LA GRANDE WRESTLER MOVES ON TO BODY BUILDING
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
La Grande 1982 graduate Rodney Hawthorne was a champion wrestler in high school and later competed at Oregon State University.
After completing his competitive wrestling career, Hawthorne fell into a new sport in which to compete body building.
Hawthorne won the 2003 National Gym Association Natural Mr. Universe in June.
"I was kind of surprised at first," Hawthorne said in a phone interview from his home in Vancouver, Wash.
There were about 12 professionals competing with him.
Hawthorne won the NGA Pro Atlas Natural in Boise in May.
He was a member of the 1982 La Grande district champion wrestling team, which finished third at state. Hawthorne won an individual state wrestling championship as a sophomore. He went on to finish second at state the following two years.
He also wrestled at Oregon State.
Pat Downing, who owned Downing Gym (which is now called Golds Gym), asked Hawthorne to do a body building show in the mid-1980s in Corvallis.
"I kind of did not know what it would be leading to," he said with a laugh.
He competed in the mid '80s and '90s and then took time off.
Hawthorne became a professional natural body builder along with his wife, Claudia.
In 2000, they founded Iron Fish Personal Fitness, a commercial gym and training facility in Vancouver.
Hawthorne said he enjoys what he does because he is serving God and people.
"In this sport, it's a gift for me," Hawthorne said.
He trains 16 people and his favorite age group is 40 and older.
In the future, he and his wife are planning a non-profit center with a kids program and one-on-one training.
The Hawthornes have three girls.
The work has been rewarding for Hawthorne. "It's very educational," he said.
Hawthorne said the whole program is about reducing body fat.
"It helps as far as what carbs and foods really work as well," he said.
Hawthorne said having 2 to 3 percent body fat is not healthy.
He said the real challenge is having people believe they can reduce body fat. "It's a spiritual concept," he said.
He said he is helping people to foster a healthy lifestyle.
He said for some people it is a "shocking kind of revelation" when they find out they must change their lifestyle.
"My job is to get people to believe," Hawthorne said. "You have to challenge their thinking."
He said he gives his clients the tools and they do what they want with them.
Hawthorne has been back to La Grande, where his mom still lives.
"It's pretty over there," he said.
Hawthorne is seeking sponsors to help with upcoming costs. The U.S. championships are Oct. 25 in Las Vegas, Nev. He was asked to join the U.S. World Team. The team travels to Australia and New Zealand in November.