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Palos Heights is Home to the 'Card Hard Man'

Palos Heights resident Lee Roupas talks about his years on the "Card Hard" poster and life as a bodybuilder.

Everyone might end up with their 15 minutes of fame, but for Palos Heights resident Lee Roupas those minutes came in a unique and extended way. 

Throughout the state of Illinois a poster, put out by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, has graced the entrances of liquor stores, bars, restaurants and night clubs for the past 11 years featuring Roupas.  

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission was looking for models for their poster when they spotted Roupas, an employee in their own office.  

"They had brought a model in our office, then they looked at me. Being a bodybuilder, they asked me right then if I could pose for the card hard poster," Roupas said.  

At 6 feet 3 inches and 245 pounds of pure muscle, Lee is not hard to miss. People stand up and notice.

"I would be at different events or eating someplace, even walking Downtown, people have stopped and said, 'Hey, you're the Card Hard guy!' " Roupas recalls.  

Roupas hasn't always looked like a pro-wrestler. It's a look he grew into. 

"I was a skinny kid growing up. I always wanted to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. I liked the look.," Roupas said.  "It took a lot of years to achieve that look. I did it properly. I did it naturally."

Anabolic steroids were never part of Lee's workout routine. He speaks out against drugs and alcohol.

"During my college years I saw what anabolic steroids can do to people. It took the life of wrestler Lance Cade and many others. Just go the natural route. Look at weight training and exercise, it's good for you. I want to help make this world look healthy," Roupas said

He takes that message throughout the state. As a motivational speaker and an employee with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, he means what he says.

"I urge young people to stay away from the drugs and alcohol. I'm an alcohol abstainer. I don't touch it, don't even want to look at it. Over the years, I've seen nothing good come out of alcohol use," he said. 

Roupas has won several awards for his natural bodybuilding. In 2001 he won the Illinois Natural Competition. In 2005 he won the heavyweight division in the mid-state classic and then in 2008 won the sub-masters for the Illinois Natural Championship.  

He hasn't competed since 2010, but he isn't quite yet ready to use the word retire.

A few years ago Lee took his research and wrote a book on fitness titled "Living Proof, A Fitness Journey".

Lee gives tips for athletes who want to train the right way: 

  • Set your goals
  • Train Hard
  • Stay Focused
  • Enjoy your life. Don't be so consumed with your sport that you miss out on life.
  • Use discipline
  • Pick the right friends and relationships.
  • Keep your goals in sight
  • Stay consistent

"By following the above tips, I've been able to bypass heart disease, which runs in my family," Roupas said. "My parents are close by in Palos Park. They call me when heavy things need to be moved. If they need me I'm there."

As Roupas was finishing his photo shoot for his new poster, he had some parting words for Patch readers.

"Don't let grass grow under your feet. Stay busy and have a positive impact on people in your community," he said. "That's what makes a community thrive, it changes people's lives for the better."

For more information on Lee Roupas, check out his website.

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