Author Topic: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History  (Read 282065 times)


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Re: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History
« Reply #475 on: August 08, 2021, 12:22:54 PM »
Mr. America (contest)
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Mr. America
Sport   Bodybuilding
Awarded for   Physical fitness, trained muscular structure
First award   1939
First winner   Bert Goodrich
Most wins   
John Grimek
Alan Stephan (AAU and IFBB)
2 times
Most recent   Jay Brew (2020)
The Mr. America contest is a bodybuilding competition started by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). It was first held on July 4, 1939, and the winner was named "America's Best Built Man". In 1940 this was changed to what is now known as the Mr. America contest. In the mid-1940s, Joe and Ben Weider started the IFBB as an alternative to the AAU. They held their opposing contest, the IFBB Mr. America, in 1949 and then from 1959 through 1977.[1] Rights to the Mr. America name have been sold several times after AAU discontinued holding the contests in 1999.

1   History
2   Historic winners
3   1988 AAU Mr. America winners
4   Recent winners
5   See also
6   References
7   Further reading
8   External links
The AAU voted to discontinue holding bodybuilding competitions in 1999.[citation needed] In March 2017, AAU Strength Sports Chairman Martin Drake brought bodybuilding and fitness back to the AAU.[2][3]

In 2004, the World Bodybuilding & Fitness Association (WBFA) announced they had acquired the rights to the Mr. America name and would resume running contests under that banner.

Bob Bonham acquired the rights and from 2011 through 2013 held the Mr America contest under the sanction of the INBF (International Natural Bodybuilding Federation), which is the amateur division of the WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation). The contests were drug tested under strict WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) guidelines using U.S. Olympic laboratory testing.

In 2015, rights to Mr. America were acquired by Bruce Ebel, and the contest's annual event cycle resumed via MRA Promotions. Qualifying events in spring were sponsored by the National Gym Association (NGA), Nspire Sports League (NSL), and Ultimate Fitness Events (UFE).[4] The Mr. America Expo and contest was to have been held in Baltimore in October 2017.[5]

In 2020, the contest resumed in the face of the pandemic as a non-sanctioned event (with no specific organization affiliation) promoted by Marc Tauriello of East Coast Fitness Concepts. The Mr. America Sports Festival & Expo was held October 9–11, 2020, in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Atlantic City Sheraton Ballroom.[6][better source needed]

Historic winners
Year   Overall Winner (AAU)[1]   Overall Winner (IFBB)[1]   Overall Winner (INBF)[7]   Overall Winner (Unsanctioned)
1939   Bert Goodrich (First Mr. America, but not AAU sanctioned)[8]          
Roland Essmaker         
1940   John Grimek         
1941   John Grimek         
1942   Frank Leight         
1943   Jules Bacon         
1944   Steve Stanko         
1945   Clarence Ross         
1946   Alan Stephan         
1947   Steve Reeves         
1948   George Eiferman         
1949   Jack Delinger   Alan Stephan      
1950   John Farbotnik          
1951   Roy Hilligenn         
1952   Jim Park         
1953   Bill Pearl         
1954   Dick DuBois         
1955   Steve Klisanin         
1956   Ray Schaefer         
1957   Ron Lacy         
1958   Tom Sansone         
1959   Harry Johnson   Chuck Sipes      
1960   Lloyd Lerille   Gene Shuey      
1961   Raymond Routledge   Gaétan D'Amours      
1962   Joe Abbenda   Larry Scott      
1963   Vern Weaver   Reg Lewis      
1964   Val Vasilieff (also spelled Vasilef or Vasilief)   Harold Poole      
1965   Jerry Daniels   Dave Draper      
1966   Bob Gajda   Chester Yorton      
1967   Dennis Tinerino   Don Howorth      
1968   Jim Haislop   Frank Zane      
1969   Boyer Coe   John Decola      
1970   Chris Dickerson   Mike Katz      
1971   Casey Viator   Ken Waller      
1972   Steve Michalik   Ed Corney      
1973   Jim Morris   Lou Ferrigno      
1974   Ron Thompson   Bob Birdsong      
1975   Dale Adrian   Robby Robinson      
1976   Kalman Szkalak   Mike Mentzer      
1977   Dave Johns   Danny Padilla      
1978   Tony Pearson         
1979   Ray Mentzer         
1980   Gary Leonard         
1981   Tim Belknap         
1982   Rufus Howard         
1983   Jeff King         
1984   Joe Meeko         
1985   Michael Antorino         
1986   Glenn Knerr         
1987   Richard Barretta         
1988   William Norberg         
1989   Matt DuFresne         
1990   Peter Miller         
1991   Joe DeAngelis         
1992   Mike Scarcella         
1993   Billy Nothaft         
1994   Andrew Sivert         
1995   Terence Hairston         
1996   Doug Rieser         
1997   Bill Davey         
1998   Harvey H. Campbell         
1999   Tracey Dorsey         
2011         Rawle Greene   
2012         Daniel White   
2013         John Heart   
2014   (No show held)         
2015            Cleveland Thomas[9]
2016            Shevon Cunningham[10]
2019   (No contests)         
2020            Jay Brew
1988 AAU Mr. America winners
Overall Winner
William Norberg

Place   Tall
1st   Rory Leidelmeyer
2nd   Bob Gosch
3rd   Jim Badra
4th   Alex Sicignano
5th   Bob Good

Place   Medium-Tall
1st   William Norberg
2nd   Peter LaReau
3rd   Peter Moen
4th   Greg Ladd
5th   Braulio Medina

Place   Medium
1st   Casey Kucharyk
2nd   Abe Cuesta
3rd   Doug Brown
4th   Greg Long
5th   Brian Silk Sr

Place   Short
1st   Bryan McCluskey
2nd   David Brown (3)
3rd   Don Lemieux
4th   Brian Homka
5th   Rod Ketchens
Recent winners
Year   Location   Overall Winner[1][7]   Classic Physique
(added 2020)
2011   New York City, New York   Rawle Greene   
2012   Secaucus, New Jersey   Daniel White   
2013   Secaucus, New Jersey   John Heart   
2014   (No show held)   
2015   Rochester, New York   Cleveland Thomas   
2016   Washington, D.C. (Six Flags America)   Shevon Cunningham   
2017   (No show held)      
2018   (No show held)      
2019   (No show held)      
2020   Atlantic City, New Jersey   Jay Brew   Joe LaCerra


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Re: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History
« Reply #476 on: August 15, 2021, 01:14:57 PM »
East Coast Fitness Concepts Announces Mr. America All American Sports Festival to Air on CBS Sports Network
 Jul. 22, 2021, 08:00 AM
NUTLEY, N.J., July 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Marc Tauriello of Nutley, NJ, and East Coast Fitness Concepts has reached a multi-year agreement with CBS Sports Network to televise the iconic Mr. America Contest. Mr. America is the longest-running and most prestigious bodybuilding contest in the country that dates back to 1939. CBS Sports Network will televise the 2020 Mr. America All American Sports Festival on Thursday, July 22, at 7 p.m. ET, leading right into CBS Sports Network's coverage of the 2021 SBD World's Strongest Man competition, bringing a night of strength to viewers nationwide.

In the midst of the pandemic, Mr. America saw a resurgence with the 2020 Mr. America safely held in Atlantic City, NJ. The event was well attended and adhered to all current New Jersey state Covid-19 safety protocols, with athletes including both men and women from over 20 different states competing for the nation's most prestigious bodybuilding titles.

The 2021 Mr. America All American Sports Festival will be held again this October in Atlantic City, NJ. This year's sports festival will now include a strongman event, as well as a powerlifting competition. The weekend-long festival will be live taped, produced by JOSUBU Productions, and air on CBS Sports Network at a later date. In addition, the bodybuilding event will be a drug-free and drug-tested event to ensure the most level playing field for all of the athletes.

Preliminary stages of the 2021 competition were documented in the reality series, "Mr. America's Gym. Eat. Repeat: The Road to Mr. America," which gave an insider's look at the physical and emotional impacts and challenges that each competitor experienced. Each show was filmed in the hometowns of six competitors, beginning at Gold's Gym in Crofton MD and culminated at the world-famous Gold's Gym in Venice California. Gold's Gym gym has been a primary sponsor of Mr. America since 2015 and has a long history with the event throughout its existence. 

Tauriello is also working on a brand-new reality show featuring some of the country's most elite drug-free bodybuilding/physique athletes. Filming will take place in numerous locations including New Jersey, Virginia, Texas, and California.

East Coast Fitness Concepts is a sports production and promotion company based out of Nutley, NJ.

