with a little touch of NABBA History


Still recognised as the greatest Amateur Bodybuilding Contest in the  WORLD, the NABBA UNIVERSE, now  56 years in existence, has stood the test of time, and in fact has become stronger with every passing year. And all those who competed with any title-winning aspirations came prepared as never before.

A grand total of 9 classes were on view at the prestigious Glades Arena in Birmingham on the 2nd October. In 4 classes of the Amateurs alone  more than 100 athletes from all over the WORLD  took part.

Look at the pictures of some of the TOP-STARS and HEROES !


Overall Winner

Professionals   1st Place

Hassan al Saka

Professionals   2nd Place

Sergej Ogorodnikov

Whatever success NABBA enjoys today, much of the credit must go to those who pioneered and structured the foundation which developed the organisation from 1948 onwards.
Perhaps it was divine inspiration that prompted David Johnston, editor of Health & Strength, and his team to organise the Mr. Universe in London - the same year in which the OLYMPIC GAMES were held in the city.

When Oscar Heidenstam became the NABBA Secretary in 1955, after a highly successful competitive career, he quickly became the lynch-pin. The driving force. A network of Area Shows were formed to increase the membership, and to help financially. It was difficult in the beginning. Most of the shows lost a fair amount of money, but it didn´t seem to matter too much. Those who were involved did it with love to Bodybuilding, and the camaraderie it engendered. It was, without a doubt, a great time to be part of it all, until at present day.

The success of the Universe also came from the support of many of the big names taking part. John Grimek, twice Mr. America, and Mr. USA, was already a legend by the time he came to London. Steve Reeves, 1947 Mr. America, defeated by Grimek in ´48, returned to claim the title in 1950. A year later we had our first home-bred winner when Reg Park became champion. In 1953 Bill Pearl added the Universe title to his Mr. America crown, and from then on became part of the Universe history. Later, in 1966, a young man from Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger, finished runner-up to Chet Yorton, but returned the following year to become the youngest ever winner - the first of four victories.
These were the most influential champions, who not only took part, but encouraged others in America and Europe to support the Universe. Their inspiration also encouraged many young British Bodybuilders who went on to become UNIVERSE CHAMPIONS. We are all in their debt.

Professional Mr. Universe started in 1952, as a natural follow-on for Amateur winners and various champions from other countries. The winner in that first year was the Top-Athlete from Spain Juan Ferrero. Along the way between 1952 and 2004, there have been many memorable encounters. Arnold Schwarzenegger´s three title wins in 1968/69/79. And Charles Clairmonte´s three in a row from 1988 to 1990. Bill Pearl also recorded three victories - spread over a period from 1961 to 1971. Double title winners included Bertil Fox, Reg Park and Boyer Coe.
Many famous American names pepper the list with a single victory. Jack Dellinger, 1949 Mr. America, and a magic name in Bodybuilding of that era, came in 1956 and inflicted a one and only victory over the great Bill Pearl. Dellinger was magnificent in victory, a real Pro, who lived up to his advance publicity. Pearl, an outstanding sportsman in all his years of Universe competition, was the first to congratulate Dellinger.

And when Arnold Schwarzenegger made a Pro debut in 1968, one of the competitors was his all time hero and role model Reg Park. In those days Reg was one of the KINGS of BODYBUILDING - a man with supreme belief in his ability to be the BEST ! All were sure when they lined up, he had already won the contest. Why not ? He had won an Amateur and two Pro titles. Time to show  young ARNOLD who was the boss. At the judging the psyching and jostling began. Reg, twenty years older, elbowed his way forward, pushing Arnold to one side. Arnold responded by miming an old man with a walking stick. The crowd loved it. At the end of the judging they shook hands and embraced. They did it again, at the show the following day - when Arnold won ! Though nobody of both knew it at the time, they were destined to meet three years later at the 1971 Universe. That was the year of the big showdown - the decider to find the best Bodybuilder in the WORLD. Arnold had already established himself as the No. 1 in America - having turned the tables on Sergio Olivia and Frank Zane, both of whom had beaten him when he first arrived in America. In fact, as it turned out, that particular year (1970) Arnold had compiled a unique record by winning the NABBA Pro title, IFBB Mr. World and Mr. Olympia. It didn´t happen simply because the politics of modern day Bodybuilding did not allow it.