Ocala bodybuilder in running for “Mr. Health and Fitness”

OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) – From the time he was a child, Amilcar Batista has enjoyed working out and getting stronger.

“Since I was a little kid, a young boy, I don’t know if it’s in my DNA, but I would go out in the backyard and lift boulders, said fitness enthusiast Amilcar Batista.” “I was like a little Fred Flintstone, and I had some cousins that always worked out and inspired me because they were in good shape.”

Now, decades later, the 50 year-old bodybuilder is on the verge of being featured in Muscle and Fitness magazine, and winning $20,000.

“I’m scrolling through facebook a couple months ago, I kinda see it, and I wonder what’s this about? So it says submit a picture, so I did, and I thought maybe it was a hoax at first, until three weeks later I got an email I’d been hand selected for the competition.”

Since then, Batista has been active in the gym and on social media.

“It’s not easy, and people who are into social media, I tip my hat to them because It’s a lot of work. I’ve been staying consistent with it, posting videos and trying to get people to generate more votes and it’s been very helpful.

To date, Batista is one of only five people remaining in his group. He’s had enough support to avoid being one of the other 35 contestants in his group to be eliminated. The cutoff for voting for this stage ends Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. If Batista receives the necessary votes to be the top vote-getter, then he’ll advance to the Quarterfinals, which begin June 3. The voting will reset and then it will be up to his followers to once again, give him enough votes to advance to the semifinals. The grand-prize winner will officially be declared on June 23.

To cast your free daily vote click Mr. Health and Fitness

The excitement of the competition has Batista working harder than ever, but he’s not doing it just because he wants instant fame and fortune.

“To me it’s not about the money, it’s about showing what recover looks like, what mental health looks like. Right now our world is kinda in a dark place and it’s like a ray of light being in this competition for me.”

For nearly 10 years, Batista battled substance abuse. He was dependent on drugs and alcohol to cope with a negative body image and self-confidence issues.

“I went through a dark period in my life with drugs and alcohol, and after going through recovery and coming out of that I noticed working out helped really relieve a lot of tension and it really helped me with that dark period in my life.”

On top of turning his life around through fitness, Batista also exorcised his demons by becoming a certified substance abuse counselor.

“I know the stigma that’s behind drug addiction, so my passion right now is to help someone that’s hurting and I can relate with that pain.”

To make it this far in the competition is an accomplishment in itself, but even if Batista doesn’t take home the grand prize, he already knows he’s a winner.

“When I look back at that guy who had no self-esteem, poor self image, and using drugs to cover it up and then to find recovery and then all of a sudden, it’s like your’e reborn and I have to owe a lot of that to god and working out.” Whether I win or not, I feel like I’ve already won. I’m winning in life.”

His personal thoughts are echoed from the owner of Zone Health and Fitness, where Batista trains five days a week.

“If you know Mickey, he’s all about helping others,” said Ben Marciano. “He really cares about people. He’s a humble guy. I don’t see this changing him at all, in fact I think it will spur him on to want to do more and help others.”

Batista hopes his story will inspire others struggling in life to seek help and find a way to turn their life around like he did.

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