Muscle Builder, Vol 9, No 8, Page 36, November 1967
EDITOR's NOTE: Reprinted here is an article which appeared recently in WEEKEND MAGAZINE. Its author, Andy O'Brien, has a fresh approach to reporting a physique contest -- because he speaks not as a seasoned critic of bodybuilding, but as an average man seeing a physique contest for the first time -- and we thought you'd enjoy knowing what it's like looking in at our sport from the outside. The article is entertaining and provides several quotes that say in just a few words what we've been saying for years -- that bodybuilding is the greatest. In case you missed the MR. UNIVERSE CONTEST report in last month's MR. AMERICA magazine -- we have added to this article a compelte list of MR. UNVIERSE winners, plus the winners of the JR. & SR. MR. CANADA contests . . . held in conjunction with this event.
WEEKEND MAGAZINE Staff Photographer Bruce Moss turned to me after shooting the "Mr. Universe" finale, featuring the 1967 crop of the world's most marvellous males, and asked: "Well-l-l, what do you think of them?"
"I haven't made up my mind," I replied, "if these guys are for real."
It had been an impressive Canadian Centennial Year project with 15 nations represented at Montreal's Paul Sauvè Arena. The area normaly covered by ice was an expanse of tables with white cloths at which mixed, dressed-up groups sat sipping wine. The atmosphere was one of dignity all the way. The International Federation of Bodybuilders' judges came from Canada and the United States, Sweden, England, Belgium, the Philippines and Singapore.
IFBB MR. UNIVERSE
Sergio Oliva (Chicago, Ill.)
Vic Downs (Toronto, Canada)
Best Physique / Short Class:
1. Rick Wayne (London, England);
Best Physique / Tall Class:
1. Sergio Oliva (Chicago, Ill.);
Most Muscular / Short Class:
1. Elliot Gilchrist (Grenada, W.I.);
Most Muscular / Tall Class:
1. Vic Downs (Toronto, Canada);
Since the federation was founded by two Montrealers, Joe and Ben Weider, 22 years ago;, I have watched its astonishing development in Canada and from Canada to 40 other nations. As kids, both on the weakling side, they had saved money to send for barbells from the United States and worked rigorously in their basements -- and with muscled results. When Ben came out of the Canadian army after enlisting at the age of 18, he and Joe began manufacturing body-building equipment on a shoestring. It has since zoomed into a multi-million dollar business, with Canada alone reporting almost two million enthusiasts at levels from gyms to schools to home basements.
But this "Mr. Universe" jazz was another thing altogether.
It was Ben Weider (president of the federation while brother Joe, a U.S. citizen, carries the title "chief") who sensed my doubts and suggested an interview with the musclemen.
"With no-holds-barred questions?" I asked.
It was agreed. The answers in most cases represent a pooling of several answers to the one question. For instance, my first question was:
"Are you aware that your emphasis on the male body-beautiful prompts much wondering aloud if you fellows are on the 'queer' side?"
Laughter resulted although one muscleman suggested that "fellows who wonder don't seem to do it in front of us." Another remarked: "From what you have seen here, wouldn't you think a man with a good build is more attractive to the gals than the guys?" Still another suggested that if a target for nasty-name calling is sought, the New York Rangers' "Boom Boom" Geoffrion could be a start.
"Boom Boom?" I repeated, frankly astonished.
It may surprise you, too, to learn that the come-back sensation of the 1966-67 National Hockey League season has become an enthusiastic expert in dumbbell curls, thigh curls with iron boots and leg raises on the curved abdominal board. I learned that after the Boomer's career with Canadiens ended in 1964 he popped into the Weider office in Montreal one day and told of his problem. A series of particularly debilitating injuries to torso, limbs and nerve centres seemed to have affected the strength and spring of his entire muscular system. His over-all body condition was deteriorating to the point where he doubted that he would ever play hockey again. A special therapeutic course was designed for Geoffrion's use - combined with advice about diet and rest.
I don't say Geoffrion's physique was that of any weakling before he went into the body-building routine. I've seen him stripped in dressing rooms ever since he was a rookie and he always looked impressive. But there is no doubt that the washed-up Canadien of 1964 was a far cry from the strong and vigorous Ranger who came back to fire Rangers into the playoffs last season with 17 goals and 25 assists in 58 games. Besides, Geoffrion himself says weight training did it, although I'd wager a week's pay against a dumbbell that you'll never see him entered in a body-beautiful show.
This, to my mind, is the key cause for caustic comment about the musclemen. Somehow, it seems all right for the gals to parade their charms in a Miss Universe contest, but I find it difficult to be intrigued over the 54-inch chest and the 20¾-inch biceps that helped Chicago's Oliva cop the crown as Mr. Universe of 1967. When men parade their muscles I feel they invite the tag of "exhibitionists."
My audience of musclemen simply shrugged: "Isn't the runner who seeks to run the fastest-ever 1,500 meters ,before 80,000 people at the Olympics an exhibitionist? Aren't all athletes who exhibit their physiques in public exhibitionists to some degree?"
Toronto's Mike Galea, the 1967 Mr. Canada (he will enter the 1968 Mr. Universe contest to be held in Paris or London), told me: "These muscles represent 10 years of gym work."
It is true that only a minute fraction of the bodybuilding fraternity in Canada ever enter competitions, and even if those who do are regarded as extremists, it's considered they serve a good purpose in bringing body building to wider public attention.
It was pointed out that what seems "way out" or "strange" about male body-building competitions is simply due to seeing them infrequently and not knowing what the contests are all about.
Judging is done in two categories. One is pure muscular development. The other is symmetrical, smooth, all-round development. The highest goal (as displayed by Mr. Universe) lay not in muscle alone but in the overall development of physique.
