VIRGINIA BEACH--The Junior Chamber of Commerce here has asked the National Amateur Athletic Union to conduct an investigation of the judging at a "Mr. Universe" contest held here last weekend.
The action was announced today following a four-hour meeting of the organization Tuesday night, at which the refusal of Buck Cowling, promoter and faction-hoder of the contest, to accept the decision of the judges, was discussed.
In a letter to Carl Hansen, president of the National AAU, William Robertson, president of the resort Jaycee organization, said: "(We) request and strongly urge that a high and impartial AAU official conduct a thorough and complete investigation of all questions raised concerning the judging of this contest..."
The Jaycees are also asking that the AAU make public its findings.
Cowling, the day after the two-day contest was completed, announced that he would not accept the decision of the judges and charged Bob Hoffman, head judge and Olympic Weight Lifting Team coach, had changed judges in the middle of the contest.
The Junior Champber of Commerce, which sponsored the contest, as part of this city's Golden Jubilee Celebration, said through a spokesman today and in its letter to Hansen that it is not interested in the personalities involved and therefore will not attempt to resolve the issues recently raised.
Cowling said upon announcing his decision that he had evidence to back up charges that first night ballots were changed during the second night of the contest.
Cowling however was not at the Jaycee meeting held here last night. A club spokesman said today that he wanted to make it clear that Cowling was not a member of the sponsoring organization and that the organization is taking no sides in the controversy.
If I had not recieved so many letters from friends asking that I present my side of the Mr. Universe affair at Virginia Beach last June, I would have remained silent and allowed the controversy to drop. However, in fairness to these friends of long-standing, the men who really count in weight-lifting and in A.A.U. affairs, I have decided to give a factual account of our side of the picture.
I hope to answer this criticism calmly and with dignity, although the opposition press has been guilty of many wild and intemperate statements, even titiling their story The Bob Hoffman Expose' and attempting to have me expelled from the A.A.U., whose best interest in the cause of weight-lifting I have served faithfully for more than a quarter century.
Let me briefly recount the events leading up to the controversy:
Early in 1956 a committee came to the Strength and Health office, representing the Chamber of Commerce of Virginia Beach. Alert to anything which would bring publicity to Virginia Beach, they had in mind running a big physique contest. They wanted to know if they could run the Mr. America contest. I told them that the Mr America contest had been awarded to Philadelphia, and they then decided to call their proppsed contest Mr. Universe, thinking perhaps they could build up some of the world-wide interest obtained by Atlantic City and Long Beach. We offered to do whatever we could to help with the contest, and suggested that a weight-lifting contest be held in conjunction with it.
We gave the propsed affair considerable publicity, but Virginia Beach is rather isolated and as it turrned out, only 13 contestants and fewer qualified judges appeared at the contest. By making the date a week after the Mr. America contest, we managed to get a few good men to enter the Virginia Beach Contest. The Chamber of Commerce worked hard and spent thousands of dollars on the arrangements. John Grimek had driven the more than 600 miles round trip to Virginia Beach to help with the arrangements. We were disappointed to find only a handful of entrants, so we made phone calls to Richmond, Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore and serveral points in New York City trying to get more entrants and more qualified judges. Everyone we called had prior arrangements and we were unable to bolster the show. We had very good competitors, men who would have placed well up, no matter how many were in the contest.
We had Steve Klisani, who had won the hotly contested 1955 Mr. America contest. He had won from 11 other finalists who were so good that after we had reduced the number of contestants to 12, and were told to make it ten, I remarked to the other judges: "Any one of these men would make a good Mr. America. I can cut off two men just as easy as I can cut off two fingers." So we judged the 12 finalists and Steve Klisanin was first, Ray Schaefer second, Vic Seipke and Don Van Fletteren tied for third, Harry Johnson fifth. This year, four of the finalists in the 1955 contest were at Virginia Beach, including Ray Shaefer, the current Mr. America, Gene Bohaty and Harry Johnson, besides Steve Klisanin. Klisanin beat them in 1955, this year he was better than ever so it is not so unusual that he should win again.
Picking the winner ina physique contest is a matter of opinion, which is why they have seven judges. To reduce possibilities of unfair judging, a judge scoring too high for one, two low for another, the high and the low scores for each athlete are crossed out. Thus the judging is actually done by five judges. A perfect score would be 75, Klisanin won with 68 1/2.
