Muscular Development, Vol 10, No 1, Page 8, January 1973
THE MR. UNIVERSE CONTEST in London is always a big thing and the best on the entire European continent, so much so that many American champions fly over and compete in this great event. When I heard some of the men who already planned to compete I decided to fly over and take in the competition. Of course some weeks earlier it was suggested that I go over and view the talent and even invite some of the outstanding champions to our Mr. World contest. In talking with some of these men I found many very interested and, so long as they had the proper credentials to indicate their amateur status, they would be eligible. Physically, many of these men would more than qualify, and I certainly hope that some of them can make the trip. They'll be more than welcomed.
Mr. Universe Results
The decision to go came about once I realized that six years have gone by since my last visit and I felt a trip was long overdue. However, I had much to do before going, but by buckling down I managed to get caught up and got ready to go just a couple days before departure time. On our way to the airport I couldn't help but reflect on our last trip and the delays that were encountered. I wondered how we would fare this time. The trip was to take six hours but took almost 20. And due to the time difference and the late afternoon departure, more than 40 hours went by before we got any sleep. However, it was the waiting and delays that became boring and very tiresome, and by the time we finally reached our destination we felt we've been traveling for weeks!
To compound matters, upon checking in at the airport we were asked whether we preferred seats in a smoking or nonsmoking area. Naturally, since neither my wife nor I smoke we chose the latter. . . or so we thought.
In flight the air conditioning unit kept the area clear of any smoke, but during the time we were grounded, which was for hours, smoke curled all around us, irritating the eyes, nose and throat. Most smokers are very inconsiderate, but perhaps had they not been able to smoke they might have become very upset and nervous, much more than they were.
One solution to this delay problem may be to try another flight time so that arrival time does not coincide with the London fog that prevents landing, and on our return trip I gave the matter considerable thought. However, we were not the only ones to have this experience. Dennis Tinerino and his friends had a similar experience. They, however, got hung up in Eire, while we were stuck in Scotland. I believe this delay caused Dennis to lose confidence, though he denied this, and though he looked in shape, the long delay took something out of him.
It happened to Vern Weaver on our last trip six years before. Again we were delayed for hours and this may have had something to do with his condition because Vern lost the spirit and failed to do nearly as good as was expected. Perhaps these contestants should fly to London several days before the contest to acclimate themselves to the surrounding conditions and even get one or more workouts before the actual contest.
Eventually what seemed like an endless trip finally terminated in London hours behind schedule. We got our luggage and customs and started towards the exit. I was confronted with the problem of getting to the hotel, but because I was so rushed I failed to convert checks into British currency. I wondered how I was going to pay the taxi driver. Thus, with baggage in hand and deep in thought I headed towards the exit, not expecting anyone at this late arrival. Then out of the clear blue came a familiar salutation "Hi mate." I looked up astonished. There stood Reg Ireland, an old friend. . . our "manna from heaven!" I was surprised to see him because we haven't seen each other in years though we exchanged letters occasionally. However, I did send him a note telling him of our intended visit but no details, yet he took the trouble and time to learn the date of our arrival and decided to meet us . . . whatta break for us! At that moment I could not think of anyone I'd rather see more than Reg. He was a life saver.
He helped with our baggage and led us to where he had a car waiting. By driving us to the hotel he solved a number of problems. We exchanged family gossips enroute. The time, in spite of the heavy traffic seemed brief and in no time we were in front of the hotel. Reg knew we've had a tiresome time, so he said he'd see us later.
We checked in and went to our room. We were disappointed because the room didn't have a bath, and we wanted to shower before dinner, but under the circumstances we did our best and went down to the lobby. Many were there; Arax, Oscar Heidenstam, Zane and his wife, etc. We talked awhile then decided to have dinner. . . we were starved. After dinner we took a brief walk then went to our room to rest a moment and apparently fell asleep; later waking up in the middle of the night and had trouble getting to sleep again. When we finally did, we overslept.
We expected to rise early, have breakfast then hop the bus to the prejudging venue. However, by the time we finished breakfast the bus already left with the contestants and judges. I inquired about directions because attempts to hail a taxi proved futile. We started walking. Finally I saw a taxi discharging a passenger. I asked him to take us to the address I showed him. He looked sort of funny at me, saying, "It's only a few blocks from here." I asked that he take us anyway. He did and because he didn't take us around on a useless cruise, I tipped him well and started into the building.
The judging already started. The hall looked packed. As I entered a few fellows came up, most of whom I met on previous occasions. We exchanged greetings and talked about the contest. Oscar Heidenstam was M.Cing the event. Spotted Angela and I, came over and led us down front. I took my place among the judges, all 20 of them!
