Strength & Health, Page 22, March 1966
First, a short history of the Mr. Universe contest. In 1947 it was our privilege to conduct the World's Weightlifting Championships in Philadelphia and we thought that a physique contest should be a part of it. We considered various names for this contest but decided upon the title Mr. Universe. We knew the Mr. Universe title was taking in a lot of territory and I kiddingly said, "Mr. Skygack from Mars, all of thirty feet tall, might come down and say, 'Move over, I am in this contest too.'" But, he didn't come and we went on with the contest which was won by the York Barbell Club's famous Steve Stanko, Mr. America of 1944 and the first man to make a 1000 total in the three Olympic lifts. The next year at London, where the 1948 Olympics were being held, a Mr. Universe contest was held by the BA WLA. This was the year that John Grimek won. He had to overcome Steve Reeves to be the winner, a man who is now famous as a Herculean movie star. In 1950 it was held in France with John Farbotnik being the winner.
There was some irregularity in continuing this contest as the years passed since physique contests were little known in many countries and there were omissions when the lifting championships were held in these countries. Now there is a rule that the country holding the World's Championships must also conduct a contest to determine the World's Physique Champion --"Mr. Universe," except at the Olympic games as physique competition is not a part of the Olympics. For that reason we bid for, and obtained, the right to stage the '68 Mr. Universe contest in the United States. It will be held after the Olympic Games so that officials and contestants can route their homeward journeys through York and see the great World's Physique Champion-"Mr. Universe" contest that we plan to present. (it didn't happen)
The Mr. Universe contest conducted by the Federation International Halterophile et Culturiste (FIHC) is the only official Mr. Universe contest. Others have been held by unauthorized organizations and include competitors who are out and out professionals and those who are not in good standing with the official body. The International Federation of Weightlifting and Culture includes 85 nations so it is much more universal than any other contest. This contest has had several names: Le Plus Belle Athlete Du Monde (The World's Most Handsome Athlete), Mr. World, and more recently the World's Physique Champion - "Mr. Universe." The competitors must be certified as amateurs by their country, and the country must be a member in good standing of the world wide FIHC.
This big contest has been held three times in America--1947 in Philadelphia, 1953 in Philadelphia, and in 1957 at Virginia Beach. As already mentioned above, Steve Stanko won the 1947 title. In 1953 Jim Park of the York Barbell Club, the 1952 Mr. America, was declared the winner. In 1953 there was also a special "World's Most Muscular Man" contest held in conjunction with the Mr. Universe contest. This title was won by Roy Hilligenn, the 1951 Mr. America.
(The Virginia Beach contest was in 1956, not 1957, and was only sanctioned by a local AAU chapter, not the national AAU, and certainly not the FIHC.)
Under the FIHC rules there are two height classes--under 5'6" and over 5'6". A country can enter two men in each height class. In this year's Mr. Universe contest there were ten competitors in the under 5'6" class and 12 competitors in the over 5'6" class. In each division the entire group came upon the platform where they were introduced and faced the judges in the front, right side, left side, and back positions. There were no points for this presentation. The object was to permit the judges to observe the relative merits of the various contenders. After this presentation, the contestants retired to the rear of the stage and came back upon the posing platform one by one for individual presentation in the front, side, and back positions while standing relaxed. Muscle contraction or any posing were strictly forbidden. A competitor failing to obey this could have been disqualified from the contest. Points were scored for this "standing relaxed" part of the program from one to twenty.
In the final portion of the presentation a maximum of 90 seconds was permitted for posing and muscle control. Any type of poses were permitted during this period. The scoring for this second part of the presentation was also from one to twenty. Oil upon the body was permitted, and with the single overhead group of lights diffused with a glass frame, the display of the various contestants was quite spectacular. There were a lot of good men in this contest and at least a score of the contestants had physiques which would rate them high in any world or national contest. As the contest continued, it was evident that the battle for the grand title would be awarded to one of three contestants--Bill March of the United States, Dr. Craig Whitehead of the United States Air Force, or Zouheir Haddad of Syria.
After the judges scored each individual, the score sheets were collected and handed to the president of the FIHC, Clarence Johnson of the United States, and the general secretary, Oscar State of Great Britain. After eliminating the highest and the lowest marks, each competitor was credited with the total of the five remaining marks. At least two of the judges thought so well of the Syrian contender that they gave him the highest place. Four of the judges gave Bill March the highest place and the scoring of the other judge is unknown to the writer at present as he speaks only French and we did not discuss the contest. It is quite possible that he voted for the French contender who had a most excellent physique and a very pleasing and artistic posing routine. What we do know is that after the totaling of the score sheets, Bill March was declared the winner with Dr. Craig Whitehead placing second and the Syrian champion, Zouheir Haddad, placing third. This was the final scoring without regards to height.
Rodrique Picard, a French speaking Canadian, was the World's Physique Champion- "Mr. Universe" in the under 5'6" class. Second and third place winners in this class were Ahmed Ayoub of Lebanon and Kassem Yasbek of Syria. Mr. Asia in both classes was selected according to the scores already given. Haddad received the title Continental Physique Champion-"Mr. Asia."
