IronMan, Vol 22, No 2, Page 8, December 1962

Abbenda, Sell win Mr. Universe Titles

By Oscar Heidenstam

THE National Amateur Bodybuilders' Association held their annual Mr. Universe Contests in London on September 29th. This was their fourteenth successful show with ever increasing support from many countries who recognise this as the only worthwhile version of this title.

Of course each year there are "imitations" organised by people with commercial interests or those who want to "get in" on something that has become a success. Nothing makes a physique contest "official," not even one organised by a weightlifting body; why should it, it is not part of their sport. Experience, prestige, integrity, are the factors that make people come to ours.

Professional Mr. Universe -
   Len Sell, Britain

Class 1
1Ray Routledge, U.S.A.
2Reinhard Smolona, Germany
3Claud Maupuy, France
4Samuel Martin, U.S.A.
Class 2
1Len Sell, England
2Vince Gironda, U.S.A.
3Earl Clark, U.S.A.
4Leopold Merc, Austria
5Vincent Gilles, Guadeloupe

Amateur Mr. Universe
   Joe Abbenda, U.S.A.

Class 1
1Joe Abbenda, U.S.A.
2Adrian Heryet, England
3Didier Goetgebuer, Belgium
4Hossein Shokough, Iran
5Christian Barreau, France
6Geoffrey Whitaker, England
Class 2
1John Hewlett, England
2Harry Henry, Granada
3Beresford Morris, Jamaica
4Raymond Garnett, England
5Louis Lanhove, Belgium
6David Stroud, England
Class 3
1Clancy Ang, Malaya
2Ronald Sterlington, U.S.A.
3Ronald Steinwall, Ceylon
4Phil Wood, Barbados
5Mohamed Umar Butt, Pakistan
6Ted Gitteridge, England

Junior Mr. Britain -
   Ken Stone, London
Junior Miss Britain -
   Maureen Gay, Bristol

Amateurs are safeguarded by the fact that we run a separate contest for a Professional Universe title, open to gym owners, those whose names have been used for commercial reasons, those who get paid for their services. Even the Professionals compete only for a trophy and receive no "expenses," but the prestige value still makes it worthwhile their travelling thousands of miles to compete.

This year we had twenty four from the British Isles and forty-nine from overseas, representing twenty countries. Eight Americans took part, six of whom crossed the Atlantic to do so. Can we ask for a better compliment?

The American contingent included: Joe Abbenda, current Mr. America, Ray Routledge, last year's Amateur Mr. Universe, trying his luck as a Professional, Earl Clark, Amateur winner in 1958 (like Ray, trying for the "double"), Samuel Martin, Hossein Shokough (an Iranian, but resident in the USA), a celebrity, Vince Gironda, Ronald Sterlington (little known in the USA perhaps, but with a fabulous physique).

As always, the contests were judged the day before the actual presentation to the public. There were two height classes for the Professionals, three for the Amateurs. The overall judging taking nearly seven hours, such is the scrutiny the competitors get under the hard and unflattering lighting. The judges, all with no commercial interests, all former top line physique competitors themselves, all still in the "game", all of varying opinions.

I want to stress this, as sometimes the competitors wonder who the row of middle aged men who judge them are! The panel though, predominantly a British one, contained three former Mr. Britain winners, two Senior Mr. Britain winners, and two Mr. Europe winners. All had, themselves, competed in earlier Universe contests, none had any commercial interest.

Naturally from time to time we get bad decisions-what sport does not. Even the most experienced weightlifting referees are sometimes guilty of a bad decision, but it does not say it is a biased or dishonest one. I say this because one can never please everybody and I am certain that 99% of those who saw this contest appreciated its fairness. What impresses the visitor most is the fact that men of so many different colours, creeds, and races, and often with no common tongue, make up the most friendly atmosphere known to PC circles.

The Professionals-

This group, though only twelve in number, represented eight different countries, and what a line-up.

CLASS 1-The tall class was won comfortably by Ray Routledge, but he had some very tough opposition including a great entry from West Germany, Reinhard Smolona, a former Mr. Germany winner, who took second place; the huskiest Frenchman we have seen, Guy Maupuy, who is a gym owner and took third place. Sam Martin of the USA, a bit light in spite of fantastic arms, but admitting that he did not expect such tough competition. Sam took fourth place and two of Britain's really big men, Bill Stevens, 230 lbs., and Reub Martin (his fourteenth Universe) taking the last two places.

The shorter class included the two former Amateur winners, Len Sell of Britain and Earl Clark, USA. Earl beat Len for the Amateur title in 1958 but he had to admit that he never bargained for such impressive improvement in Len. Leo Stern said of Len the year before, that with a little more definition he could be the greatest short man he had ever seen. Len left nothing to chance, knowing the opposition, and not only won his class but the Professional title also, becoming the third man ever to do this, and joining two of the world's greatest-Reg Park, and Bill Pearl. Vince Gironda was second to Len in his height class-he seemed a bit disappointed, but what an achievement for a man of 45. Vince is truly one of the greatest and such an example for sane PC. Earl Clark, showing the finest sportsmanship I have ever had the honour of seeing, even in bitter defeat, was a magnificent third in his class. Leopold Merc, an Austrian making his fourth bid, took fourth place in this class.

