Bodybuilding Reviews / Videos
Patrick Nicholls

GMV-93: Patrick Nicholls: The Black Hercules (1989)

56 minutes in length
Executive Producer and Camera: Wayne R. Gallasch
Assistant Producer: Tina Bartusek (now Gallasch)
Videotaped in the London studios of GMV Productions in 1988
Interviewer: Clive Jaques
Editor: Philip W. Judge


This video was the first I got from GMV Productions, back in spring of 1990. Having seen Nicholls in competitions telecast in the '80s, I was interested in seeing more. This video gave it to me, and made me a lifetime fan of Nicholls. I have watched it many times.

Nicholls is from Barbados, and speaks with a charming Caribbean accent. The video starts with him posing in the studio, and we hear him in overvoice narration. He gives us knockout back and rear bicep poses against a blue background. Then it cuts to the interview proper, where Clive Jaques (who does the interviews for GMV) asks questions of Nicholls, who is sitting across from him with a microphone in his hands, and wearing a black tank top. Nicholls prefigured the bald look you see on many bodybuilders of African heritage these days. He has a moustache, a little unshaven hair below his lip, and a pierced ear. He's 5'9" at a weight of about 225, which he drops to 198 to compete as a light-heavyweight. He trusts the mirror more than a tape measure or weight scale. His skin tone is drumhead tight.

The rhythm of the tape is as follows: Nicholls talks about various issues prompted by the interviewer, and as he talks the film cuts to a workout, posing routine, or footage from his backstage prep at the 1988 World Amateur Bodybuilding Championships (formerly "Mr. Universe") held in Australia later that year. The soundtrack sometimes has music as he works out, and sometimes the talk goes on as we see him working out, especially if the discussion relates to the exercise being demonstrated. In the course of the tape Nicholls talks about his competition beginnings and recent shows, his approach to training, how he advises beginning bodybuilders, what he eats, contest prep, his posing routine, strategy for onstage competition (where he is detailed and focused), his ambitions, views on competitors and on anabolic steroids. The tape ends with excerpts from a TV broadcast of the 1988 competition in which he hoped to win his class -- but lost to Renel Janvier. Even so, he answers questions backstage about how the show went. Badly disappointed, he still smiles and gives the commentator what she needs. Throughout the tape Nicholls comes across as modest, committed and poised.

To say that Nicholls has good arms is an understatement. He shows them off with a variety of dumbbell exercises, which he prefers to the barbell for arm work. We see his incline dumbbell curls, then standing alternate dumbbell curls -- he demonstrates both the wrong and right way to do them. Next tricep exercises, including behind-the-head French dumbbell presses. After each exercise he poses the muscle just worked, such as a side tricep pose. Then he does standing dumbbell flyes with a stretching device. The workout is intense enough to break a heavy sweat, and he keeps a towel on one thigh during the interview to wipe it off.

Nicholls often addresses the importance of what he eats. "I concentrate a lot on diet," he says, noting he doesn't have to train abs that much because he stays in near-contest shape off-season. He prepares his food rather than letting his wife do it. No red meat gets mentioned, but he lists every other kind. He loves pasta and pancakes ("my own special homemade pancakes"). For contest prep he cuts out fats, salt and sugar, cuts down on proteins, upping complex carbs and supplements. Moderate quantities of food five or six times a day is his normal off-season pattern.

Currently Nicholls says he is training in London full-time for his upcoming show, but back in Barbados he holds a job with the Universal Health Club. He's keen to help young BBs avoid the training mistakes he made when he first went into a gym at age 14. He was only permitted to put the weights back for the big guys until a bantamweight competitor took him aside and showed him how to train. Several brilliant Caribbean competitors -- including Al Beckles and his cousin Darcy, Roy Callender, and Rick Wayne -- get mention. In his first contest, Nicholls took both the teen and senior divisions of Mr. Bridgetown (capital of Barbados) -- the first time a teen took overall at that show. That encouraged him to continue, and he competed in top amateur shows from 1979 on. Banned by the IFBB for a year for switching to another federation, he took the time off to get ready for his next show.

Near the end the tape turns to Nicholls' backstage prep for the 1988 World Championships -- we see him doing bench presses, donkey calf raises (which look painful, with a man on his lower back), and other exercises in a room that looks more like a dungeon than a gym. Then we get his stage presentation at that show, in an excerpt from the TV broadcast. Nicholls is in his element onstage, since he poses so well -- his composure is a joy to watch. The loss to Janvier proves how good you can be and still not win at this level of competition. Since then he went pro through the Barbados federation, taking the top five in several European Grand Prix shows. More recently at the masters (over 40) level, he took third in the Masters Olympia in '95, and fifth in the Masters Arnold in '98. Nicholls now lives in north London, works as a personal trainer, and may compete in the Masters Olympia again. Seeing him in his prime here is exciting, and the editing on the video by Judge is well done. The tape gives you the feeling of actually talking to him. This Black Hercules could show some Hercules wannabes a thing or two.

January 2001

(Video stills used by permission of copyright holder, Wayne Gallasch, all rights reserved.  They may not be reposted without his permission.)