Muscle Builder, Vol 16, Num 1, Page 28, March 1975
The 21,000 spectators who saw Frank Sinatra in Madison Square garden last October 12 made a big mistake. There are many good singers but there's only one Arnold Schwarzenegger. had the mob gone next door to the Felt Forum it would have been initiated into a display infinitely more breathtaking than Ol' Blue Eyes' vocal cords. Arnold, Bob Birdsong, and Bill Grant, plus an all-time record-breaking cast of superstars, put on a show which will live in the memories of 5500 lucky ticket-holders forever.
The Garden (of which Felt Forum is a part) has hosted the world's greatest athletes and athletic events for some seventy years. Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Paavo Nurmi, Muhammed Ali, Wilt Champerlain, Maurice Richard and hundreds of other greats have exhibited their awesome talents on this hallowed showplace. In 1923 Charles Atlas first came to prominence, winning Bernarr McFadden's "World's Most Perfectly Developed Man" contest, and seventeen years later John Grimek copped his initial Mr. America title at the Garden. But I daresay those displays were anaemic matched against the AABA's last Fall. The only comparable madness I can recall that turned the Garden, and in fact all of New York, upside down was the first Ali-Frazier fight and the 1972 Rolling Stones concert. Absolute apoplectic frenzy and audience hysteria on both occasions and the 1974 AABA MR. AMERICA & IFBB MR. WORLD SHOW was the third.
Starting with the last and best first, let me describe a man for whom the dictionary has run dry of superlatives. It may seem absurd to insist that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the best built man who ever lived. We were not around in 200 B.C. or 20,000 B.C. but neither were barbells, food supplements, or supersets. Arnold is truly in a class alone, and when he improves it's like Hank Aaron smashing another homer . . . breaking his own record and stepping further into virgin territory and the outer limits of success Every gain in size or cuts or symmetry escalates Arnold a step higher towards immortality.
This time they tried to stop Schwarz' from winning his fifth Mr. Olympia by introducing under 200 lbs. and over 200 lbs divisions. Lou Ferrigno hoped to be another obstacle.
Fresh from his Mr. Universe repeat victory at Verona, Italy Lou fancied himself ready to snatch Arnie's crown but the big kid went down in flames. Franco Columbu bested Frank Zane for the under 200 sub-title but Schwarzenegger could bury him in an armpit and have room for Zane too. Columbu had the fans agape and Zane, who gets maximum mileage from minimum muscle, is dynamite at only 190 pounds, but Arnold, a solid 237, is a Rolls Royce Cornich or the Tiffany Diamond - Best Of The Best. There is no greater thrill in all muscledom than watching the thunderstruck masses when Arnold flashes his double biceps pose. Stark raving lunacy and hero worship. Deep visceral screams from the seats, wave after wave of them until the knocked-out throng collapses in jubilant exhaustion.
For an instant at pre-judging I thought Ferrigno might surprise but a closer inspection showed the wunderkind's longer arms had nowhere as much meat as Arnold's more compact hams, and at the Most Muscular posedown, Arnie ground Lou's hopes into a squeegie of baby oil. For this year. . .
A quick account of some miscellaneous thrills and chills and then we'll bounce back to the blood and guts. Miss Americana 1974 is a dollie named April Davis with two nifties, Sandra Milstead and Natalie Rebozo runners-up. However, this event featured the female equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger in unbelievable Kelly Everts and it is beyond comprehension why she didn't win.
Kelly is a Vargas Playboy drawing of a fantastic super-bunny in reality. Aside from a super face she possesses the biggest knockers outside of a barnyard, great legs and everything else - yessir, the works! At no point did the audience spend a moment looking at another chick when Kelly was onstage, and several entrants would not return after pre-judging due to the one-sided adulation. The judges gave her only Most Shapely but at 4 in the morning I know who they wish they were sacked out with. Hypocrites, you guys. Next year, vote for sex . . . not Miss Americana apple pie.
A country & western band, whose name was immemorable [sic], opened the show but little was heard from them thereafter. Also one Mario Manzini - escape artist - performed. He broke away from a few knotted cords, then went into the drum roll number - Houdini-ing it out of a locked straitjacket while handcuffed. I had some doubts about the authenticity of his performance until in a violent effort Manzini tumbled ten feet off the posing dais almost killing himself, and then continued struggling in maniacal frenzy to get free of his bonds. Quite an act.
IFBB President Ben Weider made his traditional opening speech after being introduced by emcee Marty Stater. What Ben lacks in fiery delivery he makes up for in the sincerity of his message. He told the standing-room-only mob how AAU creeps tried to cancel the show in Federal Court only two days before on the alleged basis of AABA misusing the term "Mr. America". The judge, of course, was appalled at the blundering AAU's case and threw it out immediately. Thus the IFBB/AABA soars ever higher as the world's premier bodybuilding organization.
Franco Columbu did a little deadlifting for the folks, working up to 645 for five reps. He weighted 181 pounds and said the heavy bar felt like "sheezecake".
AS PROMISED WE RETURN TO THE BLOOD AND GUTS
The Mr. America and Mr. World events actually began with pre-judging some seven hours before the gates officially opened. Even at 1:00 PM some 2000 fanatics had paid $4 to enter the Forum, an indication of how massive the crowd would be later. Afternoon pre-judging set the tone for all placings. I don't believe any decisions were altered at night. At Mr. Olympia pre-judging I thought Zane might edge past Columbu but he wouldn't match Most Muscular with Franco and that cost him. This was also the very first time master and protege, Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno, banged heads, or should I say bodies. Louie had Arnold breathing heavy but less than Sergio used to. Louie has been bigger, but smoother. he was huge at the LA Mr. International show but lacking cuts. Here the cuts were deep and razored-in but the size diminished and somewhere in that gap lies Arnold's clear-cut win.
