Muscle Builder, Vol 16, Num 2, Page 28, May 1975

1974 World Bodybuilding Championships

The I.F.B.B. Congress & "Mr. Universe" Contest
(Verona, Italy, 3-6 October, 1974

Reported by Oscar State
General Secretary, International Federation of Weightlifting;
Secretary of the I.F.B.B. Judges Committee

Verona has a considerable historic background, dating from early Roman times as its well-preserved coliseum testifies. It is also famed as the home of Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers immortalized in Shakespeare's great play.

History of another kind was made there in September by the IFBB as delegates from all continents of the world gathered for the 5th International Congress where a new group of officials were to be elected and many rules to be changed. It was a wonderful display of the democratic spirit that now pervades the work of the IFBB under the watchful guidance of Ben Weider.

The ebullient president of the Italian Bodybuilding Federation, Franco Fassi and the leader of the local organizing committee, Bruno Piccoli had done their preparatory organization well. Here we should pay tribute to Franco for his courage in personally financing the whole project. Unlike previous organizers, he had no subvention from city, government or sponsor sources. Yet he remained unfailingly cheerful throughout all phases of the intricate organization required for accommodating the scores of delegates and visitors, setting up the committee meetings, the congress, the contest and the entertainments. His courage, enthusiasm and enterprise were well rewarded because the contest made a tremendous impact on the public, the press, radio, television and the sports authorities of Italy. ABC Television was there to record the highlights for eventual world-wide distribution. The president of the weightlifting section of the Italian Strength Sports Federation together with the president of the Italian Karate Federation were appreciative observers. One of the satisfactory consequences of their attendance was an agreement for full and close cooperation between the IFBB and the other Italian federations in several joint activities. Franco's well-produced IFBB magazine will also become official journal for their sports as well as for bodybuilding. It gave me considerable satisfaction to help in bringing these three groups together.


Acting Chairman Dennis Stallard (Wales) and M. Hefzi (Egypt) were the only original members in attendance, so Tom Ortega (Philippines) and I were co-opted to help the committee to function effectively. We selected our seven judges for the contest from all the nominations sent in by the national associations and dealt with a complaint concerning the judging procedure at the Asian championships.


Ten people met for a long and fruitful meeting at the "Due Tori" hotel which accommodated so well the IFBB top officials and other VIPs. Each item of the agenda was fully discussed under the customary thorough leadership of IFBB President Ben Weider. One of the thorniest problems was that of the membership of Palestine and Ben produced a masterly solution which resulted in Palestine not being affiliated, yet accepting the decision as just and correct.

Ben reported how his efforts to encourage the growth of the IFBB along democratic lines had resulted in the setting up of regional federations in Africa, the Caribbean and South America. As a result of these constitutional moves more new countries were being affiliated. Serge Nubret, the vice-president from France, was very pleased with the democratic decision that Guadeloupe and Martinique could compete in the Caribbean contests, even thought their political ties with France did not give them full Caribbean status.

The Executive Council had no hesitation in accepting the list of patrons proposed by Ben:- Joe Weider USA, John Ong Singapore, Marc Hankard Belgium, General Rana Pakistan and myself.


A Magnificent attendance of 65 delegates from 31 countries who crammed the spacious Palazzo Gran Gardia was clear evidence of the importance of the occasion. As Ben so rightly pointed out in his opening remarks, which were simultaneously translated into three languages, it was a historic congress because of the elections four years after the first election congress in Belgrade and because of the important changes in constitution and rules to be voted upon. He was loudly applauded for his comment: "The beautiful thing about this congress is that in spite of all the trouble and strife in the world at the present time, we are able to meet here as sporting brothers. If the politicians would only leave politics to the sportsmen, perhaps we would have less trouble in the world."

A feature of Ben's presidential address was the number of letters from important personages and sports leaders from which he quoted, including the President of the United Stated Gerald Ford, president of the IOC Olympic Games Programme Committee Dr. Arpad Csanadi, the Director of the IOC Madame Monique Berlioux, the Director General of the International Health Foundation, the Secretary General of, the American Amateur Athletic Federation Don Porter, the Chairman of the AU-Sports Federation of the People's Republic of China and many others. As Ben justifiably said, all these were evidence of the development of bodybuilding throughout the world and the widening scope and influence of the IFBB.

