Bill Murphy – The Spirit of Natural Bodybuilding
Written by Nancy Andrews on February 11, 2020.
We are saddened by the recent passing of WNBF legend, Bill Murphy. For over 25 years, Bill contributed greatly to the INBF/WNBF. Bill’s passion was natural bodybuilding and he helped hundreds of athletes and coaches over his years in the sport. He was proud to be involved in all roles in the WNBF and taught many people about nutrition, training, judging and competing. I met Bill Murphy 25 years ago in one of the first shows I ever promoted – the Northeast Classic. Bill was an upcoming superstar in the sport. As a former collegiate football player for Allegheny College, Bill had a great base to start out in natural bodybuilding. His energy and positive attitude along with his willingness to work hard lead to success on stage. It was no surprise that he continued on competing and eventually became a WNBF Pro Bodybuilder by winning the Bantamweight class at the INBF Naturalmania in New York. Bill competed in multiple World Championships and pro shows in the WNBF over his competitive career always finishing in the top half. He competed in the WNBF until 2008.
While Bill was coming up through the ranks late 1990’s – early 2000’s, I started a series of educational seminars and weekend camps. Bill was always a presenter who people wanted to hear. My largest camp had close to 100 attendees and Bill did the kick off lecture on motivation. At the time, Steve Downs, editor of Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness Magazine heard Bill speak and approached him to be a contributing writer for the magazine. Bill wrote a number of published articles and usually the topics were very practical and could apply to all parts of the sport and really to all parts of life. His writings always gave good sound advice. Bill was very proud to have the opportunity and became a go to person for many seeking advice or looking for strategies to help athletes or themselves. Later in his fitness career when the magazine was no longer published, Bill wrote Bill Murphy’s Law Nutrition and Fitness newsletters which were always well received by fitness enthusiasts. Along with the newsletter he did a series of motivational short videos that can be seen on his Facebook page.
Coaching was in Bill’s blood. He helped so many that he decided to move into coaching a team – “Team Murph”. As a coach, Bill took so much pride in personal bests. He never used titles or the number of pro cards to define him as a top coach. His goal always was client growth and personal bests. On a recent visit with Bill, the day before heading to hospice care, he shared his biggest moment as a coach which was seeing Steve Higgins win his WNBF Pro Card. Bill expressed that it was not the pro card that made it special but the process and the numerous years of working together. Hitting many personal bests with Steve and still pushing for more. Steve was close so many times but Bill was always there telling him the next steps to be better. Never complaining just going back and working hard. Steve’s win is a testament to Bill’s coaching. Bill gave him the tools, trusted the process and kept Steve focused and motivated. Bill took a lot of pride in his clients along with personal interest in their lives. This is one of the many qualities that made Bill so special.
As Bill’s team was expanding, Bill also jumped into general population and teamed up with Dr. Joe’s Diet Doc franchise. He was very popular in the Woburn area offering nutrition and boot camps. His dream when he retired from his full time career as a police officer in Woburn was to coach full time and eventually promote an INBF show. He always wanted to be involved. One of Bill’s famous lines at shows was “ If you can’t be happy doing this, this is not the sport for you, maybe you should try Irish step dancing instead since everybody seems to smile doing that!” He loved keeping things real and making people realize how lucky they are and making us all laugh. His sense of humor and wit is something we will all really miss. Bill teamed up with his best buddy Jimmy Ciampi as his team expanded and they were inseparable. The laughing, jokes, and fun started as soon as they were together. They always referred to each other as brothers by choice.
In the bodybuilding World, Bill became very active in judging. He typically would judge New England events but his biggest joy came from judging the Naturalmania in New York – the place he won his pro card. The Naturalmania show always was really special to Bill. He always nailed giving people enough time onstage and a chance with keeping the show going and not dragging it out. Competitors were able to seek out advice and it was always delivered in a respectful, helpful manner. Bill enjoyed judging with Dwayne Broadway and actually stated at my last meeting that his best moment as a competitor was his Pro World’s debut in 2003 and in getting to meet the iconic WNBF Pro Dwayne Broadway. From there Dwayne and Bill developed a really special friendship.
At my last visit with Bill, we talked about Bill’s all-time best experience as a judge – he said it was when he was asked to be head judge at the 2015 WNBF World Championships in Atlantic City. Reflecting on it, he said it was a huge honor and something he was very proud of. It was the first World Championships where he was head judge. It was hard for Bill to come up with anything bad with judging because he was always a team player and totally embraced the system and the fact that all decisions in bodybuilding are panel decisions. He embraced the process and was happy to be a part of it and be able to have input. Biggest no – no in judging according to Bill was putting your clients hard work into question by judging your clients. Bill always disclosed clients and came off panels his clients were competing and because of this he did not have as many opportunities to judge locally but he had integrity. Judging or not, Bill always participated in judges meetings. His input was always key along with his input in judging seminars. He helped train many of the best officials we have today. If you spent the day with Bill Murphy, you always learned something and likely had some laughing along the way.
Bill touched so many people with his positive energy, willingness to share and ability to keep things real. No one handled disgruntled coaches or competitors better than Bill. His humor and wit was loved by all but most of all we loved that he shared life with us and cared about everyone. Anyone who had the honor to know Bill learned from him and are a better person because of it. He will truly be missed but never forgotten. His mark on the WNBF will go on forever. I will be awarding the Bill Murphy Memorial Award to someone in the WNBF who exemplifies all that was important to Bill. It will be an annual award in his memory handed out at the Pro Monster Mash.
The entire WNBF community would like to express condolences to Bill’s family – his wife Michelle, children – Bobby, Shaun, Molly, and his parents and his three brothers and extended family. Family was number one for Bill.
He was so proud of his children and all they accomplished. When we did travel to shows, Bill always looked forward to returning to the love of his life, Michelle. He always gave good advice on parenting and relationships and I know his friends and clients always appreciated it. Bill had a great sense of right and wrong and keeping what was most important to you close. He was an inspiration to so many and was really a blessing to us all. We are all better because we had a friend named Bill Murphy.
A Funeral will be held from the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn on Saturday, February 15 at 9 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Charles Church, 280 Main Street, Woburn at 10. Interment in Woodbrook Cemetery, Woburn. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to Calling hours, in the Funeral Home, Friday evening 3-7 p.m. Remembrances may be made in honor of Murph to The Joseph Briere Foundation Po Box 147 Woburn MA 01801 USA .