For more information contact:

Marc Tauriello 973-632-6187 |

View original content:

SOURCE East Coast Fitness Concepts


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Re: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History
« Reply #477 on: August 17, 2021, 06:13:39 PM »
East Coast Fitness Concepts Announces Mr. America All American Sports Festival to Air on CBS Sports Network
 Jul. 22, 2021, 08:00 AM
NUTLEY, N.J., July 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Marc Tauriello of Nutley, NJ, and East Coast Fitness Concepts has reached a multi-year agreement with CBS Sports Network to televise the iconic Mr. America Contest. Mr. America is the longest-running and most prestigious bodybuilding contest in the country that dates back to 1939. CBS Sports Network will televise the 2020 Mr. America All American Sports Festival on Thursday, July 22, at 7 p.m. ET, leading right into CBS Sports Network's coverage of the 2021 SBD World's Strongest Man competition, bringing a night of strength to viewers nationwide.

In the midst of the pandemic, Mr. America saw a resurgence with the 2020 Mr. America safely held in Atlantic City, NJ. The event was well attended and adhered to all current New Jersey state Covid-19 safety protocols, with athletes including both men and women from over 20 different states competing for the nation's most prestigious bodybuilding titles.

The 2021 Mr. America All American Sports Festival will be held again this October in Atlantic City, NJ. This year's sports festival will now include a strongman event, as well as a powerlifting competition. The weekend-long festival will be live taped, produced by JOSUBU Productions, and air on CBS Sports Network at a later date. In addition, the bodybuilding event will be a drug-free and drug-tested event to ensure the most level playing field for all of the athletes.

Preliminary stages of the 2021 competition were documented in the reality series, "Mr. America's Gym. Eat. Repeat: The Road to Mr. America," which gave an insider's look at the physical and emotional impacts and challenges that each competitor experienced. Each show was filmed in the hometowns of six competitors, beginning at Gold's Gym in Crofton MD and culminated at the world-famous Gold's Gym in Venice California. Gold's Gym gym has been a primary sponsor of Mr. America since 2015 and has a long history with the event throughout its existence. 

Tauriello is also working on a brand-new reality show featuring some of the country's most elite drug-free bodybuilding/physique athletes. Filming will take place in numerous locations including New Jersey, Virginia, Texas, and California.

East Coast Fitness Concepts is a sports production and promotion company based out of Nutley, NJ.

For more information contact:

Marc Tauriello 973-632-6187 |

View original content:

SOURCE East Coast Fitness Concepts

I might go. Anyone else going?


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Re: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History
« Reply #478 on: Today at 09:09:12 AM »
1961 Mr America - AAU

1     Ray Routledge
2     Joe Abbenda
3     Franklin Jones (1)
4     Harold Poole
5     Bill Golumbick
6     William Stathes
7     Elmo Santiago
8     Gail Crick
9     Hugo Labra
10     Mike Ferraro
11     John Gourgott
12     Joe Lazzaro (1)
13     Alfred Souza
14     John Homola
15     William Rubinski
16     Lewis Wolter
17     Seymour Koenig
18     Andy Hernandez
19     Leroy Saba
20     Walter Hunt
21     Chester Yorton
22     Arthur Fickling (1)
23     Reed Phippen
24     Stanley Nobel
25     Alfred Saladino
26     Charles Pranke

Most Muscular
1     Hugo Labra


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Re: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History
« Reply #479 on: Today at 09:09:57 AM »
IronMan, Vol 21, No 1, Page 8, September 1961

Routledge -- Mr. America, Labra Is Most Muscular
By the Editor
WHEN a man persists year after year, always either tying or taking second place it is gratifying to see him finally win the coveted title of Mr. America, as Ray Routledge did this year. Certainly it would be hard to find a man more representative of ideal American manhood. It would be hard to find a man more representative of what we feel the Mr. America title should represent. Ray is serving our country in the Air Force in Germany. He is married and has five children, a good education, and is very active in church and civic affairs. He is a leader and an example to all the youth of our nation, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually also. This is not the story of Ray, however, but the story of the Mr. America contest. We carried Rayon our cover and in our center spread last issue. This month we have a cover shot of the Most Muscular winner, Hugo Labra.

The location of the Mr. America contest was the new Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, certainly one of the finer new auditoriums, ideally arranged for the lifting and the Mr. America, with a huge stage that was more than ample for all back stage activities. It is located near the downtown section with lots of parking area.

The judging this year was done in a prejudging session Saturday morning before the lifting started. It would have been better to have done this Friday morning so that the Most Muscular could have been pre-judged also. As it was, the Most Muscular had to be judged at the first night's physique contest.
Name   Affiliation   Points
Ray Routledge Jr.   U.S. Air Force   97
Joseph Abbedna   New York City   92¾
Franklin Jones   L.A. YMCA   91¾
Harold Poole   Olympia HC, Indianapolis   91½
William Golumbick   Sterns, Sandiego   90¼
Bill Stathes   San Francisco Y   89¾
Elmo Santiago   Continental Club, NYC   88¾
Gail Crick   Arizona   88¼
Hugo Labra   MBWLC, Santa Monica   88
Mike Ferraro   York AC, Buffalo   87¼
John Gourgott   New Orleans AC   87
Joseph Lazarro   York AC, Buffalo   86¾
Alfred Souza   Pearle's Gym, Sacramento   82½
John Homola   Stern's, San Diego   82½
William Rubinski   Cal's Gym, L.A.   78½
Lewis Wolter Jr   Milwaukee HS   78
Seymour Koenig   MBWLC   76¼
Leroy Sava   Martin's, San Francisco   75
Andy Hernandez   El Paso YMCA   75
Walter Hunt   Doyle's Ranch, Arizona   73
Chester Yorton   So. Milwaukee HS   71
Arthur Fickling   7th Marine Reg Camp P   68½
Reed Phippen   Los Angeles   66¼
Stanley Noble   Vic Tanny   61½
Alfred Saladino   U.S.M.C.   61
Charles Pranke   Bruce Conner Gym, L.A.   60½
This was the first year of pre-judging and no advance planning or thinking had apparently been done. It was a little rough and ragged in procedure but this should be greatly improved by next year. Even so, I'm sure that competitors and judges alike agree that it is a great improvement over the previous confusion of judging at the contest itself. If someone could be appointed as head judge for a month or so ahead of time they would have time to organize the whole procedure and make a smooth running, efficient operation of it. There are several things that should be done at a pre-judging session. All judges ought to be briefed on the entire procedure and all contestants should also be briefed. Provision should be made for judging under normal light and also posing under a spot light. Provision should also be made for interviews and judges should be encouraged to mix with the contestants previous to the actual judging session and observe contestants as they are at ease, talk to them and observe them as they warm up. Actually, contestants should be encouraged NOT TO WARM UP. This does not impress the judges one iota. In fact, it might prejudice some judges. It is such an obvious attempt to show something you don't really possess.

I'm sure that although the pre-judging was not as well organized and planned as it might have been, it was still highly satisfactory and the judges did an excellent job. Much satisfaction was expressed among the judges over being able to view the men at close range and under normal lighting conditions and with no posing. This pre-judging was done at the Muscle Beach Gym and took about two hours. All the contestants, 27 of them, were stripped, and came before the judges for their interviews, in which they were asked about their education, athletic ability, and any other questions the judges wished answered in that particular case. During this period the judges observed how the man conducted himself, his speaking ability and his personality. Although there are no Points for all these items, the judges adjust their other points to obtain the total points they think the man deserves overall.

After these interviews the men were brought before the judges in two groups. (There were too many for one group.) There the judges compared them in relaxed front, side and back positions. They were then brought back individually and in small groups and eliminations began until there remained about 6 top men whom the judges inspected very carefully and discussed the merits of the various men. Some people feel that the judges should not be allowed to discuss the men during the judging but contention is that if you have judges you cannot trust, you ought to get different judges. I realize that you may have judges who will try to influence other judges during these discussions. This is only natural. If a judge likes some man in particular and thinks he ought to win then he will talk in favor of this man. This may have some influence on the other judges, but we must remember that the other judges also have the opportunity to talk for the men of their own choice. I realize that this feature of pre-judging has pros and cons and I would not be dogmatic about it. If the majority think that the judges should not be allowed to discuss the men then I will go along with the idea.

Here are a few things that the judges look for and some of the things they object to. I hope that physique contestants will observe these remarks for they are important to them. When you refuse to conduct yourself as the judges request you have just about ruined your chances of winning a title. In the. first place when the judges ask you to relax, they mean relax. Over 50 per cent absolutely refuse to relax. They think they can keep their lats spread, their abdominals tensed or other muscles tensed and the judges won't know it. Listen fellows, if you tense one little muscle these judges will know it. They are men with years of experience both as barbell men, trainers, and officials. I have never known a judge who expressed admiration for a man going around with his lats spread and his arms sticking out from his sides. This is not normal posture or normal appearance.

