Muscle Builder, Vol 15, Num 3, Page 24, July 1974
Six unmarked busses churned through the rain-swept and cobbled streets of Geneva, exiting the city as they rolled north along its beautiful lakefront towards a suburb, a picturesque community half buried in Fall by Alpine avalanches fallen from peaks high above. None of the passengers was concerned with the unique scenery, though nearly all were foreigners and few had ever been near Switzerland.
Rather, they sat in national groups and made nervous conversation that only others of their type could follow. They were of four continents, and when individuals from different groups communicated, the lack of mutual tongue meant little; physical gestures replaced words. Their common denominator was anxiety and uncertainty. It was clear to outsiders that something vital had assembled these men, and that there were outsiders aboard, such as photographers, newsmen, video-tapers and illustrators. But they were unable to communicate with the subjects commanding their attention - at least not yet - for tension, solid as steel, filled the vehicles and made relating with non-breathren impossible. This band was not common tourists, and the busses were not rambling through a 5-day-package tour of Europe
WORLD BODYBUILDING CHAMPIONSHIPS
1973 I.F.B.B. MR. UNIVERSE
Class 3 - Under 5'5" (1m 65)
Class 2 - 5'5" to below 5'8" (1m 72)
Class 1 - Over 5'8" (1m 72)
World Bodybuilding Team
These men were heading for a date with destiny in the auditorium of a 19th-Century Swiss high school. In this odd setting, they would strip nearly naked to reveal their muscular and well-oiled bodies to a panel of nine others for whom they would perform ritualistic and almost artistic rites. Then, feeling somewhat exorcised for their gyrations, due to the pent-up anxiety of this particular meeting, they would dress, reboard the busses, and then pray that what seemed a lifetime's preparation was not in vain.
The men were all young and handsome, uniformly broad of shoulders and narrow of waist. At home, they were gods of divine muscularity - often household names - selected by eliminations to represent their cities or countries at a Convocation Of The Gods to determine who was foremost among them. So it no longer mattered to each that he was a native hero. here, sitting in green pastel seats, whitened knuckles dug into armrests, each man knew he would soon face his moment-of-truth against others equal to, or better than, himself.
Seventy-nine hopefuls set out in the fresh, wet morning, mouths dry and concern creasing their young faces. And all would return knowing little of their fate. But the inbound ride would be tangibly different - the 1973 Mr. Universe was already chosen . . . along with his court of runners-up. He was somewhere in the caravan of vehicles, anonymously wheeling through the Geneva streets. And he would be revealed to the world a few hours hence. Seventy-nine hearts beat faster . . .
The winner was picked - he could be any one of them.
A Clint Eastwood flick was playing in beautiful downtown Geneva. The sound-track was French, but the action was all-American. "I hop that's a good omen," commented Ed Jubinville. Ed is the American co-delegate to the I.F.B.B. International Congress. He was talking to the U.S. squad which consisted of Mike Katz, Ken Waller and Louis Ferrigno as they crossed Hannibal Square to return to their luxurious suite at the Mediterranean Hotel after pre-judging. There was little doubt that the trio of AABA Mr. America winners would place high, but with no U.S. representation in two height classes, could they score enough points for us to retain the team trophy? The team win was the focus of much attention during Universeweek. To gain equality with other amateur sport organizations, the I.F.B.B., throughout 1973, had been stressing the importance of team and international competition as much as individual posedown efforts.
Just who would emerge the big winner was left unspoken by the American troopers. Neither Katz or Waller knew Ferrigno very well before they emplaned from JFK airport in New York, but they got on fabulously well during this week. Each wanted success, but yet hated to deprive the others. Thus, they did not talk of victory or defeat, but only of how they wished their squad well in the face of stiffening foreign competition.
