Strength & Health, Page 14, July 1950

The 1950 "Mr. America" Contest

Farbotnik Wins Well Deserved Victory

by Eric Askew

THIS year Philadelphia's famous Academy of Music was the scene of one of the most successful Mr. America contests to date. The standard of the contestants was unusually high, and the smooth manner in which the contest was run off, was a credit to Ray Van Cleef who had done a fine job of organizing the affair. Before the contest, Ray sent out several hundred letters, followup letters, and postcards to different gymnasiums, Y.M.C.A.'s clubs and individual contestants. It was due to his untiring efforts that the Mr. America contest ran according to schedule instead of dragging out as it had in previous years.

A good beginning was made by having the thirty-two contestants line up in alphabetical order in a huge semi-circle right across the stage. This enabled the judges and the Public to compare the contestants with each other. It was immediately apparent that there were some very fine physiques present and that the final judging was going to be very close. It was pleasing to see that this year there were none of the undeveloped exhibitionists who usually insist on entering, and only succeed in prolonging the event, when they have no hope of even placing.

The subdivisions were held on Friday evening, and most of the results were foregone conclusions. Melvin Wells, last year's winner of the Best Arms, was once again successful in this class. In most people's opinion, he has the most muscular upper arm ever seen in America. John Farbotnik easily deserved the Best Chest award, although Marvin Eder and "Buck" Kartalian were outstanding, and gave him strong competition. In a close finish, John Farbotnik, a master poser, beat Melvin Wells, last year's winner of the Best Back, although Wells would probably have carried off this trophy too, if head shown his terrific back to better advantage.

1950 "Mr. America" Scores
John Farbotnk71
Melvin Wells68
Roy Hilligenn65
Val Pasqua65
Edward Chrupcala63
Marvin Eder63
Vahe Kartalian61
Al Berman60
James Park60
Steve Klisanin59
Rene Leger58 1/2
Ed Karczewski58
Irvin Koszewski57
Jim Krznarich57
Kimon Voyages57
John Plaskow56 1/2
Harry Smith56 1/2
Edward Wiza56 1/2
Alan Brijunas55
William Cerdas54
Irving Bridgers51
Harold Wiggins47 1/2
Constantine Kosiras47
Donald DeLauney39 1/2
Sub-Division Winners
Most MucularMelvin Wells
Best ArmsMelvin Wells
Best ChestJohn Farbotnik
Best BakJohn Farbotnik
Best AbdominalsIrvin Koszewski
Best LegsEdward Chrupcala

JUDGES: Lawrence Barnholth,
Romeo Bergeron, Mark Berry, Emmett Faris,
Jim Messer, Charles Smith, Ray Van Cleef

In the Best Abdominals, there was close competition between Marvin Eder, Wallace Farrell, Jim Krznarich and Irvin Koszewski. These four boys were called back for final judging, and Irvin Koszewski won by a narrow margin. The final event of the evening, the Best Legs, also saw a number of boys called back for the judges to take a second look. These were Edward Chrupcala, John Farbotnik, Roy Hilligenn, Jim Krznarich and Kimon Voyages. Most of these boys had very fine legs, but Chrupcala, a newcomer to these physique contests, easily won the trophy.

The evening was brought to a close by the presentation of the trophies by Miss Me Dennis of Philadelphia, a beauty contest winner and professional model, who supplied the cheesecake for the evening. Judging by the howls from the audience, Miss Dennis should have won the Best Chest award.

Saturday evening, a big crowd saw the main events, the Most Muscular, and the Mr. America contests. There was some exceptionally fine posing from some of the contestants, and it was clear that the judges were going to have a hard time picking the winner.

After the last of the posing, there were a number of good performances while the judges came to their final decision. First, Marvin Eder gave a most unusual display of biceps control. Leaning forward, he flexed his right biceps, and then alternately relaxed and contracted the separate heads of the muscle. Later, in discussing this particular control with several famous muscle control artists, I could find no-one who had seen it done before.

Roy Hilligenn followed with a fine exhibition of tumbling, which demonstrated very well that weight trained men can be very nimble and flexible. Later, he also proved his exceptional strength in an unusual lift of his own. First he cleaned the bar to his chest, holding it in an upright rowing position. With a short dip, he then snatched it overhead. In this manner, he worked up to 250 pounds.

Another of the Mr. America contestants, Alan Brijunas of Chicago, also entertained the crowd with a display of muscle control.

Then Val Pasqua showed his strength and speed, by performing fast repetition deadlifts, with the weight held behind his legs. He lifted 350 pounds this particular night, but is credited with using much heavier poundages. Another popular feature was the posing by Jules Bacon, Mr. America of 1943.

