Muscle Builder, Vol 17, Num 1, Page 43, January 1976

The 1975 A.A.B.A. American Bodybuilding Championships and the 1975 I.F.B.B. Professional Mr. Universe Contest

by Gene Mozee

Muscular giants from all of the United States -- the best built amateur bodybuilder's in the country -- clashed in a mammoth battle of muscle and might on July 19, 1975, at the Los Angeles Embassy Auditorium.

West Coast director Franco Columbu coordinated the AABA American Bodybuilding Championships which attracted the best Mr. America line-up in the history of the IFBB.

Short Class
  1. Carlos Rodriguez
  2. Eddie Giuliani
  3. John Isaacs
  4. Joe Nista
  5. Ron Hamblet
Medium Class
  1. Robin Robinson
  2. Roger Callard
  3. Mike Mentzer
  4. Kent Kuehn
  5. Len Archambault
Tall Class
  1. Dave DuPre
  2. Steve Davis
  3. Denny Gable
  4. Robert Smith
  5. Joe Nazarrio
Most Muscular Man
John Isaacs
Best Poser
Skip Robinson
1975 American Bodybuilding Champion
Robin Robinson

  1. Bob Birdsong, USA
  2. Ed Corney, USA
  3. Don Ross, USA
  4. Javier Medina, Mexico
  5. Luis Ramierez Silva, Mexico
Most Muscular Man
Bob Birdsong
Best Poser
Ed Corney
Franco Columbu, Mr. Universe
Bill Grant, Mr. World
Paul Grant, Mr. Europe
Mike Katz, Mr. America

Sensational Robin Robinson, in his first IFBB appearance, became the new American Bodybuilding Champion as he convincingly outscored 35 formidable competitors. Even Arnold, Franco and Waller looked at Robinson with a wary eye. He's aiming for the top and it's only a matter of time before he takes the elevator to the Mr. Olympia title.

On January 6, 1951, I witnessed my first muscle show at the Embassy Auditorium. It was the "Mr. Los Angeles" contest won by Monty Wolford, and featuring Pepper Gomez, who later became a famous Pro-wrestler; Ed Holovchik - Ed Fury of movie and stage fame; Malcom Brenner and Joe Sanceri. As terrific as these men were in 1951, they would have experienced great difficulty in placing in the top five in their respective height classes at the 1975 AABA Mr. America. Bodybuilding has come a long way in the past twenty-four years.

Joe Weider and his brother Ben (President of the IFBB) have been largely responsible for the ascent of bodybuilding to its present stature. Thanks to the dynamic leadership of Ben Weider, the IFBB now ranks as the world's 9th largest amateur sports federation.

Since 1936, Joe Weider has been bodybuilding's "Muscle Messiah". The sport of Bodybuilding would have expired from arthritis were it not for Joe's continued search for new and better training techniques, and his enthusiastic desire to publicize the top muscle stars and their training secrets. he founded the famous Weider Research Clinic to explore and develop new and better training methods.

The decline of weightlifting in the United States, both in popularity and world-caliber performers, compared to the rising popularity of bodybuilding - both in the USA and internationally - clearly demonstrates that Joe's life-long ambition to make bodybuilding the world's most popular sport is succeeding!

The show was not heavily publicized but still attracted a sell-out, standing-room-only crowd of 2000 wildly enthusiastic spectators. Eager fans waited in block long lines for hours to be sure of good seating. Some of the audience were literally hanging from the rafters to get a better view of their favorite stars.

It was the most exciting muscle event in Los Angeles since the old Bert Goodrich "Mr. USA" shows. Not since the days when Steve Reeves, Clancy Ross, Vince Gironda, Dick DuBois, Bill Pearl and the other champions of the 1950's assembled on the stage at the Shrine Auditorium, has the "City of the Angels" witnessed such a muscle spectacle.