The Professional title lay between Ray Routledge and Len Sell, Len winning by the odd vote. Ray may have been disappointed, but he was beaten by a really magnificent opponent even though somewhat shorter. Other than lack of inches, Len can seldom be faulted. Ray could do with a little more leg development for his height.

The Amateurs-

Three classes, everyone a tough one, and with 16 to 20 competitors in each.

The under 5'6" were truly terrific. The "scintillating" Clancy Ang of Malaya, as he was described, who was second in this class last year, was a convincing winner. Taking into consideration racial characteristics and the fact that this lad has small bone structure, his physique is nothing short of fantastic. Second and not far behind was an unknown quantity, and what a surprise he proved to be-Ronald Sterlington, USA. A truly rugged man, but a little light in the legs. A magnificent achievement for anyone seeing the opposition. Third was a very symmetrical and muscular Ronald Steinwall, current Mr. Ceylon; fourth a West Indian, Phil Wood; fifth a Pakistani, Umar Butt, twice runner-up in the Mr. Asia contest and four times Mr. Pakistan. Our own Mr. Britain runner-up took sixth place. He is Ted Gutteridge. Such was the standard.

CLASS 2-Showed us for the fourth time a magnificent John Hewlett, of London, a great winner. John is a former Mr. Britain and one of our most modest and strongest physique men. He must surely take the Universe title one year! Business never allows him to train quite as he would like. Second was Harry Henry of Granada, one of our most stalwart triers, who took second place to Enrico Tomas when he won his title in 1956! Third place went to Beresford Morris of Jamaica; fourth to an English newcomer and a very promising one, Ray Garnett; fifth was a Belgian, Louis Lanhove, and sixth, our current Mr. Britain, David Stroud, which says something for the overall standard. And so to Class 1 for men over 5'9". Here we were to see Joe Abbenda, whom we felt was probably a great deal better than his pictures and he surely was! Also Hossein Shokough, well known to us and one we expected to be well in the running. But we had our own Adrian Heryet, former Mr. Britain, who has twice before been runner-up in this class, and was looking magnificent. A very hard man to beat. There was also an up and coming and very formidable Belgian, Didier Goetgebuer, current Mr. Belgium, and a score of other top men.

It was when Joe Abbenda came to pose that we were all amazed, and his back must be truly one of the greatest ever. Joe was a worried man though when he saw the opposition. Second again was Adrian Heryet; third was the Belgian, Didier Goetgebuer, and fourth Hossein Shokough, like Sam Martin in the professionals, never realising the standard would be so high. Hossein said he will come again in top form and we hope he will. Fifth was Christain Barreau of France, twice Mr. Europe winner, and sixth was one of our own newcomers, Geoffrey Whitaker, who never entered a physique contest till he was 30. He is a former racing cyclist.

Vote for the Amateur title lay between three class winners, and although John Hewlett took two of the votes, Joe Abbenda took the rest to be an outstanding and very popular winner.

We also run a Junior Mr. and Miss Britain title with our contests chosen from the winners and runners up of our twelve area contests. These contests are for under 18s and give a lot of inspiration to our boys and weight trained girls. Winners were Junior Miss Maureen Gay; Junior Mr. Ken Stone.

Our show was held at a big London theater on Saturday, September 29. We were sold out six weeks before the date, and turned away hundreds at the door.

Honoured guests from the USA were: Bob Hoffman, Steve Stanko, first Universe winner, and John Terpak.

We are told the Weightlifting Federation through another journal, will run a Mr. Universe in London next year. We do not care, but please do not confuse it with ours. We know we can depend on our friends for support, and the contest will be held as usual in September, 1963. I might add: "Beware of cheap imitations!"

I would like to thank our many American friends for their loyal support. Remember such men as: John Grimek, Steve Reeves, Leo Robert, Jack Delinger, Bill Pearl, Jim Park, Reg Park, Mickey Hargitay, Ray Schaeffer, Enrico Tomas, have competed and won our Universe title, besides those mentioned in this article; the world's greatest physique stars, they could not be wrong!


- Here is the lineup of the finals of the Mr. Universe contest. Bob Hoffman has a word with professional winner Len Sell, while Oscar Heidenstam, the author and editor of Health and Strength holds the trophy, waiting to present it to the Amateur winner, Joe Abbenda.

- Len Sell, professional winner and Joe Abbenda the Amateur winner, pose with Miss Maureen Gay (Junior Miss Brtain).

- Len Sell, Former Mr. Britain and winner of the professional Mr. Universe title, shows his outstanding physique.

- Joe Abbenda, this year's Mr. America, and the winner of the Amateur Mr. Universe title, shows that his physique is better than ever.

- Ronald Sterlington, relatively unknown in the U.S.A. was second in class 3 of the Mr. Universe contest and has a remarkable physique.

- A favorite back pose showing the massive and shapely back of Len Sell.

- Ray Routledge, last year's Amateur Mr. Universe and former Mr. America, tries again for the professional Mr. Universe and won first place in class 1. Don't those arms look huge?

- Vince Gironda, 45 years of age, won second place in class 2 with his outstanding physique. Joe Abbenda the Amateur Mr. Universe, is 23. Photo by Hawker. In England they have different height classes in their physique contests, hence the designation of class 1, 2, and 3.

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