The bodybuilding posting by Melinda B. caught the attention of Randy Roach, the author of an upcoming book giving the complete history of bod building. The following excerpt from "Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors" shows us that the raw food diet is not new to bodybuilding.
“Tanny’s” his name. RAW is his GAME.
A man who would have his milk only raw was Armand Tanny. Armand was one of the original big guys from the early Muscle Beach years. In fact, it was men like Armand who put the muscle in “Muscle Beach”. Although it was his brother Vic who went on to create the popular gym chains, Armand, originally a weightlifter, had a fantastic physique and a way of eating that separated him from most. Along with his great look, Tanny had strength to match and this landed him in the wrestling circuit.
Armand recalled visiting the Hawaiian Islands around 1947 and being so impressed with the Samoans who were in the islands after the war. “They ate everything raw. You name it, fish, meat, beetles – everything! They were so strong and healthy”.
This left such an impression on Tanny that upon returning to the USA, he started to further investigate the subject. Already armed with his previous university education and one year of medical school, Tanny had the research skills to hunt down and dig into the works of Weston A. Price. It wasn’t long before Price’s book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” became his Bible. In 1948 he shut off his stove and just about everything from there on in was raw.
His diet turned to raw tuna, beef, liver, lobster, oysters, clams, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Tanny would wade out into the surf along the Santa Monica Pier using his feet to kick up Pismo clams. He would smash the clams together to get at the pink and white flesh of the clams that would be his next raw meal. Gaylord Hauser, a nutritional guru of that time also had an influence on Tanny. Hauser recommended brewer’s yeast, desiccated liver, yogurt, black strap molasses, and wheat germ oil. Hauser also recommended fish liver oil, but Tanny felt he was getting plenty from all the raw fish he was consuming at the time.
Armand didn’t follow a set meal plan, but ate simply when he felt it necessary. There were no outrageous volumes of raw meat eaten at one sitting because he didn’t feel it was warranted. He ate between ¾ (0.34 kg) to 1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg) of raw meat daily. Looking back, Tanny feels that it was the creatine supplied in a very pure state in raw meat that served him so well.
Armand wasn’t one to flaunt his diet in public. He shared a comical situation that happened decades back when he was on a stop-over in St. Louis on a trip from Los Angeles to New York:
"I was hungry and needed to get something to eat. I bought a raw steak and thought I could hide it in a newspaper wrapping while I ate it on a park bench. I sat there sneaking little bites when I was joined by a woman who sat down beside me. On one of my bites, the steak pulled out of the wrapper and I was sitting there with a big hunk of raw meat hanging out of my mouth. It wasn’t long before I was sitting alone again!"
Armand feels that his raw meat diet was instrumental in his walking away with several bodybuilding titles in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1949, he won a show called, for lack of a better name the “Mr. 1949” title. They actually used an applause meter to determine the winner.
Armand was big, tanned and very muscular. At five feet nine inches (175.26 cm), Tanny weighed a very lean 200 lbs. (90.91 kg). John Grimek had told him previously that he had the potential to do well in bodybuilding and Tanny certainly capitalized on this advice.
At mid-20th century, it was rare to see a bodybuilder with good size accompanied by such lean muscularity all wrapped in a finished bronze package. Tanny took this look to victory in both the 1949 Pro Mr. America and the 1950 Mr. USA titles. He was hot and on the cover of many of the magazines. When asked why he retired from competition Tanny, stated that the Mr. Universe had not reached its popularity as yet and the Mr. USA was the big title to shoot for.
Another reason Armand dropped out of competitive bodybuilding was money. Basically, there wasn’t any in the sport during that era or for a long time afterward. He was busy and very successful managing the Vic Tanny gym chain in the California region. In 1954, he took a break from the gyms to tour for a couple of years with a host of other bodybuilders in the Mae West show. Tanny would establish a lifelong professional working relationship with Joe Weider writing for the Weider publications.
See https://www.musclesmokeandmirrors.com/ for the complete history of bodybuilding.