Bodybuilders' Deaths Lead to Investigation

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The coroner's office is investigating the deaths of two bodybuilding brothers in their 40s who died within two days of each other in their home in the exclusive neighborhood of Rolling Hills Estates.

"I've seen this sort of thing happen before, but not very often," said Scott Carrier, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Carrier said Michael John Mentzer, 49, a champion bodybuilder whose competitive career ended when he lost the Mr. Olympia title to Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1980, died Sunday morning.

Mentzer's body was discovered by his brother, 47-year-old Raymond Harry Mentzer, said David Rice, an owner of the L.R. Rice Mortuary in Torrance.

Rice said that although Michael Mentzer had appeared robust, his medical records showed that he had "a history of coronary-related problems."

The mortician said that Raymond Mentzer, who suffered from kidney problems and had been undergoing dialysis treatments, appeared "very shaken" by his brother's death.

"He looked very ill," Rice said.

On Tuesday, Rice telephoned the Mentzer home in a small unincorporated district surrounded by Rolling Hills Estates. The call was answered by a sheriff's deputy, who told Rice that Raymond Mentzer's body had been found a short time earlier.

Carrier said neither body has been examined, so the causes of death have not been determined.

In the 1970s, Michael Mentzer created shock waves in the bodybuilding industry by preaching the notion that seven-day-a-week training was unnecessary.

He started lifting weights at age 11 and competed a year later in his first contest. He later competed in Mr. America, Mr. World, Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia contests. He won the Mr. Olympia title in 1979.

In 1980, he lost the title to Schwarzenegger, and the embittered Mentzer stated publicly that he felt he was robbed.

"We may be able to send a man to the moon," he said later, "but when it comes to recognizing the rightful winner of the 1980 Olympiad, mankind is surely arrested in its development."

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