After falling short in previous tournaments the last three years, Don Mendiola finally won his first championship.
Mendiola, who would either end up second or third in the past competitions he joined, was in Cloud 9 after taking his first overall title and middleweight crown in the bodybuilding event of the 2017 Dee Clayton Classic last Saturday at the Pacific Islands Club-Saipan’s Charley’s Cabaret. He then hopes the win in last weekend’s contest would spill over to his next competition.
“Every time I step on stage, I either won second or third place. I came in third in both the Michelob Ultra in Guam and the Ikaika Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. This year was the first time I won an overall championship,” Mendiola told Saipan Tribune after his morning workout at Latte Fitness Gym in San Jose yesterday.
Now, the 23-year-old personal trainer at Latte Fitness said he’s setting his sights on another tournament in Hawaii—the Shawn Ray’s Hawaiian Classic National Qualifier set on Nov. 4 at The Modern Honolulu.
Mendiola will be seeing action in next month’s competition after hearing about the Shawn Ray Classic from Dee Clayton, Latte Built owner Derek Cutting, and fellow bodybuilders Aaron Tomokane and Gerald Galang. Both Tomokane and Galang joined last year’s Shawn Ray Classic.
“I had fun competing in Hawaii [Ikaika Classic]. Now, I’m going back there on Nov. 1 for the Shawn Ray Classic. And I plan on taking home first place in my weight category,” said Mendiola, who competes in the middleweight division.
Cutting has helped Mendiola since he arrived on Saipan in 2015. “[Derek] started training me back when I competed in the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea. I knew for a fact that he was the person who could push me through workouts and his diet plans did wonders for me,” Mendiola saId.
“I train to win and improve myself as a person. These have been my motivations. I’ve always been competitive and driven to reach my goals. I used to be a really fat and unhealthy kid back in high school so I decided to change my life once I started playing sports,” he added.
He was into running track and marathon, cycling, and mixed martial arts before he got into bodybuilding through the help of Tomokane, who encouraged him to try the sport in September 2014.
“I was a track star. I ran track every day for three years. I also did three full marathons here on the island and two Hell of the Marianas. I also fought and trained in Trech Tech under Cuki Alvarez. Aaron told me to try out the physique category first. I was already training for a fight back then so I decided to try it since I was already in shape,” the newly crowned champion added.
Mendiola placed third in the physique division in the Dee Clayton Classic in his first try and he had so much fun training and competing that he decided to concentrate more in bodybuilding.
“I decided to take lifting more seriously and step up my game, and do bodybuilding in 2015.”
Now, he’s encouraging others, especially the youth, to keep an active and healthy lifestyle. And although ‘health is wealth’ may be an old saying, it is still relevant today.
“Bodybuilding may be a tough sport to be in, but it can also be really fun too. Lifting is just very addicting once you start seeing the results or once you feel yourself getting stronger throughout the months and years of hard work and dedication,” said Mendiola. “So, I encourage everyone to join a gym. You don’t have to work out two to three hours a day. All it takes is about 45 minutes to an hour of training and follow a strict diet plan. It will change your life for sure.”
Mendiola thanked all his supporters, especially his family and friends, for helping him become successful in bodybuilding.
“Shout out to Dee for being a great sponsor and wonderful friend to me. To Derek, for always pushing me to become better and stronger every time I’m on stage. To Frank Cabrera of MAGAS for sponsoring me since day one of my career. All I can say is all the hard work that I put in will never go unseen. You could also follow me on my YouTube channel, @dondabuilder670. I usually make video logs of my journey in bodybuilding and fitness,” Mendiola said.