I have heard coaches in sports ridicule the muscled men as "good for nothing else," that they are too muscle-bound to function well.
My audience came back with a reminder that less than one-tenth of one per cent of all bodybuilders are extremists on the muscular side but (this you'll have to take or leave) "even these extremists have to be superbly conditioned men to face the long gym hours as well as discipline in diet and living habits."
Gone, apparently, is an old prejudice that with spectacular muscular development goes a weakening of the heart. There is simply too much modern medical testimony favoring progressive weight-training (for persons found medically sound) as a heart and lung developer. And at the last three Olympics in Melbourne (1956), Rome (1960) and particularly in Tokyo (1964) I found increasing stress being placed on "directed" weight training. The runners worked on their legs with weights, the discus throwers on their shoulders, etc.
It is significant that at next year's Olympics in Mexico City, the planning includes an Olympic first in the form of a huge gym, fully equipped with all types of weights, for the use of the athletes of all nations in specialized training.
Incidentally, it's not generally known that a proposal was made to the International Olympic Association in 1965 to include body building in Olympic competition. It was rejected because of a Russian veto, which amazed the Canadian members of the International Federation of Bodybuilders because Nicolai Romanov, then Soviet Minister of Sport, had gone on record with a message: "Thanks to bodybuilding methods we learned from your organization we are now breaking world records."
Ben Weider greets this with mixed emotions. As a confirmed capitalist, now in the yacht-at-Expo-marina category, he's hardly proud of contributing to the Communists' success in anything.
"Nobody here gives all the credit to body building for the Russians' dramatic rise since World War II on the international sports scene. Improved coaching techniques certainly demand much of the credit, but the fact remains that they put the horse before the cart by working on the body first. Too many of our kids are slow starters in sport because they don't begin by building strength, endurance and stamina."
This comment tends to illustrate a basic point about weight training as seen in body building. Weight lifting is a sport in itself. The use of weights outside of sport is body building. In using weights, bodybuilders aren't out to break any records; they are simply aiming to develop physique through progressive weight training.
One of the more impressive musclemen I talked with -- not a competitor but a striking combination of physique, good looks and personality was Andre Begin, 27, of Montreal. He graduated in physical education from the University of Michigan and is an instructor with the Chomedey School Commission (in the Montreal area). He told me:
"In terms of applying body building to the kid level I have already had some notable results, particularly with the bullying, window-breaking type of boy. With the proper approach, usually in the form of a challenge, he gets interested and it takes so much out of him he just hasn't got the energy for delinquency. The remarkable thing about it all, we at Chomedey have seen, is that the body-building sell seems to get something across to kids that neither parents nor teachers are always able to do. I refer to nutritional habits such as drinking milk and fruit juices in preference to soft drinks, avoiding white bread, eating lean meat, no drinking or smoking . . . Also good hygienic habits -- bathing, regular teeth cleaning. And, of special importance, the value of good posture -- of standing and walking erectly."
Bègin grinned. "When you see a guy with lots of muscles seemingly strutting along the street he is merely practising what we have preached."
So it appears there is more to body building than mere muscle production. If you are going after a Mr. Muscular award you don't train the same way, although with the same equipment as Mr. Physique. Here is the simplest illustration I can think of:
If you want density of muscle (Mr. Muscular) in the biceps just above the elbow, you pick up the dumbbell with the insides of your hands turned out and "curl" the dumbbell up and down just by bending the elbow. But if you want to develop the "long muscles" (for swimming) you'd pick up the dumbbell the same way but raise it with extended arms up and down from waist to shoulder level.
I concluded my private seminar with one more objection -- that accent on muscles tends to make men egotistical. They agreed that development of muscle, strength and vigor may tend to inject an excess of self-confidence but Toronto's Vic Downs, second in the "Mr. Universe" competition, added:
"To tell you the truth, 'most of us feel so good we don't give a damn what anybody thinks."
- OVERALL WINNER Sergio Oliva . . . one of America's hottest bodybuilders. He also holds the MR. USA and MR. WORLD titles.
- 2ND PLACE WINNER Vic Downs . . . presently Canada's greatest bodybuidler. Sergio's fantastic size overpowered him. He also placed 1st in the Most Muscular Division.
- MR. TENNESSEE Bill Haney . . . In the greatest shape of his life but still competition forced him to take a back seat.
- MR. JAPAN T. Kanazawa placed 4th in his class. His fine physique brought honor to him -- and his country.
- MR. EASTERN AMERICA Frank Zane was forced into 3rd place. Many believe he will camputer the 1967 or 1968 MR. AMERICA title.
- 3rd IN THE MOST MUSCULAR DIVISION Conrad Laframbois -- MR. CANADA and one of Canada's most prominent bodybuilders.
- MR. EUROPE Rick Wayne placed 1st in his class, but lost the overall title to Oliva. A professional singer, he also entertained.
- MR. SWEDEN Eino Akkila placed 4th in the Most Muscular Division. He will compete again in the 1968 MR. UNIVESE CONTEST.
- MR. BELGIUM Pierr van den Steen took 2nd Place in the Most Muscular Divison. Note his phenomenal back Development.
- CHICAGO'S ROCK STONEWALL placed 2nd in the Short Class - losing 1st place honors to Rick Wayne.
- ANOTHER SHOT OF PIERRE VAN DEN STEEN -- one of Europe's most popular bodybuilders. He will compete in the 1968 MR. UNIVERSE.
- PHENOMENAL GLEN WELLS of the Bahamas placed 2nd in the Most Musclar Division - losing 1st place to Vic Downs. Cut-up as ever.
If you find these articles interesting and useful, please