International bodybuilding legend Reg Park (79) passed away in Johannesburg on Thursday morning from advanced skin cancer.
“In his dying moments he was talking in his sleep and training people and exercising them,” his son, Jon Jon, said.
Jon Jon said Reg had suffered with the debilitating illness for eight months but had accepted that he was going to die.
“He accepted the fact that he knew he was going to go. He knew realistically and intellectually the fight was over. He lived four times longer than the doctor anticipated,” Jon Jon said.
Jon Jon said the family had been overwhelmed with condolences and tributes to the Mr Universe winner and finalist.
“He lived with dignity and died with dignity and his legacy will live on. He inspired thousands and thousands around the world,” said Park.
Jon Jon said his father had never compromised his beliefs, morals or principals and had refused to take steroids, even when they became prevalent in the bodybuilding fraternity.
“He refused to take them and still had the courage to compete against men who were obviously taking steroids and were obviously half his age,” he said.
Jon Jon said Reg was passionate about everything he did and never discriminated against anyone he spent time with training in the gym.
“He would help everyone and talk to everyone; from the manual labourers in the gym to the extremely wealthy, he treated everyone the same,” he said.
On his website, Park, knowing of his imminent death, posted a thank-you note to his fans and supporters.
"Thank you to the many, many people from all over the world who sent me their prayers and praises during my recent illness.
“I am humbled and overwhelmed by your support and caring, and again, I thank you. With love from Reg,” he wrote before his death.
Born on June 7 1928, Park’s first international accomplishment was that of third runner-up in Mr Britain in 1946.
In 1949 he won the title and then went on to win Best Developed Athlete in America and overall Mr Europe winner in 1950.
In 1951 he won the title of Mr Universe.
Park went to compete in bodybuilding competitions and was featured in a number of magazine articles.
According to his website, he last featured in a volume of Health and Strength in January 2003.
The memorial will take place at 8 Gail Road in Morningside, Sandton, on Sunday afternoon. – Sapa
more news at http://www.regpark.net/