If this is an acquired habit that you're no longer conscious of, then you'd better break the habit. You do not help yourself or the game by going around like a bird ready to take off. Sure, big lats are admirable, but people can admire them without your spreading them all the time. I know what I'm talking about. I was a kid once and I went through the phase of lat spreading myself until I finally arrived at the conclusion that it was silly. The same goes for tensing the other muscles. Nearly all the judging is done from the relaxed athlete. In fact all the judging was done relaxed and under normal lighting this time. There was practically no posing done or requested.

In line with this we'd like to remark about the need for good posture. This is one of the most important features in a pre-judging session. Some of the fellows with the best development in the Mr. America contest had terrible posture. This dropped them much lower in points than their general physique would justify. It also brought up some men who had outstanding posture. So many fellows have been conscious of posing from the front that they have developed a habitual poor posture, a sort of round shouldered slump. This is very bad and if continued will probably defeat their chances of winning a top physique honor where prejudging is used.

Remember a judge can see your bulk and definition just as well when you're relaxed as he can when you're tensed because he is trained in this. Learn all you can about good posture and practice this. It will give you added points in a contest.

In addition to good posture let us offer a bit of advice to you on your approach to the posing platform at the show itself. Many men walk up slowly and slumped as if they were about dead. Approach the platform with pep, speed and spring in your step, and an erect posture. A smile is fine if you're right for it, but too much smiling during a posing routine can ruin your presentation. On some fellows a smile becomes a grimace because they are straining so hard. Do not strain in your poses; go through them easily and fast; do not hold a pose long enough for people to start picking out the flaws in your physique or your pose. Do not pose too long. Leave them while they still want more. Never completely satisfy your audience. Never strain until you shake in your poses as some men do. This is bad and the mark of an amateur. Never warm up so much that you're sweating and sweat is running down your body and dripping on the platform. Many top men never warm up at all for a posing routine.

We hope readers will pardon us for this digression from the main topic but we felt that this was the place to discuss some of these things for these boys do need help and are eager for it and I know the judges would like to get these things across to them somehow for they become a bit perturbed when their requests are ignored.

Most of the men competed in the Most Muscular contest the first night and it was a very difficult task to pick the best man. Many men with outstanding muscularity did not even place. Such supermen as Stathes, Saba, Lazzaro, Wolter, and Santiago, with very outstanding muscularity, were not even in the first four. Anyone could have been a worthy winner. It was a difficult task for the judges and they certainly were not unanimous in their selections. They found it difficult to select anyone for first place, and just as difficult to place the others.

Usually the announcement of the winner of the Most Muscular is held up until the second night so that both the Most Muscular winner and the Mr. America winner are announced at the same time.

This time the sponsors insisted that the Most Muscular be announced on Friday and Mr. Johnson reluctantly permitted this.

The winner was apparently a very popular selection with the crowd according to their reaction, for when Hugo Labra was presented as the winner the crowd raised the roof. He is certainly an outstanding muscular giant. Standing about 5'7" tall and weighing 182, he looks shorter because of his great breadth of shoulders and massive development. Hugo was Pan Am Games hammer throwing champ with a toss of 201 feet. He is from Mexico but became an American citizen on December 28, 1960 and is a draftsman at Douglas Aircraft. He is 31 years old and photos do not begin to do him justice. He is so full of pep, energy and sparkle, and so huge in physique that it can't show in a photo.

Second place went to Joe Abbenda, who has been competing for some years in these contests. He has an outstanding physique with a lot of definition.

There was a tie for third place between Franklin Jones, who had won one of the Jr. Mr. America titles, and Ray Routledge.

In the Mr. America contest the judges were still brought to the front and had to put on a show of voting etc. which I don't approve of. I feel the audience should have been told that the contest was prejudged and the judges should not be required to carryon a farce or pretense of judging.

The trophies were the finest I have ever seen, with the Mr. America trophy being nearly five feet tall. Ray Routledge won first place as mentioned previously, with a total of 97 points. Athletic points were still used this year but it is expected that this will be changed next convention so that points will not be given but qualifying totals will be required to assure that the winner is a good athlete.

Second place went to Joe Abbenda of New York City. Joe is 21 years of age and is presently working as a shoe salesman and has a B.A. degree in History and Government and plans to take a law course. He is 6 feet tall and weighed about 200 and has made an 850 total on the Olympics.

Franklin Jones won third place and is a finely built colored boy, 23 years of age. He works as a warehouseman and is 5' 6", weighs 180 and is an outstanding lifter.

Harold Poole who won 4th, had won the Jr. Mr. America title in Columbia. He is only 17 years of age and I believe it was agreed that he had the most outstanding physique there from the standpoint of shape, development, definition, and general overall proportion. Here is a colored boy who has good calves. He has a lot of time and will undoubtedly make great improvement. Here again is a fellow who doesn't show his best in photos. He has made great progress and become quite outstanding even tho fighting against considerable handicaps. You will hear a great deal of this boy in the future for he has the foundation for becoming the greatest physique his race has ever produced. He has a good posing routine and a nice personality.

William Golumbick came in 5th because of his outstanding posture. Of course he has an outstanding physique but his posture was the best of any of the contestants. It gave a beautiful effect to his standing and walking positions. I would go so far as to say that very few of the top men had good posture and I hope they will improve this in the coming year. Bill is an outstanding example. He has a very pleasing physique and looks best in relaxed poses -- very symmetrical and proportionate.

Bill Stathes, placing 6th, looked much better than last year for he was a little heavier and did not look overtrained. We expected him to place higher than he did for he has exceptional muscularity, excellent definition, and is a very good athlete. He is married and is on the San Francisco Police force. At 35 he has a lot of time ahead but believe he will spend more time at lifting at which he is very good, having an official 870 total at 198. He weighed a little over 200 this year as compared with 185 last year.

I do not like to point out the weak points of the fellows but if they are aware of them they might do something to correct them. I would say that the calves come in for a lot of attention when pre-judging is done. From a rear view you get a good comparison of calves. One of the weak points of Bill was his calves. Quite a number of the fellows were weak in this respect. This is seldom so noticeable from the front, especially when the men are posing on the platform. Some of them can show impressive calves when they tense and pose them but standing relaxed they do not look so good. I do know that this was one of the reasons Bill and several others did not place higher. Poor calves and poor posture were two major weaknesses of most of the contestants. Very few had really good posture, probably not over 4 or 5 of the 27. This has not been so noticeable before when the judges could only view the men when they were posing on the platform. Posture is usually noticed only in side poses and many of the fellows either don't know what good posture is or else they have deliberately used poor posture in their posing so long that they can no longer assume the correct positions.

Here are a few evidences of poor posture as we saw them that day. The shoulders are rounded and there is a pronounced hump in the upper back and the shoulder blades sometimes protrude; there is a sway in the lower back sometimes. The chest is flat rather than lifted and high, the head assumes a forward position and the hips sometimes have a forward set. You can imagine what this does to an otherwise fine physique that may look terrific under lights on a posing platform.

Elmo Santiago was 7th. Elmo has won many titles and looked better this year than he did last year. He is 30, married, has 2 children and is an excellent boxer and swimmer as well as totaling 750 as a middleweight. Elmo has nice, tho not perfect, posture.

Gail Crick, in 8th place, one of the smallest men in the contest was also one of the most perfectly developed. Here is a man who has such a fine physique that it is almost impossible to pick a flaw. Every muscle is in perfect proportion to the other with a very well balanced development. I would probably be safe in saying that he had the most perfect physique of any man there. At 5'4½" and weighing 150, he probably isn't big enough to suit most people or most judges but I do know that all the judges commented on the perfection of his flawless physique. He has excellent posture and a nice even tan, not too dark. He lives and trains in a remote mining area and has to train alone, but even so he is an outstanding lifter. He would make an ideal Mr. America. He will undoubtedly improve a lot yet and with a little more bulk he might hit the top.

Hugo Labra, in winning 9th place, was popular with the crowd. He Was quite happy with winning the Most Muscular, as some fellows consider this a more important title than the Mr. America. We've already told you about this fellow.

Mike Ferraro in 10th place is a former Teen Age winner and has also won many other titles. He is 22 and 5'8½", weighed 180 and is a bartender in his father's establishment.

Eleventh place man, John Gourgott, is another Jr. Mr. America winner and is 5'11" tall and weighs 195. He has a B.S. in Mathematics and is now a pre-med student. Here is a very well built fellow who will undoubtedly make a lot of progress.

