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My First Bodybuilding Contest - 1970, And Was I Awakened

It was 1970, while I was still at NC State University and I was beginning to look pretty impressive, in my opinion. I begin wondering how I might stand up against the competition of a bodybuilding contest. I kept my eye open for any contest in the near future. Alas, a contest was coming in November to Durham, NC. It was called the AAU Mr. All South. Without anyone to help me with contest prep I prepared as best I could.

Contest day had arrived. I got a friend to drive me there (Durham is only about 25 miles from Raleigh - if I remember correctly.) I get there that morning. Now if you had ever completed back in the days when the AAU was the only amateur body to hold bodybuilding contests you knew that the contest was held at the end Olympic Weightlifting or Powerlifting Contest. Or, in other words, around midnight.

Finally we were about to begin and the judges gathered us all in a room to explain what to expect. The first thing I recall said, and I have never forgotten it, “Gentlemen we know you have chest, shoulders, and arms or you wouldn’t be here. We’ll be looking for legs, back, and abs.” Now consider what went through my mind, considering I only did leg extensions, leg curls, and ran for my legs. I did pull ups for back (I did not do deadlifts). One plus was that my abs were pretty good when I looked in the mirror.

The contest began and went in what seemed like a flash to me. The winner was Kent Kuehn, who I thought was much better than Jim Handley, who came in second. At the end of the show they posted the results of all 26 of us on the board for all to see. I managed to… you guessed it: come in 26th, dead last. I left that night determined to work my back and legs as hard as I did my chest and arms.

The high point of the night for me was seeing the youngest guy there guest pose. He was 19 years old and huge and ripped. Soon to become the youngest ever AAU Mr. America: Casey Viator. I could not believe my eyes. Seeing him led me to look up Arthur Jones, but that’s a story for another time.

Not to be deterred or defeated, the next year I returned to the Mr. All South. This time I had to travel from Jacksonville to Durham. Also, I talked a fellow workout partner from NC State to enter also. I had a little better outcome… You guessed it! I came in next to last. My former training partner got last. So, to say that I started 0 for 2 in bodybuilding is a gross understatement.

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lol, competing in a show with Kent, and Casey, both just total freaks. What a great story, do you have any old pics?

I think these days everyone on social media likes to think they’d easily win any contest they enter, forgetting that for most shows, everyone you compete against is likely the “big guy” from their individual respective gyms.

S

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I never took pictures when I competed, but on my fourth contest I met another icon…

I’m guessing it was in 1972 and the contest was in west Florida, either Panama City or Pensacola. As with all previous contests I had entered there was only one class. Everyone competed against everyone. I believe there were about 25 competitors. This time it was solely a bodybuilding contest. We didn’t follow a weight lifting contest.

I recognized one competitor that I had seen win the third contest I entered held in Georgia. His name was Bobby Jordan, who was well known around Georgia in those days. He was large and well proportioned.

But it was not Bobby that took my attention. A guy head over heals better than Bobby was there calmly sitting and saying almost nothing. For prejudging we all began trying to get our best pump before hitting the stage. The “guy” just sat on a table, seeming bored with the whole situation. When it was time for the “guy” to do his posing routine, he eased off the table on which he was sitting, and strolled center stage. He did a front double bicep, a front lat spread, a side chest, a back lat spread, followed by a back double bicep, and finished off with a most muscular. then strolled back to “his” table. When they handed out the awards, he took 1st Place, Best Arms, Best Chest, Best Legs, Best Back, and Most Muscular. But, alas, he failed to get Best Poser.

Who was the “guy”? The Black Prince himself, Robby Robinson.

BTW, I finished ahead of four guys: making progress…

Also, I competed against the guy that Robby Robinson never beat for Best Legs, and his legs were freaky. Any guesses?

Nomad mentioned he and his wife on this cover in a different thread.

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Wow aesthetic build! Very impressive!

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Damn cool. Robby was an amazing bodybuilder. I picked up his book years ago and he included a nice little letter with it. Reading stories about him and Mentzer repeatedly going against each other in a time before ridiculous contracts, sponsorships and even social media, just makes me fondly imagine the days of Doing it just for the love of the sport.

S

Cool story. You and your wife look great on the front cover.

Were you aware of steroids, that the other guys were taking at the time of your first contest?

I didn’t know any of the other competitors well enough to ask them what steroids they were taking. In fact, over the three decades I did compete I never asked anyone what they were taking. So, I’m not sure how to answer your question. At the time of my first contest I was aware of Dianabol and Winstrol (tablets).

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