Former Mr. America, Mr. Universe winner Clancy Ross was introduced and received a deafening ovation. Clancy was one of Joe Weider's first superstars and was known as "The King of the Bodybuilders" during the 1950's. (Ross was the 1940s, not the 50s, and only entered one IFBB contest) Also present was Jimmy Payne, a former Professional Mr. America, and currently the professional lightweight world arm wrestling champion. Beautiful Sally Field, who co-starred with Arnold and Jeff Bridges in STAY HUNGRY, looked voluptuous in her long purple dress.

Among the other celebrities present were movie idol John Derek and his lovely companion: Vidal and Beverly Sassoon, hosts of a local TV show; CBS-TV newscaster Bob Navarro; Vicky Goldberg, of the New York Times; Peter Gowland, world's most famous glamour photographer; and over 30 photographers from such publications as Playboy, Playgirl, Viva, Penthouse, Sports Illustrated, etc., snapping thousands of photos. The entire event was filmed by CBS-TV and a movie crew headed by George Butler, who is making documentary called "PUMPING IRON".


Short Class (under 5'6")

Three former "Mr. America" height class winners battled for the top spot with Carlos Rodriguez emerging victorious. Last year's Short class winner Ed Giuliani was second, edging veteran John Isaacs who placed third. Joe Nista came out of retirement to place fourth. Fifth place was won by Ron Hamblet of Portland, Maine.

Possessing an extremely massive and a shapely physique with respectable definition, Carlos Rodriguez was a unanimous winner. He weighed 178-lbs. -- about 15-lbs. more than most of the other competitors in his class. With increased definition he'll be a serious threat for the overall title next year. Giuliani was very impressive, but Rodriguez had an 18-lb. weight advantage of quality muscle. John Isaacs, 45 years young, was unbelievable ripped - more cut-up than a Christmas goose - and he gave the youngsters a lesson in muscularity by winning the coveted "Most Muscular Man" award.

Another experienced campaigner, 46 year old Joe Nista took home the 4th place trophy. Joe received a tumultuous response from the audience. Ron Hamblet's symmetry and pleasing development enabled him to nail down the 5th spot, nosing out four other competitors who went unplaced. Among the also-rans, Dave Mastorakis was massive but lacked the former cuts he displayed last year.

Medium Class (5'6" to 5'9")

By far the closest competition of the contest came in this class. The first three men - Robin Robinson, Roger Callard and Mike Mentzer all looked sensational. Robinson's massive muscularity prevailed in a real donnybrook. Roger Callard made fantastic improvement during the past 12 months and received two first place votes to Robinson's six; Mike Mentzer, a sensational newcomer, had one first place vote and wound up an easy third. Both Callard and Mentzer are bonafide future Mr. America material.

Owing to a few set backs, Kent Kuehn was unable to peak in time and had to settle for 4th place, edging Len Archambaut who nabbed the 5th place trophy. There were 16 competitors in the Medium class and several multi-title stars like Don Modezelewski and Skip Robinson failed to squeeze into the top five. Skip, however, was awarded the "Best Poser" trophy. Modzelewski's problem was that he appeared just a trifle smooth plus he looked like he'd spent the last two months in the subway without sunlight - he had an invisible tan. Jim Smith, also unplaced, displayed a terrific upper body but needs more leg development.

Tall Class (over 5'9")

This was an extremely difficult class to judge. Ten well-conditioned athletes of this caliber are hard to separate when they are extremely close in development as this group was. The winner, Dave DuPre, earned seven first place votes with his sharp definition, separation and 19" arms. In a big upset, Steve Davis surprised the tough field to place second. Steve was in superb condition, posed well and displayed excellent shape and symmetry. With about 20 lbs. more muscle, he'll be very tough to beat. The third place winner was Denny Gable (September's MUSCLE BUILDER coverman). Denny had beaten DuPre in April when he won the Mr. Western America title, but Dave was much improved for this show. Also, Denny lost his edge when he spent 8 days in Alabama on the STAY HUNGRY film. Denny will be in dynamite shape next year - believe it!

The soon-to-be famous Smith brothers' (not the coughdrop ones) other half of the entry, Robert, displayed tremendous upper-body muscle density, but his legs lacked the symmetry for him to place higher than 4th. new York's Joe Nazzario looked thick as a California Redwood and edged several former Tall class winners to capture 5th in a tense struggle.

