Danny Padilla was born on April 3, 1951 in America. Despite his small growth, Danny still showed good results in wrestling, football, gymnastics and even basketball at school, he was constantly offered to enroll in some sports section. But the young Padilla did not think of himself in other sports, except for bodybuilding. The love for this sport began in early childhood. Once, when Danny was 8 years old, he and his father went to the bookstore. Suddenly, Danny’s eyes riveted the cover of a cultured magazine with a photograph of Larry Scott. Then the boy proudly declared to his father: “This is what I will be when I grow up!”. The father said: “Okay,” took the boy by the ear and led him out of the store.
However, Danny has a very stubborn character, if he has decided something, he will achieve it by all means. Young Padilla decided to become a professional bodybuilder so that he would get autographs, interviews, he really wanted to glorify his name. The boy persuaded his father to buy him this magazine. On the cover it was advertised training courses. Danny made a letter and sent it to the address indicated in the journal. He received a detailed answer with all the recommendations for classes. However, Padilla was very upset when he read the letter: all the exercises that were described there were carried out with weights and on simulators. Danny had nothing of this, as there was no opportunity to attend the gym. But the boy was stubborn and inventive: in the basement of his house he found a piece of pipe and several sewer hatches, from which he made himself a bar. In addition, Danny Padilla made himself a bar and a lot of other inventory of scrap metal. Boxes of milk, filled with stones, served him as dumbbells. So began his journey to the summit, he was determined to become a great champion. On the offer of the school coach to enter the school team, Danny categorically refused, because he is preparing for the contest “Mr. America”.
Danny Padilla first came on stage at age 17, and at 18 he already won the “Mr. Rochester” tournament. It was also a record: no one won at this tournament at such a young age. In 1975, at the age of 24, Padilla became the first in the tournament “Mr. USA”, which was conducted by AFAB (American Federation of Amateur Bodybuilding, later renamed the NPC) in Venice, California. Danny had to fight for the title with such athletes as Roger Callard and Danny Gable. However, this victory did not give Padilla the status of a professional, it at that time could only be obtained at the tournaments “Mr. America” and “Mr. Universe.”
But after this show, Danny Padilla was noticed by Joe Weider and invited to train with his best champions. So Danny got into the elite bodybuilding environment of that time, not yet being a professional. Together with them, he took part in the shooting of the movie “Pumping Iron”. Then Padilla entered the American team, which was preparing to perform at the tournament “Mr. Universe”. Danny planned to perform in a lightweight division. This team included Robbie Robbinson, Ken Waller and Mike Katz. In the evening before the tournament, Waller and Katz were invited to the photo shoot, and in the morning Danny Padilla found out that instead of one lightweight in the “Mr. Universe” tournament, there will be two heavyweights. Danny was very upset that he was thrown out of the team, he was even going to sue the IFBB. He was already going to say goodbye to everyone and leave the tournament home, but the situation turned out very unordinary. Padilla talked to one Portuguese bodybuilder who spoke Spanish, who was very surprised why Danny in this form does not appear at the tournament. Padilla told him that he did not need the Americans, they threw him out of the team. Then the Portuguese suggested: “Why do not you come forward from our team?”. Then Danny approached the IFBB official Oscar State and asked if he could participate in the tournament from the Portuguese team. State wondered how he was here. Danny explained: “With the American team, but I did not need it.” Next Oscar State began to find out where he came from. Padilla said that he was born in America, but his parents came from Spain and lived in Portugal for a time. As a result, he was given the opportunity to perform. All the people who knew Padilla were at a loss when they saw him on stage under the Portuguese flag. Danny was in great shape and hit the top three. However, the IFBB management did not like Padilla’s ingenuity and they decided to get rid of him. Because of this incident, later in the movie “Pumping Iron” most of the scenes with his participation were cut, leaving only the scene where he and Arnold discuss the back of Franco Columbu and a small fragment of Ed Roots’s poem where Danny is indirectly present.
