Muscle Builder, Vol 13, Num 4, Page 19, June 1972

Franco Columbu Demolishes Star-Studded Field To Win First Mr. World Crown!

Ed Corney Surprise But Popular Winner in Mr. USA


by Mike Katz, "Mr. America" winner

They said it couldn't be done but they were wrong. They said no one could organize a world class contest in two weeks, present it in the proper IFBB extravagant manner, attract a big audience and dozens of top entrants, and generally run a superb show but Tom Minichiello did not believe them. He said it could be done - and he did it! In fact it was the best Mr. World - Mr. USA pageant ever produced. And here's how it happened:

Early last year in the aftermath of uprooting the Mr. Universe contest from its New York home base and moving it to Paris, the classic Mr. World was overlooked. IFBB directors thought most high powered competition would be in Europe and unable to afford additional fare to America so plans for World were only vaguely formed, then dropped.

I.F.B.B. 1971

Short Class Winners

  1. Franco Colombu, Italy
  2. Sogaku Takemoto, Japan
  3. Courtney Brown, Trinidad
Most Muscular, Franco Colombu

Medium Class Results

  1. Steve Burnet, Trinidad
  2. Franklyn Green, Trinidad
  3. Elliot Gilchrist, Grenada
Most Muscular, Elliot Gilchrist

Tall Class Winners

  1. Dennis Tenirieno, U.S.A.
  2. Vic Downs, Canada
  3. Hollis Keller, Trinidad
Most Muscular, Vic Downs
Best Arms, Colombu
Best Back, Colombu
Best Chest, Colombu
Best Legs, Colombu
Best Abdominals, Vic Downs
Best Poser, Colombu



Short Class Winners

  1. Ed Corney
  2. Leon Brown
  3. John Bianculli
Most Muscular, Ed Corney

Medium Class Winners

  1. John Maldonado
  2. Gordon Babb
  3. Doug Lowinger
Most Muscular, Gordon Babb

Tall Class Winners

  1. Harold Poole
  2. Charlie Fautz
  3. Wendal Rambharose
Most Muscular, Charlie Fautz
Best Arms, Ed Corney
Best Back, Harold Poole
Best Chest, Harold Poole
Best Legs, Ed Corney
Best Abdominals, Charlie Fautz
Best Poser, Ed Corney


Likewise the traditionally West Coast Mr. USA event was mothballed when the Mr. America migrated to Los Angeles. It was figured few competitors would peak for two national ranking shows in the same time span.

Then suddenly it was late August and IFBB schedule makers were caught with their pants down. Dozens of internationalists weren't going to Paris and dozens of Eastern Greats weren't going to California. Maybe their jobs or families prohibited an extended trip but they were hollering for the perennial IFBB NY spectacular in September. Most, though they consciously recognized it was happening, could hardly believe the magnificent Mr. America - Mr. Universe, etc., gala had deserted them for muscle-starved climes elsewhere. In absolute top shape and with no quality contest to enter they besieged IFBB-NY headquarters and pleaded for action. But even Joe Weider was despondent. He was more than willing to fund a big operation but who could find an auditorium, pack full entry cards, arrange publicity and promotion, staff the judges bench, book acts, and so on in only two weeks, for if the show wasn't held prior to the Mr. Universe it would never get off the ground; Joe and Ben Weider along with other top IFBB brass would be in Europe and arrangements would be totally unmanageable without some authority around to pay the freight. In desperation Federation eyes turned to Tom Minichiello, spiritual leader of the Mid-City Health Club and IFBB-NY director. "Tom," they begged, "Get us a show, some how, some way, any way. Make it happen."

Tom abandoned his trainees on August 28 and went into seclusion for four days. On September 2 he returned to make an announcement of historic proportions to IFBB aficionados: "The show will be."

And so it was. Through his numerous friends Tom had reached State Senator Anthony Gioffre and New Rochelle (N.Y.) Mayor Frank Garito. Through them he negotiated rental of the mammoth White Plains County Center, chief sports facility of New York's prestigious Westchester County. Tom also arranged newspaper publicity and other media promotion, ticket printing, the mailing and telegramming of entry blanks and the thousand other deeds necessary to make the show a reality.

Suddenly New York, the East Coast, Canada, and the Caribbean became a buzz of bodybuilding activity. Rumors spread like mad. Harold Poole coming back . . . Dennis Tinerino in an IFBB show . . . Johnny Bianculli in great shape after a five year layoff. Some even said The Mighty Columbu might be disqualified from the Mr. Universe show and enter Mr. World instead.

Amazingly enough all the rumors came true. For on September 12, 1971, 2,000 thrilled muscle-crazed fans saw a show rivalling the Mr. Universe event in quality and splendor, and arranged on but two weeks' notice. Tom Minichiello, IFBB hero extra-ordinaire, sat in the wings modestly but it was all his doing and this contest report is dedicated to him. Without Tom there would have been no festivities at all.


The calibre of Mr. World contestants was unusually high but Franco Colombu overpowered everybody to win the crown by a substantial margin. He also took all body part awards except abs. Colombu is absolutely fantastic and is in the same rarefied atmosphere of bodybuilding preeminence as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva. A Great Posedown III among this fantastic trio was expected by the Mr. Universe crowd but it came to no avail when both Colombu and Oliva were disqualified from IFBB competition for 1971 and (part of) 1972 for entering unsanctioned contests. Colombu is not less than the third best built man alive and the crowd and judges knew it straight off.