The contest was pre-judged in a mammoth five-hour session under flat house lighting, complicated by a barrage of lights for the TV and movie camera crews. It hurt some contestants like Dr. Bill Howard Sulewski, Don Peters, Charlie Fautz, Gene Massey, Don Modzelewski and Skip Robinson, who were not well placed on the stage or whose skin coloring was incompatible with the lighting. All you can do is chalk it up to "growing pains" for a sport which is beginning to receive a great deal more attention from the press than ever before.

There were high and low points of the evening. One of the high ones - Franco doing his incredible strength act. Picture this: Franco is hanging 20 feet above the stage from a trapeze by his legs (catcher position) holding a leather strap in his teeth from which a lovely lady, Ms. Sunny Holmes, is suspended. While Sunny twirled around in mid-air, the irrepressible Franco bent a heavy steel bar which was also in his mouth! Franco exerted such dynamic force that the bar was bent like a hair pin in seconds. I detected a slight trickle of blood at the corner of his mouth, but Franco quickly dismissed the incident by saying "It was a piece of cake. Nothing to it."

The Grant "brothers", Bill and Paul, both gave great posing exhibitions that excited the packed throng which responded with tremendous ovations for both athletes. Bill's fantastic arms-delts-pecs and tiny 29" waist were never more impressive. Paul, the giant 225-pound block of granite from Wales, was sensationally thick and cut to ribbons. The crowd loved them both.

New England's answer to Paul Bunyan, giant Mike Katz (6'4", 250-lbs), unleashed a mighty posing display that showed he'll be a serious threat to capture the IFBB Mr. Universe title this year. The former New York Jet football star hopes to lead the American team to victory at the World Championships being held in Pretoria, South Africa on November 7th, 1975.

The final Gueststar was the meet director, Franco, who received the loudest ovation of the show. The so-called "tepid" Southern California bodybuilding fans were near hysteria. It positively was the most responsive audience I've ever seen at the ancient Embassy Auditorium. Bodybuilding is out of the dark ages now for good and newer and bigger locations like the spacious Santa Monica Civic Auditorium - the site of many Rock concerts (Elton John debuted in Los Angeles there) (I suppose if you don't count the Troubadour in WeHo) - would offer a more spacious and luxurious setting for future shows of this caliber in the Southern California area.


For the first time, the International Federation of BodyBuilders staged a professional bodybuilding contest other than the Mr. Olympia. The Pro Mr. Universe was held in conjunction with the American Bodybuilding Championships.

The contest was staged in two weight divisions (under 200-lbs. and over 200-lbs.) to determine the finalists, from which five places were awarded in the overall scoring.

The nine-man judging panel (Bill Pearl, Leo Stern, Dr. Richard Tyler, Gene Mozee, Paul Grant, Joe Baratta, Dr. Seymour Koening, Dr. Terry Robinson and Roger Schwab) - the same group that judged the AABA Mr. America - awarded the hotly contested 1st place trophy to Dennis Tinerino, former AAU Mr. America and NABBA Mr. Universe winner. "That's the best I've ever seen Dennis look," commented an amazed Arnold Schwarzenegger. Formerly of New York City, Dennis now lives in West Los Angeles, and trains both at Vince's Gym and Bruce Conner's West Los Angeles gymnasium. He trained hard for six months for this contest and he looked sensational!

Unbeknownst to the West Coast IFBB organizing committee and the judges, Dennis Tinerino had been suspended for a serious infraction against the IFBB back in New York in 1973 when he ignored his written agreement to not support any other bodybuilding organization. Less than a week later he entered the NABBA Pro Mr. Universe where he was beaten by Boyer Coe. Dennis was promptly suspended and never applied for reinstatement.

Much to the regret of everyone concerned, though Dennis was voted the winner, he was ruled ineligible to compete. At a special meeting by the IFBB Executive Council held in Montreal 30 days later, Tinerino was disqualified. However, Dennis was allowed to keep the $1250 first prize money. You win some - you lose some.