The strain on these great champions, and on other stars, was accelerated in the interim between pre-judging and the show's opening curtain at eight o'clock. Fore Three hours, every major hotel lobby, every street corner and restaurant was ablaze with rumor. Was it an American shoo-in? Would Beccles repeat? Maybe the rising young Turk, Enunlu, or the giant Labrador from France? The television crew from Wide World of Sports was besieged for inside information. There to cover the show live for Europe, and on tape for the domestic market in early 1974, the ABC staff had watched pre-judging, but knew nothing. Dennis Stallard and the judges had the winner's identities under lock and key, and only a major change in form of a competitor on the posing dais would alter the verdicts.
No outsider could hazard a valid guess at the ultimate results, and, as the curtain lifted in stately Victoria Hall for the 1973 I.F.B.B. WORLD BODYBUILDING AND MR. UNIVERSE CHAMPIONSHIPS, 3,000 spectators, 200 delegates, and nearly fourscore contestants, breathlessly anticipated the extravaganza of a lifetime!
And truly it was! Ben Weider thanked the Mayor of Geneva for his cooperation in opening the city to bodybuilding and bodybuilders. Ben gave his traditionally optimistic keynote address stressing I.F.B.B. gains during the past twelve months and its vital plans for 1974 and beyond - which included Olympic Games recognition. Then the official Geneva band, smartly outfitted in blue and white uniforms and accompanied by 50 stunning drum majorettes, brassed-out a medley of martial tunes to prepare us for the oncoming Parade of Nations.
From stage left, the muscular marvels marched on in national units. An entrant from each country held his flag proudly, and a second carried a placard denoting the country's name. The band played several measures of each national anthem, and after seemingly endless tons of muscular might packed the stage, the Swiss Anthem was played as the bodybuilders stood at attention. It was quite a moving sight, similar to ancient Olympic pageantry I would imagine, and a thrill for bodybuilding journalists and historians who have watched the slow but inexorable rise of our sport's popularity and public acceptance. Crowd enthusiasm was beyond description! I seemed to be standing in the ear-splitting glidepath of a 747 and wondered how the frantic mass would react at award time.
THE MUSCLE WORLD'S SHOW OF SHOWS BEGINS
The canvas dropped, then ascended a moment later for the individual posing. "Morituri te salutamus," quipped one bodybuilder to renowned Oscar State, the backstage expeditor. "We, who are about to die, salute you:" Roman gladiators uttered it to the Caesars, and this entrant was only half-kidding. he had struggled for five years to enter Mr. Universe competition, and spent his family's savings to get here. If he didn't fare well, death might be an appropriate alternative.
Goliaths of various sizes, shapes and colors strutted to the posing platform for a full ninety minutes, and the audience roared incessantly! Appearing in alphabetical order (first letter of country's name), each native son slipped thru twenty or so poses, displaying every body part to its quintessence; then finished with the conventional "Most Muscular" pose, or perhaps his particular favorite. As the fet progressed, possible winners were evidenced. Little Deinna of Holland - what a monster he was! - tough luck, though, he's so short. Johnny Maldonado of NY, but competing for Puerto Rico, gained clamorous applause. Serge Jacobs, for Belgium, appeared to be giving Enunlu and Beccles a run for it in the "Middle Height" class.
Presently, the Turks were up, and the U.S. contingent on deck. I studied our guys' faces and tried to read their thoughts. It was Mike Katz' second crack at "Mr. U." Last year he was big, but soft. nearly laughed off stage, he had come back ferociously through 1973! His pecs were monstrous panels of thick muscle, enlarging an already enormous chest. He would give his left gonad to win! Ken Waller is younger than Mike, and training comes easier to him; California weights are his life, but I got the feeling that win or lose he would be back next year, or years thereafter, until he won. He did not have the desperate look of Katz for whom, perhaps, time is running out.
