JACKSON – A 2020 graduate of Jackson Memorial High School is moving closer to becoming a professional teen bodybuilder.
Anthony Mantello, 19, was born and raised in the township and the teenager has been working hard to become one of the youngest IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) professional bodybuilders to date.
He was initially known to be a Jackson Travel Soccer, PDA and Memorial Varsity Soccer athlete throughout his adolescence. After frequent visits to the gym with his family at just 15-years-old; Anthony quickly transitioned his interests from soccer, to creating and working towards his dream of becoming a professional fitness athlete.
“When I first started hitting the gym with my dad and sister I never thought it would take me to the heights it has so far. At first it was a hobby I enjoyed to do with family and friends, just to break a sweat and slowly see the progress in the mirror. Which quickly became my favorite thing to do every day,” Anthony said.
He added that he became “fascinated by the art of sculpting one’s body to the desire you envision. I turned to social media to find other people with the same interest as mine, such as David Laid who was a huge inspiration to the start of my fitness journey and now best friend of mine, and fellow GymShark athlete.”
Anthony said that when he was 15, with only a year under his belt of being in the gym, “I just knew this was for me. I made a decision to quit soccer which I have been playing since the age of 5 to pursue my passion [of bodybuilding]. If I wanted to take bodybuilding to the next level like I had planned, I knew I needed guidance and someone with knowledge [and experience] in this sport.”
After following fitness role models, and IFBB pros such as Chris Bumstead, Jeremy Buendia, and Steven Cao; Anthony and his father drove up to Columbus, Ohio to meet these influencers at the annual Arnold Strongman Classic Sports Festival in 2017.
“I asked around locally for a coach and all fingers pointed in the direction of my coach now Kyle Wilkes,” Anthony said. Wilkes is a fitness and nutrition coach, specializing in competitive bodybuilding. Anthony began training with Wilkes in 2019.
Anthony said he was “beyond ecstatic and grateful to have guidance by such a trusted coach. I worked with Kyle for 3 months and competed in my first show, which I then won the Overall. Yeah, I would lie and say I couldn’t believe it, but I always envisioned myself winning a show at a young age when I made the decision to quit soccer and give my all into bodybuilding.”
Most young people don’t have the determination to take the long road toward success, Wilkes said, so he was leery of taking Anthony on at first.
“To my surprise, Anthony reminded me that sometimes you have to give someone a chance, regardless of any prior misconceptions that one might have,” Wilkes said. In November 2019, after 12 weeks of competitive training and dieting, Anthony competed in his very first bodybuilding competition at 17.
The Jackson youth took first place in the NPC Eastern Championships Teen Physique, and even won the title for Overall in Men’s Physique, which is a shared category of all ages.
Since placing his first show, Anthony has continued his journey to compete and has been consistent with training, in hopes to earn his pro-card and becoming one of the youngest professional bodybuilders to date.
“Without a doubt, Anthony has taken the industry by storm and it has been such a privilege to watch him grow into a fantastic young man,” Wilkes added. Anthony will be competing in both Men’s Physique and Men’s Classic Physique at the NPC Bev Francis Atlantic States Championships on June 5 in Teaneck.”
If Anthony takes first place in that competition, he will then move forward to competing in July at the NPC Universe in Charleston, NC in hopes to finally earn his IFBB Pro Card.
“Bodybuilding to me is so much more than big muscles. To me it’s about a forever long journey of sculpting a masterpiece and inspiring other people to follow their goals and dreams. The most rewarding part of this hobby I have is the messages I receive every day on my Instagram or YouTube [channel] telling me how I impacted other teenagers out there to hit the gym or better themselves,” Anthony said.