IronMan, Vol 16, No 2, Page 22, September 1956

Mr. Universe of USA

Klisanin Wins Title

by Peary Rader

THE READER may feel that it is a bit strange that there should be two Mr. Universe, contests within a few days of each other, one held in Virginia. Beach, Va., and another in London, England.

Some of you probably wonder if there is any connection and the answer to this question is No! The contest in England was the first, and has been in operation for many years. It is well organized and well promoted and its operation and the decision of its judges probably has a better reputation than any other physique event in the world.

The contest we are about to report was conceived strictly as a promotion stunt by the Jr. Chamber of Commerce of Virginia Beach, in connection with their Golden Jubilee celebration. In the promotion of this event which lasts from April through October, the Mr. Universe was just one of many big events presented during the celebration.

No one can deny that the Jr. Chamber did a marvelous job of publicity and preparation for one of the finest physique and variety shows we have ever seen. Thousands of dollars were spent in preparation and presentation. The room and board for competitors and officials was paid for a week at the Beach if they were there that long, and every effort was put forth to be sure that .they enjoyed every minute of their stay there. I'm sure they all did, for I heard many comments from them that this was the way a contest should be run.

There was some sun bathing during the week, though the sun had a difficult time getting through the fog at the beach, but many of the fellows went over to Colonna's gym at Norfolk, where there were 19 acres of grass and trees and lots of sun. They could work out and sun bathe to their hearts content. We were able to take a lot of photos here for future use in Iron Man, though there was very little sun at the beach for good photos.

On June 8th, everyone on hand at the time, attended the Mr. Universe Ball at the Surf Club. This is a very nice place and quite a crowd attended though they were a bit late getting there. Originally planned for an outside event, wet weather forced them inside where they enjoyed a nice floor show and dancing.

The morning of June 9th had a wonderful show scheduled in which the Navy was to put on an air exhibition, but fog and low clouds prevented most of this from being given. There was an excellent parade, though, in which the entrants of the Mr. Universe show participated, as well as about 32 other organizations or groups, bands, etc., including several branches of the armed services.

That evening at 8 p.m. the big show started. It was held out of doors at Virginia Beach stadium. A beautiful background had been built for the show and I was told that about, $5,000 worth of work had been done there. That sounded like a pretty high figure, but it was certainly well prepared.

This first night started out during a light drizzle and this probably kept the attendance low, for I doubt if there were over 1,000 there.

After playing the National Anthem, the master of ceremonies. Wade Williams. welcomed the people, and the judges were introduced. They then introduced all the contestants, who came out on the stage. After this, some entertainment was provided by a comedy conversation by two young folks, then Lynn Whitehead sang for the audience. Three contestants appeared before the judges.

Actually, according to the program, the short men's class and the tall men's class were supposed to be contested this first night, but as a matter of fact, I never did find out what we were judging and I doubt if the others knew, though we did ask. As a consequence, we just went ahead and judged for a straight Mr. Universe. Bob Hoffman had taken charge of the officiating, as a Vice-President of the Weightlifting Committee, but he didn't seem to know what we were judging, consequently, the voting the first night was more or less lost. No one seemed to care a great deal, though, for they expected the second night's judging to be final. According to a list we have, Schaefer placed first with 70½ points, Hinds and Bohaty tied with 68 and Klisanin had 66½.

An exceptionally good clown act kept the audience happy, and all the other special acts were good too. These acts were placed between the posing of each three contestants, and afforded a lot of variety, though it was a little hard on the judges in trying to make their decisions. We were surprised at the fine talent displayed by some of the amateur acts on the program -- all from the immediate area, and Virginia Beach is a small town of only about 7,000 people. The young people there had outstanding talent. One in particular, on the last night, was certainly of professional quality -- a little blond girl, Mary Ann Wood, who gave an exhibition of contortion, balance and acrobatic dancing that is seldom seen outside the advanced professional stage.

No decision was announced in the Mr. Universe this night, but everyone had a fine time in spite of the wet weather.

Judges for the first night were Barton Horvath, Peary Rader, Doug Biller, Dr. James, George Greenfield, Bill Colonna and Bob Hoffman.

