Strength & Health, Page 23, July 1940

"Mr. America" Contest

by Siegmund Klein

On Saturday evening, May 25th, America's most perfect group of amateur posers congregated at Madison Square Garden to vie with each other for the cherished title, "Mr. America."

It was indeed a spectacle to see our boys posing. They represented years of physlcal culture training, and showed the audience what they, too, could and would accomplish by practising bar bell training, for all of the competitors were bar bell men.

True, some did not have a chance, but they, too, should be congratulated, for they represented, from an audience's point of view, possibilities, they encouraged those who came to see this show, that all the competitors were not "born that way," as so many of the lay people believe our "studies in physical perfection" are.

It was thrilling to see so many fine physical specimens.

In the afternoon, there was a contest or the "Best Developed Arm," the "Best Developed Chest," the "Best Developed Abdominals" and the "Best Developed Back."

The audience had their favorites which was evident when one of them stepped forward. Waves of applause greeted them from all over the Garden.

Grimek won the Best Arm Development contest

Frank Leight, who entered as Frank Stepanek, won the Best Chest Development, and he has some chest; it is massive without being grotesque, it is deep and broad, and he showed it up to good advantage.

"Chick" Deutsch, won the Best Abdominals and it was quite an easy victory for him. Seldom have I seen such fine clear cut straight abdominaIs and external obliques as this young favorite ad popular athlete possesses.

Joseph Thaler won the best Back Development.

Everyone was wondering why John Grimek did not enter all the other contests save the Arm Development. Had he entered he could probably have won all save the Best Abdominals contest.

However, the audience were waiting for the evening show. This was spectacular. A special posing platform was erected for the poseurs to mount. Special spotlights glared from the ceiling of the Garden upon the athletes, and the only thing that was missing to give it a finishing touch was music.

Well, our old friend, John C. Grimek, won the title of "Mr. America."

Many people were remarking before the show that he would not enter, that he was afraid, that he was too short, that he was too muscular, and I do not know how many other things were said about him before the contest, besides, "he could not afford to lose . . ."

When the announcer, Mr, AI. Frazen, called out the name "John Grimek" next on the program, we could not hear what he had to say in the introduction, the applause was deafening, but we who know Grimek did not lave to hear about him, he was there, and there he was in all his glory. I have seen Grimek poses in pictures, I have seen him perform at many, oh, so many exhibitions, but this evening he was at his best. He looked to me like the reincarnation of Hercules, with the grace of Apollo. When he struck his first pose, well, he did not strike it, he just glided into it, he looked supreme. The pose reminded me of that fine picture of Grimek in Bob Hoffman's book, "Big Arms" opposite page 54. Wave after wave of applause greeted him. Many judges who have never seen J. C. G. before rubbed their eyes, they never saw such grace, such development, such magnificent physical majesty. He shifted into his second and third poses gracefully, and knew what he as doing. He had his poses all selected.

The audience imagined that it was a walk way and easy victory for him, little did they know what was going on in the judges' room, when the totals were added up.

Five points were given for muscular development, five points for proportions, three points for posing, two points for general appearance.

Fifteen points in all, and there were seven judges. The highest therefore that anyone contestant could possibly get would be 105 points.

Grimek won with 99½ points. However, rank Stepanek ( Leight) came second with a total of 97¼ points. This was followed by Ludwig Schusterich with a total of 88 points. This was the young athlete who won the "Mr. New York" contest last winter in Brooklyn. Chick Deutch had the fourth highest number of points, just a notch below Schusterich. Others who figured quite high in the final compilation if points were John Galagher, Terry Robinson, Joe Thaler, Gene Jantzen, and Elmer Farnham. Every man of the approximately 60 entrants had fine physiques. It was unfortunate that all couId not receive some great reward for the splendid muscular development they had obtained as result of their physical endeavors, but only one could win the title Mr. America.

Frank Stepanek was the first to congratulate the winner. He told me afterwards that he was not one bit disappointed, in fact, he felt quite pleased that he came out second, particularly with so high a total. He mentioned in his modest way that had he won he would not believe it, for he thinks there is no one as I good as John Grimek and expressed his opinion that the other contestants as well as himself had a spot of nerve to even compete with weight lifters choice.

In addition to the title Mr. America, John Grimek won the title, "Most Muscular Man in America." These two great triumphs added to the medal he received for his splendid success in the lifting competition, his trophy for Best Arm Development, and his medal for his winning of the Mr. America title made five beautiful trophies in all which he could add to his ever growing collection.

There were seven judges to select the man who was entitled to the Mr. America title. These were: Bernarr McFadden, publisher of Physical Culture and other publications for many years, Col. Charles Dieges, prominent leader of amateur athletics in New York City, former wrestling champion, No.1 timer in national track and field competition, and AAU weight lifting chairman in the early years of official weight lifting competition. Col. KilpatrIck, famous former Yale University athlete, who is now president of the Madison Square Corp., Dan Parker, well known columnist of the New York Daily Mirror, Bob Hoffman and myself.

It may be telling tales out of school, but of these Bernarr McFadden listed John Grimek first with a perfect score of 15. Bob Hoffman had Grimek first with 14 3/4, Stephanek second with 14. I had Grimek first with 14. Stepanek second with 13½. olonel Dieges and Colonel Kilpatrick both had Grimek first and Stepanek second. Evidently the two newspaper men voted for Frank (Leight) Stepanek, the New York policeman, for first place, which brought Frank well up in the final scoring.

I have had the pleasure of being interviewed by many people of the press regarding Grimek, they all wanted to know all about his training, his methods etc. ... of how he got that way. I believe that he is today, and will be for some time to come the greatest boon to weight lifting and body building with bar bells since the days of Eugene Sandow.

How does he compare with Sandow ? I do not know how Sandow looked in the flesh, having never seen him. But from photographs, I think that Sandow had the edge on Grimek from a sharper muscularity. Sandow had more abdominal development than Mr. America.

There still are hundreds of thousands of people that have never seen or heard of Grimek. If he would allow himself to be managed he could be just as famous as Sandow ever was. He is physically stronger. He has personality, and looks the part of a "Strong-Man" more so than anyone I have ever seen, and I have seen many of the world's best representatives of "Super Strength Stars."

If Grimek could be induced to go into the movies which has had offers, if he would give exhibitions for the theatrical public, he would boom the "strong-man" and physical culture business higher than any plane it has ever seen, particularly now that the world is so physical conscious. People are clamoring for something to do, physically. They do not know just what to do. They hear of golf, tennis, swimming, and kindred sports, but it does not give them what they want. If they saw Grimek they would at once want to know what he does and assure you he would inspire them to go in for bar bell training.

John Carol Grimek will have to get use to being called Mr. America. He should be proud of the title, and it will be a long time before he will be surpassed by any of the present crop of physical culturists.

However there is someone, maybe a youngster in his teens, maybe in the cradle, but this youngster will some day see Grimek in person or picture, and will be so thrilled and inspired that he will be the Furture Mr. America.

I am quite sure that most everyone was pleased with the outcome. I was. I know that Bob Hoffman was. I am sure that all the weightlifters were. May John C. Grimek, "Mr. America" enjoy a good long life, may he continue to inspire thousands and may he live up to the title that he deserves.

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