Joseph Lazzaro in 12th place is a fellow who tries regularly and has won a lot of titles and continues to improve. He is well educated, handsome and would be a credit to the title and deserves a high placing. He is 30 years of age, married, and an Art Education teacher in Buffalo. He is also a Jr. Mr. America.

Ai Souza, in 13th place, has a nice physique of a little more slender type but perfectly muscled. He is a very good athlete, having won several lifting titles. He has made a 375 bench press and a 475 squat officially. He is 34 years of age, married, and has three children.

Bill Rubinski is another young man with a very outstanding physique. He is 22 and a good athlete. He has the broad shouldered, deep chested, slim hipped type of physique that the general public likes. A very nice personality, and he is good at broad jumping and judo.

Lew Wolter is another giant who has won a Jr. Mr. America title and ought to place higher. He looks very impressive when relaxed and has good posture. His arms and shoulders are exceptional, with huge biceps. He is 33 years of age, married, has three children and works at air conditioning. He has an excellent athletic career in his past. He has the physique to place high up with the best.

We would like to point out here that most of the men in this contest placed around 80 points and higher. This means that they are almost as good as the winners, and indicates how close this contest was.

Seymour Koenig, 27 years of age and a long time contestant is still improving and works in the movies.

Leroy Saba is, in my estimation, one of the finest built small men ever seen and deserves to place high. Very muscular, lots of definition and good shape, he is a regular little giant. He is 23 years of age and was second in Most Muscular last year. He is also exceptionally strong and a fine lifter.

May we point out that among the top men there is very little to choose between them. To illustrate this may we refer you to last year's contest when Lloyd Lerille won but Routledge was second, Lazzaro was 3rd (this year he was 12th but I thought all the men were equally as well built as last year) and Abbenda was 5th last year but second this year. Stathes was 4th last year but this year he was 6th tho I'm sure the judges would agree he looked better this year. This would seem to be a little fickle, but this year the judges voted twice on the top men; once by points and once by selection. They themselves did not know how their points came out or who they selected that way, but later the points were totaled and it was found that their votes tallied exactly with their point totals. That is, as a group they voted the same both ways. This was unusual and rather unexpected. Apparently this group of judges did the best they knew how and yet several of them were on the same panel last year. I would say that there probably isn't as much difference between these top men as their points would seem to indicate. Perhaps just one little flaw in their physique may put them down the list quite a distance. The public may never notice this flaw and they cannot understand it and probably the man himself never knows why he is placed lower than he expected.

Walter Hunt is a young married man of 29 who suffers so much from asthma that he could do no heavy leg work and yet has built a physique that placed him well in a Mr. America contest. We understand that he was the youngest Eagle Scout in the U.S.A.

Chester Yorton is a handsome, well built young fellow of 22 who works in a factory making steam shovels. He is a fine baseball and basketball player and ice skater. He was in a very serious auto accident not long ago and both his legs were shattered and he now has steel plates in his thighs. The doctors told him he couldn't walk for 3 years or more but with tenacity and barbell training he was walking in less than 6 months and soon developed a pair of outstanding legs, tho he still bears long scars on each thigh where the doctors opened them to operate.

Art Fickling is 20 and is an athletic director in the Marines. His football team won the all Marine title. He has a very fine physique, but like some of the others, should improve his posture. He is an excellent tumbler.

Reed Phippen, 23. and another shoe store clerk is a winner of the Most Muscular title in the Mr. Utah contest. Stanley Noble, with a nice V-shaped smooth type physique, was probably the best educated man there, having three degrees and having done considerable research work. Al Saladino is 26, married, and has one child. He is a fine half-mile runner. Charles Pranke has an excellent physique and is a good lifter. He got his start in gymnastics and thus has an excellent set of abdominal muscles. He is 25 years of age and is majoring in Biology.

This is a rather long report but we felt that you'd like to know something about the different contestants. You'll hear more of them in Iron Man as time goes by for they will profit by their experience and some of them will win next year. None of them should be discouraged by their placing for, as you can see, this fluctuates up and down. They should all keep the ideal of good health and efficiency uppermost in their minds rather than winning a title; for good health is the greatest prize they can win. We find in general that the Mr. America contestants are well educated men of high character. We stated their ages and family status for a purpose and you can see that most of them are married and have children and good jobs and professions. You are never too old to improve your body and just because you are married and have a number of children is no excuse for not having good health and a fine physique. Anything I have said regarding these men has not been as criticism but rather as suggestions that will help them in the future. We are proud to be associated with them. They are a fine group of men.


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Re: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History
« Reply #480 on: Today at 09:10:38 AM »
Mr. America Magazine, Vol 4, No 6, Page 36, November 1961

MR. AMERICA 1961...
Mr. America for 1961 was selected on the same stage of the beautiful new Santa Monica Civic Auditorium from which the 1961 movie Academy Awards television show originated.

But that was the only thing the two events had in common. All the fine organization of the show, the precise planning and the showmanship - especially the showmanship - in the Oscar Awards event were missing in the physique contest.

Here was a competition to select the strongest men with the finest physical development in America. Why was it not nationally televised? why was the auditorium only half filled with spectators? Why was it run off with less drama than a community dog show?

Obviously, the sponsors who have taken over the once glamorous Mr. America contest - the tired old men who are the petty tyrants of the AAU - must be blamed.

The Amateur Athletic Union was at its amateurish worst in this presentation.

Press relations were particularly badly handled.

Accredited photographers with their cameras and lights were informed at the main door that their press badges would only admit them through the stage door, whence they could find their way to the press section.

A newsreel photographer was brushed off even more bluntly. He was an accredited representative of one of the biggest newsreel organizations. But he couldn't even get into the auditorium.

He left angrily, and there went an opportunity to carry the physical training message to thousands of viewers.

It seems there had been an edict that there were to be no movies taken during the performances - except those taken specifically for the AAU.

But while an iron curtain had to be penetrated by the press and magazine photographers to take pictures during the contest, they were given no help and no protection whatever in taking the important pictures of the winners.

The instant the winner, Ray Routledge was named, the amateur photographers in the crowd were allowed to swarm into the press section and make it almost impossible for the newspaper and magazine men to do their job.

Thus, they could capture not one iota of the backstage drama which could help enormously to give flavor to their stories and help to popularize strength events.

The show itself was so badly organized that the Friday night section which consisted of the weightlifting in the 181-pound, 198-pound and heavyweight classes and the selection of the "Most Muscular" bodybuilder lasted from 7 p.m. until 1:30 a.m., or six hours and a half.

Through it all, the bored attitude of the AAU officials colored everything. The incredible accomplishments of the great weightlifting champions were passed off as routine. The athletes were given no identity, in either the weightlifting or the fine physique contest. They were presented only as names and numbers.

Then finally when awards were presented, the athletes in many cases were allowed to accept them in street clothes -- they type of clothing the boys might wear loafing around the gym before and after workouts.

Spectators who turned out to see supermen in action sometimes saw men dressed like bums receive the awards. Presentation of the awards was in an off-hand fashion, as bare tokens to men who had proved themselves the strongest in the nation.

"Shall we give the awards now?" one of the AAU brass asked, on stage.

"Might as well. We have some time to kill," was the reply, made into a live microphone by the master of ceremonies at the end of the weightlifting competition on Saturday afternoon.

The Mr. America contest which was the grand climax of the show was rushed through as if it were a painful duty. Practically no information was given about any of the contestant, except home town, height and weight, and the basis of the judging was inadequately explained.

More honor was paid to the judges than to the contestants .

Franklin Jones, of the Los Angeles Y.M.C.A., a good lifter as well as a home town favorite, barely had time to take a bow before attention was shifted.

Then Joseph Abbenda, of New York City, competing unattached, was given his trophy, but only an instant to hear applause before the winner, Ray Routledge, Jr., of the U. S. Air Force, was allowed to take the stage.

Will he become a national hero, like so many of the "Mr. America" winners of the past, or will AAU domination cheat him of any real measure of new fame?