Long and detailed reports from the IFBB vice-presidents and other national delegates were substantial proof of the ever increasing activities of the IFBB. These were followed by the Committee reports, all unanimously accepted and approved by the congress. Four new countries were affiliated, bringing the total membership of the IFBB up to the imposing total of 87:- Afganistan, Australia, Guyana, St. Vincent.

The delegates did not compliantly accept everything presented but were independent and honest enough to oppose any measures or propositions that did not appear in the best interests of the IFBB.


With 30 officers to be elected, this part of congress took some time, since quite a few posts had several rival candidates. Ben Weider was elected Life President at the inaugural election congress in Belgrade but had refused to accept such an appointment. He now stood for re-election in the same way as other officials. I need hardly say that he was elected unopposed with the same prolonged acclamation as before.

Now that the IFBB has achieved universal recognition in official sporting circles, the honour of being one of its officers is being eagerly sought after, because of the growing prestige attached to each position. Also elected unopposed were a few of the vice-presidents:- Europe-Serge Nubret (France), South America-L. Martinez (Brazil), North America-Tom Minichiello (USA) and General Secretary-Winston Roberts (Canada) as were the chairmen of the various committees:- Judges-Dennis Stallard (Wales), Technical-Milan Cabric (Yugoslavia), Medical-Ernst Jokl (USA) and their secretaries:- Judges-Oscar State (England), Technical-Mrs. Mara Cabric (Yugoslavia), Medical-Larry Golding (USA).

There were two main rivals for the much coveted position of Senior Vice-president. The former holder of the post Malih Alaywan (Lebanon) had to yield to Serge Nubret who has become so well-known because of his photos in all the bodybuilding magazines as well as through his film and television appearances. He will undoubtedly be a great ambassador for the IFBB in his future travels around the world.


Ben and I had carefully prepared several pages of amendments to the first constitution with the object of improving and clarifying the statutes and rules. So carefully had these been prepared with such obvious benefits to the IFBB that everyone was passed with complete unanimity. Undoubtedly the most important of these was the brand new definition of an amateur and here the IFBB demonstrated its advanced and up-to-date thinking. Its new rule anticipated almost word for word the new rule on amateur eligibility adopted by the International Olympic Committee at their congress in Vienna three weeks later.


Another proof of the widening and progressive activity of the IFBB was the long list of contests allocated to all parts of the world for various regions and continents extending right up to 1978. The "Mr. Universe" contest will go to South Africa in 1975, USA in 1976 as part of the USA Bicentennial Celebrations, Guadeloupe in 1977 and to the Philippines in 1978. "Mr. Olympia" is also going international and is being combined with the "Mr. Universe" shows.

The congress concluded with the usual distribution of IFBB certificates of merit to the many delighted and honoured recipients and with exchanges of gifts between the delegates, bringing to a happy close another great occasion, marking still further progress in the history of the IFBB.


The judging was arranged in the theatre where the show was to be held later. The "Teatro Nuovo" is preserved as a national monument in Verona, being a perfect example of classic theatre design with its plush seats, galleries and boxes, high auditorium, imposing proscenium and vast stage, a fitting setting for the great show.

The competitors posed on the stage under the firm control of judges chairman Dennis Stallard whose meticulous preparation of the judges score sheets allowed us to proceed without any undue delays. I had to change a few contestants from one height class to another after the rigorous height measurement routine which preceded the issue of contest numbers, but this did not present any problems and the small men's class was soon on the stage.

The overall standard in the IFBB contests gets higher every year, but as usual there were three or four men in each class who caught the eye as possible winners. Among the small men the stand-outs were Bertagna, Italy with shoulders wide enough for a heavy weight weightlifter and a chest to match. It was a pity he did not have legs to match and that weak point set him back in third place. Belgium had two fine entries - Hubert Plumans and the evergreen veteran Pierre van den Steen. Plumans had excellent symmetry and a harmonius development with no noticeable flaws. However his posing routine was rather stiff and stilted and the points he lost in that round dropped him into fourth place. Van den Steen had the most marvelous definition I have seen in years and since it was allied with impressive bulk and superb proportional development in all body parts he really looked a winner. In contrast was the bronzed, superbly fit, lithe young athlete from Egypt, Mohamed El Makkawy. Not bulky but with well shaped musculature which he displayed to perfection in a really great posing routine. He finished in second place, just one point behind Van den Steen and will be a great threat next year.