And then, we have little 6'5", 270-pound Louie Ferrigno - the team's baby at 21, and the reigning AABA Mr. America. In 1972, he lost to Paul Grant in the mickey mouse NABBA Mr. Universe event on a questionable decision. Subsequently, he dumped his job to train harder. Every day he subway round-tripped four hours to reach his favorite gym. He knew his greatest admirers - his mother and father back in Brooklyn - were praying for him. Yet, he had perhaps the least need to triumph right now, with a limitless future ahead. But one glance at Ferrigno gut-busting in the warmup room said he wasn't thinking about 1974. Winning this one this night was on his schedule to beat Arnold Schwarzenegger some day. Louie had made sensational and unabated progress for four years, and here was the big payoff!
Louie looked confident; he looked ready. I had seen the same look in the eyes of Muhammed Ali the night he destroyed Sonny Liston! But comparing the three Yanks backstage, one could select three winners. They were that close - and later the scorecards showed it. They drew straws to see who would pose first. Katz lost and walked to the platform.
Three thousand throats exploded as if Hercules himself had just blown in from Mt. Olympus! We all thought Mr. Universe was upon us, so it was as Katz so outclassed all prior displayers. Wall-to-wall shoulders, arms like thighs like rippled tree trunks bedazzled the viewers. And even after he stepped off the posing platform, the cheers only halted after the emcee said Ferrigno would come out next. It was fantastic!
FERRIGNO BLOWS THE CROWD'S MIND!
Now, the brave rookie from Flatbush materialized to face a band of skeptics who, in seconds, would be converted to devoted worshippers. They had heard of Louie and had seen his pictures, but few could believe the larger-than-life reports of this Italo-American behemoth which drifted across the Atlantic from America.
He was not just taller than Katz, but bigger nearly everywhere; thirty pounds more muscle and no pounds more fat! Gigantic arms, a chest generous enough for two men, seam-splitting thighs and back yardage you couldn't carpet for a thousand dollars. A small, razor-sharp midsection from where the muscles stretched 77 inches high, or slipped via 20" calves to the dais.
Ferrigno needn't have posed, needn't have twicthed a single muscle fibre, or lifted a toe. Just to see him inert was to believe the unbelievable. The biggest superstar ever, and all of him cut to shreds; lacerated, the skin beaten and hacked away so that only sinews and tendons and veins and striations and unbespeakable musclemusclemuscle remained. . .
For long seconds, he stood motionless. The audience was so enthralled, so enraptured and amazed by this lineal descendent of Samson that they could not utter a sound. Suddenly, up wen the 23" arms, out to the very edges of the stage zapped the cape-like lats! Swollen biceps banged against his head like gargantuan watermelons . . . and now the body was twisted sideways, in profile, and the chest momentarily dwarfed everything, but presently raw slabs of beef grew from the arm; triceps wider than the chest's cross-section hid the rib box. The back was shown - the crowd seemed horrified! It was not a human on this stage before them! Backs like this only grew in artist's dreams, not on flesh-and-blood people. Traps and lats writhed like tortured eels asking out.
There was madness in Victoria Hall when Louie checked-out his legs. The knocked-out mob didn't know whether to laugh, cry, cheer or just wonder if it was hallucinating. Another minute and the frenzy would have blown the old opera house apart. Here came the "Most Muscular" pose. Louie bent forward and crunched the arms together. Every fibre of every muscle struggled to leave its neighbor. Muscle begged release from tendon. Louie turned colors; his veings bulging like advanced varicosities. The arms were pumping to 24 or 25 inches, but no one cared and no one counted. When you see God, you do not ask his measurements. Self-satisfied, and deservedly so, Louie finished up. He hit a few additional shots to answer the crowd's "Encore! Encore!" and pounded away. Comically, the fans were left cheering riotously at an empty stage. An ABC technician noted later he had never heard such noise. Audiometric readings said the decibel level indicated an audience closer to 30,000 than 3,000!
