In a dialogue with Dragos Popescu, the first winner of the 2012 Tiger Classic, a multiple national champion at bodybuilding, third position at the European Championships in 2013
Hello Dragos Popescu and thank you for agreeing to have this exclusive interview with Casino Life & Business Magazine.
I thank you, too. I have just come back from the European Championships and I am quite tired.
How was it at the European Championships? You finished on the fifth place but you went up 2 categories.
Yes, it is true. This year, I am in the 95 kg category. Last year, I won the bronze medal in the 85 kg, at my first European Championships participation. Now, with the new category, things are more difficult, it is a different level, more complicated. But I am happy to be in the finals.
Would you like to stay in the 95 kg category?
Yes, for now. If it is either 95 or 90, I will see where I fit best.
Of all your results so far, which ones are the most important for you?
I can think of two moments that have meant a lot for me – from the psychological perspective, they have lifted me up and gave me trust galore. One of them was the absolute title at the National Championships for junior, which made me much more confident in myself. The other one was the bronze medal at the European Championships from last year, which was a clear confirmation that I can competed at this level and even reach for higher.
What is the level of the competitions abroad?
Their level is very high. Unless you participate once, you cannot tell anything about it. Only when you are there, you realize the level and you see your personal value and start thinking about the next step farther. You really need to see the level and understand where exactly are you in the hierarchy.
In Romania, what is the level here?
In Romania, many people are passionate about this sport. The sport halls are up to the brim, it is a real trend to do fitness, to be in a good physical shape…which is not bad at all; it means a good and healthy life. In terms of competitions, people have to apprehend that performance is not necessarily healthy, as your body will be lacking rest and calories, due to the challenging and numerous training sessions. But the bottom line is that people are passionate about this sport, which is going in an upward direction. As much as possible in Romania, where the finances are not great for everyone. We are going up at the moment.
You are the first winner of the 2012 Tiger Classic. What is your take on this competition?
As for me, I think it is a commendable initiative. Bucharest has not had an independent event in such a long time, which is rather strange, as we know that it is the capital of the country. I will take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Mihai Tigora for this initiative, which has required a great material and emotional effort, not counting the bureaucracy and the logistics, plus the other things relating to the organization of an event.
Despite of all these, it came with new events in 2014…
It seems to me a crazy boldness, but which makes me look up to him. And I wish him to be successful, now and in the future.
You started in the track and field, then switched to kickboxing. How did you take up on bodybuilding? How did you start this sport?
Quite right, I went with the track and field first, with 100 meter running. I have been in the performance sport since I was 12-13 years old. So, it has taken me some time to get used to the idea of what performance is – that you have to be in it 100%. From there, I went to kickboxing, still at the performance level. Due to an accident, I went to the fitness center to recover and I fell in love with weightlifting and this sport. I did not know anything about the stage part. But what I knew was about training, and everything else went from there. It was a smooth transition…
Was your family beside you, did they support you at the beginning of your career?
Yes. My mother has always been the person to approve everything I wanted to do.
For this year, what is your schedule, after these European Championships?
Right now, I have to go through a recoup time and go back to a normal state of my body – I am so tired, obviously. After that, I will consider the steps I have to take for the following events, which are – to be among the top three at the European Championships, to come home with a medal. At this level, it is rather difficult and I must pay great attention to the pre-competition training, so I will not leave anything from what it has to be done.
Are you also a coach, too?
Yes, I am in the personal training business.
What would you recommend to a non-professional player, for the first training sessions?
For the physical training, I recommend him to first get used to the effort, which means that he should not go into difficult steps right away. An easy running, a light training with small weights for every muscle group that he can control. Just take it easy! He should understand that there is a close relation between food intake and training. And as long as he has a clean food regime, based on real food and not on junk or takeouts, he will do good, feel good and have a healthy life. Plus the mental training and the training itself. Motivation matters a lot. The mental and the physical parts are closely related in this sport.
Do you have a piece of advice for the people starting their competitions now?
Do not ever draw any limits. They should work as much as they can. Train as much as possible, for their level, and let the things come naturally. Because this is a sport in perspective, everything lasts for years.
What other sports do you do?
In my free time, I like doing everything that helps me with my mobility, flexibility, such as sparing in kickboxing, or running – the leftover from the track and field. But the focus is still on what I have to do and the others take a back seat.
Should you start your career again, would you still take up on this sport?
I would do exactly the same thing, have no regrets about the steps so far taken, but I would have another approach, would study more. When I started this sport, internet was not very popular. There were not as many information sources as now. Today, it is quite incredible this enormous advantage of multiple sources, a thing that the sports people should take advantage from.
Is there anything that you wanted to do, professionally speaking, and you have not yet?
Yes, of course. I do not have all the results that I have had in mind for sport. Besides, I have studied the plastic arts…after I am done with my sport career, I will go with the arts, to improve myself in this field and reach the level I have been aiming for.
A regular day in your life, outside the sport competitions.
I am trying to wake up early, at around 8-9. I have breakfast, look at my schedule for the day to see whether I have someone to train, then confirm the time over the phone. I usually have two training sessions myself, and my daily agenda depends on them.
Have you had any contact with the casinos, have you ever played?
I have friends working as bodyguards there. And yes, I went there and played – it is a fascinating world, it totally captivates you. I only played for fun, not thinking about any potential financial gains.