The second place finisher, Bob Birdsong, has been officially awarded the 1975 IFBB Professional Mr. Universe title. Bob was in incredible shape for this show. Many in the audience as well as several of the judges had him picked as the winner. Under the lights, Birdsong exploded with a dynamic posing routine that had the audience screaming for more when he left the stage. Bob definitely has "platform charisma". His good looks and superbly muscled anatomy, repleted with massively, striated muscularity, are real crowd pleasers.

Popular Ed Corney, the 43-year-old Hawaiian Hercules, is possible the best showman in the game under the lights. He moves with the grace of a gymnast, the power of a lion and the skill of a fencing master. During the pre-judging, Corney was on the far right corner of the stage and the light there was not flattering. But when he mounted the dias that evening with the background music of 2001 Space Odyssey filling the auditorium, he electrified the crowd with a stunning muscular display that was one of the best posing performances I've ever seen! He comes alive under the lights and can really excite an audience. He deservedly won "Best Poser".

Third place was garnered by muscular Don Ross of Cleveland, Ohio. Big, dense and well defined, Don was very impressive. However, his posing routine and stage presentation needed some polishing up. His muscular development is superior to his ability to show it.

Mexico's Javier Medina won 4th place with an extremely muscular body. He could use more size, but his definition, shape and symmetry are excellent. Fifth place was awarded to Luis Ramirez Silva, a promising new star also from Mexico.

There was one additional man, Bill Pettis, who originally planned to compete in this event, but was not permitted to officially compete because entry arrived too late. Bill is a popular new star from Gold's Gym with 20" arms at 200-lbs. bodyweight. He was, however, allowed to give a posing exhibition and was applauded enthusiastically - especially when he flexed those super arms.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the show and well they should. They saw two outstanding contest featuring some of the greatest muscle stars in the world.

Master of ceremonies Mario Machado, a local (Los Angeles) CBS-TV newscaster and host of three television shows, did a fine job on the microphone. He has an excellent voice and his professional delivery was refreshing and highly entertaining.

After the awards were presented and the show concluded, over 500 fans waited patiently for their favorite bodybuilding stars to get autographs, congratulate them, or just to catch one last look at their heroes as they left the auditorium.

I would like to personally express my sincere thanks to all of the bodybuilders who participated in this show for making it a huge success. Every man on stage was terrific. In every athletic competition there are winners and losers. But in bodybuilding even though you may not win a trophy, you're a "winner" anyway because you possess a strong, healthy, athletic, muscular body that 99% of the rest of the population envies and admires. And. . . there's always another contest - another goal to achieve - another improvement you can make. That's why bodybuilding is the world's greatest sport. You can't really ever lose - as long as you keep improving - you are a winner!


- The new American Bodybuilding champion, Robby Robinson, is congratulated on his great triumph by Joe Weider, publisher of Muscle Builder Magazine. Joe personally sponsored Robin for the Mr. World contest in New York and he swept to a smashing victory.

- Here are a few of the great competitors at the 1975 AABA American Bodybuilding Championships. A dynamic lineup of muscle stars made this the best "Mr. America" contest in IFBB history.

- Two great authorities on bodybuilding. Gene Mozee and Bill Pearl help make the big decisions at the preliminary judging. Arnold, (lower left) after his recently completed starring role in the movie, "Stay Hungry", makes his appearance to a tremendous ovation from his fans. (Lower right) Backstage: Lens artist Art Zeller gets a directorial from the Godfather of Bodybuilding, Joe Weider.

- Denny Gablle, 3rd in the Tall Class and Roger Callard, 2nd in the medium class put the final touch of dazzle to their muscles.

- Warmup backstage at the Embassy Auditorium during the American Bodybuilding Championships create the atmosphere of an approaching electric storm. The minds and muscles of all undergo priming only moments away from their destinies.

- The soon-to-be famous Smith brothers, Jim and Robert, pump up some memorable muscle. They both have a fine future.

- The Smith brothers share a warmup for their lats.

- Jim and Robert Smith pose for a backstage shot when the contest is over. Jim was 4th in the Tall Class, AABA. (elsewhere it says Robert was)

- John Isaacs, 45, better than ever, walked off with The "Most Muscular" title.

