Hello, my dear friend Tose. First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for this wonderful opportunity and to tell you how honored I am to speak for your blog.
When I was starting, I never even dreamed that one day, I would have the life I have today.
My story starts in the middle of the war in Yugoslavia during the early 90s. War and UN Embargo brought great poverty in Serbia, so young people like myself had two options: to be educated on the streets of Belgrade or to try to escape everyday life in sports. Being one of the lucky ones who chose sports kept me away from everything bad during that time.
I started running track & field in the early 90s as a kid and continued through high school and college. I was a National Champion multiple times in all age groups, won medals at Balkan Championships and European Champions Clubs Cup, and was a member of the Serbian National team both as a junior and senior. However, it was very difficult to travel during those times, so I missed several big competitions that I qualified for because our visas were denied.
But what could a 14-year-old boy do to not be able to travel and compete in the contest that he qualified for? After that, I realized that life was too short of paying for someone else’s mistakes, so I decided to leave Serbia and take the opportunity in the USA since I was offered a full athletic scholarship.
I was among the first Serbian track & field athletes who went to the US to study and compete. I signed up for Idaho State University, where in the next couple of years, I became the Big Sky Conference Champion and also a part of the team that won 2 consecutive Conference Championships in 2005 & 2006 as a Team Captain.
I wanted to pursue track & field after college, but unfortunately, I suffered a career-ending injury in 2006, so I had to quit. Years of recovery followed, and it wasn’t until 2008 that I could finally start training again. I met a few guys at the local gym that were into bodybuilding and soon started training with them.
I felt better and better, my strength was increasing, and soon I was able to train hard. Since I started competing very young, I needed that feeling of competition, and my biggest wish was to be and feel like an athlete again. I started feeling like I was ready to step on stage, and I entered my first fitness competition in November 2011.
I was starting to progress significantly as an amateur, being ranked among the Top 5 NPC athletes in the US in Men’s Physique in 2013 & 2014. Yet, I missed my pro card several times (being placed 3rd or 4th at National Level shows). I eventually realized how political these pro card decisions were, so I quit NPC in 2014 and joined the IBFF.
At that time, NPC had 50-60 athletes in my class at Nationals, and only two would go Pro. If you didn’t have one of the top-profile coaches, judges wouldn’t even look at you. I was ready and deserved it on more than one occasion, but I simply never “played the game.”
In IBFF, I started winning right away at the 2014 Mr. Universe and then became the Overall Winner in the 2015 and 2016 World Championships, earning me the title of IBFF Pro. I always had a great relationship with IBFF people, and it was a hard decision to leave in 2016 since the only Pro event that IBFF offered was Pro BodyBuilding.
I then joined NABBA (National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association) & WFF (World Fitness Federation) in late 2016 and won NABBA US Nationals in 2016, the Overall Title at NABBA/WFF Balkan Championships in 2017, and finally Overall Title at WFF World Championships in 2017 when I became WFF Pro.
I moved to New York in late 2016 to pursue a career as a pro fitness athlete, and since then, I’ve won three consecutive WFF Pro World Titles in 2017, 2018, and 2019, as well as two consecutive WFF Pro European Titles in 2018 and 2019.
Finally, I was elected WFF President for Serbia & Balkans in 2020.