Inmate Bodybuilder, Dennis Lovett, in Eastern Correctional Facility

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    Inmate Bodybuilder, Dennis Lovett, in Eastern Correctional Facility



    Bodybuilder develops a strong presence

    NAPANOCH - Morning rec was in full swing. Dozens of inmates hoisted weights, toiled on Universal machines, ran on the overhead track. Still, Mr. Nap stood out.

    His long dreadlocks were gathered in a topknot that seemed to gush straight out his head. A white T-shirt and red shorts accentuated the musculature of his 5-foot-71/2, 186-pound frame.

    His name is Dennis Lovett. To everyone at Eastern Correctional Facility in Napanoch, he's Mr. Nap. That's the title that goes to the overall winner of the prison's annual bodybuilding competition. Lovett is the perennial champ. A Brooklyn native serving 25 years to life for his part in a robbery-murder at a Coney Island dry cleaners in 1980 -- his accomplice shot to death the store's owner, according to court papers -- has not lost since transferring to Eastern 10 years ago. The staff values more the way he's worked to improve his attitude and behavior.

    "He was like a know-it-all type person," deputy superintendent Sheryl Butler said. "Just really annoying."

    And now?

    "He's a mature individual. The inmates look up to him," Butler said. "He's very responsible. Also, willing to listen, accepting of constructive criticism, and you can reason with him now. He's not argumentative. He used to be really argumentative."

    That Lovett began to vanish, Butler said, with his pursuit of Mr. Nap.

    "It helped me become a little more disciplined, a little more patient, and then a different individual," said Lovett, 41, who has been behind bars since he was 18.

    Bodybuilding requires long-term goals. Lovett studied nutrition, developed workouts and became the source of information for fellow competitors. Eastern's staff hopes that enthusiasm becomes a habit.

    "If Lovett is preparing for the bodybuilding, he's preparing for a personal goal," superintendent Dave Miller said. "When he gets out maybe his personal goal is preparing for a job."

    Lovett has a better chance of making it on the outside than when he arrived, Butler said.

    "This is one of the things that has definitely helped me to change," said Lovett, who counsels other inmates about AIDS and speaks to local children at risk. "It showed me that it's not just about me as an individual, it's about the whole. I work out with the guys also so . . . we have to work together."

    That kind of mentoring, Butler said, is important.

    "They learn to work together," Butler said, "and when you start caring about one another you're less likely to commit a crime against another human being."

    Lovett trains six days a week for Mr. Nap. The competition is a highlight of the prison's year. More than 350 noisy inmates root for their buff and oiled-up peers in the sweltering heat of the prison auditorium.

    "Oh man, it's, like, exuberant," Lovett said, breaking into a laugh. "The energy's flowing, guys are screaming. Everybody's really hyped. Your heart is racing, hyperventilating. But it's really a beautiful thing because we get an opportunity to see guys work together. Everybody's happy, everybody's having fun, guys just dieting real hard, no junk food for three or four months. So after the show we have, like, cake or something and guys are just pigging out."

    Lovett comes up for parole next year after 24 years of incarceration. He's hopeful. But first he wants one more title and the trophy -- a golden eagle on a wood platform -- that comes with it. There are none in his cell; they're considered security risks. Lovett sent them home to his mother, all 10 of them.

    "I assume she's got them sitting on the mantelpiece," he said.

    Someday Mr. Nap hopes to find out for sure.

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    Ripped1's Avatar
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    if I was locked up I would be the most jacked guy in there. My little bro got out this year after being in for 6 years. He came out in pretty good shape.
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    I wonder why he didn't get paroled after 25 years? This happened in 1980, right? Was he locked up for 3 years before sentencing and that time not counted? At any rate, I hope it's not an act and that he becomes a productive member of society.
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    I've always said that if for some stupid reason I end up in prison I'd try to **** someone up the first day there to get into solitary, then eat and workout in my cell for hours at a time.

    Not the perfect scenario for body building, but if its all you got...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bionic View Post
    I wonder why he didn't get paroled after 25 years? This happened in 1980, right? Was he locked up for 3 years before sentencing and that time not counted? At any rate, I hope it's not an act and that he becomes a productive member of society.
    Lovett comes up for parole next year after 24 years of incarceration.

    I think he is getting paroled at 25! It says he was behind bars since 18, hes now 41.. so I imagine either he didn't go to jail immediately and/or he went to JH until he was 18 and began serving his 25 years?
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