- Roger Callard's fantastic improvement during the past year earned him a 2nd place in the Medium Class.

- Steve Davis continues to climb. Sharp cuts, posing and symmetry gave him a surprise 2nd in the Tall Class.

- Two great champs, Jimmy Payne, world lightweight arm wrestling champion, and Joe Weider, the Muscle Magazine King lock wrists in an impromptu greeting backstage.

- Carlos Rodriguez at 178 bodyweight overpowered an unbelievable lineup of former Short Class Mr. America winners.

- Callard's back was sensational. At his present rate of improvement he will soon climb into the first slot.

- Rodriguez, Isaacs and Giuliani battle it out in a posedown for the "Big A" title. All three were former Mr. America height class winners.

- 1974 winner Ed Giuliani edged out veteran John Issacs for second place in a hot battle.

- Gene Massey was one of several caught in the flat houselighting of the pre-judging with their incompatible skin coloring.

- Joe Nista, 46, returns from retirement with all his former density and cuts. He looked terrific.

- John Isaacs, 3rd in the Short Class, performs with the perfection of long experience.

- Smith, Davis, Mentzer and Callard, all potential winners, fire a battery of muscles at the defenseless judges. Flaws are hard to find in this mass of ripped-up muscle.

- Rob Robinson and Mike Mentzer battle it out in the fierce competition of the Medium Class. Winner Robinson's massive muscularity and fine performance turned the tide in his favor.

- Davis, Isaacs and Giuliani squeeze off a famous muscle shot. The popularity of group posedowns is evident in audience reaction. It is making bodybuilding a highly competitive sport.

- Bob Smith, 4th in the Tall Class, and Don Peters get set for a pose. Great bodies, like these two, are giving bodybuilding the attention it deserves.

- The Tall Class gave the judges a headache as Steve Davis, the symmetrical wonder, placed second to winner Dave Dupre with his sharp definition and granite-like density.

- Charlie Fautz, Denny Gable and Bill Howard all turned in magnificent performances. Fautz and Howard sacrificed an edge to the dismal house lights during the pre-judging. The deeply tanned Gable had a winning look but had to settle for 3rd place in the Tall Class.

- Steve Davis, Dave DuPre and Bob Smith all share the indictment of a front, standing, natural pose. Davis' symmetry, DuPre's shape and Smith's density all passed with flying colors.

- DuPre, Isaacs and Robinson turn their backs to the inquisitors during the pre-judging. Long floor shadows tell the story of the lighting. All three had too much muscle to be affected. They all took home a prize, Isaacs the Most Muscular.

- Roger Callard gave a flawless performance. His progress in the past year has been phenomenal. His back showed amazing depth as he brings it into focus.

- Bob Birdsong appeared in the best shape of his life. He was awarded the Mr. Universe title when the IFBB later disqualified Dennis Tinerino.

- The Inimitable Franco, who directed the big IFBB event, also posed and performed his novelty act. He has become muscledom's "Mr. Showbiz".

- Skip Robinson won the Best Poser title with a dynamic, artful routine. The feat was accomplished in a contest populated by 35 of the greatest bodies ever gathered in an amateur IFBB show.

- Mike Mentzer has the symmetry and muscularity that could lead to future titles. He took an easy 3rd.

- Paul Grant, Wale's answer to the London Bridge, shows the granite of his structure to the wildly receptive crowd.

- Len Archambault, Mr. East Coast, gave a creditable performance with a lean muscularity to place 5th in the Medium Class.

- Don Modzelewski, pale but muscular, also had a hard time in the flat pre-judging light.

- Skip Robinson, Best Poser, performs his specialty to an appreciative audience. He has won many other titles.

- Ed Corney's incomparable grace and style won him Best Poser in the Mr. Universe.

- The indomitable John Isaacs makes magic out of muscles.

- Robin Robinson, 1975 American Bodybuilding Champion, shows the muscularity that makes him king of amateur bodybuilders.

- Denny Gable, 3rd, cracks the big muscle barrier with poses like this back shot.

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