How Mr Universe’s high-flying life ‘spiralled out of control’
Former Mr Universe Calum von Moger had a Netflix special, a high-flying life in Los Angeles and his own clothing brand. The bodybuilder even played his hero Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Hollywood biopic Bigger.
But in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, nursing one of his big arms in a sling, he pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine, cannabis oil, testosterone and other illegal bodybuilding drugs.
Former Mr Universe Calum von Moger pleaded guilty.Credit:The Age
His fall from grace had started in his adopted home of Los Angeles. A highly publicised dispute over his two-year-old son had been dragged into Family Court in California. He injured his arm, setting back his career. He got an emotional support dog to lift his spirits, but it died.
Von Moger was the victim of carjackings and had guns pointed at him, leaving him “scarred and traumatised,” his lawyer, Bernard Campigli, told the court.
As the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the entertainment industry, he returned home to Geelong.
“Unfortunately, he spiralled out of control soon after,” Campigli said.
A few days before he was charged with drug possession in January this year, he had an incident at a Western suburbs supermarket that resulted in him being charged with affray and conduct endangering persons, which he’s contesting.
Police pulled von Moger over on January 31 for driving a Ford Ranger without plates. After he produced his licence, officers noticed his pupils were dilated. He was acting erratic and stressed. He said they could search his car and they found the drugs.
At the police station, von Moger told officers that he needed the steroids because he could no longer produce testosterone. The cannabis oil, he said, was to help him sleep. He said he didn’t know where the ice had come from.
“After his arrest he spent a night in the cells which was quite a sobering experience for him,” Campigli said.
Calum von Moger.Credit:Facebook
Von Moger took breaths to calm himself during the hearing on Thursday. Attending via videolink from a friend’s house, he nodded enthusiastically when his lawyer told the court how sorry he was, how fragile his mental health was, and of his determination to get his life back in order.
He twiddled his thumbs, one protruding from a sling on his right arm. The court heard that he had recently fallen out of a second-storey window and spent 11 days in The Alfred hospital with injuries to his face, neck and spine.
He spoke just once during the hearing, telling Magistrate Roslyn Porter “thank you” at the conclusion, after he avoided conviction and agreed to pay a $500 fine.
Von Moger started lifting weights to keep pace with his older brother and took it up as a profession after joining the army, working on yachts, in horse husbandry, landscaping, lifesaving and adventure tour guiding.
Calum von Moger as his hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.Credit:Facebook
He’s a three-time winner of the World Fitness Federation Mr Universe title. He won the federation’s junior Mr Universe title in Austria in 2011 and the amateur Mr Universe in 2014 in South Korea. In 2014, he moved to LA, where he was funded by sponsors, endorsements and started his own clothing brand.
Porter said it helped that von Moger had pleaded guilty and cooperated with police when he was intercepted.
She found it was “a very complex set of circumstances for you where you have experienced, on the one hand, a large amount of success, but also some significant personal difficulties that underscore your use of these substances”.
Porter said she wanted to afford von Moger the opportunity to participate in treatment to “really get your life in order” and that he had made a contribution to the community through school programs and had “otherwise good character”.
Von Moger will face the other charges in August.
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