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Re: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History
« Reply #481 on: Today at 09:11:34 AM »
1962 Mr America - AAU

1     Joe Abbenda
2     Harold Poole
3     Hugo Labra
4     Vern Weaver
5     Vic Seipke
6     Mike Ferraro
7     William Stathes
8     Bill Seno
9     Joe Lazzaro (1)
10     Kenny Hall
11     Joseph Simon
12     Joseph LaPorta
13     Ralph Kleiner
14     Tuny Monday
15     Billy LeMacks
16     Carl Stelzen
17     Steve Sakoulos
18     Norman Bedell
19     Jerry Doettrel
20     Gary Steuer
21     Chester Yorton
22     Robert Girard
23     Robert Herzong
24     Jack Allen

Most Muscular
1     Harold Poole
2     Hugo Labra
3     Joe Abbenda
3     Vern Weaver



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Re: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History
« Reply #482 on: Today at 09:12:23 AM »
IronMan, Vol 21, No 6, Page 12, August 1962

Abbenda Wins "Mr. America"
As Twenty-five Men Compete For Title
By The Editor
IRON MAN cover man for last issue, Joe Abbenda, won the Mr. America title this year. (See his story in March, Vol. 21, No.4 issue of Iron Man.) Joe has been trying for several years and finally reached second place last year and won the coveted title by a narrow margin this year, being only two points ahead of Harold Poole, the young teen-ager who, incidentally, came through for a first place in the Most Muscular event this year. Hugo Labra, last year's Most Muscular Man winner, was pushed to second place in this event this year, and Abbenda came in third, tho he was second last year.

In the Mr. America event, Labra came in third this year. Vern Weaver was fourth.

I have been a judge at more Mr. America contests than any other man in America and probably have officiated as a judge at more physique contests, yet I never fail to be surprised at the placings of some men in these events. Each group of judges sees things a little different than others do. What constitutes a top physique is a matter of opinion; it is relative. No two men agree in every respect, and usually their opinions vary widely. I recall one minor contest in which one judge insisted on placing one man quite high because he had good legs, tho the kid had almost nothing above the waist. Some judges, on the other hand, almost fail to notice if a man has legs at all. Judges have a wide variation of ideas of what the word "muscularity" means. To some it seems to mean "most muscle" while to others it just means "most definition."

Quite frequently competitors or their friends will come to me and ask what they need to make them winners, or why they didn't win. I have no satisfactory answer for them as a general rule, unless it would be to pick the right judges and of course they have nothing to do with this. If a man is near the top, all I can do is tell him to keep trying and some time he may hit the right combination of judges who will give him the title.

Many men, of course, have some faults that are quite obvious, and these men can be given helpful advice. The top men who come in the first 6 places or so, generally are good enough to win if they have a little luck.

We have talked much about the need for uniformity in officiating lifting, but we are equally in need of uniformity of physique officiating. Very little is likely to be done in the USA in this respect as long as physique contests are supervised and controlled by the weightlifting association, for the lifters and lifting officials in general do not like physique contests and do not consider it worthwhile to make much of an attempt to improve them. Most certainly some clinics on judging a physique would make for much more satisfactory results. Much could be done to improve this phase of the game.

This part of the contest was held on the evening of June 2nd after the lifting. Not all the physique entries entered this, but most of them did and they really looked great. Each year the men seem to look better than the year before, but this is probablY just the result of the enthusiasm at seeing so many top men lined up again. Most certainly the men entered this year were just as good as in previous years. Many of them showed great improvement over past years. Young Harold Poole was considerably improved but he did not have an easy victory in the Most Muscular contest, as last year's winner, Hugo Labra, showed a great deal more definition and, I would say, he was a lot better than last year and had been training very hard for this event. Abbenda was improved over last year and quite a number of the others were much improved. Weaver, with his added bulk, showed good definition and excellent symmetry. Siepke, after being out of competition for at least six years, made a great comeback and looked better than ever. Ferraro was bigger and more muscular than ever, as was William Stathes.

Poole had just a little too much muscular size over all and excellent definition for the other boys, and so came in first for the Most Muscular title. Labra was so close it must have been difficult for the judges to place him second. Abbenda was very happy with third, I am sure, for he was the ultimate winner of the Mr. America title.

This event is the one that usually draws the crowds and thus helps finance the lifting events. There is something magnetic about the perfectly developed physique with a beautiful golden tan that everyone admires, and to see these men lined up for the Mr. America contest is an unbelievable sight to someone who has never had the privilege of seeing it before. You just can't believe that such perfection, size and magnificence can be attained, and it is so different from seeing them in photos.

Most of these men had trained extremely hard for this event, some of them spending hours a day at it for several weeks. Years of very hard work are behind most of these fellows, tho, and their most difficult period is just a few weeks before the contest.

Most of the fellows who enter these physique contests are among the finest in any branch of athletics. They are men who, above all, are interested in self-improvement, not just their physiques, but their minds and morals as well. They are fine, clean living young fellows with high ideals and ambitions and most of them are college graduates. A large share of them are married and have families. America would be a much better place with more such outstanding young men. I do know that occasionally someone will come along with poor character, and because the press wants sensationalism, this man's mistakes will be given publicity out of proportion to its importance and because of these few bad characters, many millions of fine bodybuilders have to hang their heads in shame. This should not be so, for bodybuilding is one of the greatest activities for building a greater America, and more emphasis ought to be placed on it, not for the sake of a fine physique alone, but also for the good health it fosters and the general overall character building qualities it stimulates.

I would like to take you with me on a little visit with each of the entrants and find out about these men; what they do for a living, how they live, how they train and what they can do. We will start with them as they were numbered for the contest.

BILLY LEMACKS of Florida was No. 1. This young man has been lifting and bodybuilding for several years and won Teen Age Nationals Lifting and Jr. National Lifting titles. He is a lightweight of 145 lbs., but has very good shape and exceptional definition as you will see by his photo. He will improve a great deal, and with more bulk ought to have an excellent chance at the top title. If be could weigh 170 witch his present shape and definition he would be terrific.

CHESTER YORTON had entered many contests and won many titles. He is a very handsome young man with a very outstanding physique. He has lots of bulk and fair definition and good proportions. As we have mentioned before, this man suffered a very severe auto accident about 3 or 4 years ago and shattered the bones in both thighs. One thigh now has a steel plate in it and the other a steel rod, but this man has developed amazing legs and can now squat with 500 lbs. Several judges jestingly remarked that they guessed they would get some steel rods put in their legs if they could learn to squat with 500 lbs. Yorton is a fine baseball and basketball player and expert on ice skates.

KEN HALL has been entering and winning physique contests for several years. he is 5'10½" tall and weighs 187. He is 32 years of age and has been training for 9 years. He migrated from the British West Indies 11 years ago and works as a foreman in a wholesale company. He is married and has one child. He has done some weightlifting and has made a 775 total. He has terrific definition and a very unusnal shape, with exceptional abdominals.

ROBERT GIRARD is a construction worker, has a nice physique and is married and the father of one child. He is 20 years of age, He trained 2½ hours per night 3 nights per week and has made 200, 185 and 250 on the Olympic lifts, He will do well with more training and experience.

MIKE FERRARO is well known to readers, having been our cover man on the March Vol. 21 No. 4 issue of Iron Man. We will have a full story on him with a lot of fine photos soon. He has won many titles, including the Teen age Mr. America and Mr. North America; altogether 13 physique titles. He is 23 years of age, married and has a little boy. Mike has been training 7 years and has made an Olympic total of 775 and a squat of 485, weighs 180 at a height of 5'8". Mike is managing a restaurant for his father and plans to finish his college training this winter, majoring in Physical Education. He has most exceptional thighs and shows unusual definition all over his body. He takes very heavy workouts.

JOHN SCHUBERT entered the contest for fun and had not trained really seriously for it, but has a very nice physique anyhow, which could have shown more definition with heavier training. He is an outstanding weightlifter, and operates the Olympic Health Club in Cleveland.

VERN WEAVER entered a number of contests several years ago and we took some color photos of him at the Mr. America contest in Los Angeles in 1958. We used one of these shots on the cover in December 1960. We were amazed to see the tremendous improvement in this man, and we were told that he had made most of it (gained 20 lbs. of shapely, solid muscle) in just two months while training in his basement at home. He would not divulge the training methods he had used, but expressed the thought that most bodybuilders and lifters train too hard for best results. All this improvement came after a layoff of 3 years. Altogether he has had 9 years of trainlug and presently is employed selling memberships for the Bacon Health Studio in York. He is 5'9½" tall and looks taller, so well is he proportioned, and weighs 200 presently, with 52 inch shoulders, 48 chest, 31 waist, 24 thighs, 16½ calf and 17½ arm, according to his own statements, and I would say that all tnese measurements are from one to several inches smaller than they actually are. Most weight men exaggerate their measurements, but from the looks of this fellow he is understating his measurements. We feel he should enter the Mr. Universe this year. He is 25 years old and an outstanding athlete. His shape and proportions are outstanding; he has good definition and fine skin tone. We feel he has one of the finest physiques in the world. He has made a total of 845 on the Olympics and plans to go to 220 bodyweight.

