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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Todd Payette, a local bodybuilder, is headed to Mr. Universe in England over the weekend, the third time he’s been to the exclusive competition.

“[It is] one of the most prestigious titles that a person in bodybuilding can win or participate in,” Payette said.

“And in that 70-plus year history, there’s only been one Canadian to ever walk away with a Mr. Universe title from there.”

Payette qualified by winning the Canadian championship in 2021. This will be his third Mr. Universe competition.

“I’ve actually done the Mr. Universe two other times, placing fourth on one occasion and seventh on one occasion,” he said.

Payette became the third Canadian in history to place in the top five at Mr. Universe when he placed fourth.

To qualify for the competition, one must be at least a national-level champion or have competed previously.

“I’d love to win it. That would make me only the second ever from Canada to do it,” Payette said.

“I’m giving it my best shot to try and bring home a Mr. Universe title to Canada and Fort St. John.”

Last year, Payette published a book titled Shoulder Down. It details Payette’s tragic and troubled past after the passing of his father and how bodybuilding saved his life.

A documentary based on the book was filmed and released under the same name this year.

“At a very young age, unfortunately, I lost my father. He had taken his own life, and I was not quite six years old, and unfortunately, I found his body,” he explained.

“Afterward, things went a little sideways for me, as you could imagine. By the time I was 16, I was homeless, and bodybuilding sort of came into my life and really helped me find some direction.”

The documentary follows his journey to the Canadian Championships, with some filming done in Fort St. John, Winnipeg, where he’s from, and Toronto, where the Canadian Championships were held.

He says he grew up in a rough neighbourhood and was looking for heroes and found that in comic books and, later, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“And I thought, that’s what I want to do. I want to be like this Arnold guy,” Payette said.

He was drawn towards the weight room and fell in love with it, eventually leading him to Mr. Universe in England.

Payette’s journey to his third Mr. Universe wouldn’t be possible without the support of Jenni Briscoe, the owner of The Gym in Fort St. John.

“She’s been such a huge support, and she’s done so much for the community to encourage health and fitness and to help me get ready for the Mr. Universe,” he said.

“This woman absolutely busts her butt all the time for everybody else, and she should be mentioned because she’s absolutely awesome.”

Mr. Universe will be held on November 5th in Bradford, England.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.