IronMan, Vol 21, No 1, Page 8, September 1961
WHEN a man persists year after year, always either tying or taking second place it is gratifying to see him finally win the coveted title of Mr. America, as Ray Routledge did this year. Certainly it would be hard to find a man more representative of ideal American manhood. It would be hard to find a man more representative of what we feel the Mr. America title should represent. Ray is serving our country in the Air Force in Germany. He is married and has five children, a good education, and is very active in church and civic affairs. He is a leader and an example to all the youth of our nation, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually also. This is not the story of Ray, however, but the story of the Mr. America contest. We carried Rayon our cover and in our center spread last issue. This month we have a cover shot of the Most Muscular winner, Hugo Labra.
The location of the Mr. America contest was the new Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, certainly one of the finer new auditoriums, ideally arranged for the lifting and the Mr. America, with a huge stage that was more than ample for all back stage activities. It is located near the downtown section with lots of parking area.
The judging this year was done in a prejudging session Saturday morning before the lifting started. It would have been better to have done this Friday morning so that the Most Muscular could have been pre-judged also. As it was, the Most Muscular had to be judged at the first night's physique contest.
This was the first year of pre-judging and no advance planning or thinking had apparently been done. It was a little rough and ragged in procedure but this should be greatly improved by next year. Even so, I'm sure that competitors and judges alike agree that it is a great improvement over the previous confusion of judging at the contest itself. If someone could be appointed as head judge for a month or so ahead of time they would have time to organize the whole procedure and make a smooth running, efficient operation of it. There are several things that should be done at a pre-judging session. All judges ought to be briefed on the entire procedure and all contestants should also be briefed. Provision should be made for judging under normal light and also posing under a spot light. Provision should also be made for interviews and judges should be encouraged to mix with the contestants previous to the actual judging session and observe contestants as they are at ease, talk to them and observe them as they warm up. Actually, contestants should be encouraged NOT TO WARM UP. This does not impress the judges one iota. In fact, it might prejudice some judges. It is such an obvious attempt to show something you don't really possess.
I'm sure that although the pre-judging was not as well organized and planned as it might have been, it was still highly satisfactory and the judges did an excellent job. Much satisfaction was expressed among the judges over being able to view the men at close range and under normal lighting conditions and with no posing. This pre-judging was done at the Muscle Beach Gym and took about two hours. All the contestants, 27 of them, were stripped, and came before the judges for their interviews, in which they were asked about their education, athletic ability, and any other questions the judges wished answered in that particular case. During this period the judges observed how the man conducted himself, his speaking ability and his personality. Although there are no Points for all these items, the judges adjust their other points to obtain the total points they think the man deserves overall.
After these interviews the men were brought before the judges in two groups. (There were too many for one group.) There the judges compared them in relaxed front, side and back positions. They were then brought back individually and in small groups and eliminations began until there remained about 6 top men whom the judges inspected very carefully and discussed the merits of the various men. Some people feel that the judges should not be allowed to discuss the men during the judging but contention is that if you have judges you cannot trust, you ought to get different judges. I realize that you may have judges who will try to influence other judges during these discussions. This is only natural. If a judge likes some man in particular and thinks he ought to win then he will talk in favor of this man. This may have some influence on the other judges, but we must remember that the other judges also have the opportunity to talk for the men of their own choice. I realize that this feature of pre-judging has pros and cons and I would not be dogmatic about it. If the majority think that the judges should not be allowed to discuss the men then I will go along with the idea.
Here are a few things that the judges look for and some of the things they object to. I hope that physique contestants will observe these remarks for they are important to them. When you refuse to conduct yourself as the judges request you have just about ruined your chances of winning a title. In the. first place when the judges ask you to relax, they mean relax. Over 50 per cent absolutely refuse to relax. They think they can keep their lats spread, their abdominals tensed or other muscles tensed and the judges won't know it. Listen fellows, if you tense one little muscle these judges will know it. They are men with years of experience both as barbell men, trainers, and officials. I have never known a judge who expressed admiration for a man going around with his lats spread and his arms sticking out from his sides. This is not normal posture or normal appearance.
If this is an acquired habit that you're no longer conscious of, then you'd better break the habit. You do not help yourself or the game by going around like a bird ready to take off. Sure, big lats are admirable, but people can admire them without your spreading them all the time. I know what I'm talking about. I was a kid once and I went through the phase of lat spreading myself until I finally arrived at the conclusion that it was silly. The same goes for tensing the other muscles. Nearly all the judging is done from the relaxed athlete. In fact all the judging was done relaxed and under normal lighting this time. There was practically no posing done or requested.