HUGO LABRA, last year's Most Muscular Man, looks better than ever, if that is possible, and had been training hard for this contest. We know he was disappointed at not placing higher and he really looked good, for he is a real little giant of 5'6¾" and 180 pounds of solid muscle. He is 32, single, and has been training 16 years. Hugo works for Douglas Aircraft and has had 2 years of engineering training and is finishing his education in a West Coast University. He came from Lima, Peru 9 years ago and is now a U. S. citizen and was the Pan Am champ in 1951 and has done 240, 225, 297 in the Olympic lifts at 148 pounds bodyweight. He also squats with 475 and bench presses 400 for 2 reps and curls 190. Hugo has one of the best physiques in the country for a short fellow, and will surely continue to improve. He was our cover man in the September issue and we have had other outstanding photos of him and have many more to show.

JERRY DOETTREL decided to take up weight training because the bigger kids picked on him. They don't do that any more. He is single, 21, and at the bodyweight of 148 he made 215, 175, and 270 on the Olympic lifts and was a star on his high school track team. He works as a stock broker and plans to further his education.

JOSEPH LAPORTE is 22, single, and has made a 425 squat at 180 bodyweight. He owns his own house painting business. He was an outstanding football star in high school and has a nice physique which will improve a great deal with more training.

WM. STATHES is one of our frequent Mr. America competitors and always impresses everyone with his outstanding physique. Bill is married, is on the San Francisco Police force and is exceptionally strong, having made a 910 total on the Olympic lifts. This year he weighed 215 as compared to 200 last year and 185 the year before. I know Bill wonders why he doesn't place higher (and I often wonder myself), for he certainly has an outstanding physique.

BILL SENO is a young fellow with a herculean physique. He has exceptionally fine legs and is very muscular everywhere. He is a good lifter and I believe he has pressed 290. He has done 320 with a lot of backbend. He has made an 815 total at 188 bodyweight. He excelled at football and wrestling and played football while attending Western Illinois University for 3 years. He is 23, single, and has trained with weights for 2½ years. He has a lot of natural possibilities both as an athlete and as a physique man. He will be able to improve his physique a lot in coming years to give it that finished look that the top men have. Bill is a Laboratory Technician at General Analine Corp.

GARY STEUER is only 20 but has developed a really outstanding physique and I was impressed by his great bulk and huge arms and shoulders. He said his arms measured 18½ and I know this wasn't an exaggeration, as they looked to me to be larger. For a man of such bulk he had excellent proportions and fairly good definition. With continued training he will take his place with the top men, for he is only 20 and has a wonderful start. He trains at home and has gained 100 lbs. in bodyweight in the 4 years he has been training. He weighs about 200 and has some good lifts to his credit. I was much impressed with this young man.

TUNY MONDAY recently won the Jr. Mr. America title in Columbia, Mo., and has a very unusual physique in that he weighs but 150 at about 5'5" height and has a most amazing definition. He had a dark tan from a lot of sun while water skiing, at which he is quite expert. Tuny is 38 years of age, married and has a family. He has his own business in neon sign work in Tulsa, Oklahoma, though later he would like to go into the health studio business. He now trains very hard and was training 6 hours a day in preparation for this and other recent contests. With a little more bulk he would be hard to beat. We would say that he would be tremendously impressive at 165 lbs. and with the same definition. He has already gained 30 pounds in bodyweight but could go on up. He has exceptional endurance and tells us that no matter how long hours he works or how much training he does, he never feels tired, and is always full of pep and ready to go.

CARL STELZEN is a top weightlifter of many years and enjoys getting into physique contests. He has an outstanding physique but if he is to continue in such contests he ought to do specialized bodybuilding. Weightlifting can give you a nice physique but without specialized bodybuilding you will not reach top quality and balance of physique. Carl is a great speed skater. He has his own floor waxing business.

JOE LAZZARO has won many physique titles and is an Art teacher in Junior High school. He has his BS degree and is working on his Masters degree at present. He is 31, has been training for 14 years and has won the Jr. Mr. America title and has made an Olympic total of 745 at 165 lbs. bodyweight. Joe is a real credit to the game and keeps trying year after year. A little more bulk and better definition would help him. He did not look in quite as hard a condition as we have seen him in the past and doubtless has had to curtail his training somewhat with his teaching obligations and his family - - ife and one daughter.

NORMAN BEDELL has been training for 9 years and was a track star in high school and has had two years of college. He has made a 750 Olympic total at 181 bodyweight. He ran the 100 yards in 9.9 in high school. He is a State Policeman in New Jersey and has a very nice physique which will improve greatly with further training.

HAROLD POOLE who has won a Jr. Mr. America title and many others, comes very close to the top each year and this year was much improved, being bigger and more mature looking. Harold is 18 years of age and is graduating from high school this year and we understand that he has three college scholarships. He will go to Purdue next year. This young colored fellow has an outstanding personality and certainly has a physique that it would be hard to find a flaw in. He is an outstanding athlete in school, especially at wrestling where the other high school athletes just don't stand much chance against him. He has made a 750 total as a 198 lb lifter though he has done very little lifting. We don't believe Harold will mind our mentioning it, but we feel that the only thing that keeps him from the Mr. America title is a slight speech difficulty. He has a slight stutter when he becomes nervous, and who wouldn't be nervous in a Mr. America contest? He is rapidly overcoming this though, and who knows, he may be the next Mr. America. I'm sure he would be a credit to the title.

JOE ABBENDA, the new Mr. America, needs little introduction to readers of Iron Man, for his photo was on the cover of last issue, and his story in a previous issue. Joe is single, 23 years of age, and trains at home most of the time. He is going to St. Johns University and is studying law. He has made a lifting total of 850 as a heavyweight and is one of the most enthusiastic workers for the game, always willing to go out and put on shows, talk about training and help the game in any way he can. He has a fine physique and a very attractive personality. We are sure that Joe will do much in the coming year as an ambassador for the barbell game. Joe has a very thin skin which gives him outstanding definition, and he has a rather unusual muscle shape.

JOSEPH SIMON, long a physique contender, is a man who has about the most outstanding definition of anyone there. In addition he also has good bulk and excellent shape. Joe is 28, married and has a son. He was an all-state football man and Bi-State champion in baseball and works as a crane operator. Joe gives a lot of fine shows around his area with his little son who enjoys working with Dad. When Joe tenses up his muscles you would swear they are going to jump out of his skin.

JACK ALLEN has had one year of training and has done wrestling, boxing and track in school. He has a nice physique and should improve considerably in the come year, with hard training.

RALPH KLEINER has won several top physique titles. His physique impresses one with the fine upper body. He has good shape and definition. He came from Austria in 1952 where he was a member of the state football championship team at 14 years of age. He is a Judo 2nd degree brown belt, has had 2 years of college at Rice and will be going back this fall.

ROBERT HERZOG has won the Mr. Michigan title, among others, and has a very rugged physique. He is an outstanding specialty skater and works as an interior decorator. He made the background designs for the Mr. America contest which you see in the photos with this article.

STEVE SAKOULOS has entered a number of contests a few years ago and was the Mr. Illinois in 1955. He works as a glass blower and has done some good lifts, making a total of 800 at 181 bodyweight.

VIC SEIPKE, last but not least by any means. Vic had not entered a contest for 6 or more years but had been working out regularly twice a week to keep in fair shape. This time he looked better than he did when he was entering contests years ago. He is a Fireman in the Detroit Fire Department, 30 years of age, married, 1 son. He also works as a dental lab technician in his off hours. We would like to see Vic continue entering contests as many feel that he is Mr. America material. You can't pick a flaw in this man's physique. He isn't as tall at some may like, and has a little longer than usual neck which is of tremendous size, and says he never did anything to develop it. It just grew that way along with the rest of his body. He had a beautiful tan and we took some color photos of Vic but believe they were rather badly scratched when removing them from the camera. However, if they come out well we will show one on the cover of Iron Man. Vic appeared on Iron Man cover in Mayor 1959. Vic has made an 805 total while weighing 190, and was outstanding in football and swimming in high school.

There then is the picture of these boys as the judges saw them and as the audience viewed them two nights.

These boys were pre-judged the morning of July 3rd and the decisions were made then, but nothing was announced before the evening performance after the lifting. The judges were asked to sit on the stage and make a pretense of judging again. Such a foolish farce to go through! Why not tell the audience that these men are pre-judged in the afternoon. No one will care. A judge feels embarrassed and foolish sitting there acting as if he were doing a job.

The lighting was good for the contest and the boys all showed up at their best and gave a good show. We believe that most people agreed with the decisions. It must be remembered that a lot of things other than the physique are taken into consideration when choosing a Mr. America. This isn't just a physique contest, for a man must have high moral standards and a good reputation and must be a good athlete, have a pleasing personality, and be able to present himself well to the public for the coming year.

