Bolo Yeung and Steroid Use
People come in in all shapes and sizes but if there is one group of people that are always trying to work harder to achieve perfection, it is bodybuilders. Being bodybuilder is a lifestyle, right from the way they work out to the way they eat and drink plays a role. Some of the most iconic men in bodybuilding may have taken steroids. One such man with an enviable career and a body that has a given rise to a lot of speculation over steroid use was Bolo Yeung, an impressively built Chinese actor, and former competitive bodybuilder.
Who on earth is Bolo Yeung?
For kung fu movie fans and established bodybuilders, Bolo Yeung is not an unfamiliar name, and while many other might recognize him from his picture, his name alone has always brought on a look of confusion at first mention.
Yang Sze was born in Guangzhou, China, where he began his martial arts training at the tender age of ten. As he grew older, he started taking an interest in bodybuilding. This interest brought him the title of Mr. Hong Kong in bodybuilding. His impressive physique was a departure from the way most Asians were depicted in mainstream Hollywood, this special physical characteristic coupled with his intensive martial arts training gave way to a career as a Hollywood bad guy and earned the nicknames “The Beast from the East” and “The Chinese Hercules”
Soon after, he met Bruce Lee, the two became fast friends and Yang Sze was invited to star in the infamous classic Enter the Dragon, where he earned a new name and Bolo Yeung was born. Bolo went on to star in many kung-fu movies throughout the 1970’s and 80’s but the breakout film that really put him on the map was one where he shared the screen with another legend, Jean Claude Van Damme. While he was most famous for his supporting roles in Hollywood, he also starred as a protagonist in a few films.
Although the main body of his work was between the 70’s and early 90’s and before, you can still find him doing supporting roles in movies from time to time, although he certainly doesn’t look like the magnificent “Chinese Hercules” anymore.
Even though he in his 70’s and with different physique from his days of glory, Bolo Yeung’s huge pectoral muscles, traps and arms from back in the day are still attracting fans and followers who hope to look like him someday. In the early 1970’s when he won his title of Mr. Hong Kong, it wasn’t for an aesthetic physique and defined abs, Bolo focused more on gaining mass.
How big is Bolo Yeung?
It’s possible that Bolo Yeung had the motivation to take up steroid use, after all, he was well known for his unusual combination of impressively muscular frame and martial arts when most kung fu starts where depicted as lean and slim (case in point – Bruce Lee). His size certainly helped him land many roles where he played menacing bad guys. It would not have been too wild to imagine that Bolo took steroids to keep his image up.
When there isn’t any concrete proof, the best way to make an educated guess about steroid use is by looking for the telltale signs, and when that fails, comparing photos and tracking bodybuilding trajectory over the years.
Unusually fast muscle growth, extremely large pecs and excessive development of breast tissue in men, mood swings, nausea and other symptoms that are not visual (like insomnia, blood clots, high cholesterol) are all symptoms and possible signs of steroid use.
Bolo Yeung did not exhibit any of these signs but that doesn’t mean he did not carefully conceal it from the public as many other famous bodybuilders have done. It’s also true that their exceptions to the above signs, some users don’t show any physical signs of taking steroids. Most experts, however, seem to agree that it is very likely that Bolo Yeung took steroids. This is probably because the more accurate way to tell steroid use is by looking at their timeline and looking for rapid and dramatic changes in growth or physique.
Bolo Yeung’s Timeline
The most reliable and accurate way of figuring out if steroids have been used to boost bodybuilding is to compare pictures over the years side by side. A steroid user will show rapid growth when they first start lifting, just like any other person undergoing strength and resistance training. This growth will stay stable for a while and then seemingly overnight and out of the blue, the user will suddenly see even more growth. This strongly contrasts a natural bodybuilder who will plateau after hitting significant gains and then struggle to grow any further.
Unfortunately, it is near impossible to find pictures of a younger Bolo, so it’s hard to compare progress over a long period, but we do know what he looked like when he entered Hollywood as an epic baddie up until now, which is about 40 years of comparison pictures.
People who use steroids will usually fluctuate in growth over the course of several years. A famous example is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was undoubtedly at his biggest and most muscular in 1974 when he won the prestigious Mr. Olympia title. He has since admitted having taken steroids for the competition. When he retired the following year, many people noticed that he had shrunk since he won his big title. He was still a large, muscled man, but with the end of his steroid use, he visible shrunk in the years after he became an actor.
The drop in testosterone will inevitably shrink muscles and shift the body into a catabolic state, which is also known as a muscle-wasting state.
If you’re looking for a contradicting example of a natural bodybuilder and how their muscles stand up to the test of time without steroid use, then Jean-Claude Van Damme is the perfect one. His muscles have largely remained the same with little to no shrinkage during his career as an action star, even today, he undeniably looks the same when it comes to his physique.
Now that we’ve taken two contrasting famous examples, it’s time to come back to Bolo Yeung, what changes does he exhibit? Below are pictures of Bolo Yeung
In the pictures, roughly a decade ago at the age of 61, Bolo Yeung was still maintaining muscle mass that looked similar to his body in his prime. Fast forward to 2017…
Bolo Yeung is looking much smaller this day, but it is tough to tell in clothing and there aren’t enough current pictures to make an educated guess.
It seems as though Bolo Yeung was a formidable combination of good strong genes. He continues to work in the occasional film, but his last big role was in 2007, there are several pictures that suggest that while he might have used some performance-enhancing steroids, he preferred to stay natural and was definitely not a heavy user. There is no way a heavy steroid user would have been able to maintain such good muscle mass up to the age of 61 without severe damage from side effects of prolonged steroid use. Especially considering the fact that there was no real motivation to do so past the prime of his career. It’s entirely possible with age, Bolo Yeung decided to cut back on working out the way he used to and the shrinkage is totally natural. Which begs the question…what would the beast from the east have looked like if he HAD been a heavy steroid user?
Scott Williams has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Certified Personal Trainer. Apart from being an integral part of our research team, Scott Williams spends almost every single minute he can get in the gym. He has vast experience in matters supplements, diets, and workouts.