I studied the men that stood before us. Most of them appeared massive and muscular. Instantly the event of 1948 flashed through my mind when I competed in the first Mr. Universe contest. At that time, outside of Reeves, Drappe and a couple of others there wasn't that much competition. But now the men were more evenly matched and the problem of selecting just one would be very difficult. I turned to the judge on each side of me and asked how this years line-up compared with other years? Instinctively each replied that last year's standards were better. Better, I thought to myself, when any one of these men could be the winner.
Another group was called out, and again the difficulty of selecting the top man was not an easy matter, and when it was all over, Oscar announced it was time for lunch and to reconvene by two. The crowd filed out onto the street. We followed. But where to eat. Someone suggested a small tavern across the street.
We decided to try it. Many of the spectators and judges were there. The small place was crowded, and two of the hardest working guys, who tally up the scores, Bill Ball and Bill Norris, joined us . . . or I should say we joined them. We had a lot of conversation between mouthfuls. Then someone brought me a drink. I asked what it was. "Oh," one of the fellows replied, "that's a ladies drink." Ladies drink I howled. No wonder I saw a few fellows look at me in a kind of funny way. But Norris and Ball knew I wasn't keen on beer or ale and thought I might like this. I'll admit I could not identify it, but somehow it tasted like a mixture of soda pop, molasses and beer. . . if that's possible.
When we finished we went outside. The street was crowded with contestants, spectators, etc. Then Dennis Tinerino came over. He told me of their woes, the delays, etc. I laughed but I had to sympathize with him because my eyes still burned and my throat was slightly irritated from the smoke yet. The only thing in my favor was that I didn't have to compete as Dennis, so didn't have to be in the pink. I saw some of his competition and he would have to be in top shape to win. The delay certainly didn't help, but Dennis seemed cool and voiced great confidence. A good sign. I wished him luck.
The street suddenly looked deserted except for the crowd around us. The doorman came over and told us the judging was about to start . . . we meandered over. Lights were doused and a group of contestants were just filing in. As the men were introduced it surprised me to see the number of Americans competing Momentarily I thought I was back in the states. Again the men lined up just a few feet in front of us. They went through the usual front, side, back and front again turns. Again the thought of selecting just one man in this group was difficult. I heard other judges discussing how that was too heavy here or there, or not enough in other areas. They had a point. I spotted this and knew that their symmetry was not up to par. Mentally I still gave every man credit for the effort he must have expended to get into the physical condition he displayed. It wasn't just a matter of getting huge and bulky. These men had to dedicate hours and hours of training to obtain their development. I felt that more than half of these contestants deserved to win, and because I could not honestly decide, I upheld my vote but would cast it in case of a tie. I studied the men as various judges would call on some of them to pose and pose again so that by the time they went up on stage to do their posing routine they were thoroughly pumped up just as they might be from a hard workout. However, none seemed to mind or hurry. When he was called by the judges to do a certain pose he would come forth and do it almost nonchalantly but flexed to the point of shaking that caused his veins to bulge!
Most of the afternoon was spent judging these men, though the professional entry this year was small compared to previous years. In the pros the Americans dominated; Frank Zane, Boyer Coe and Dennis Tinerino. Being acquainted with all of them I just couldn't see myself selecting just one when all three have trained hard and long for this event, so I withdrew from the judging panel and went backstage to tell the contestants where the ideal posing spot was. Then from backstage I watched each man go through his routine. I was glad that I did because every pose each man did he looked better. Zane was heavier from last year but his muscularity was razor-sharp and his midsection remarkably small. Coe looked massive but still strikingly cut-up. Some figured him to win. Tinerino was the heaviest of the three but amazingly muscular for the bulk he carried. He looked like he might win by sheer size. The judges made those three, plus one or two of the others, strike poses again and again until they decided who they'll pick.
It was nearly 5 p.m. by the time judging was over. Oscar then announced that the Miss Bikini contest will be judged at the Victoria Palace the next day. All contestants were also asked to be present for rehearsal, and with that the crowd filed out. Many walked to their hotel. In the lobby we had tea with some friends and discussed the events of the day. Everyone tried to figure out who won but no one could be 100% certain. We'll just have to wait until tomorrow!
Our demand for room and bath was met. We showered, that is, a hand shower, but that was better than a bath. It helped to refresh us, and after a little rest we got hungry. By now it was around 7 p.m. and we decided to try a small Italian place just up the street. The place was full. We spotted a number of contestants and others we've met. Christine Charles, Miss Bikini winner, her husband and friends were leaving. We wished her luck. She seemed excited about tomorrow. We had a good dinner then decided to walk around. Met others and talked and before we knew it, it was almost midnight.