An amusing footnote to all this muscular mayhem is that Arnold and the bronzed West Coast gods went to a LaLanne gym for a suntan (lamp style). Leaving Sanata Monica and going to NY for a tan is like a Jew emigrating to Germany in 1938. But on with the show. . . (Note: see my comments at bottom)
Bob Birdsong eased into the Mr. America roster on his second try. Several guys had better individual goodies than Bird but none got it together so well. Bill Howard whipped Don Peters for the Tall honors, then said he's hanging up his posing jock for good. And it's too bad; he's in the best shape of his life, at 40. Ed Giuliani, before hometown fans, was a popular Short victor but no one, including Don Modzelewski, Most Muscular, could fly past the Bird. Dennis Gable, said to be in his first-ever contest, won Best Poser, a feat in itself.
"THE WHOLE WORLD, THE WHOLE WORLD," CRIED A FRENZIED EXPEDITER. THE CONTEST WAS STARTING AND NOBODY WAS ON DECK.
Bill Grant, the 70s' version of Rock Stonewall narrowly beat off challenges from Ed Corney and Frankly Greene to win his first major title.
Greene showed the contest's best back and Corney impressed the judges with his legs and posing as he bested all the Small men. But in the end, Grant, ex of nearby Jersey City, shipped five trophies to Gold's Gym including the coveted Mr. World and Most Muscular. (In helping Grant haul his booty backstage I missed a chance to come onto Kelly Everts, but anything in the name of good relations between the magazine and its stars. Call Me, Kelly.)
All entrants showed unusual dignity this time around. They did not wipe their oily bodies on the curtains nor cuss any judges to relieve disappointment, although Roger Callard showed some disgust when Kent Kuehn beat him for Mr. A Best Legs. Roger is a 9.6 sprinter but that's not the kind of best legs the judges vote for I was very impressed with the spiffy sweatsuits most contestants wore. They look like the warmup gear Olympic runners or swimmers don and lent a very athletic tone to the evening.
Tom Minichiello, producer of the show along with Madison Square Garden corporation, must be applauded for his efforts. To some degree producing an IFBB spectacular is a thankless job. Everyone expects the show to be great, thus praises are few, but little things like failure to get complimentary tickets or the best seats in the house can trigger some unjustified tirades. Congrats Tom on a great job.
This is the ninth major AABA or IFBB contest that I've covered. I always say this or that show was the Greatest, the Biggest or the Best-ever. I hate to do it again but the 1974 Felt Forum spectacular was THE GREATEST. It had the most fans ever to see a muscle panorama anywhere anytime - the most demonstrable [sic], responsive, and vociferous fans, flashbulbs popping like a million Roman candles. On balance this spectacular featured the highest grade of bodies ever seen in America, if not the world, on any given night. It also showcased the long-awaited Schwarzenegger-Ferrigno Posedown. What more could anyone ask? A better show? I doubt it.
The 1975 version will be in Los Angeles, and knowing the tepid Southern California mentality, I don't think it will outpace this extravaganza for sheer excitement, chills up the spine, and grandeur. New York fans know muscle and nobody left disappointed, I can assure you of that.
- Challenger Lou Ferrigno and 5-time "Mr. Olympia" winner Arnold received their awards from Joe Weider as 5,000 muscle-mad fans go wild.
- SHORT CLASS: (Left) Dave Mastorakis - 3rd; Ed Giuliani - 1st; and Leon Brown - 2nd (Right).
- MEDIUM CLASS: (Left) Kent Kuehn - 2nd; Bob Birdsong - 1st; and Roger Callard - 3rd (Right).
- TALL CLASS: (Left) Don Modzeleuski - 3rd; Bill Howard Sulewski - 1st; and Don Peters - 2nd (right);
- These great championships were organized through the dedication and devotion of Tom Minichiello, I.F.B.B. Vice-President for North America, and Chairman of the American Amateur Bodybuilding Association for the state of New York, and Peter Vita, Chief Organizer and member of the Executive of the New York state branch of the A.A.B.A. Both of these dedicated individuals have met with all types of opposition and dirty tricks pulled out of the bag by the A.A.U. and other organizations. Yet, they surmounted all these difficulties to put on the greatest bodybuilding contest ever seen in the United States of America.
- Jeff Smith, Ed Giuliani, Don Modzeleuski, Bob Birdsong
- A jubilant Birdsong is congratulated by Denny Gable (left) and Kent Kuehn for his smashing "Mr. America" victory.
- "Mr. World" height class winners - Bill Grant (Tall), Franklyn Greene (Medium) and Ed Corney (Short) - flash twisting back poses as the hysterical crowd screams for more.
- Carlos Rodriguez, Franklyn Greene, John Maldonado
- 43-year old Ed Corney looked fabulous but couldn't overcome an improved Bill Grant's sensational definition combined with good muscle size.
- Ben Weider raises Bill Grant's hand as the new "Mr. World" reflects on his biggest victory ever.
- Arnold ready to pose.
- Arnold outduels Ferrigno.
- Zane looked fantastic!
- Arnold cranks a lat spread.
- Joe congratulates Louie.
- Zand and Columbu in combat.
- Zanye's symmetry Vs. Franco's mass.
- Joe with Lou and Matty Ferrigno.
- Arnold's $1000 winning smile.
- Arnold and Franco are congratulated by IFBB President Ben Weider. Bob "Mr. America" Birdsong and Bill "Mr. World" Grant complete the winner's circle.
Note: This issue of Muscle Builder contained an amazing number of offensive comments, including disparaging Sergio Oliva, the expected commentary on the AAU, and about their experiences in New York City, including a run-in with a homeless bag lady.
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