Kulkster lucky to be alive

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:59 AM ET

Every day Glenn Kulka clasps his hands together, looks to the sky and asks for help. Every day, a prayer.

The former CFL star and pro wrestler, with hulking shoulders and bulging biceps ... the monster who once hoisted 535 lbs. on a bench ... asks for protection. Not only for himself, but for his wife and two young children -- a three-year-old daughter and a son who's one.

Kulka began taking steroids at the age of 21. Now 41, he wonders about risking his health.

"The mortality never hit me until I had my kids," he says. "I look at them and I want to be there for them."

He pauses and adds, "At least until they're 18."

Known as The Kulkster, he's still an imposing figure with his football career nine years in the rear-view mirror. He looks like he could run through a brick wall. He thinks back on his sports career -- 11 years in the CFL and three as a pro wrestler -- and wonders if he should have done things differently.

Blessed with natural size and strength, he began taking steroids during the early years of his football career to get bigger and stronger. Out of necessity, he thought. Bigger was better. Risk be damned.

LONG-TERM EFFECTS

But now Kulka wonders about the long-term effects the drugs might have on his health.

Was it worth the risk?

"Probably not," says Kulka. "Sometimes I think of myself as a walking lottery ticket. I think about some of the wrestlers who are dying -- it seems like one every month."

Liver damage, heart disease and psychological disorders are potential consequences of steroid use.

Death after death. Steroid use is talked of in hushed tones. But Kulka winces when he hears of players, guys like former baseball player and steroid user Ken Caminiti, dying. Caminiti was just 41. Too young to die. A victim of The Juice.

Kulka remembers when he first started taking the drugs, soon after the Edmonton Eskimos talked about shifting Kulka from defensive line to linebacker.

He weighed just 220 lbs., but didn't want to move off the defensive line. For the first time in his life, he felt small. So he had to gain weight. Fast. Any way possible.

"I was working out and was at my weight, but the guys on the D-line were 250, 260, 270 pounds, maybe heavier," says Kulka, who asked around the locker room to see where he could get steroids.

Kulka got help from two offensive linemen who gave him pills of dianabol (also known as 'dbol').

He continued to use steroids -- always under the watch of a doctor, he says -- until he retired from wrestling. He bulked up to 290 lbs. during his football days. In one instance that took on legendary status, he loaded a barbell with 225 pounds and performed 53 presses before he couldn't continue.

He took pride in the accomplishment, but that was then, this is now.

'LIKE CIGARETTES'

"I guess it's kind of like cigarettes," he says. "When you're young, you don't think you're going to die from smoking."

Kulka wants to speak to school kids about the dangers of steroids. He wants to listen to what they have to say and let them know the facts.

"I've been there and I know from experience," he says. "I would like to share my life experiences, but kids don't want to be preached to. They want to be listened to, and I wouldn't bull---- them."

He would tell kids that steroids won't magically turn an amateur athlete into a professional.

Kulka believes that pro athletes are born with genetics that separate them from the rest of the pack.

"You don't have to do steroids to play sports and you don't have to do them to be able to go into a gym and start working out," he says.

He says sellers don't care about the health of kids buying the drugs.

"Somebody wants to make money off these kids who don't have a clue what they're actually getting," he says. "Eighty percent of the stuff out there is counterfeit. You don't know if the stuff is made by some guy in his tub or in a pail somewhere."

Because of his past, because of his mistakes, Kulka has become a spiritual man.

"I pray for my family and for my well-being, both mentally and physically," says Kulka.

And he prays for the health of others. Those duped into believing that steroids are a solution.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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