The selections should therefore not be based only on the physique, though this is important. Most contests throughout the world are judged on physique alone and this makes quite a difference in the selections. A Mr. America should represent the ideal of American manhood in all respects as nearly as possible. A strict physique contest does not need to meet all these restrictions or requirements.

Here are the point totals as made by the first ten men: Joe Abbenda 89; Harold Poole 87; Hugo Labra 86½; Vern Weaver 86; Victor Seipke 84; Mike Ferraro 82; William Stathes 81½; William Seno 80; Joseph Lazzaro 80; Kenneth Hall 78.

Most Muscular: 1st Harold Poole; 2nd Hugo Labra; 3rd Joe Abbenda.


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Re: AAU Mister America - Discuss the AAU History
« Reply #483 on: Today at 09:13:39 AM »
Mr. America Magazine, Vol 5, No 5, Page 36, November 1962

by Gord Venables
Twenty-eight of the best built men in the nation vied for the annual Mr. America title. The winner was a good-looking college student who we hope will inspire our youth and start others on the road to better health and perfect manhood through weight training.
I SAW THE FIRST MR. AMERICA CONTEST in Schenectady, New York on December 1st, 1938. The Mr. America contest was the brain child of John Hordines, sponsor and bodybuilding instructor. John had hoped to make Schenectady to Mr. America what Atlantic City is to Miss America. It was to be an annual event in that city but somehow the idea didn't jell.

That first Mr. America meet was held in "Pink" Gardner's Reducing Salon and Gymnasium. The place was too small to hold the crowds that jammed in to see what a perfectly developed male looked like. Bert Goodrich of Hollywood, Cal., managed to nose out Elmer Farnham of Shamokin, Pa. for the title.

While Schenectady didn't become the Mecca of muscle men, Hordines started the ball rolling and the following year the AAU got into the act and staged a Mr. America contest in conjunction with the Senior National Weightlifting Championships. A new idea was added - aspiring Mr. Americas had to compete in the weightlifting contest to prove their muscles were good for something else than just to look at.

The '39 affair was sponsored by Chicago Parks Department; was held outdoors and about 10,000 people saw Adonis-like Roland Essmaker of Richmond, Indiana crowned the winner.

The next contest was perhaps the biggest and best of all time. Under the guidance of AAU Weightlifting Chairman, Dietrich Wortmann, it was held in Madison Square Garden and John Grimek won that one.

I was sitting close to Bernarr MacFadden, one of the ten judges, and he took one look at Grimek and said, "Tat man is perfect!" He marked down 100 points on his score-card and didn't bother to look much at the other entrants. Unfortunately his enthusiasm did not benefit Grimek. Wortman had introduced a rule tha the highest and lowest scores were to be thrown out. It was a good rule for it prevented any judge from showing excess favor (or disfavor) to any one contestant. So MacFadden's 100 points didn't count on Grimek's score but he won anyway.

In 1941 Philadelphia hosted the meet and again John Grimek won, the only man ever to win twice. it can't happen again for after the meet a pow-wow was held among the powers that be and it was decided that a man could win in the title only once. They had the feeling that Grimek might go on winning forever!

Big Frank Leight of New York City took the 1942 crown in a very close contest in Cincinnati. Frank just edge out Dan Lurie, another New Yorker. Jules Bacon won in '43 and in those days he had incredible separation. That affair was held in Los Angeles. I saw Steve Stanko cop the title in Chattanooga in '43. Steve had injured himself weightlifting and turned to bodybuilding.

To refresh your memory let me give you a list of winners over the past 24 years.

1938 Bert Goodrich, Hollywood, Calif.
1939 Roland Essmaker, Richmond, Indiana
1940 John Grimek, York, Pa.
1941 John Grimek, York, Pa.
1942 Frank Leight, New York City
1943 Jules Bacon, York, Pa.
1944 Steve Stanko, York, Pa.
1945 Clarence Ross, Los Angeles, Calif.
1946 Alan Stephan, Chicago, Ill.
1947 Steve Reeves, Los Angeles, Calif.
1948 George Eiferman, Philadelphia, Pa.
1949 Jack Delinger, Oakland, Calif.
1950 John Farbotnik, Philadelphia, Pa.
1951 Roy Hilligenn, Johannesburg, South Africa
1952 Jim Park, Chicago, Ill.
1953 Bill Pearl, San Diego, Calif.
1954 Dick DuBois, Los Angeles, Calif.
1955 Steve Klisanin, McKeesport, Pa.
1956 Ray Shaefer, E. Chicago, Indiana
1957 Ron Lacy, Lexington, Kentucky
1958 Tom Sansone, New York City
1959 Harry Johnson, Atlanta, Georgia
1960 Lloyd Larille, New Orleans, La.
1961 Ray Routledge, Los Angeles, Calif.
It is interesting to note that the early Mr. A. contests were dominated by York trained men. From the time Clarence Ross won and newer training methods began to take hold, the winners have been predominately Weider trained men.

Clarence Ross is a member of the Weider writing staff and has contributed many bodybuilding articles to both Mr. America and Muscle Builder. Stephan, Reeves, Delinger, Pearl, Shaefer and Sansone have all contributed articles to both magazines. Eiferman is at present our West Coast editor and Farbotnik is a feature writer.

I recall a few sidelights of past Mr. America contests. Leight and Lurie were actually tie in '42 and both were called out on the stage for final judging. Leight won because he was a much bigger man.

Steve Reeves and Eric Pedersen were tie in '47. A closer examination by the judges gave Reeves the nod as Pedersen's skin was marred by a few pimples probably picked up in his last few days of training. Reeves and his clear skin went on to fame and fortune while I haven't heard from Pedersen for a long time.

Roy Hilligenn was the only foreign entrant to ever win the Mr. A. Ttitle. No Canadian has as yet won although there have been many fine entrants. So much for the past, now for the present.

THE 1962 EVENT was held at the Highland Park High School Auditorium. Highland Park is a separate community inside the city limits of Detroit. The Most Muscular Man contest was staged on Saturday, June 2nd. In the past there were awards for the best arms, best legs, best chest, best back, best etc., etc. and there were also height division awards. They had Mr. little America, Mr. medium sized America and Mr. big, economy sized America. It was all too confusing. To streamline the contest now only two events are held - the Most Muscular Man and Mr. America. While the contests are not dragged out as they were in the past this new method deprives the audience of seeing more of their favorites. However, the 1962 event went off well.

Immediately after Joe Puleo of Detroit won the middleweight weightlifting title with a Clean and Jerk of 340 pounds, the stage was set for the judging. The posing dais was made by one of the contestants, Bob Herzog of Iron Mountain, Michigan.

There were 28 entrants and each man gave a series of his best poses. No one man gained advantage over his competitors through superior posing ability. Actually all the posing routines were amateurish but that's the way it's supposed to be in an amateur contest.

Of the 28 posers, Harold Poole of Indianapolis, Kenneth Hall of Brooklyn, Hugo LaBra of Los Angeles, Joe Abbenda of Long Island and Joe Simon of Sewell, N.J. received the most applause from the audience. I felt sure one of these five men would win the Most Muscular title. So who won? Ah, there was the rub! Who won?

The Master of Ceremonies announced that the winner's name would be given the following night - the night of the Mr. America contest. There were some sighs of despair, some boos, some catcalls and general dissatisfaction among the audience at being kept in suspense one night later and three bucks more.

ON SUNDAY NIGHT, right after Schemansky's unsuccessful attempt to clean 440 came crashing to the platform, the contestants lined up for the judging. The judges were seated at one end of the stage making it impossible for them to see the men at the other end of the line. It was then that I learned that the men had been "pre-judged" that afternoon. The winner had already been selected!

There is nothing wrong with this method, both Ben and Joe Weider employ it in their contests. It is virtually impossible for the judges to judge a man correctly in the few minutes he is on the posing dais so "pre-judging" is the way to compute points. Furthermore, the calibre of the contestants was so high that only split points separated them. It requires a lot of time and close study to properly evaluate a man's physique. Joe Raymond of Cleveland was in charge of the judging. He is an old hand at it and always does a good job.

The panel of judges were: Dave Matlin, AAU Weightlifting Chairman; Joe Raymond, Lake Erie area Chairman; Bob Hise of Georgia; Rudy Sablo of the Metropolitan District; John Terpak of York; Owen Olsen of Minnesota and Perry Rader, editor of Iron Man magazine.