As usual, the crowd called for George Eiferman, Mr. America of 1948, and he obliged by doing a number of supine presses in excess of 350 pounds. George is one of the most likeable personalities in the weightlifting world, and his comic antics and remarks had the crowd in constant laughter. He finished with some excellent posing, and received a great hand from the audience.

Now the time had come for announcing of the winners, and presentation of their prizes - the big moment of the evening. Everyone was eager to know the winners of magnificent trophies, set on one side of the stage. This was the most impressive collection of trophies ever assembled for one contest. It included the awards for the winners of the different weightlifting events. In previous contests, there have been complaints that the bodybuilders have received better trophies than the weightlifters. This year, there was no room for such comment , as all the prizes were exactly the same size, except for the two huge ones (both the same size) awarded to the best lifter, and to Mr. America. The only difference was that the lifters' awards were mounted by the figure of a weightlifter, while the bodybuilders' bore a figure of Apollo.

As in last year's contest, it was no surprise when Melvin Wells was announced as the winner of the Most Muscular Physique. It was a popular decision with the crowd. Next, Roy Hilligenn was called for third place, then in the midst of mounting suspense, the second place was awarded to Melvin Wells, and finally the winner was announced as John Farbotnik. The difficult task which the judges had had, choosing the winner, was evident from the final results, which separated the first from the third place, by only six points.

John Farbotnik, a former pupil of Fritsche and a training partner and close friend of George Eiferman, certainly deserved this victory. In 1946, at the Mr. America contest, he was one of the finalists, then again the following year, he was once more a finalist. That same year, he was second to Steve Stanko, in the Mr. Universe contest held in Philadelphia, which is his home town. He has won Mr. Philadelphia, Mr. Chicago, Mr. California and many sub-divisions in these contests. John, who is now a student at the Physical Services Institute of Conner & Zinken in Los Angeles, worked at a similar Medical Rehabilitation centre during the war, under the famous Dr. Thomas De Lorme, where resistance exercises were used very effectively to help veterans regain the use of their injured limbs.

Hard-working and ambitious, John was recently working 12 to 14 hours a day for a bakery. His bodyweight dropped to 170 pounds. However, since he went to California and resumed training, his weight has shot up to 195 pounds, and he is now in better shape than he has been at any previous time. He is encouraged to greater efforts by his wife, who is also a physical culturist. His strength is remarkable; while training at York, prior to this event, he beat several of the lifters at feats of strength. He is also an excellent muscle control artists, performing a number of unique chest controls.

John is no extremist either in his training methods or his eating habits. He is a serious, reserved, unassuming character, whose victory was a well deserved and popular one.

In second place, Melvin Wells, who has also won the title of Mr. New York State, was another popular winner. He always receives a terrific ovation from the crowd, and this evening was no exception. Such an upper body has seldom been seen, his size being matched by his wonderful definition. Since last year, his legs which were then a little light, show marked improvement. Anyone who sees Melvin Wells on Stage is seeing him as he really is. He is one of the few contestants who does not spend his time backstage furiously "pumping up" his muscles. Apart from his bodybuilding activities, Melvin is an exceedingly good all round athlete. He is a star performer on his baseball team, and has had professional offers in this field. He also excels in basketball, and has been invited to join the famous Harlem Globe Trotters.

After his day's work at the Ford plant, he trains alone, performing with ease such feats of strength as seesaw presses with 115 pound dumbells. But for all his success and popularity, Melvin is quiet and modest, a thoroughly likeable personality.

Roy Hilligenn, Mr. South Africa, South African middleweight weightlifting champion, and Mr. Pacific Coast, is a most versatile strongman. While training at York, he was unafraid to try the pet stunts of any one of the other lifters. At the conclusion of a heavy workout, he has been seen to clean and jerk 300 pounds. He can squat with 400 pounds.

The fourth place was taken by Val Pasqua. In the original voting he tied with Roy Hilligenn, but when the judges votes between the two, it seemed that Hilligenn had a slight edge on Pasqua. The latter is the founder of the famous Val's Gym in New York. At present he is a masseur and is also studying to become a chiropractor. In his spare time, he is an ardent follower of the opera. Val is to be commended for the encouragement his is giving many others in this great game.

Edward Chrupcala, who placed fifth in the finals, was at the York Barbel Company picnic last year, where he was seen by Ray Van Cleef. Ray was impressed by his fine physique and wanted him to enter the Mr. America contest, but had quite a job persuading him. However, the fact that he placed so high and also won the Best Legs, proves that Ray's judgement was correct. his naturally fine legs have responded amazingly well to training. Apart from this recent success, he was recently a place winner in the Mr. Middle Atlantic contest, second in Mr. Philadelphia, and won his height division in the same contest.

The sixth man was Marvin Eder, a teenage muscular marvel, who can supine press around 400 pounds. With his terrific bulk and power, he has great possibilities as a weightlifter.