Naturally Colombu was the Short Class winner and improving Sogaku Takemoto who flew all the way from Japan took the silver medal. Courtney Brown, the first of several Trinidadian medalists finished third. To add to his baggage problems Colombu picked up the Most Muscular prize too.

Consistent internationalist Steve Burnett from Trinidad was numero uno in the Medium Class with countryman Franklyn Greene second and "Mister Veins" Elliot Gilchrist of Grenada 3rd. Gilchrist easily picked up the Most Muscular award and at age forty is surely one of the very best built veterans in bodybuilding history.

The Tall Class served as a showcase mini-contest as Dennis Tinerino, fed up with AAU bodybungling, came out of the closet and into an IFBB meet, and edged Canada's Vic Downs. Downs did alright for himself however. He got Most Muscular and overall Best Abdominals and enthusiastic audience support. Trinidad scored again when Hollis Keller snapped up third place.

Greedy Colombu not content with seven trophies for muscular supremacy had to make it eight by charming the Best Poser tray away from the judges. So it was quite a day for the little Italian who is almost as broad as he is tall.


Ed Corney had his work cut out for him in the Mr. U.S.A. finale as Harold Poole, bigger than life but a little soft, and Charlie Fautz fought him point for point and pose for pose through prejudging and before the audience. Ed beat Leon Brown and comeback sensation John Bianculli for the Short Class top spot. He is an exceptionally handsome and tight-muscled newcomer and Joe Weider predicts that with more and proper training Ed can crack the Sergio-Arnold-Franco stranglehold on muscledom's richest honors. This night there was no disputing his divisional victory or Most Muscular acclamation.

John Maldonado from the Mid-City Health Club slipped by two other members, Gordon Babb and Doug Lowinger, for the Medium Class gold. Babb is coming on strong though and bested Maldonado at Johnny's specialty, Most Muscular.

The Tall Class held a pleasant surprise as Mr. America/Mr. Universe (and the last man to beat Larry Scott) Harold Poole returned to the wars after a lapse of several years. Harold had more size than ever but his trade-marked muscular density was absent. Ten or fifteen pounds less and Harold might have gone all the way but weakened definition frustrated his re-emergence. Charlie Fautz finished second to Poole coming off much more solid and grabbed Most Muscular. Wendal Rambharose was in for a third.

Corney who amazingly enough was just another anonymous muscle guy a year before carried off Best Arms on a split decision, and Best Legs. Poole charged back to notch Best Back and Chest. All that was left for Fautz was Best Abs which he certainly deserved. Corney was also Best Poser.


The awards ceremony marked a highwater point in IFBB history. It was the first known time high-ranking politicians joined Federation leaders (Joe Weider made the presentations) and victors on the podium. Senator Gioffre and Mayor Garito were just as enthused as Corney and Colombu at the show's exciting conclusion.

Unlike the Mr. Universe situation where temporary judging errors riled the crowd, this audience was well pleased with the awards and Colombu and Corney proved to be among the most popular of bodybuilders. Each had come some distance to enter and their expenses were picked up by IFBB headquarters (so was their trip to Paris a week later). This was done to help promote the show guaranteeing fans a fair shake and promoters a chance to fill the hall, as well as to afford leading stars a chance to earn their due recognition.


Tom Minichiello's efforts were so outstanding in getting this badly needed eastern show together in but two weeks that he was awarded IFBB contracts to conduct five shows in 1972. This is the most confidence the Federation has ever shown in any director for to package even a single pageant successfully is always a tall order. Yet there is little doubt Tom will do it based on his wonderful 1971 IFBB Mr. World-Mr. USA performance.


- Senator Gioffre and Mayor Garito seem as delighted as the winners, as Franco Columbu takes the Mr. World title and Ed Corney the Mr. USA co-crown. Joe Weider adds a satisfied smile to the podium gathering.

- Charlie Fautz won the Most Muscular division in the Tall Class along with the Best Abdominals.

- Harold Poole won the Tall Division, Best Back, and Best Chest awards in the Mr. USA Contest.

- Franco nearly made it a clean sweep of the Mr. World Contest. Besides the top award, he took home: Best Arms, Best Back, Best Chest, Best Legs, and Best Poser.

- Vic Downs of Canada placed second in the Tall Class of the Mr. World.

- Another shot of the fantastic Columbu.

- Dennis Tinerino joined the IFBB ranks and was the Tall Class winner in the Mr. World.

- Muscular Hollis Keller of Trinidad was quite a favorite. he placed third in his division.

- The line-up for the Mr. World. Columbu certainly stands out, doesn't he?

- The three class winners of the Mr. USA competition; John Maldonado, medium division; Ed Corney, short division; and Harold Poole, tall division.

- Another view of the Mr. World Contestants.

- Vic Downs and Dennis Tinerino strike similar poses for the audience.

- Franco looks over his awards as Ed Jubinville, Vice President of the IFBB for the United States, looks on.

-Leon Brown and Ed Corney were the top men in the Short Class of the Mr. USA Contest.

-Ed Corney waves his torphy to the much-pleased crowd.

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