The stage was not large enough for the entire 27 entrants so they came out in two groups. (All the contestants who entered the Most Muscular entered the Mr. A. with the exception of Floyd DeSirito of Union, N.J.) I saw two line-ups of the most perfectly developed men in America. Picking a winner from such an imposing array of physical perfection was a well-nigh impossible task. I was most anxious to learn who the judges had chosen. (No one except the judges knew the winner).

The black velvet curtain was lowered and a brilliant spotlight hit the posing dais placed in front center of the stage and one by one each man came out, mounted the dais and went through his posing routine. The first man up to flex his muscles under the bright light was Billy Lemacks of Johnson's Health Studio, Chicago, a weightlifter who placed fourth in the lightweight class with a 720 pound total.

Chester Yorton of Milwaukee, the biggest man in the show. He stood 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 220 pounds. He had both legs broken and has steel plates in his thighs!

Kenneth Hall of Brooklyn, the most popular man with the audience. Ken was willing to pose for any amateur photographer and gave several exhibitions of muscle control off stage.

Robert Girard of Windsor, Ontario, only Canadian in the meet although there was a large contingent of Canadians in the audience. Bob can run 100 yards in 11 seconds!

Mike Ferraro of Buffalo, N.Y., a lifter who made a 775 pound total and a very muscular young man.

John Schubert of the Olympic Health Studio of Cleveland, very symmetrically proportioned with a good posing routine.

Vern Weaver, York Barbell Club, of Dover, Pa., a big man who can run 100 yards in 10.3 seconds. Extremely handsome, a fine poser and an actor by profession. (He has played "Lil Abner.")

Jerry Doetrell, Buffalo-York A.C., Buffalo, massively built with a cheer raising posing routine.

Hugo LaBra of Los Angeles, one of the most muscular men in the contest. He was born in Peru, South America. Hugo has terrific trapezius muscles. From the applause he received I knew he would be right up there at the top.

Joseph LaPorte of Connecticut YMCA, a former football player with a whole backfield of muscles.

Lewis Wolter, Milwaukee Health Studio, Milwaukee, a man with good separation and very deep pectorals.

Henry Koehler of Milwaukee, a favorite of the Wisconsin fans in the audience.

Bill Stathes of San Francisco YMCA, a policeman and the oldest man in the meet. If there were more cops like Bill there would be a lot less juvenile delinquency. Bill was terrific.

William Seno, Sayre Park W. L. Club, Chicago, a former weightlifting champ who has totalled 815 pounds as a light-heavy. He had very good definition, won Most Muscular Man title at Jr. Mr. A. contest.

Gary Stever of Cincinnati, Ohio. There were plenty of Ohioans in the audience and Gary got a good hand.

Tuny Monday, Tulsa YMCA, Tulsa, Okla., winner of a Junior Mr. America title and a water skiing champ. Tuny is 37 but looks better than most 21 year oldsters.

Carl Stelzen, Bates Barbell Club of Paterson, N.J., one of the best light-heavyweight weightlifters in the country. He has totaled 850!

Joseph Lazzaro of Buffalo, N.Y., definitely one of the most muscular men in the meet. Joe is working on his M.A. degree.

Norman Bedell, Bates Barbell Club, Paterson, N.J., a former football player and now a police officer.

Harold Poole, Hofmeister's Studio, Indianapolis, who received the loudest ovation up to this point. This all-round athlete is only 18 years old and had the most phenomenal musculature I have ever seen. I knew he was going to be darn close to winning.

Joe Abbenda of Long Island, N.Y., who was very good looking with amazing symmetry. His applause was equal to Poole's and I marked him on my score as being right up there at the top.

Joe Simon of Sewell, N.J., a baseball player with the most incredible separation in the thighs I have ever seen.

Jack Allen of National Health Studio, Washington, D.C. A bodybuilder with a routine that was well praised.

Robert Herzog, Iron Mountain, Michigan, performs at winter ice carnivals and can handbalance on ice skates. He's a speed skater and a good jumper. He made the posing stand and did the art work on it.

Ralph Kleiner, Triumph Health Studio, Chicago, winner of Mr. Illinois title and an instructor of bodybuilding. About this time there were shouts from the audience of "We want Shaefer" and "is Ray in the audience?" Ray had a lot of buddies from out Chicago way but there was no Ray.

Steve Sakoulos, Irving Park, YMCA, Chicago, 36 years old and former Central AAU weightlifting champ.

The last man to take to the posing dais was popular Victor Seipke of Detroit. Vic, as a light-heavyweight lifter made an 830 total. He is a fireman.

By having the afternoon "pre-judging" there was no time lost in the first elimination. The 27 competitors were narrowed down to 10 and presented in this order:

Kenneth Hall of Brooklyn; Mike Ferraro of Buffalo; Vern Weaver of Dover, Pa.; Hugo LaBra of Los Angeles; William Stathes of San Francisco; William Seno of Chicago; Joseph Lazzaro of Buffalo; Harold Poole of Indianapolis; Joe Abbenda of Long Island, N.Y., and Victor Seipke of Detroit.

Each man was greeted with rousing cheers and it sounded like Harold Poole and Vic Seipke getting the most with Joe Abbenda and Hugo LaBra only a few decibels behind.

The judges then made their second .elimination, reducing the field to five. The five men presented were:

Vern Weaver, Hugo LaBra, Harold Poole, Joe Abbenda and Victor Seipke.

While the judges were confering (or pretending to confer) the long awaited announcement as to who was the Most Muscular Man came. Joe Abbenda was called to the posing dais and there were loud cheers. Had Joe won? No, it was then announced that he had placed third! (The M.C. was coy, he was keeping the suspense right up to the bitter end.)

Next man called to the dais was Hugo LaBra and to him went the second place trophy for most muscles. Then came the great moment. The Most Muscular Man was - Harold Poole! Boy! he deserved it. I have never seen a man with such amazing shoulders. He was the winner beyond a shadow of doubt. Everybody was pleased with the verdict.

Now to find out who would be the 1962 AAU Mr. America. Again the suspense of introducing the third place man first. Hugo LaBra was third place! Hugo has an enormously powerful upper body but he is not very tall. I had a feeling that, in spite of his terrific musculature, his height would make it difficult for him to take the title. Hugo was well pleased and gave the crowd a short muscle control routine.

The second place trophy went to Harold Poole. Perhaps the audience thought Harold should have won but actually he has too much muscle if such a thing is possible. His arms, shoulders, pectorals and upper back are beyond compare for sheer muscularity.

A hush fell over the hall as the M.C. was about to pronounce the new King of Muscle Men.

"Will Joe Abbenda come to the stage?" Cheers, cheers and more cheers. Joe Abbenda of Long Island was the new AAU Mr. America! This young, good looking college boy took the center of the dais amid a brilliant burst of a hundred flash bulbs. Every photographer pressed forward to get his picture. Soon the stage was overrun and it was with difficulty that order was restored.

A lovely young lady, Miss Highland Park, crossed the stage with the big Mr. A. trophy and presented it to Joe. From the crowd came a dozen shouts of "Kiss her, Joe, kiss her." The young lady giggled and Joe blushed. But Joe is a man and a man that couldn't resist a beauty like the trophy donor. He kissed her. Harold Poole and Hugo LaBra looked on in envy. The cheering was terrific but I don't know whether they were cheering Joe's gallantry or his muscles.

Harold and Hugo left the stage to Joe and again there was the mad rush of photographers, friends and fellows who just wanted to shake the hand of Mr. America. Joe took it all in good stride. He shook hands with everyone who could get to him and he really appreciated their congratulations. Somehow Joe's father managed to get on the stage and through the crowd and he gave sonny a bear-hug and looked as pleased as though he had won the title himself.

JOE ABBENDA is a Law student at St. John's University and passed his first year's exams with honors.

He started out as a weightlifter when he was 15 years old; he wanted to be bigger and stronger and have a better physique. Then he was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. After competing in a number of lifting meets around the New York City area he switched to bodybuilding because, as he put it, it offered a greater challenge.

In 1958 he entered his first physique contest, the Mr. Junior Metropolitan, and won it. Last year he was second in the Junior Mr. America and that, more than anything else, spurred him to train harder. This year Joe won both the Junior and Senior AAU Mr. America titles.

Judges at the AAU Mr. America shows allow additional points for athletic ability. Joe was awarded the maximum 5 points for his performance on the Three Olympic Lifts. He can press 280 pounds!

Joe normally trains three times a week but worked out every day for three weeks before the Mr. A affair. To achieve all-round muscular perfection he follows an all-round bodybuilding program and does not specialize or try to over-emphasize any particular part of his body. Joe has superb symmetry.

Joe Abbenda is a swell guy. He speaks effectively and has a million dollar smile. I doubt they could have picked a better man to wear the mythical Mr. America crown for the year 1962.