In line with this we'd like to remark about the need for good posture. This is one of the most important features in a pre-judging session. Some of the fellows with the best development in the Mr. America contest had terrible posture. This dropped them much lower in points than their general physique would justify. It also brought up some men who had outstanding posture. So many fellows have been conscious of posing from the front that they have developed a habitual poor posture, a sort of round shouldered slump. This is very bad and if continued will probably defeat their chances of winning a top physique honor where prejudging is used.
Remember a judge can see your bulk and definition just as well when you're relaxed as he can when you're tensed because he is trained in this. Learn all you can about good posture and practice this. It will give you added points in a contest.
In addition to good posture let us offer a bit of advice to you on your approach to the posing platform at the show itself. Many men walk up slowly and slumped as if they were about dead. Approach the platform with pep, speed and spring in your step, and an erect posture. A smile is fine if you're right for it, but too much smiling during a posing routine can ruin your presentation. On some fellows a smile becomes a grimace because they are straining so hard. Do not strain in your poses; go through them easily and fast; do not hold a pose long enough for people to start picking out the flaws in your physique or your pose. Do not pose too long. Leave them while they still want more. Never completely satisfy your audience. Never strain until you shake in your poses as some men do. This is bad and the mark of an amateur. Never warm up so much that you're sweating and sweat is running down your body and dripping on the platform. Many top men never warm up at all for a posing routine.
We hope readers will pardon us for this digression from the main topic but we felt that this was the place to discuss some of these things for these boys do need help and are eager for it and I know the judges would like to get these things across to them somehow for they become a bit perturbed when their requests are ignored.
Most of the men competed in the Most Muscular contest the first night and it was a very difficult task to pick the best man. Many men with outstanding muscularity did not even place. Such supermen as Stathes, Saba, Lazzaro, Wolter, and Santiago, with very outstanding muscularity, were not even in the first four. Anyone could have been a worthy winner. It was a difficult task for the judges and they certainly were not unanimous in their selections. They found it difficult to select anyone for first place, and just as difficult to place the others.
Usually the announcement of the winner of the Most Muscular is held up until the second night so that both the Most Muscular winner and the Mr. America winner are announced at the same time.
This time the sponsors insisted that the Most Muscular be announced on Friday and Mr. Johnson reluctantly permitted this.
The winner was apparently a very popular selection with the crowd according to their reaction, for when Hugo Labra was presented as the winner the crowd raised the roof. He is certainly an outstanding muscular giant. Standing about 5'7" tall and weighing 182, he looks shorter because of his great breadth of shoulders and massive development. Hugo was Pan Am Games hammer throwing champ with a toss of 201 feet. He is from Mexico but became an American citizen on December 28, 1960 and is a draftsman at Douglas Aircraft. He is 31 years old and photos do not begin to do him justice. He is so full of pep, energy and sparkle, and so huge in physique that it can't show in a photo.
Second place went to Joe Abbenda, who has been competing for some years in these contests. He has an outstanding physique with a lot of definition.
There was a tie for third place between Franklin Jones, who had won one of the Jr. Mr. America titles, and Ray Routledge.
In the Mr. America contest the judges were still brought to the front and had to put on a show of voting etc. which I don't approve of. I feel the audience should have been told that the contest was prejudged and the judges should not be required to carryon a farce or pretense of judging.
The trophies were the finest I have ever seen, with the Mr. America trophy being nearly five feet tall. Ray Routledge won first place as mentioned previously, with a total of 97 points. Athletic points were still used this year but it is expected that this will be changed next convention so that points will not be given but qualifying totals will be required to assure that the winner is a good athlete.
Second place went to Joe Abbenda of New York City. Joe is 21 years of age and is presently working as a shoe salesman and has a B.A. degree in History and Government and plans to take a law course. He is 6 feet tall and weighed about 200 and has made an 850 total on the Olympics.
Franklin Jones won third place and is a finely built colored boy, 23 years of age. He works as a warehouseman and is 5' 6", weighs 180 and is an outstanding lifter.
Harold Poole who won 4th, had won the Jr. Mr. America title in Columbia. He is only 17 years of age and I believe it was agreed that he had the most outstanding physique there from the standpoint of shape, development, definition, and general overall proportion. Here is a colored boy who has good calves. He has a lot of time and will undoubtedly make great improvement. Here again is a fellow who doesn't show his best in photos. He has made great progress and become quite outstanding even tho fighting against considerable handicaps. You will hear a great deal of this boy in the future for he has the foundation for becoming the greatest physique his race has ever produced. He has a good posing routine and a nice personality.
