to never settle for the ordinary.

Atkins came back this year to his alma mater to get his education specialist certification.

"I'm getting it through the school of psychology and I'm going to apply for graduation this spring," Atkins said. "I feel that FAMU was the pedestal, which propelled me to reach the level of success I [have] today."

The 28-year-old bodybuilder, who has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's in psychology, began his freshman year with hopes of being on the football team. But his mother did not want him to play football, so he changed careers.

"She told me she didn't want me to play football because she was scared … my grades would suffer, so I started working out," Atkins said.

He trained with FAMU fitness center director Bob Carroll and assistant director Gei Nam Lim, and they later became his mentors.

"They taught me how to pose in body building-lift right properly. They taught me how to diet. They even taught me how to train properly," Atkins said. "I started body building because of Bob Carroll. Bob Carroll noticed I had genetic potential. I had good proportion. He noticed I had the discipline it took."

Atkins has been seen in Ironman Magazine and just recently received body builder of the week in Flex Magazine.

He is the only student placed in FAMU's Fitness Center Hall of Fame.

Atkins received the honor after winning many of the Mr. FAMU Bodybuilding Shows in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005 and training people who were in the shows.

"I really feel honored," Atkins said. "I'm the first one and I'm the only one."

As well as being successful at FAMU, Atkins placed fourth in the welterweight class at the 2008 NPC National Bodybuilding Show.

In order to be in the show, Atkins said, one must first win a level-five bodybuilding show, and then they are able to compete in a national level show.

But Atkins didn't achieve success with his three degrees and career in bodybuilding on his own, his mother also contributed.

"My mom was my inspiration," Atkins said. "My mom and I grew up together. She had me when she was 15. She worked two jobs to put me through college."

Olivia Orange said she is proud of her son and all of his accomplishments.

"I'm excited for him," Orange said. "The whole family has been supportive of him."

"He's the first of his generation to go to college.

Atkins said one of the tactics he used to obtain his three degrees was prioritizing school work and bodybuilding. Bodybuilding became therapy for Atkins -- a stress reliever.

"[With] bodybuilding you have to be balanced," he said. "It causes you to be very structured. The more I work out, the more therapy I received. The better my body looked. Everything kept building on top of it."

Even with all of his success, Atkins said he still encounters "dumb jock" stigmas that he has to overcome.

"I still run into a few of those stereotypes," he said. "They would never assume I was a psychologist. That's a huge stereotype. At least 20 years ago, I think that was pretty much true. Teachers were letting students slide if they were playing sports."

Atkins' girlfriend, Christina Robinson, has also helped further his career.

"Atkins is the most passionate and dedicated person I ever met," Robinson said.

"He's the only one I can see go from 205 to 150 pounds," said Robinson, a disease intervention specialist. "I don't think anyone can do it."

Atkins said he hopes to go pro and write a book, as well as open a boys and girls club targeting at-risk youth.

Latasha Edwards writes for The Famuan, the Florida A&M University student newspaper, which originally published a version of this article.

Posted Jan. 08, 2009
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