Clifton Maclin, 65, is a bodybuilder in Reno he has won eight competitions in a row, but for him it's not about winning. His goal with bodybuilding is different than most. As a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters, he has decided to use the values learned from bodybuilding to influence others in a positive light.
How long have you been bodybuilding?
Five years. I just turned 70.
Tell me how you got into bodybuilding.
It started with my mother when I was 4 years old. She would work out, and I would be on the floor laughing. One morning she said to me, “Cliff Jr., get over here next to your mama and start working out.” My mother used that ritual to teach me to be on time, not to quit, and to do things right the first time. She used fitness to teach me these values and life lessons. I’ve always been athletic. When I retired, I woke up and said to myself, “I don’t have a reason to get out of bed at 3 a.m. anymore, but I need to get up and get going.” I decided a consistent theme in my life has been athletics. Everything that has been good in my life has happened on the path of wanting to live a healthy life. … [A] healthy body is the temple for a healthy mind and spirit. I started doing bodybuilding when I was 65, and my mentor said, “Cliff you should do a competition.” That year, I got first or second in every competition that I entered. But I decided I am not good enough yet to win everything. I want to win all the time. So I needed to train more, train harder and train smarter.
Do you work out with the kids you mentor?
Yes, I do. They are all athletic and like being active, but they like to hang out with me. I do things with them that require them to move their body. I never try to make them do something they haven’t showed an interest in.
How do you use bodybuilding to help you mentor?
I have three little brothers in the program all of which have a father serving life terms in prison. I wanted them to learn life skills that would allow them to be successful in anything they did. There was an incident that brought it in focus for me. It happened about three weeks ago on the news. There was an athlete at the University of North Carolina who revealed that for the last 11 years, he essentially had not been required to study. They had just short of been given a pass. It made me mad because these are elite athletes. Why have they been given a pass? The discipline, focus, willingness to defer gratification, commitment to achieve a high level of results, and attention to detail are all things you need to do your job. It just a matter of what you’re focusing on. What you should be teaching your children is, whatever they focus on, learn the skills to achieve excellences but realize that those skills are applicable to anything they take on in life. Never let someone tell you, you’re just an athlete.
What is your favorite part about competing?
Competitive body builders are all committed to personal improvement and excellences. We are competing against ourselves, not the other athletes. On stage we focus on the judges, not each other. Backstage and at the gym we help each other work toward achieving our personal bests. It is really wonderful being surrounded by people who are all committed to excellences.