The medium height class had two who stood out immediately. Handsome Bob Birdsong, USA, his skin glowing under his California tan, looked immense with great curves of muscle bunching on his shoulders and torso. He looked a sure winner until we saw A. Enunlu, Turkey who had always placed high in previous contests. His improvement was at once apparent. On a perfectly proportioned frame he had built an equally well proportioned muscular mass with needle sharp definition. Eventually his greater harmony of proportion and more cut up muscles gave him the nod over Birdsong who had developed his muscular bulk at the expense of definition and proportion. Enunlu scored higher in both rounds, his posing routine being more polished and rhythmic than Birdsong's. I am sure the American will have learned from this defeat and will correct his weakness next time. France's best amateur bodybuilder L. Cesarion (what rock-hard, chiselled abdominals that man has!) collected good scores in both rounds to place third.

I was amazed at the huge entry in the tall man class which in most contests rarely exceeds a dozen entries. No fewer than 21 were entered in Verona and a magnificent sight they made as they paraded onto the stage. Wide though the stage was, I had quite a problem to arrange all these massive athletes in a single line for the judges scrutiny.

Naturally I looked first over last year's winner Lou Ferrigno USA. "Better than last year" was my immediate reaction. His huge frame was packed with solid muscle, every part sharply defined and blending into a wonderful harmony of form. It was impossible to spot any deficiency. How about Ken Waller, last year's runner-up? He had also improved tremendously. He was bulkier, his legs being particularly outstanding. Yet he had the same fine chiselling on his torso, arms, back and thighs. Again it was impossible to detect a weakness.

Newcomer Paul Grant, Wales, who had won many important titles back home in Britain, was called forward many times by the judges to stand in comparison with Ferrigno and Waller. Lacking in complete shoulder development in comparison with a rather thick waist, Paul could not match the other two and finished third. It was no disgrace because he was still miles ahead of the rest of that class.

After the first round Ferrigno was only one point ahead of Waller but when he went to town with his greatly improved posing routine which displayed his amazing bulk and muscularity to its supreme advantage, he outscored Waller and took the first step to ultimate victory by winning his class.

That night, as the climax to the show, the three class winners posed together for the finale. The theatre was packed solid with an overflow crowd and hundreds more disappointed fans left outside. The pose-down went on and on to a rising roar of appreciation of such a magnificent spectacle. Three perfectly proportioned athletes were displaying three very different physiques but each with imposing bulk, incredible definition and harmonius proportions. But Ferrigno completely dominated the other two because of the sheer impact of his huge bulk so evenly and harmoniously proportioned in a living sculpture.

After the judges unanimous vote for him as overall winner of the "Mr. Universe" title was announced the roars of applause rose to a crescendo when Ben Weider presented Lou with his magnificent trophy as he stood proudly on the winner's rostrum, the first man to win the "Mr. Universe" title two years in succession. History was indeed made again in historic old Verona.

 NameCountry1st Round2nd RoundTotal
Small Men's Class
1.P. van den SteenBelgium8788175
2.M. El MakkawyEgypt8490174
3.R. BertagnaItaly7882160
4.H. PlumannsBelgium7877155
5.S. SarabiIran7472146
6.R. KoivunenFinland6971140
7.A. ParnakTurkey6572137
7.M.M. AlyEgypt6275137
9.P. ConradoSpain6564129
10.T. SaadLebanon6264126
11.J. ChenierFrance5962121
12.F BorgMalta5462116
13.A. MahlaneSouth Africa5555110
Medium Height Class
1.A. EnunluTurkey9090180
2.B. BirdsongUSA8889177
3.L. CesarionFrance8181162
4.J. RudmanSweden7779156
5.S. JacobsBelgium7382155
6.D. BaileyWales7172143
7.M. KhaneghahiIran7069139
7.R. SomenziItaly6673139
7.S. BanoudLebanon6772139
10.B. RuizSpain6888137
11.B. JonesWales6272134
12.K. McNamaraSouth Africa6566131
13.S. MuticYugoslavia6162123
14.T. PaulLuxembourg5956115
15.H. HoeppnerLuxembourg5955114
16.V. MiettinenFinland5853111
16.P. CaludetSwitzerland5556111
18.N. KawashJordon5254106
19.H. SirronIran5351104
Tall Men's Class
1.L. FerrignoUSA9092182
2.K. WallerUSA8889177
3.P. GrantWales8484188
4.R. WalkerAustralia8080160
5.M.K. GokcenTurkey7779156
6.U. PrinkGermany7674150
7.C. KeyserSouth Africa7173144
8.S. LerusFrance6974143
8.B. LoisSpain7271143
8.G. EsaiedEgypt6974143
11.A. CarmelliItaly6988137
12.F. JahjahLebanon8888136
13.F. LawrenceMalta6665131
14.H. BausGermany6466130
15.M.H. GizawiJordon6258120
15.A. DjaoenHolland6060120
17.R. PintoyPhilippines6059119
18.E. DalPonteSwitzerland5557112
19.M. SalonenFinland5456110
20.J.A. MayoPhilippines5454108
21.F. TonnerSwitzerland5149100

