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Monday, December 30, 2013

Multiple Mr. American Contest Winners - By Osmo Kiiha

Reprinted with permission of The Iron Master


Over the years people have formed the opinion that John Grimek was the only multiple Mr. America winner, but in reality John was the two time winner of the AAU Mr. America title. The York Barbell Company with its flagship magazine "Strength & Health" pushed the notion that only the AAU Mr. America was the true title, and refused to recognize any other contest. In fact, Bob Hoffman the head of the York Barbell refused to recognize the first AAU Mr. America contest winner Roland Essmaker (1939) since he was not a member of the York Barbell Club, very little publicity was given to Essmaker in Strength & Health Magazine. For years Hoffman told the reading public that John Grimek was the first AAU Mr. America (1940) through the pages of Strength & Health. With this type of mentality it's no wonder that little or no publicity was given to the other factions running the Mr. America contest. If it were not for Peary Rader, the editor of Iron Man magazine, this history would have been lost through the years. Peary reported on all contests, no matter who ran them, he was not into the politics of bodybuilding and tried to stay neutral. Even Joe Weider reported on the AAU contest in his magazines (not always favorably) all the while organizing the IFBB with his brother Ben. Bow I don't want anyone to get the idea that the AAU Mr. America contest winners were not the cream of the crop of American bodybuilders. These men were the best America had to offer, probably the best physiques in the world. You will notice in the list that follows this article, the AAU contest winners also won the other organizations' contests. Harold Poole was the only man on the list that never won the AAU Mr. America. He placed second in 1962 and 1963. In my humble opinion Harold Poole should have easily won the 1963 Mr. America contest, but the powers to be didn't see it that way. Below area list of all the men that held more than one Mr. America title and the name of the organization that ran it. I did not list winners of Teen-age Mr. America, Jr. Mr. America, or Over- 40 Mr. America contests.

John Grimek

1940 AAU Mr. America
1941 AAU Mr. America

Clarence Ross

1945 AAU Mr. America
1946 Professional Mr. America (run by Walt Baptiste)

Alan Stephen

1946 AAU Mr. America
1947 Professional Mr. America (run bu Walt Baptiste)
1949 IFBB Mr. America (first IFBB Mr. America winner - Weider contest)

John Farbotnik

1950 AAU Mr. America
1951 Professional Mr. America (Walt Baptiste contest)

Harold Poole

1964 IFBB Mr. America (Weider contest)
1967 WBBG Mr. Americas (called Mr. Americas to avoid legal battle with the AAU)
1968 WBBG Professional Mr. America (both contests were sponsored by Dan Lurie)

Chris Dickerson

1970 AAU Mr. America
1973 WBBG Professional Mr. America (Dan Lurie contest)

Dennis Tinerino

1967 AAU Mr. America
1978 NBBA Natural Professional Mr. America (Chester Yorton contest)

Contest Promoters


AAU - Amateur Athletic Union

The AAU Mr. America contest started in 1939 and became the most prestigious bodybuilding title in the world, but lost most of its luster by the 1980s and the IFBB became the king of the hill. Today it's hard to find out who won the current AAU Mr. America title.

IFBB - International Federation of Bodybuilders

(IFBB President Ben Weider) First IFBB Mr. America contest was held in 1949, the second one held in 1959. IFBB struggled in the shadows of the AAU for years but by the 1980s it started forging ahead of the AAU and has never looked back. Today the IFBB is the largest bodybuilding organization in the world and soon to be recognized as an official Olympic sport.

WBBG - World Bodybuilding Guild

(ran by Dan Lurie) Started in 1967m around 1979 WBBG stopped running national level contests but was involved with East Coast physique shows into the 1980s.

NBBA - Natural Bodybuilders Association

(ran by Chester Yorton - 1966 NBBA Mr. Universe and 1966 IFBB Mr. America) NBBA stayed around for a few years from 1978 to 1982, then died off.

Walt Baptiste Professional Mr. America Contest

These contests were promoted by Walt Baptiste from 1946 through 1954 (no contest 1952 and 1953). I believe they were all held in the state of California. Walt was the former editor of Body Moderne magazine.


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