The next day was spent on the beach and out at Colonna's place sunbathing, working out, shooting photos and swimming. Everyone looked forward to the big show in the evening.

At 8 P.M. the show again opened and the evening was very nice, with a large crowd in attendance. Better arrangements for controlling the audience, and improved seating arrangements had been made. The show was again opened by the National Anthem, followed by announcements and introduction of contestants and judges. A change was announced in the judges, and this was the beginning of some dissatisfaction that continued to grow and finally flared up into a rather serious disagreement back-stage at the final judging.

A fine program of entertainment was again presented, which was well received, and between acts the contestants appeared in their various poses. The show ran smoothly throughout, without the lags and dead spots so often encountered in physique shows. There was something entertaining taking place all the time. We wish we could find space to mention every act, but since we can't, we will tell you something about the different physique contestants:

Harry Johnson was entered weighing 185 at 5'8". He looked wonderful, and we had an opportunity to take quite a few photos of him at Colonna's gym. Harry has a physique that is very well shaped and proportioned, but is somewhat lacking in the huge bulk others have. Most of the general public would prefer Harry's type of clean cut, athletic appearing build.

Jack King, weighing 185 at 5'8" is a well built newcomer, who won some honors at the Jr. Mr. America event. He has a very fine pair of arms, and will do well in the future.

Howard Cohen is a boy from the South, who teaches school, and has a nice little gym in his home (no he isn't married) where he trains a lot of fellows. At 5'4", he weighs 156, and has a very nice physique. We have some good photos of Howard, who is actually a weightlifter, capable of pressing 240, as a lightweight, which places him up with the best in the world.

Ed Deny has a nice physique and with more work will do quite well.

Chuck Vinci needs no introduction. His superb upper body wins him points, but his slightly bowed legs and under-developed calves prevent him from winning top honors. He is only 4'11" tall and weighed 135.

Robert Hinds has been mentioned before, and you will probably hear a lot about this fellow. Photos we have seen have never begun to do this man justice, for he is really sensational for muscularity, huge measurements and good proportions. He weighed 200 at a height of 5'8".

Ray Schaefer looked as good as he did at the Mr. America, if not better, weighing 202 at 5'10". Ray had a big time the afternoon of June 1 fishing for crabs at the wharf at Colonna's place. Caught a lot of them too, though one got hold of his finger.

Steve Klisanin was looking as good, if not better, than ever, and seems to keep in top shape with less work and more travel than some of the other fellows. We sometimes wonder if some of the boys don't work a little too hard just before a contest and get to looking drawn and stale.

Harvey McCune, at 6'2", and weighing 190, has a nice build, but not enough bulk and definition, but he will gain these.

Charles Johnson, a young fellow with a nice physique, is handicapped by being a deaf mute.

Delmar Pickles, 5' 11" tall and weighing 200 pounds, is another teacher with a nice physique and the most outstanding calves of the meet. Delmar is much interested in developing the game.

Wm. Butler, another teacher, we understand, is a ruggedly built boy. (Seems like every other man you meet in the game is a school teacher.)

Gene Bohaty, 5'10" and 200 pounds, gets into all the contests with his nice physique. Gene is popular wherever he goes. He always finds a girl who can do a little dancing, and works up an adagio act, almost overnight, that would do justice to a good professional act. Gene makes a wonderful picture in his costume, on the stage-in fact we've never seen an adagio dancer who looked so good. The first night the volume was so low on the record they danced to that you could hardly hear it, but that made no difference to Gene and his partner, Pat Twiford,-they did their act as well without music as with it.

One of the acts that was very good was a burlesque posing act by Buck Harris, in which he imitated poses of top, stars, while "Cousin Tibble", the clown, carried on a dialogue. This was a scream, and the best of this type we have seen.

After the final act, and the final posing of the contestants, the judges retired behind stage to count the votes. During this period Vinci and Anderson performed some lifts to entertain the audience. However, the platform was so bad that they did not attempt their best lifts, Anderson doing around 400 for a clean, and a few reps in the jerk.

The judges for this day were Hoffman, Colonna, Greenfield, Ottley Coulter, Paul Anderson, Rader and Biller.