1974 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ('Mr. Universe") - Lou Ferrigno USA


Judges J. Blommaert (Belgium), M. Hetzi (Egypt), V. Fassi (Italy). M. Kaissi (Lebanon), J. Dimech (Malta), T. Ortega (Philippines), G. Harris (Wales).



We wish to advise the national federations that the undermentioned athletes are under LIFE SUSPENSION:

R. WAYNE, West Indies

In accordance with our constitution, neither of these athletes may in the future:

  1. Give an exhibition at any contest held anywhere in the world by any member of our federation.
  2. Participate in any contest, either amateur or professional, organized by our federation.
  3. Have anything to do with the national federations, or hold any position within any national federation.

The suspension is mandatory on all national federations, effective immediately. Any federation that violates this suspension will become subject to disciplinary action as permitted by the Constitution of the I.F.B.B.

We look forward to your usual cooperation in such matters. Solidarity is the only way to keep our federation strong.

Ben Weider
International President


In accordance with a decision taken by the Executive Council of the I.F.B.B. on October 4, 1974, during the meeting in Verona, Italy, and ratified the following day by the International Congress of the I.F.B.B., the affiliation of Mexico was withdrawn.

All federations are requested to immediately cease any official correspondence and sports activities with:

Mr. Ed Silvestre
Rio Balsas 6
Tijuana B.C., Mexico

When the new federation in Mexico has been formed, we will advise you of the new name and address.

Ben Weider
International President


- Lou Ferrigno acknowledges his victory over Ken Waller (2nd) and Paul Grant of Wales (3rd) in the Tall Class competition.

- Short Class: (from left) R. Bertagna (Italy) 3rd; Pierre van den Steen (Belgium) 1st; and M. El Makkawy (Egypt) [2nd];

- Medium Class: (from left) Bob Birdsong (USA) 2nd; Ahmet Enunlu (Turkey) 1st; and L. Cesarion (France) 3rd;

- Mr. Universe height class winners Pierre van den Steen (Short), Ahmet Enunlu (Medium) and Lou Ferrigno (Tall) group-posed for the thrilled audience.

- six photos on one page Paul Grant (Wales); S. Lerus (France); M. Hoeppner (Luxembourg); Serge Jacobs (Belgium); Baldo Lois (Spain); Uwe Prink (Germany);

- Ferrigno jubilantly hoists his "Mr. Universe" trophy overhead.

- Ahmet Enunlu upset Birdsong to win the Med. Class.

- Bob Birdsong's bid failed.

- L. Cesarion - a distant 3rd.

- Ken Waller was fabulous, but couldn't match Louie.

- Ferrigno overwhelmed his rivals with greater mass and cuts.

- Franco Fassi (left) and IFBB President Ben Weider congratulate Louie.

- The always sensational Serge Nubret guest-posed.

- Franco Columbu's dynamic posing routine nearly caused a riot!

- The American contingent of Lou Ferrigno, Bob Birdsong, Franco Columbu (Special Guest Star) and Ken Waller pause before entering the IFBB World Congress along with Franco Fassi (next to Columbu), President of the Italian Bodybuilding Federation, and two of his aids. The USA again won the team championship.

If you find these articles interesting and useful, please