Born November 14, 1944
New Haven, Connecticut
Whenever talk of the sport’s best chest is debated, Mike Katz is a name that quickly enters the discussion. In addition to his mighty pecs, he is also remembered for one of the most famous scenes in Pumping Iron, when Ken Waller steals his T-shirt.
Katz is one of the many iron warriors who were influenced by Steve Reeves. Watching the movie Hercules, young Katz was so inspired by the physique of 1947 Mr. America Reeves that he decided muscles should be part of his own future. Katz also found inspiration in Bill Pearl and later in Harold Helland, who became his training partner at Helland’s garage gym.
Katz’s first bodybuilding competition was a 1959 teen YMCA event in Waterbury, Connecticut, and, like fellow 2007 inductee Boyer Coe, Katz spent many summer weekends competing in regional contests. The results of these events were not reported in the magazines of the time and are, therefore, lost. At the age of 18, he place 10th in the Mr. Nutmeg State and, in 1964, he was declared Mr. Teen Connecticut.
After an All-American college football career, Katz went on to play in the NFL for the New York Jets, but a knee operation in 1968 ended his career and prevented him from being a part of the Jets’ winning Super Bowl team in that final year.
Joining the IFBB in 1969, Katz placed second in the tall class at the Mr. American in New York City, and then won that title the following year. In September 1972, he won the IFBB Mr. World, as well as best back, best chest and most muscular at the White Plans County Center. In his first Mr. Olympia in 1976, Katz placed second in the heavyweight class. He then took a few years off from competing – during which tim he made guest-posing appearances – before wrapping up his competitive career with a 15th-place finish at the 1981 Mr. O.
After his bodybuilding career ended, Katz kept busy – he was the first person of fame or notoriety to work with Eunice Kennedy Shriver when she began Special Olympics projects in New Haven, and his World Gym East was the first franchise organized after Joe Gold began offering them. The gym name changed to Planet Fitness in 2004. Katz, who has bachelors and master’s degrees in health and physical education, and a pre-doctorate in administration and supervision, retired in 1999 from Hamden High School, where he had been teaching for 33 years.
He stays in touch with his bodybuilding roots by judging contests, and he has judged the Olympia several times. He still trains four or five times per week and runs his gym.
Hall of Fame Inductees for 2007