We have rules in physique contests, which are published in the A.A.U. rule book, and we try hard to select judges who will follow those rules. The present rules allow 15 points for scoring, 6 for muscular development, 6 for symmetry of proportions, 1 each for face and skin, posing and general appearance. Seven of the fifteen points, including posing, are for muscular development. Yet there are many judges who can see only muscles. There is a special award for the most Muscular Man, this man does not necessarily have to have a good-looking face, or even good skin, nor have to know how to pose, all he must have is a lot of muscles. Ray Schaefer won Most Muscular in 1955, was second to Harris in 1956. As anyone can see, he has a lot of muscles, but he has unsymmetrical physical qualities too. Symmetry of proportions and a general appearance counts the same as muscular development an dmuscle posing.
There are also many intangibles which enter into a close contest, such as a man's personality, his morality, his athletic ability, his education, his ability to talk to groups of interested person, his willingness to sign autographs and talk to kids, for we are selecting a man to be a good representative of our sport as well as to be a Mr. this or that. Yes, opinion enters into the selection of a physique contest winner, and we try to pick good judges, men who know their pbusiness and by following the rules will select the best all-around man inthe contest.
Your reporter as the ranking A.A.U. official at Virginia Beach, picked the best judges available. The rules were followed exactly as they are written. I should know the rules, for the late Dietrich Wortmann and I wrote them. There were no violations of the rules, and those who seek to show that there were irregularities, are merely shoing either ignorance or maliciousness. When I was shown the report in the Weider publications about this affair making a vicious, slanderous attack on myself, it made me wonder to what lengths a man or an organization will go to hurt or discredit another.
As I said, I selected the best judges I could the first night. It is usually customary to pick the AAU chairmen of their respective districts. There were just two chairmen there, Perry Raider of Nebraska and myself, as Chairman of the Middle Atlantic Association of the AAU.
Since the Virginia chairman was not present, I did the best I could, picking George Greenfield, who has long been a worker in our game, Bill Colonna, who operates a non-profit gymnasium, and has long been identified with weight-lifting, Dr. James of Winchester, Va., a former amateur lifter and a long-time promoter of lifting contests, Doug Biller of Roanoke, who operated a gym there, and has staged some very good lifting and physique shows over th years. One more judge was needed. This is where I made the mistake of a lifetime, but I am only human. Barton Horvath was there. I have averaged 40 contests a year for the last score of years and I have never seen BartonHorvath at a single one of those contests. Furthermore over a period of years, he has done a lot to hurt our game, but I thought, as a gesture of good-will, that it might help him to take part in an important contes. SO we made him our seventh judge.
With so few contestants, it was hard to make much of a show the first night. The lights were so poor the contestants could not be seen very well, and worse yet, there was Virginia Beach "dew", light rain and fog, which did not help. The judges were too far back, away from what little light there was. I have good eyes and I had difficulty. Perry Rader wears glasses, which added to his difficulty, and he did not see to well as evidenced by the fact that he has 12 socres for thirteen entrants, and he had no way of knowing whom he had missed or what scores counted for who. He had just scored as each man appeared, yet he missed one, so it was evident that his score was valueless.
Knowing that the first night's scoring was not important, that the final judging would take place the next night, I did not object when the Chairman of the Junior Chamber of Comerce COmmittee collected the votes and said that they would be placed in a sealed envelope, and as it was late, we would have a metting the next morning and count the votes. Our enemies say in their publication that I "badgered my way into the meeting the next morning." The rule sstates that the score sheets are to be collected by the referee, to be tabulated by clerks under the judges' supervision. I was the chairman of the Judges' Committee. I found that tBuck Cowling, the ubiquitous Press Agent, already knew who was leading, he had already talked to Mae West and agreed to turn Schaefer over to her for an interview. Others knew how the contestants stood too, so it was evident that the envelope was not sealed very tight.
