BRAINS & BRAWN – LUKE DEBONO

Date of Birth: 19th March, 1993

Location: Gillingham in Kent, but Mum’s house is in Żejtun

Star Sign: Pisces

Occupation: PhD Student at the University of Kent and now a professional bodybuilder

Luke Debono attended St. Edward’s College both for his primary and secondary education, and continued on to Junior College for his A Levels. By this time, he was already into several different sports, including water polo, football and, occasionally, volleyball. He graduated with a Degree in Physical Education from the University of Malta in 2015, by which time he had already competed in bodybuilding contests several times, and in May 2015, won the Bodybuilding European Junior Title held in Santa Susanna, Spain.

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Image credit: Igor Kopcek

 

He was then accepted to read for a Masters in Sports Science for Optimal Performance at the University of Kent.

“There, I completed my Masters programme whilst simultaneously preparing for the Arnold Classics Europe 2016 competition. I won the Arnold Classic Overall Trophy which is one of the most prestigious and sought after in the Amateur League, and I also graduated successfully from the University of Kent. The victory in Barcelona also enabled me to promote myself into the IFBB Pro League, which is the world’s most elite bodybuilding league. I’ve now also been offered a place for a PhD at Kent. I must stress to both parents and youngsters that there should be no choice made between academics or sports; there is only a choice between either giving up or else moving forward.”

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Image credit: Edward Xuereb

 

How did you get into bodybuilding?

It was a coincidence because I had attended a gym when I was 14 to better my strength for water polo. I had an injury which left me with pins in my left ankle two years later, and was therefore dropped from the water polo team. Since then, I continued to work out at the gym, and it’s become an integral part of my life.

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Image credits: Igor Kopcek

 

You’ve recently won the super-heavy weight class and also the overall at the Arnold Classic Europe. What can you tell us about this?

After the European Junior, I sat down with some friends from the Maltese Bodybuilding Committee and laid out a plan on how to prepare for the Arnolds. I knew what needed to be done through my knowledge gained from academics. All that was left was to implement the plan consistently and religiously. Once that was done, there were no good lucks needed; the work required had been done. It took over 500 days of preparation to get there, but when the mind-set is right, those days are 500 days of opportunity to win the title. I feel proud to have put Malta on top of Amateur Bodybuilding. Personally, it’s very reassuring – this victory has proven that balancing academics with sports can work pretty well!

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Image credit: Edward Xuereb

 

You had had a tough battle with Spanish star Jordi, and earned the right to apply for an IFBB professional licence. Can you describe to us this fantastic achievement?

Being at home, Jordi Martinez was a huge favourite for the title, but what I presented on stage was much more appealing, and on the night I had a more complete package to deliver to the judges. It was a truly unforgettable experience to hear the presenter state my name as the Overall Bodybuilding Champion.

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Image credits: Igor Kopcek

 

Following your great result, do you observe a tremendous improvement in the local bodybuilding and fitness scene compared to previous years?

I think the Maltese Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness has upped its standards by allowing more opportunity for the athletes to seek advice and to be invited to seminars and meetings, whereby expectations are elevated. The committee motivates, supports and advises athletes more than ever, and under the steady hand of president Ralph Decelis, more and more athletes are improving year in year out. Before, the athletes of Malta used to be laughed at and literally mocked on the stages in all international competitions, I’m talking only a few years back. Nowadays, we’re at the very peak of Men’s Bodybuilding and improving in other categories as well, such as the Bikini Class and the Men’s Physique Classes.

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Image credit: Edward Xuereb


If you had to meet any other bodybuilder, who would it be and what would you talk about?

To be honest, I don’t really have an idol or a bodybuilder in mind, but if perhaps I had to meet one, I’d like it to be Gilbert Zammit again, who was one of the most humble Maltese bodybuilders that this island has ever produced. He was a truly genuine friend of many other Maltese bodybuilders, only to pass away suddenly and tragically in April 2014. I’d love to be able to talk to him about the experience I’ve just been through.

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Image credits: Igor Kopcek