ROCKINGHAM — Six years ago, Cornelius Bowden began searching for a drink that could bring him more energy while working out.
Because he’s a professional bodybuilder, Bowden was looking for something that quenched his thirst and provided protein without having a lot of sugar or fat.
He wasn’t able to find what he was looking for.
Now, six years later, Bowden is getting ready to release to the public his very own drink that can bring him that much-needed energy while he trains — called “Formula 4 Protein Water.”
“I just thank God that I got something that’s the real deal and that I can present to the people,” Bowden said. “It’s got 20 grams of protein in it — which is better than a (protein) shake. It’s a natural sweetner, there’s no fat in it and it gives you energy. Only thing you have to do is shake it up a little bit and it’s ready.”
Bowden, a Richmond County native, grew up in Rockingham and graduated from Richmond Senior High School in 1992. While serving time in prison, he began to learn more about bodybuilding and was persuaded to give it a try once his sentence was up. But instead of going the traditional bodybuilding route, Bowden wanted to become a natural bodybuilder.
“I want to be proud of what I can accomplish,” Bowden explained. “If they can beat me naturally and I come in fifth (place), I respect that more. That means they’re better than me. I was never scared to lose.”
After his release, Bowden signed up for the 2008 Supernatural Bodybuilding Championship in Atlanta, Georgia to see how he would fare and he ended up winning the competition — becoming the first to ever win his class on the first try.
“Once I did that, I felt so confident,” he said. “I felt like there wasn’t a limit, because everything I’m doing, I’m doing on my own. I train myself and I don’t have an entourage.”
Bowden then decided to move to New Haven, Connecticut to join his uncle and better his chances at finding a job while preparing to become a professional bodybuilder.
“When I left North Carolina, I told them I was going to be pro,” Bowden said. “When I came up here, I got off the bus with six dollars and a dream. That was all I had to my name.”
He was able to land a job at a McDonald’s and in 2013, his dream came true. Bowden entered a national competition that was taking place in New Jersey and finished in first place — allowing him to turn pro that night.
But where one dream ended, another began.
Formula 4 Protein Water, he says, was created for everyone who is at least 18 years of age. Bowden is in the process of developing a drink for teenagers and children, but his current protein energy water is a bit too powerful for minors.
According to Bowden, his drink can do more and has better effects on the body than other protein waters, protein shakes and muscle milks. And although he initially made it for people like himself — who spend a lot of time working out — he claims that buyers don’t have to work out in order to enjoy the drink.
“I can rumble with the big boys,” he said. “I’m a new kid on the block. I already know mine is better, it’s just about putting it out there so the public can know it’s coming.
“My drink is the best natural drink in the world — hands down.”
Though the confidence is there, Bowden understands that marketing plays a big role in how the public receives his product. He’s been in talks with a few companies who want to help get his drink out in major chains like Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid and more, but hasn’t been able to work out a deal, yet.
“They’re giving me credit by even trying to team up with me. They see that I have great potential,” Bowden said. “If somebody could come up with something better, that’s who I’m rolling with.”
Bowden has been selling the drinks himself, but hopes Formula 4 Protein Water will be in stores within the next month. He plans to sell it packaged and individually, as the cost for one bottle could be anywhere between $3-$3.50.
And while he keeps an eye out for that perfect business partner, Bowden continues to train for the World Championships that will take place November 19 in California.
”They’re fighting for second and I’m not going to leave it close,” he claimed.
Yes, Bowden is aware that his competition may come across his drink and use it to give them a boost of energy, but he’s not worried about it.
“I’m going to be taking it, too. So if they’re getting help, I’m getting help,” Bowden said with a laugh. “I’m going to shut them down in California.”
Bowden’s uncle has been giving him a little extra motivation — emphasizing what it would mean for Bowden and his product if he wins the World Championships a few months after releasing his protein water in major stores.
The first bottle of Formula 4 Protein Water was sold on December 25, 2015.
By the time this Christmas rolls around, who knows what the number of sales will look like?
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.