Muscular Development, Vol 9, No 1, Page 40, January 1972

Mr. Universe Contest

By Oscar Heidenstam

THIS WAS OUR 23rd Universe contest and it will go down as one of the best even if only for the historical clash in the professional contest between Bill Pearl, Sergio Oliva and Reg Park. Both Park and Pearl put their NABBA Universe titles on the line, both of whom are past 40. The only other name missing in this contest was Arnold Schwarzenegger who has also won the title four times. Arnold has been saying right along that he will be there, and even hurling challenges to Pearl and Park. However, at the 11th hour he did not show, being barred by the Weider organization with whom he has some sort of a contract. Arnold sent me the two letters he received from Weider, directing him NOT to compete, and I feel with all due respects to Arnold the facts should be known. In any case Arnold was not in this great contest.

We had a total of 38 in the amateur contest, and 11 in the professionals. The amateur contest was competed in three height divisions; the professionals in two. We also had two separate judging panels: one for the amateurs, and another for the pros. . . all of international reputation and high integrity. Each and every one has had long experience in dealing with physiques, and most have been physique competitors themselves. Many of the judges came from France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Jamaica, Singapore, Syria and, of course, Great Britain. . . so the judges were well represented.

As usual the judging took place the day before and was attended by over 700 people who were unable to get to see the show next day because the house was a sell-out since July!

Twelve entries from 10 different countries were on hand. This class had real international flavor and was of high standard. The welcomed return of Chris Dickerson, the former Mr. America who was over last year and won his height class, was back again for a second try.

The sensation of this class, however, was Elias Petsas, of Greek origin and living in South Africa. He has entered twice before but his improvement this year was incredible. Frank Colombera, who placed fourth last year, stayed in Britain through the year to compete again. Frank has a really fantastic physique that keeps improving each time we see him. Another American was Chuck Collras who came in as a last minute entry and added strength to this class along with two British lads: John Holt and Michael Baker, both outstanding physiques.

It was a pretty decisive victory for Dickerson, thus overcoming the first step for the title. Second was Elias Petsas. In third was Frank Colombera, and fourth went to Chuck Collras. Fifth was Jack Holt, and sixth was Michael Baker.

Class-2-Medium height

This was the largest class with 17 competitors. We all had been expecting Casey Viator to compete in this class, and after sending him entry blanks to four different places, we did not hear from him. . . nor did he show up-too bad.

In this class a big clash between AI Beckles, the Mr. Britain titleholder, and Roy Callender was expected. At their meeting two years ago Ron won over Al, but it turned out differently this time. Also competing was the huge Norwegian, Lars Lunde, who took third last year, although other Scandanavians in the contest were equally impressive and dominated the votes. But it was a clear victory for Ken Waller, with Paul Grant taking second. Third place was a battle between Dennis Wilkins of England and Clement Wisdom of Jamaica, who could carry more overall size; an East Indian who has been living in England and a man with a big future in the physique world, and the current Mr. South Africa titleholder, Chris Keyser. They placed in the order given, but many variation of judging resulted from such a large panel of judges. Nevertheless the winners had to be decided, so the judges called the men back several times. Finally the title was decided from the three first place class winners, giving Ken Waller 1st, Chris Dickerson 2nd, and third went to Al Beckles, so Ken Waller added his name to the long list of NABBA winners!


I wonder if there will ever again be such an electrical atmosphere the predominated the judging and at the show the next day as it was this time. This surely must have been the greatest contest of all time, with two of the main contenders, both in their 40s, and both having already won three Mr. Universe titles. The first and last person, up to this year, to do this was John Grimek, and for the first time a man in his 40s won the title.

Actually, Bill and Reg were unbelievable for their age. Then if you add Zane and Oliva to this list you can imagine the amount of muscle that dominated the hall. Only the absence of Schwarzenegger prevented a contest the likes of which will never again be possible. No fault of Arnold's, but his attachment to the Weider organization prevented him from entering.

Class-#2: Medium height

We had only six entries in this class and the lack of real opposition, so Frank Zane took first without trouble. A close fight for second took place between the Syrian Kassem Yazbek and Tony Emmott from England, who has entered the professional ranks as a health studio owner. But it was Yesbek who took second, and Tony taking third. Fourth place went to Ludwig Ingebregtsen, a Norwegian, and fifth to Britain's Bill Hemsworth, with sixth going to Darren Langman of South Africa.

Class-#1: Tall men

Never in my life did I hear such applause as resounded when Pearl, Park and Oliva came out and posed in that order. Each man was called out again and again for comparison, and each was allowed to pose as much as he liked. Someone had to lose, and someone had to win . . . it was a hard decision for the judges to make. Judging must always be a matter of opinion, and whatever the results no one can ever please everyone. . . but a winner had to be chosen, and after some deliberation, the winner and runners-up were selected.

Pearl looked amazing, and his posing was without par. His symmetry, for such a big man, was excellent. Park, trained down had an incredible midsection, somewhat lighter in bodyweight than usual. . . but could he really be 43 years of age?

Oliva--the impact was unbelievable, incredible size with muscularity not seen in his pictures, all three winners in their own right but it was Pearl with 10 firsts, Oliva with four firsts. So Bill took his fourth Mr. Universe title, and we doubt if there well ever be another Mr. Universe contest like that again. We doubt it.


With our annual universe contests we hold a Miss Bikini contest, which is growing in popularity each year and, as far as we know, this is the only contest of this type that is held in Britain.

There were over 20 entries in this contest and this included some of our top figures. The current Miss Britain, Lynda Ann Thomas, has won a number of national contests this year, including second place in the Miss United Kingdom, a contest that is held in Britain to select Britain's entry for the fabulous Miss World event. Lynda, of course, is weight trained and has been entering our contests ever since she was 15. However, all girls are weight trained or attend some sort of keep fit classes.

The Miss Bikini winner this year was the attractive Lynda Thomas, and this was her third try for the title. In second place was Pat Wheeldon, a former Miss Britain titlist, and third place went to Brenda Sell, winner of the Miss Britain title twice. She's the wife of Len Sell who is a double Mr. Universe winner. Brenda is the mother of two children so this victory speaks well for her. And fourth place went to Monika Griffiths, a wife of a man who enters our NABBA competition regularly, which means we have a number of husbands and wives who train together and enter our contests. . . we're proud of this achievement and it speaks well for us!

But next year we'll have another contest, with more attractive girls who will train more enthusiastically with hopes of winning the title. We wish them all luck!


- Bill Pearl, Mr. Universe winner, is being congratulated by Paul Grant of Wales. Paul recently won the Mr. Europe title in Denain, France. Paul expressed desire to compete in the Mr. World competition scheduled for York, November 6th.

- Al Beckles, amateur, won his height division.

- Frank Zane, professional, also won his height class.

- Pictured here are some of the attractive finalists who competed in the Miss Bikini contest. It was Linda Thomas, posed here in the center, who took top honors this years.

- Oscar Heidenstam, organizer and sponsorer of the NABBA Universe contest, congratulates Linda Thomas on winning the Miss Bikini award. Miss Thomas tried to win this title several times in the past, and finally won it this year.

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