In 1977, the children’s dream of Danny Padilla finally came true: the first place in the tournament “Mr. America“. Danny was the last winner of this tournament, as the AAU fed the IFBB for the right to use the name and won it, and from next year this tournament became known as the Nationals. This tournament was also not without baiting by the IFBB. The tournament was attended by such athletes as Roger Callard (middleweight champion) and Pete Grimkowski. However, Danny won from them. It was a big victory for him, because before he always lost to Pete in AAU tournaments. However, when Danny was already in the shower, he was suddenly informed that Callard (Schwarzenegger protege) and the judges have doubts about the correctness of determining the winner and asked him to again climb the podium for comparison with Roger. Padilla had already washed off the foundation cream and went on stage with soap in his hair, but still defended the grand prize. Since then, Danny has the nickname “The Giants Killer”. Padilla at that time had such proportions and muscle mass, which many could only dream of. In 1976, at the “Mr. Universe” tournament, Danny Padilla was beaten by the more “cut” Mohamed McCavie. Danny took this into account and on “Mr. America” came out in the best shape, and after avenging Mohamed on “Mr. Universe” 1977, defeating him.
As a professional, Danny Padilla never fully revealed his powerful genetic potential. At the “Olympia” in 1978, he took only 6th place, because again was not so “cut”, did not reach the level of Frank Zane and Robbie Robbinson. At the “Nights of the Champions” in 1979, he still walked a little bit on the points of Robbinson, but in the last minutes of the comparative position Robbie took away his victory.
At the tournament “Mr. Olympia” in 1980, Danny came out in a fantastic form, his muscles were as round and full as Arnold’s. However, his judges were reduced to 10th place, explaining this again with insufficient relief. After this “Olympia” the upset Padilla left California for New York and decided to abandon bodybuilding completely. However, he could not resist, and the next year again decided to go to the “Olympia”. Danny, who previously could eat donuts right before the competition, this time switched to a severe diet and reduced his weight to 68 kg. His face became so thin that he could not even be recognized, spectators stared intently, whether it was the “Giants Killer”. But his body was without a drop of fat. However, against the background of Tom Platz and Roy Calender, Padilla looked pale, despite even his genetic superiority. It seemed that either he overstretched the stick with relief, or the judges were not yet ready to appreciate such a quality of muscles. Danny became the fifth, and Franco Columbu with a zero definition on his legs became the winner. The results of that “Olympia” in general were very controversial, and, according to many, biased. However, this “achievement” was the best in the career of Padilla, above the fifth place in this tournament, he no longer rose.
Danny Padilla performed at 15 other tournaments and in 1994, after 7th place at the “Master Olympia”, he did not compete for 6 years. Last time he performed in 2000 at the “Master of Olympia”, where he took 10th place.
In his youth, Danny Padilla tried a lot of training systems, but the best thing for him was a system of 5 approaches for 12 repetitions. Vince Gironde, Freddie Ortiz and Bill Pearl were involved in this scheme, performing either 4 sets of 10 times or 5 to 12. Weight was the same in all approaches, but the rest between them was not more than a minute. Danny believes that this system was undeservedly forgotten under the influence of Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer. Padilla himself tried to study in the system of high-intensity training, but this did not bring him any results, he even began to lose shape and elaboration. Danny Padilla says that he has never seen anyone achieve an outstanding physique on Jones’ Nautilus, In addition to Casey Vayator and the Brothers of the Mentzer. Padilla trained with the Mentzers all summer of 1981 and, according to him, they never used one set in the exercises, they usually did 7 or even 12 sets per muscle group twice a week. And Casey sometimes did 16 sets. Danny says that according to Jones’ recommendations, they worked only a very short time, and then switched to more extensive training. Danny believes that thanks to the “5×12” system, his muscles were getting enough exercise, and his body and nervous system were not depleted. Besides, he never had any injuries. Padilla also liked the variability of training, he never performed the exercises in the same sequence, he always changed something, so that the muscles always got stressed and worked at different angles. Paddila always had priority in basic exercises, isolated he used only closer to the competition for grinding the shape of the muscles.
Danny Padilla‘s diet also deserves attention. He consumed no more than 60 grams of protein a day, but ate a huge amount of carbohydrates in the off-season. Preparing for the competition, Danny very smoothly began to cut carbohydrates, but never brought them to zero, even on the day of the competition, believing that sugar is just necessary for the normal functioning of the brain.
Padilla paid much attention to aerobic work, fearing heart problems, because his mother, uncle and cousin suffered heart surgery.
Danny Padilla, despite his small height, managed to achieve outstanding success in bodybuilding, for which he was included in the IFBB Hall of Fame. Danny still trains and keeps himself in good shape, regardless of his venerable age.