Ken Waller was out next and really on the spot! He had the toughest act in musclebiz to follow. his confidence never waned, and neither did audience appreciation. He carried them thru his well-tuned posing routine and they responded on cue. But if the truth be told, no one was a match for Ferrigno last October 20th despite the close scoring on your reporter's pumproom assessment. Louie was clearly the universal favorite. And now it only remained to be seen how the pre-judging had gone some six hours before.
A suicide-bent karate group entertained while the judges held last-minute conferences, then, once again, the curtain parted to showcase the greatest physiques ever collected on one stage! It was wards time, and two of the loveliest majorettes grasped a large velvet pillow on which the medals rested. Aude Loring, a premier Swiss sex kitten, and other local notables, took positions to ordain the winners while hard-working Dennis Stallard handled the announcements.
Polite cheers greeted Deinna's and Beccles' "Small" and "Medium" class victories. But all knew the true action was among the big boys, and 6,000 eyes stared solely at them as the "Tall" class presentations wound down to the top three placings.
"Second runner-up . . . Mike Katz, U.S.A.," came the first critical verdict. Big Mike toughed it out. He had fought courageously, but was denied again. He picked up his medal and kiss, and probably stifled a tear. Only Ferrigno and Waller, now. Whoever was called, the other guy would be Tall Class winner, and almost certainly the overall champ! You could hear a flea in sneakers. The announcer delayed for a dramatic second, then "First Runner-up . . . Ken Waller, U.S.A.!"
Pandemonium! Waller pluckily received his reward, but who was watching? All eyes were riveted on the stunned Ferrigno. You could see at once that he knew he had won. Such was the relieved, almost embarrassed, grin stretching from ear to ear. Barely audible in the shrieking, nearly hysterical crowd, the announcer battled for control.
"Tall Class Winenr, Louie Ferrigno, U.S.A.!" he called.
Guards had to hold back the well-wishers from both on-stage and off! A sea of muscle parted as Ferrigno came forth to claim his reward from Ben Weider and the Mayor. Ed Jubinville, and the other America delegate, Dr. Frederick Tilney, collapsed happily in the VIP box for the 1-2-3 sweep edged America past France for team honors. Our proud trio collected a handsome 6-foot trophy for their effort.
FERRIGNO WANTS SCHWARZENEGGER NEXT, MAYBE. . .
But there was till more; anti-climatic, but essential. The trioka of class winners had to pose before the judges for final evaluation and certification. It was a farce. Five-foot-three Deinna looked brave, but he also looked like a Ferrigno thigh. Beccles, at 5'8", 200 pounds, was likewise mismatched against our young superman. During group posing, Louie's leg-like arms inadvertently obscured half the Briton's torso.
There was no way Ferrigno could be beaten! By a 9-0 tally, he was proclaimed "IFBB Mr. Universe 1973." and he will reign at least until the next Championships in Verona, Italy, this Fall. That he could successfully defend the title is almost taken for granted. However, Loui is thinking of challenging Arnold Schwarzenegger in the "Mr. Olympia" heroics, which would leave the "Universe" field wide open.
But, last October, the multitude could not complain even though Ferrigno made a joke of all opposition. They saw the genesis of a legitimate new superhero. They saw the best-ever I.F.B.B. spectacular, thanks to producer, Raymond Sauvet, the Swiss I.F.B.B. head - and also the first ever on global TV.
At a victory banquet after the show, one thrilled Chinese spectator beautifully summed up what he had seen: "January 12th starts our New Year, 'The Year Of The Ferrigno!'" "Probably the 'Decade Of The Ferrigno'," a reporter suggested. "Yes," our Oriental friend agreed; "if Louie Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger lock horns, it will be a Battle of the Titans to shake the planet. Think of the bodybuilding mega-tonnage! The world will fall of Atlas' shoulders!"
- IFBB President Ben Weider raises giant Lou Ferrigno's hand in victory as he holds his "Mr. Universe" trophy while receiving a thunderous ovation from the audience.
- The three height class winners, Deiana (short), Albert Beccles (medium) and Lou Ferrigno (tall) crank up a double-bicep front shot. Beccles biceps are phenomenal!