William Golumbick came in 5th because of his outstanding posture. Of course he has an outstanding physique but his posture was the best of any of the contestants. It gave a beautiful effect to his standing and walking positions. I would go so far as to say that very few of the top men had good posture and I hope they will improve this in the coming year. Bill is an outstanding example. He has a very pleasing physique and looks best in relaxed poses -- very symmetrical and proportionate.
Bill Stathes, placing 6th, looked much better than last year for he was a little heavier and did not look overtrained. We expected him to place higher than he did for he has exceptional muscularity, excellent definition, and is a very good athlete. He is married and is on the San Francisco Police force. At 35 he has a lot of time ahead but believe he will spend more time at lifting at which he is very good, having an official 870 total at 198. He weighed a little over 200 this year as compared with 185 last year.
I do not like to point out the weak points of the fellows but if they are aware of them they might do something to correct them. I would say that the calves come in for a lot of attention when pre-judging is done. From a rear view you get a good comparison of calves. One of the weak points of Bill was his calves. Quite a number of the fellows were weak in this respect. This is seldom so noticeable from the front, especially when the men are posing on the platform. Some of them can show impressive calves when they tense and pose them but standing relaxed they do not look so good. I do know that this was one of the reasons Bill and several others did not place higher. Poor calves and poor posture were two major weaknesses of most of the contestants. Very few had really good posture, probably not over 4 or 5 of the 27. This has not been so noticeable before when the judges could only view the men when they were posing on the platform. Posture is usually noticed only in side poses and many of the fellows either don't know what good posture is or else they have deliberately used poor posture in their posing so long that they can no longer assume the correct positions.
Here are a few evidences of poor posture as we saw them that day. The shoulders are rounded and there is a pronounced hump in the upper back and the shoulder blades sometimes protrude; there is a sway in the lower back sometimes. The chest is flat rather than lifted and high, the head assumes a forward position and the hips sometimes have a forward set. You can imagine what this does to an otherwise fine physique that may look terrific under lights on a posing platform.
Elmo Santiago was 7th. Elmo has won many titles and looked better this year than he did last year. He is 30, married, has 2 children and is an excellent boxer and swimmer as well as totaling 750 as a middleweight. Elmo has nice, tho not perfect, posture.
Gail Crick, in 8th place, one of the smallest men in the contest was also one of the most perfectly developed. Here is a man who has such a fine physique that it is almost impossible to pick a flaw. Every muscle is in perfect proportion to the other with a very well balanced development. I would probably be safe in saying that he had the most perfect physique of any man there. At 5'4½" and weighing 150, he probably isn't big enough to suit most people or most judges but I do know that all the judges commented on the perfection of his flawless physique. He has excellent posture and a nice even tan, not too dark. He lives and trains in a remote mining area and has to train alone, but even so he is an outstanding lifter. He would make an ideal Mr. America. He will undoubtedly improve a lot yet and with a little more bulk he might hit the top.
Hugo Labra, in winning 9th place, was popular with the crowd. He Was quite happy with winning the Most Muscular, as some fellows consider this a more important title than the Mr. America. We've already told you about this fellow.
Mike Ferraro in 10th place is a former Teen Age winner and has also won many other titles. He is 22 and 5'8½", weighed 180 and is a bartender in his father's establishment.
Eleventh place man, John Gourgott, is another Jr. Mr. America winner and is 5'11" tall and weighs 195. He has a B.S. in Mathematics and is now a pre-med student. Here is a very well built fellow who will undoubtedly make a lot of progress.
Joseph Lazzaro in 12th place is a fellow who tries regularly and has won a lot of titles and continues to improve. He is well educated, handsome and would be a credit to the title and deserves a high placing. He is 30 years of age, married, and an Art Education teacher in Buffalo. He is also a Jr. Mr. America.
Ai Souza, in 13th place, has a nice physique of a little more slender type but perfectly muscled. He is a very good athlete, having won several lifting titles. He has made a 375 bench press and a 475 squat officially. He is 34 years of age, married, and has three children.
Bill Rubinski is another young man with a very outstanding physique. He is 22 and a good athlete. He has the broad shouldered, deep chested, slim hipped type of physique that the general public likes. A very nice personality, and he is good at broad jumping and judo.
Lew Wolter is another giant who has won a Jr. Mr. America title and ought to place higher. He looks very impressive when relaxed and has good posture. His arms and shoulders are exceptional, with huge biceps. He is 33 years of age, married, has three children and works at air conditioning. He has an excellent athletic career in his past. He has the physique to place high up with the best.