In seventh place was "Buck" Kartalian from Bothner's Gym in New York. Although he has won many New York Metropolitan awards, his lack of height will possibly prevent him from winning a Mr. America Title. Marvin Eder is in the same position, and it is a pity that there is not a subdivision that would give these smaller men the recognition they deserve.

One man who received a great buildup before the contest, was James Park, from Chicago and winner of the Mr. Mid West title. His physique was good, but he would have shown to much better advantage if he had reduced his bodyweight about fifteen pounds in order to show more definition.

Following Park was Steve Klisanin, who is a capable light heavyweight lifter, and footballer, also the winner of several physique contests.

Half a point behind Klisanin, was Rene Leger, Mr. Canada of 1947 and a finalist in the Mr. Universe contest that year. Unfortunately Rene was not in as good shape as he was at that time.

Irvin Koszewski, the winner of the Best Abdominals, placed next. He has a small rib box and light bone structure, but is heavily muscled.

Kimon Voyages, in the next place, has possibly won more special awards and contests than any other contestant. Like Parks, he has a fine physique which was spoiled by excess weight.

A creditable performance was given by John Plaskow, in what was probably his first contest. In his early thirties, John has trained alone for many years. He is six feet tall and has an impressive physique. He has an eighteen inch upper arm, and the most impressive foreamrs in the contest.

Last year's Junior Mr. America, Harry Smith, another capable lifter, was not in such fine shape as he was last year.

A fitting climax to the evening, was the appearance of the incomparable John Grimek, who had flown over from Hawaii especially for this event. After being presented with the trophy for the Greatest Body Builder of the Century, which was decided by an overwhelming majority in a popular poll, he delighted the audience with his unparalleled posing routine.

Throughout the whole program, the audience was well behaved and appreciative. Photographers, both amateur and professional, were given the use of the orchestra pit, and took full advantage of their privilege. All agreed, that in every respect, this was one of the most successful contest every held.


- The calibre of the contestants in this year's "Mr. America" contest was of a high order. The majority of the participants had won honors in other physique events, including previous "Mr. America" contests. Photo shows some of the outstanding body builders that vied for the honors in the competition at Philadelphia on May 12th and 13th. At the extreme right is JACK LIBERTORE who shared the M.C. role with Bob Hoffman for this portion of the competition. Photo by Ken Ryan.

- HARRY SMITH, the "Junior. Mr. America" winner of 1948, was one of the leading contenders in this year's "Mr. America" tournament. He represents the Atlants Barbell Club. Photo by Ken Ryan.

- Here you can see why the judges selected ED CHRUPCALA of Javies Gym as the winner of the "Best Legs" award. His leg development is extraordinary. Photo by Ken Ryan.

- Some of the supermen in the 1950 "Mr. Amreica competition at Philadelphia's Academy of Music on May 12 and 13th. Left to right: ROY HILLIGENN, ED KARCZEWSKI, VAHE KARTALIAN, STEVE KLISANIN, CONSTANTINE KOSIRAS. Photo by Ken Ryan.

- Attractive MEL DENNIS, a model and beauty contest winner from Philadelphia, presented the trophies to the winners of the sub-divisions of the "Mr. America" contest. Standing at the left of the pedestal is MELVIN WELLS and at the other side is IRVIN KOSZEWSKI. JOHN FARBOTNIK is in the center with ED CHRUPCALA. Photo by Key Ryan.

- THE WINNER. Meet your new "MR. AMERICA" of 1950, handsome JOHN FARBOTNIK of the West Los Angeles Gym, Los Angeles, Cal. Farbotnik, who was featured on last month's Strength and Health cover, won the 1950 "Mr. California" and the 1950 "Jr. Mr. America" titles - surely one of the greatest triple triumphs in body building! He will complete in the "Mr. U.S.A." contest at Los Angeles' Embassy Auditorium on July 1st, 2nd, 3rd. (Photo by John Terpak of York).

- Right: One of the most outstanding athletes in the "Mr. America" competition was ROY HILLIGENN of Trona, California. This physique champion rated third in the main contest. his tumbling and lifting display during the demonstration period scored a big hit with his audience. Photo by David Collier.

- Right: This group photo was taken at the conclusion of the "Mr. America" contest. Shows the winners and three of the officials that played key role in the success of the entire tournament. Left to right: BOB HOFFMAN, MELVIN WELLS, JOHN FARBOTNIK, RAY VAN CLEEF, ED CHRUPALA, IRVIN KOSZEWSKI, ROY HILLIGENN, DIETRICH WORTMANN. Photo by John Terpak.

- MELVIN WELLS retained his title as "America's Most Muscular Man" in this year's "Mr. America" contest. Placed second to John Farbotnik for the "Mr. America" crown. This muscular marvel from Buffalo, New York also won the "Best Arms" award. Photo by Robert L Jones.

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