Hyperbole has always been part of bodybuilding, especially when it comes to the IFBB. But what happens when you tell a story so many times that it becomes accepted as fact?
Of course there is the “Joe Weider, Trainer of Champions since 1936″. Joe was born in November of 1922 or so, which would make him 13 and a few months in 1936. As a kid, he may have trained another kid who won some event, but exactly how relevant is that with regards to what you can do as an adult? But at this point, I think its suppose to be a catch phrase rather than a statement of abilities. (Joe says that he is unsure of his age because the rabbi did not file the birth certificate until many years later.)
But what about current events? On the IFBB website you’ll find information regarding this year’s World Amateur Championships being held in Russia. The inspection report and the entry form (pdf files) all state “58th IFBB Men’s World Amateur Bodybuilding Championships”. Last year’s event in India stated their event to be the 57th.
Let’s see: 2004 – 58 = 1946, the year that Ben Weider states he and Joe formed the IFBB. But claiming that something is the 58th implies that it has occurred 57 times already. In this case, that there has been an IFBB world championship every year since 1946. A simple review of the records shows this is not the case.
The IFBB Universe was held every year from 1959 to 1977 except 1961, a total of 18 times. It then changed its name to the World Amateur Championships in 1978 and has been held every year since for a total of 26 times. Ignoring that the early IFBB Mr Universe contests were considered pro events, 18 + 26 is 44. So this year would be the 45th occurrence of this contest.
But were there any other shows that may justify the claim that they’ve been having international competitions every year since 1946? No.
It is possible that Ben Weider has been using the name IFBB since 1946. The Canadian AAU washed its hands of bodybuilding in the mid 1940s, and Ben ran most of the major shows in Canada after that, so one could claim that all the major Canadian events after 1946 were IFBB events. But I have found no reference to the name IFBB in any magazine prior to Dan Lurie’s Mr New York State in January of 1948. But the Weiders had had a falling out with Lurie and had nothing to do with that show.
The first reference I’ve found of the Weiders referring to the IFBB as their organization is in the May 1948 Your Physique. In 1948, there was also Mr Eastern North America that was run by Joe Weider. In 1949, there was an IFBB Mr California, Mr New York City and Mr America. But these were considered professional shows, not amateur.
So while the IFBB name has been around since at least 1948 and possibly 1946, they only conducted a handful of shows in the late 1940s and early 1950s, then nothing until 1959. Plus all of their early shows were considered professional. Even by today’s standards, the first three IFBB Universe contests clearly were won by professionals. Only beginning with the 1964 IFBB Universe can it be argued that they were world amateur events. So this will be either the 45th occurrence of an international IFBB contest, or the 42nd occurrence of an amateur event. But certainly not the 58th World Amateur Championships.