We arranged to have dinner with Reg Ireland the next day before the show. Next morning we again overslept and had a late breakfast. By the time Red showed up I still was not hungry but we went along to enjoy a snack in Reg's company. It took longer than we expected and we had to rush by taxi to the Victoria Palace. Many people were still outside trying to get in. The place was a sellout. Lights were down, the orchestra was playing as the judges were being introduced from the stage. We sat in the front row and awaited the highlights. Class #3 was first. Each man was introduced, gave his posing display while the audience applauded with approval. Other acts followed, especially a fine gymnastic exhibition which was well received.
Next came Class #2, the most popular with over 20 contestants competing. Again, some mighty impressive physiques were on display, and then intermission After this a few more acts were presented before Class #1 came on. Over a dozen men competed. In years past only a handful competed in this tall category, but today it's becoming as popular as the medium class. The tallest competitor was a young American, Lou Ferrigno, 6 ft. 4 in. or over and he placed in the top five. A commendable showing considering the competition.
The Miss Bikini contestants lined up which were selected that morning. The winner, stately Christine Charles, took the honors. John Citrone and his wife then put on an interesting strongman act that the audience enjoyed. After which the pros came on. About a dozen or so competed but the caliber was excellent. Each man posed with finesse and no one knew who the winner was until announced. It was Zane first, Coe second and Tinerino third. Elias Petsas got the amateur award. Those who failed to win took it graciously and the audience gave everyone a pig hand. . . they always do.
I signed a few autographs and started for the exit. Though the theatre emptied out in minutes, the street outside was congested. Trying to get a taxi was hopeless, so we walked. Along came Dave Prowse, one-time powerful lifter but now making monster epics and doing remarkably well. He offered us a lift. We accepted. We asked him to join us for some tea but he had other plans. We sat in the lobby having tea and watched many come in hurriedly, probably to get ready for the dance.
It was after six when Reg left and we retired to our room to shower and change clothes. The Universe Dance was at the Holborn Assembly rooms, wherever that might be. By the time we showered and got ready it was well past 7 p.m. We were starved but felt stopping to eat now would make us very late. We decided to hold off, hoping we might get a bite to eat at the dance . . . we didn't. Eventually we found the place with the help of a fellow who directed us. The band was swinging but no one was dancing.
Oscar saw us and introduced us to some people then took us over to meet Colin Sheard, one of his writers. I knew of Colin for years but never met him, so was impressed. We sat around talking and drinking some concoction, but the drinks only made me hungrier and thirstier. Brenda Sell with a friend came over. She asked why we weren't dancing. Why? Because no one else was dancing. Angela urged me to dance. Why do women all want to dance? Men have to be urged and coaxed. After another drink we went out. Brenda got Jean Stoos, one of the judges, to dance too but no one else joined in. I felt awkward and self conscious. . . after that number I decided to sit down. Then we got involved in a discussion about protecting some of the athletes who might otherwise be barred from world competition. In this group was Arax, Tony Boulos, Henri Fagot. Oscar was on stage getting some of the contestants to come out and pose for the crowd again. Many contestants did, while we were trying to solve the dilemma of the European bodybuilder. We were so involved we didn't even hear Oscar asking me to come up to say some words, and before we knew it, many were saying goodnight and leaving to catch trains and buses home. We still hadn't eaten when things were closing. Arax drove us to an Italian section but they were closing. We drove to Piccadilly, we got some dessert and by then it was time to retire.
It had been a big day. I knew that Petsas and Zane were happy over their victory, but those who failed must have had other thoughts. But as always, there will be another time to come back and try again. That's the name of the game; some win, some lose. The losers come back and try again, the winners, at least most of them, are content with their victory.
Next year the whole thing will again be repeated. There will be other winners, other losers but the spirit of competition will live on. A great salute to all those who made this presentation such a success. They truly deserve it!
- Mr. Universe winners and runner-up pose with their trophies. Boyer Coe (left) placed second in the professional category; Elias Petsas (center) won the amateur title, while Frank Zane (right) took the professional honors.
- Plenty of muscle on display here! Boyer Coe looked very well in the line-up, and Muscular Petsas won the title through sheer muscularity. Frank Zane looked improved since last year, and Dennis Tinerino also appeared impressive in the competition.
- Amateur Mr. Universe, Elias Petsas, takes his spot on the winner's dias.
- Frank Zane, pro-Mr. Universe, comes to pedestal to accept the honors due him.
- Paul Grant was favored but placed second!
- A very impressive front view of some of the amateurs . . . and a very impressive back view as well!
- Another view of the husky contenders during the prejudging.
- Miss Bikini, Christine Charles, and Mr. Universe, Elias Petsas.
- The top Miss Bikini contenders who compete in the Miss Bikini Contest. Christine Charles, third from right, won title.
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