Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs turns 40 next month, making him one of the most senior players in the NBA. The oldest player in the NFL is Adam Vinatieri, placekicker for the Colts – near-elderly at 43.
When it comes to the most physical of sports there are very few who can claim to have been professionals for more than four decades. Robert Irby of Longview, Texas, is among them – at age 63, he holds the current pro masters title in bodybuilding.
This summer he’ll be defending his title. Only a handful of others are in the same class of older bodybuilders: among the more famous names are Lou Ferrigno, 64; Arnold Schwarzenegger, 68; and Sylvester Stallone, 69.
Before a contest, Irby says he keeps to his routines.
“The training doesn’t change a whole lot,” he says. “I’ll go down and not do as heavy a weight as I get closer and just do a whole lot of repetitions.”
Irby says in the off-season, he’ll have a cheat meal – he had a pizza about a month ago – but when a contest is coming up, he’ll cut that out.
“I love the sport, it actually keeps me healthy,” he says. “It is brutal on the body but I’ve been doing this a long time… as you start getting older, you gotta be smart and listen to your body.”
He says he’s avoided serious injuries and kept the strain off his joints by backing off when he thinks he needs to. Irby says nutrition and training have improved in the decades he’s competed, which makes it easier to stay in the sport. It’s Muscle & Fitness magazine named Irby among the eight “Oldest, Most Jacked Men In The Gym.”
“I’m proud to be able to still be doing it and to be recognized with that group of people,” he says.