I was very pleased over Bill March's victory. Mr. Universe is a wonderful title for Bill to win, and he had to win over some very outstanding physiques. But what is truly remarkable is the fact that Bill is not a bodybuilder, i.e., one who performs a myriad of exercises to develop various parts of his body. He is strictly the product of athletics and weightlifting. In fact, Bill does not like physique contests as he seems to feel that it is a sissy pastime. When I congratulated him as he climbed on the winner's platform he said, "You know Bob, I hate this stuff." I told him to forget that part and added, "Now that you have won the biggest and the greatest contest, at least be happy over your victory." In spite of his reluctance, I have pushed him into a number of other contests for I am justly proud of the great physique that was produced by athletics, weightlifting, Functional Isometric Contraction, the regular use of all the Hoffman nutritional products, and Dr. John Ziegler's fabulous Isotron.
Bill has won such titles as Mr. Pennsylvania, Mr. Middle Atlantic, Mr. Eastern States, Mr. North America, and finally at the Pan American games he was selected Mr. Pan American. In 1961 he won first place in category one of the Mr. Universe contest-the "standing relaxed" part. At the World's Championships in 1962 he was selected the World's Best Developed Weightlifter.
How did Bill develop a physique good enough to win so many physique titles when bodybuilding has not been his primary goal? Bill has often been asked this same question and just about as often I have overheard his replies. One particular instance comes to mind. A young bodybuilder was questioning Bill about how much bodybuilding Bill did. Of course Bill replied, "None." Feeling that he wasn't being told everything, the bodybuilder inquired further. "If you don't bodybuild then how come you look like a bodybuilder?" Bill answered, "I did bodybuild at one time but that was about five or six years ago. John Grimek advised me to concentrate on lifting and about this same time I started working with Dr. Ziegler on the isometric rack and his Isotron. From that time on everything just seemed to grow." "Well, how did you develop your calves if you don't bodybuild?" "Well," replied Bill, "I play quite a lot of basketball plus I do some standing high jumps and standing broad jumps almost every week. Also, my calves get a good workout when I go up on my toes in the middle and top pull positions on the power rack and hold for 12 seconds."
As is usually the case, Bill's interrogator didn't want to believe that Bill had built his physique through a combination of Olympic lifting, assistant exercises to improve his lifting, isometrics, and a generous amount of athletics. So, he continued, "How come your 'pecs' look so good, the Olympic lifts don't work them?" "Must be those dips I do to help my press," says Bill. "Gymnasts do quite a lot of dipping movements and most of them have very good pectoral development."
The discussion usually goes on and on with Bill answering an endless string of questions. But the fact remains that training primarily for lifting plus participating in various athletics is responsible for Bill's current physique. And, I am sure that his athletic ability helped him win the title. His back flip was a big surprise to all as such a finish to a posing routine had never been used before. This might have influenced the judges a bit for it was quite spectacular to see a man who weighed more than 200 pounds suddenly zip through the air and land light as a feather. Contestants from other countries, notably the Russians, talked almost endlessly about this climax to the show. To them it was the big feature of the contest as they are great admirers of strength, which Bill has to a superlative degree as he has pressed 375, snatched 320, and cleaned and jerked 418; a fine body, which he has as proven by his winning of many physique contests; and athletic ability, which he demonstrated by his spontaneous back flip and many outstanding lifting performances. And, while Bill is not quite as famous throughout the world as a physique star as he is a lifter, he well proved that he has one of the greatest physiques of all time when he won the 1965 World's Physique Champion-"Mr. Universe" title.
- This year's Mr. Universe contest had some of the best physique contestants ever. And, the United States did better than ever - winning first and second. A. Bill March went to Teheran and the World's Weightlifitng Championships to compete as a middleheavyweight. However, severe illness prevented him from lifitng as a mid-heavy and when he tried to lift in the heavyweight class, he failed to total. The dehydration and strict diet that Bill followed to make weight for the mid-heavyweight class plus hi sillness brought his bodyweight down and his definition out as will be noted in the pictures below and to the right. Pretty good "abs" hung? B. Three of the officials, Baktiar, Hoffman, and Johnson, and the three Mr. Universe place winners, Dr. Whitehead, second; March, first; and Haddad, third. C. Bill March, the 1965 FIHC Mr. Universe. D. Dr. Craig Whitehead, the second place winner in this international contest. E. Haddad of Syria looked very good and placed a strong third.
- A. The outstanding physique of weightlifter Bill March as he strikes a semi-relaxed pose on the winners pedestal. When asked how he developed his physique, Bill always replies, "I Train on the power rack, practice on the Olympic lifts, and make it a point to include light athletics in my training. I definitely do not do any bodybuilding." B. Bill is first and foremost a weightlifter. Prior to his illness in Teheran he was consistently totaling close ot 1100 while weighting around 205 pounds. Here he and Bob Hoffman watch Tony Garcy warm-up for competition in the middleweight class.
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