Most of the fellows voted straight for the Mr. Universe, with just one vote. Colonna and Rader both felt that the short men and tall men classes should be voted in individual groups in order to be fair to them, so they proceeded to vote on extra score sheets for the short class and the tall class. These votes were not used, however, and the short men and tall men were chosen from the votes for the Mr. Universe event. The sponsors of the event had intended that these classifications should be voted separately, but Hoffman would not agree to this, and insisted that the single vote be used for everything. In addition to this, the director of the show felt that the same judges should have been used for both nights but as you see some were changed. All this created a terrific disturbance back stage among both the officials and the contestants. Many hard words were exchanged and considerable strain was placed on all relations from here on out. Certainly no slightest reflection should be cast on the winner, Steve Klisanin, for he is a wonderful fellow of fine character and a super physique. Mr Clarence Johnson our National A. A. U. committee Weightlifting Chairman states this was not a nationally sanctioned meet, but was only sanctioned by the local A.A.U. district which made it a district meet only. It, therefore, did not come under the direct jurisdiction of the National Committee and was not a National Contest. Had it been sanctioned by the national body, he informs me that he would have been on hand to supervise the official functions. Regardless of this, it was a very unfortunate ending to a wonderful show.

Here are the final standings and the points: Klisanin 69½; Schaefer 68; Bohaty and Johnson tied for third with 65 (this was voted off, but unfortunately, we did not get the final result.) Hinds 61½; In the short men's class Harry Johnson was first with 65½ points; Hinds 63½; King 60; Vinci 59½; and Cohen 54½.

In the tall men's class it was: Klisanin 69½; Schaefer 68; Bohaty 65.

We do not wish to be dogmatic about the correctness of the above points, because there was so much confusion that it was difficult to obtain anything one could be certain of.

We wish to thank the Jr. Chamber of Commerce of Virginia Beach, for the many kindnesses extended to us while we were there. Buck Cowling the director, William Washburn, General Chairman, Bill Gietz, Carl Sempier, Howard Nation, Larry Sancilio, Laura. Lamb, John Brock, Bill Dodson, Scott Taylor, Lynn Clements, Jack Bailey, Reeves Johnson, Rhae Adams, Capt. H. H. Hale and all their committee members did a wonderful job and are to be congratulated.


- Steve Klisanin, last year's Mr. America, was the lucky man at the Mr. Universe contest and took home the huge first place trophy. Steve keeps in very good shape by lifting, and seldom does strict bodybuilding.

- These are the fine trophies provided for the winner. The first place trophy was about the finest we have seen, with four large columns supporting the figure.

- On the afternoon of the second day all the officials and contestants were invited out to the Sands and Surf Motel, complete with a fine swimming pool and lots of food. Everyone had a swell time and yon can see Gene Bohaty about to make a graceful dive. Gene never lets a contest interfere with his having a good time, nor does he become too serious about it as some fellows do. His disappointments are never so great if he doesn't win. In the lower photo you can see the competitors lined up on the stage. The orchestra sits behind them. The men posed on a platform in front of the stage and very near the judges. The lighting was quite good.

- Ray "Dick" Schaefer was second place man and looked very good. He took a plane for London the night the contest was over, and there be won first place in their Mr. Universe contest.

- We don't know how, but some day we hope to get some photos that win do justice to the terrific physique of Bob Hinds, shown at top of page. This man is very good, and one of these days should get in the winner's class. Gene Bohaty, in lower photo, would make a great title holder, and he hope he gets his chance one of these days.

- Harry Johnson, below, was very happy about winning the short men's class. His wife was with him and enjoyed the show very much. Harry says she brought him luck, and he'll take her with him all the time now. We think Harry is lucky to have such a nice wife.

- Schaefer displays a very muscular back in this pose.

- One of the most entertaining features of the show was the act of Buck Harris (a weight lifter) burlesquing some of the posing routines of famous physique men, while the clown, Cousin Tibble, who asked to enter Buck in the contest, carried on appropriate dialogue describing the poses. This was the best act of this type we have seen. An photos by Iron Man.

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