Victor Conte, Kyle Kingsbury and the Making of the Modern Fighter
Original article: MMA Fighting
By Ben Fowlkes
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
It started small, the way these things often do. Kyle Kingsbury knew a guy who knew a guy. A training partner of his at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. was hooking him up with some pre-workout supplements that he really liked, and eventually it occurred to him to seek out the source.
One thing led to another and pretty soon Kingsbury, who had just come off a decision loss in his UFC debut, was sitting down for a meeting with none other than Victor Conte – the man whose name had become synonymous with steroids in the sporting world. It’s the kind of thing that might have made UFC president Dana White pop a forehead vein, had he known about it at the time.
“I had my reservations at first,” said the 28-year-old Kingsbury (10-2-1). “That first meeting I had with Victor, we sat down and we must have talked for two and a half hours. I think what allowed me to have trust in him was him telling me about everything that had gone on with him going to jail, how his wife had passed away, and it was just all on him to take care of his four daughters, and there was no way he could ever take a chance on going back to jail. He just had a lot of regret.”
In case you’ve somehow made it this far in life without ever hearing the name before, Conte founded BALCO – the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative – which created and distributed designer steroids to everyone from pro baseball players to Olympic medalists in the biggest doping scandal in American sports history. Conte was the man behind it all, and after pleading guilty to steroid distribution in July of 2005, he served four months in a minimum-security prison followed by four months of home confinement.
These days he’s back in the gym with a few select pro athletes, which has raised eyebrows in the offices of Major League Baseball and recently prompted a visit from HBO’s ‘Real Sports,’ which chronicled his work with Chicago Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd and boxer Nonito Donaire.
Since early 2009, UFC light heavyweight Kingsbury has been among that small group of pro athletes to work closely with Conte and his preferred strength and conditioning coach, Remi Korchemny. Also since early 2009, Kingsbury is undefeated in the Octagon, racking up three straight victories, the most recent of which was a 21-second TKO of Ricardo Romero at UFC 126.
“I wouldn’t give him all the credit for my three-fight win streak, but we’ve been on board together since that started,” Kingsbury said. “In the two years I’ve been working with him, it’s worked wonders. I’ve put on about five pounds of lean muscle, which doesn’t seem like a lot on paper, but I feel the difference. I’m stronger in the gym, I recover faster, and my cardio’s gone up tremendously.”