César Martínez was on top of the bodybuilding world.
At least the universe that exists in the San Joaquín Valley after claiming the overall men's title at the 2012 NPC Fresno Classic last Saturday night at the Roosevelt High School auditorium.
Martínez fought off a two-week-hamstring injury to win the men's middleweight division and the overall title, and in the process qualified for the nationals.
"This is very emotional because I went through a lot," said Martínez, clutching his overall trophy and standing next to his beaming girlfriend, Maricela Lemus.
Martínez, a 30-year-old technician for Costco, has been into physical fitness since he was 9 years old. However, he followed an uncle into bodybuilding and began serious training under professional bodybuilder Jim Reyes four years ago.
"I met him at Ballys and he looked awesome," Martínez recalled about meeting Reyes, owner of The Flex Factory in Clovis.
It was difficult to tell who was happier Saturday night: Martínez or Reyes.
"Before I met him, I had no idea about diet or stuff like that," said Martínez. "At first, it wasn't that easy, but now it is."
Martínez had to outmuscle overall finalists Tom Tickel (heavyweight), Tobias Young (open heavy), and Brian 'Cage' Button (open light heavy).
When his name was announced as the overall winner, Martínez walked toward the back of the stage.
"I was emotional," he said.
He seriously considered not competing because of his injury.
"I just woke up bruised," he said.
Now, he will make a trip to the doctor to check the injury.
His goal is winning a national title in his weight division.
"I think I need a little bit more work, but (Reyes) believes I'm ready," said Martínez, a 1999 graduate of Fresno High School.
Martínez gives credit to Lemus for helping him.
"She was it for me. She helped me during all my training," said Martínez.
Other Latino winners:
Anthony Reyes, teens.
Jonathan Ortega, men's overall physique, men's physique B and masters men's physique.
Teresa González, open bikini A.
Frida López, women's masters figure 45-plus.
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