You're probably asking yourself: who the hell is Marv Marinovich? If you watched the UFC 101 Countdown show leading up to the event, you've probably noticed that he's BJ Penn's new strength and conditioning coach. Most notably, Penn's brother and manager, JD Penn, stated during the show that a lot of people told him that Marinovich may not be the right guy because he's notorious for potentially over-training athletes. But as we saw on Saturday night, Marv Marinovich may have been BJ's secret weapon in creating a well-conditioned and in-shape monster at 155 pounds.
As you may have guessed it, Marinovich comes from a long line of "hard asses". In an article by Esquire magazine, it's mentioned that family lore reveals that Marv's father, J.G. Marinovich, was a Russian general that oversaw the battlefield amputation of his own arm. Marv, himself, was an ultra-successful football athlete as he was a part of the 1958 national junior-college championship in which his college, Santa Monica City College, went undefeated. He transferred to USC and played as a two-way lineman, both offensive and defensive. He was the captain of the football team, helping USC win the 1962 national championship. He was subsequently ejected from the 1963 Rose Bowl for fighting, but was voted as the Most Inspirational Player by his teammates.
Marv was later drafted into the NFL by the L.A. Rams and by the Oakland Raiders in the AFL. In typical Marinovich fashion, Marv pushed himself to the absolute limit to prepare for the pros. Here's an excerpt on that training:
Marv "ran, lifted, pushed the envelope to the nth degree" in order to prepare for the pros. One exercise, he says: eleven-hundred-pound squats, with the bar full of forty-five-pound plates, with hundred-pound dumbbells chained and hanging on the ends because he couldn't get any more plates to fit. "And then I would rep out," he recalls. "I hadn't yet figured out that speed and flexibility were more important than weight and bulk. I overtrained so intensely that I never recovered."
Eleven hundred pounds... just let that soak in for a second. Marv admitted that he over-trained himself to physically hurting his career permanently, and after the NFL and AFL stints, he produced his own training guides that molded Eastern Bloc (Think former USSR countries) techniques into new and experimental techniques for athletes. He went from a man who relied on bulk and strength to a man who relied on speed and flexibility in an athlete, something B.J. Penn already possesses.
So, why would people state that Marv Marinovich might be a bit crazy in his methods? His son, Todd Marinovich, was one of the most promising young quarterbacks to come into the NFL. He has a ridiculous history of unbelievable high school and college records which dwarf those of many successful NFL athletes. Of course, this all came due to the grooming by his father.
Marv was criticized by many national media outlets due to the "test tube" nature in which Todd was brought up to be this "super athlete". He never tasted a Big Mac or an Oreo, only ate unprocessed foods, took his own sugarless cake and ice cream to birthday parties, and only consumed beef that wasn't treated with hormones. Marv pushed Todd into physical training when he was just one month old by stretching his tiny limbs for him and creating games for the small infant to lift things.
Todd went on to be a fantastic football player, but in 1993, all the accomplishments he had acquired throughout his career had went down the drain. Alcohol and drug abuse were everywhere in his life, and his third positive test with the NFL ended his career with the Raiders. He tried to make a comeback in the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but subsequently blew out his knee in his return. Todd moved to Mexico, played in a band called "Scurvy" that almost got a record deal, but one of the lead band members got busted for heroin... ruining their chances. Todd had become a full-blown addict himself due to his relationship with the band. More stints within the CFL and Arena Football league, but eventually Todd left the game for heroin. Todd still had a legacy for toughness though:
Throughout his career, Todd would be known for his extraordinary focus and will — qualities that would both enable and doom him. Two years from now, the left-hander would lead a fourth-quarter rally with a broken thumb on his throwing hand. Five years from now, he would throw four college touchdowns with a fractured left wrist. Sixteen years from now, he'd throw ten touchdowns in one game, tying an Arena Football League record, while suffering from acute heroin withdrawal.
Note: He threw those ten touchdowns after actually defecating in his pants before the game due to the heroin withdrawals, changing, and then coming back out with the same withdrawal problems.
A lot of people blame Marv for the series of events that occured. For the most part, it's perceived that Marv's standards drove his son to drugs and alcohol, but the intensity in which Todd moved from one drug to the other is always a debate. Regardless of Todd's past, people will always look at Marv as the potential driving force to his son's destruction. It'll always be a debate as to whether it actually has some validity or not.
Professionally, Marv is one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the business. A lot of talk revolves around Todd's career going down the tubes, but you can't deny Marv's program. Ask Troy Polamalu. Marv has changed Polamalu's entire game due to the Steelers approving his alternative training program with Marinovich. And now: B.J. Penn. We could see a whole new host of super athletes in MMA, and Marv Marinovich might be on the forefront of those opportunities. It's interesting that Marv's training involving speed and flexibility hasn't been used extensively for use in MMA. It surely will now though. Check out Marv's Lab, Sport Science Lab.