- Here is what 18,000 pounds of muscles look like as we see all the Mr. Universe contestants on stage after the traditional "Parade of Nations". The European Bodybuilding Championships were held at the same time; Albert Beccles winning the "Mr. Europe" title.
- Ben Weider is shown officially opening competition while Raymond Sauvet, Swiss IFBB President and organizer of this contest, stands beside him. Both men are to be congratulated for presenting such a super-outstanding contest.
- A partial view of the 2,000 people who jam-packed the Victoria Hall Theatre to see the World Bodybuilding Championships. Over 500 unlucky fans had to be turned away for lack of seats. ABC-TV's "Wide World of Sports" sent a crew of 12 to cover the entire event.
- (twelve photos on one page) L. Ferrigno, USA; F. Labrador, France; M. Katz, USA; J. Maldonado, Puerto Rico; A. Beccles, England; G. Deiana, Holland; J. Diaz, Puerto Rico; S. Patra, India; S. Jacobs, Belgium; M. Broilelet, Switzerland; E Materia, Italy; L. Lodi, Turkey;
- (twelve photos on one page) H. Ringer, Germany; R. Knaab, Germany; H. Jackson, France; J. Rudman, Yugoslavia; R. Chavez, England; B. Herder, Holland; B. Trotter, England; H. Plumans, Belgium; R. Bertagna, Italy; F. Berange, France; M. Peric, Yugoslavia; M. Annette, France;
- (twelve photos on one page) A. Enulu, Turkey; P. Conrado, Spain; C. Keyser, South Africa; B. Binjuraini, Singapore; H. Bonsfield, Malta; F. Brescia, Belgium; M. Marinkovic, Yugoslavia; M. Annette, France; K. Waller, USA; E. Akkila, Finland; H. Beroghin, India; M. Katz, USA;
- A. Beccles, England; G. Deiana, Holland; M. Goken, Turkey; A. Pinek, Sweden;
- An interesting comparison of bone structures and muscle conformation is shown by (from left) Mike Katz, Lou Ferrigno and Ken Waller in the Tall Man's Class.
- The Americans overwhelmed the opposition with their tremendous size, great shape and superb definition to easily capture the team title.
- These Weider trained champions thrilled the audience with their fabulous musculature. Notice how their abdominals can be seen even while relaxed.
- Katz and Waller were both in terrific shape but couldn't overcome Ferrigno's improved muscle density and posing which gave him edge.
- The IFBB Technical Committee; (left to right) M. Say (Turkis translator), Joe Dimech (Malta), Jacques Blommaert and George Blommaert (Belgium), John Ong (Sinapore), Milan Cabric (Chairman - Yugoslavia), and Mrs. Cabric (Yugoslavian translator).
- The Judges committee had a very productive session. (From left to right) Major Bakar (Malaysia), Oscar State (England), Dennis Stallard (Chairman - Wales), Ed Jubinville (USA) and Pierre Lelong (France).
- North American IFBB Vice-President Tom Minichiello (left) and USA delegate Ed Jubinville pose with Lou Ferrigno's trophy.
- Here are the judges carefully evaluating each man at the prejudging held at a high school outside Geneva. (Left to right) Jacques Blommaert (Belgium), Joe Dimech (Malta), Ed Jubinville (USA), Pierre Lelong (France), Franco Fassi (Italy), Tom Ortega (Philippines) and John Ong (Singapore).
- Three of the delegates at the IFBB Congress are (left to right) Rene Trempe (Canada), M. Bohbo (Morocco) and L. Labery (Senegal). An interesting part of the special IFBB Medical Symposium was a report on anabolic steroids.
- Colossal Lou Ferrigno, 256-pounds of massively proportioned armor-plated musculature, displays his razor-etched definition with this crowd pleasing twisting back pose that dazzled the audience and wiped out this formidable competitors in a stunning upset.
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