We would like to point out here that most of the men in this contest placed around 80 points and higher. This means that they are almost as good as the winners, and indicates how close this contest was.
Seymour Koenig, 27 years of age and a long time contestant is still improving and works in the movies.
Leroy Saba is, in my estimation, one of the finest built small men ever seen and deserves to place high. Very muscular, lots of definition and good shape, he is a regular little giant. He is 23 years of age and was second in Most Muscular last year. He is also exceptionally strong and a fine lifter.
May we point out that among the top men there is very little to choose between them. To illustrate this may we refer you to last year's contest when Lloyd Lerille won but Routledge was second, Lazzaro was 3rd (this year he was 12th but I thought all the men were equally as well built as last year) and Abbenda was 5th last year but second this year. Stathes was 4th last year but this year he was 6th tho I'm sure the judges would agree he looked better this year. This would seem to be a little fickle, but this year the judges voted twice on the top men; once by points and once by selection. They themselves did not know how their points came out or who they selected that way, but later the points were totaled and it was found that their votes tallied exactly with their point totals. That is, as a group they voted the same both ways. This was unusual and rather unexpected. Apparently this group of judges did the best they knew how and yet several of them were on the same panel last year. I would say that there probably isn't as much difference between these top men as their points would seem to indicate. Perhaps just one little flaw in their physique may put them down the list quite a distance. The public may never notice this flaw and they cannot understand it and probably the man himself never knows why he is placed lower than he expected.
Walter Hunt is a young married man of 29 who suffers so much from asthma that he could do no heavy leg work and yet has built a physique that placed him well in a Mr. America contest. We understand that he was the youngest Eagle Scout in the U.S.A.
Chester Yorton is a handsome, well built young fellow of 22 who works in a factory making steam shovels. He is a fine baseball and basketball player and ice skater. He was in a very serious auto accident not long ago and both his legs were shattered and he now has steel plates in his thighs. The doctors told him he couldn't walk for 3 years or more but with tenacity and barbell training he was walking in less than 6 months and soon developed a pair of outstanding legs, tho he still bears long scars on each thigh where the doctors opened them to operate.
Art Fickling is 20 and is an athletic director in the Marines. His football team won the all Marine title. He has a very fine physique, but like some of the others, should improve his posture. He is an excellent tumbler.
Reed Phippen, 23. and another shoe store clerk is a winner of the Most Muscular title in the Mr. Utah contest. Stanley Noble, with a nice V-shaped smooth type physique, was probably the best educated man there, having three degrees and having done considerable research work. Al Saladino is 26, married, and has one child. He is a fine half-mile runner. Charles Pranke has an excellent physique and is a good lifter. He got his start in gymnastics and thus has an excellent set of abdominal muscles. He is 25 years of age and is majoring in Biology.
This is a rather long report but we felt that you'd like to know something about the different contestants. You'll hear more of them in Iron Man as time goes by for they will profit by their experience and some of them will win next year. None of them should be discouraged by their placing for, as you can see, this fluctuates up and down. They should all keep the ideal of good health and efficiency uppermost in their minds rather than winning a title; for good health is the greatest prize they can win. We find in general that the Mr. America contestants are well educated men of high character. We stated their ages and family status for a purpose and you can see that most of them are married and have children and good jobs and professions. You are never too old to improve your body and just because you are married and have a number of children is no excuse for not having good health and a fine physique. Anything I have said regarding these men has not been as criticism but rather as suggestions that will help them in the future. We are proud to be associated with them. They are a fine group of men.
- Santiago, Poole, and Labra pose during the Most Muscular contest which was won by Labra. Santiago was outstanding this year and Poole had one of the very finest physiques of the contest and he is only 17 years of age. Most of these photos were taken close to the stage and looking up, so they do not do justice to the physiques.
- Madeline Mack presents the Most Muscular trophy to Hugo Labra.
- The new Mr. America, Ray Routledge, and his huge trophy. Ray is with the Air Force in Germany.
- Gorgout, Ferraro and Wolter. Both Gargout and Wolter have won Jr. Titles and Ferraro has won a Teen Age National title.
- Franklin Jones, third; Ray Routledge, Mr. America, and Joe Abbenda, who placed second.
- A favorite back pose of Ray Routledge. A complete description of all contestants will be found in the text. More photos of other top men in this meet will follow in future issues.
- Ray Van Cleef, left, and Peary Raider, your editor, await the decision as they sit in the judges row. Even the judges are not aware of the winners and place men until it is announced from the stage, generally speaking.
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