So the next night we decided to do better, count the votes immediately after the scoring, and then it was found that with the better light and more qualified judges, that Klisanin had moved up 2 1/2 points and was the winner. Harry Johnson, who had 54 points and was next to last the first night, had 65 and was tied with Bohaty for third place the second night. Whiel much is made of the fact that Steve gained 2 1/2 points the second night when judges could see him better, Harry Johnson had gained 11 and moved from 12th place to a tie for third. Harry has one of the best physiques in the world, and his first night placing is the best indication of the fact that the judges either could not see well or did not know their business. I wonder why Barton Horvath, who tries to prove that he was a "good average judge" did not show his score sheet. He showed Doug Billers for the first and second night and makes much of the fact that he made some changes. That's natural, for the score sheets were picked up the first night, and few could remember how they had judged 13 men, so he judged again under better conditions.
They accuse me only of influencing one judge, Doug BIller, because his score was diffeent the second night. They make much of the fact that I am supposed to have voted 13 1/2 for Chuck Vinci. I voted 11 1/2 for him as compared to 14 1/2 for Klisanin and 13 for Schaefer, Bohaty and Johnson. If your eyes are good, you can see that the one on my score sheet has been changed into a three. No one is perfect, one has one good point, another has some other good feature. Chuck has done whell in physique contests, winning first in Mr. Pennsylvania YMCA, and being a trophy winner in a lot of other contests. Weider pulled his usual trick of showing the worst picture they can find of the man they want to discredit, the best of another. They caught CHuck standing at ease on the platform, Klisanin in the most distorted, poorly lighted and most poorly taken picture they could find.
They make much of the fact that I announced that we would send the second place man to London for their Mr. Universe contest, saying "why not the first place man, Hoffman must have known that the best man would be second." Why should we send the winner of the Virginia Beach contest to London when he had already won a Mr. Universe title, London has no monopoly on Mr. Universe, we ran it first, and picked the name in 1947 in this country. Sending our winner would be an acknowledgement that this contest was only a preliminary. We sent the seoncd place man, Ray Schaefer. Johnny Terpak stayed up all night to get to Washington early to get his passport. We took him back to York, paid his way to London, and he promised to stop in York on his return for photos for future magazine articles, but we never heard another word from him nor did we receive a card while he was playing in London and Paris with Wonderful Weedy.
I just want my friends who were somewhat concerned about this malicious story to know that all rules were followed. Ottley Coulter, famous old-time strongman, who proved his ability by having the same score I had in 6 of the 13 cases, wsa put in as a judge when Dr. James was called home, and for no other reason. Paul ANderson served ably as a judge as he replaced an unqualified judge who served the first night. Further, I did not tell the reporter that I think physique contests are silly. I told him that weight-lifting is our gaime, and we are having a difficult time beating the Russians as we lost many of our good men to the goupr of Mirror Athletes. I said that the Russians are getting a good laugh at us, as they think physique contests are silly.
Horvath sent his accusations to all the newspapers, but just Dan Parker and one other were the only ones to comment. Dan Parker showed his ignorance of physique contests in 1940, as a judge who voted against John Grimek, when he won the Mr. America contest at Madison Square Garden, when he was at his life-time best. I have not seen or heard from his personally since, but when he can't find anything else to write about, he puts us into his column, just for kicks.
Weider tried desperately to get every man who competed in the Virigina Beach contest barred by the AAU. This would have eliminated Paul Anderson, who holds four world recors, charles Vinci who holds two, and the Coach of the Olympic team. Had he been successful, the Russians would have put another feather in his cap. The AAU rules state that a prize should not cost more than $35.00. That rules was made before rising prices put trophies at a much higher level. The winning trophy at Virginia Beach cost over 70 dollars, but Buck Cowling, the Virginia Beach Press Agent, ordered it and charged it to us. It was a nice one, worth about 35 dollars in the old days. In an Olympic year, when such people try to get two of our champions suspended, it indicates that they are truly enemies of the AAU, enemies of American weight-lifting, and quite possibly enemies of the USA.
Joe Weider was invited to Russia, at Russian Government expense, as one of a group of editors who through their writings had proven to be friends of Russia (which of course means "Un-American activities"). Joe could not go, so he sent brother Ben to continue to cement their friendships with Russia. Had the Weider publications been able to break up our American weightlifting team, get Paul Anderson and Chuck Vinci suspended because they gave a weight-lifting denonstration on the same program in which a $70 trophy was given, perhaps they would have been given the Russian Order of Merit, for services rendered.