Luke Debono is a special needs teacher and a champion bodybuilder. He won the Arnold Classic Overall championship in 2016. He now runs his own bespoke meal prep company based in Kent, UK and also teaches sports to youngsters in prison.
Can you tell me a little bit about how your passion for fitness evolved? Where do you train and why did you begin training in the first place? I was a skinny boy with a bit of a needy personality. I started lifting weights when I was about 14, just to add some weight around my frame. I enjoyed the process and starting seeing a hint of results after a few months. This fuelled my passion to such an extent that I took courses to become a massage therapist as well as a personal trainer. I would later go on to compete and win world titles in bodybuilding. My passion for fitness also led me to make the biggest decision of my life, which was to leave the island and pursue further studies in a sport-related position abroad. It has had a profound effect on my life, not only in terms of the sizes of my shirts, but also in my lifestyle and the choices I’ve made. I now train at a well equipped gym called Evolution in Aylesford, Kent.
When did you decide to take bodybuilding seriously? My first show was in 2011, when I won the Maltese Junior and Novice categories. I came to the realisation that I could be good at bodybuilding on a local level if I kept training consistently and eating well. In 2013, I placed second at the Mr Malta competition and placed 4th in my first IFBB European championships. Two years later, I won my first and only Mr Malta title before clinching my first international Gold at the IFBB Europeans that same year. I think that was when I realised I was no longer going to be competing against amateur competitors and that from then on, if I wanted to win more shows I would need to be 100% into it.
What does strength mean to you, and why is being strong so important? For me, it means being able to push/pull and move against great resistance. That for me is strength. I think people, especially girls, have now started to move away from being afraid of the weights area. I think strong has truly become the new sexy. From women to professional strongmen, people are motivated to squat heavier, push harder and lift bigger and heavier weights. I believe that it is the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies it that seals the deal.
How would you describe the local bodybuilding and fitness scene? Being in Kent since 2015, I must say I am not exactly the guy to be asked about the local bodybuilding scene. However, more athletes in all categories are competing both locally and also internationally with great success. We have females in the Pro league as well as men. The future looks bright and the young generation, although statistics of BMI will not show this, seems to have been swept by a fitness revolution.
In your opinion, what are the most important attributes for an athlete to have if they wish to become successful bodybuilders? I would say consistency and patience. I feel that with the combination of the two attributes, you would be in a favourable position to reach your goals. Too many athletes burn out because they go in too far, too soon. I believe you must find a way to be constantly improving over long periods of time, consistently taking baby steps, thus avoiding feeling that you are burning out.
It’s hard to keep up with how many competitions you’ve won. What moment thus far in your bodybuilding career stands out as really memorable amongst all of your accomplishments so far? I think without a shadow of a doubt winning the 2016 Arnold Classic Overall trophy in front of Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was the greatest thing I have accomplished yet (although sadly he was not present for the ceremony). This took place in 2016, in Barcelona. Before that I had secured a European title, as well as other national titles. I think it was a historic moment for Maltese bodybuilding to finally have Malta on the map at such a prestigious and highly acclaimed competition.