today, much of the credit must go to those who pioneered and
structured the foundation which developed the organisation from
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
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
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
These were the most influential champions, who not only took part,
but encouraged others in America and Europe to support the
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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