|Reg Park, continued:|
IM: What were some of your measurements in the 1950s?
IM: Did your bicep ever reach twenty inches cold?
Reg: Yes, I taped 20 inches when I reached 250 bodyweight; which was, by the way, the heaviest I ever weighed. My chest measurement was also 57" expanded at the time.
IM: Did you ever make any tours of the USA after the 1951 trip?
Reg: I spent the months of March, April and May of 1956, taking tours of America, Hawaii and Canada. One of the highlights of that tour was the big Yarick show, April 21, 1956. I easily cleaned and pressed a pair of 125 pound dumbbells and bench pressed 350 and 400 in strict style followed by 430 for three easy reps. I made a three second pause at the chest on the third rep. Working out with Art Jones at Yarick's Gym later, I did seated dumbbell curls with a pair of 120 pounders for 6 reps, and 130 for two reps. My best bench of the tour was made in Vancouver, BC, April 28th with 440 at a bodyweight of 230.
IM: When did you decide to leave England for South Africa and why?
Reg: Between the years of 1951 and 1958, I made five or six trips to South Africa and fell in love with the beautiful countryside and climate. My wife and kids were not faring well in Leeds healthwise, so I decided we should move to a warmer climate. We considered Hawaii and California, but eventually settled for South Africa where my wife's family still lived. We made the move to South Africa in 1958. Reg park, Sr., my father, continued to run the barbell business in Leeds, England. The Reg Park Journal was terminated in December 1959.
IM: What did you plan to do in South Africa?
Reg: I planned to open a bodybuilding studio in SA, then it occurred to me that while my name was well known to health enthusiast and bodybuilders the world over, starting a business in a new country with a seven year old Mr. Universe title was hardly the best way to go - not when you could go out there and win all over again and be the current Mr. Universe.
IM: So what was the plan?
Reg: Two weeks before the 1958 Mr. Universe, I decided to enter the London contest again. I increased all my reps to 10 from five and lost ten pounds of bodyweight.
IM: What was the outcome?
Reg: I was the clear winner of the 1958 Mr. Universe contest. The worthy runner up in the tall men's class was Bruce Randall of the USA. Bruce, by the was, easily won the professional Mr. Universe contest in the following year. My brother in law, John Isaacs, took the smaller men's class in the Pro Mr. Universe. Our families were very pleased with the double victory.
IM: Any idea what your measurements were at the 1958 Mr. Universe?
Reg: Height 6'1", Weight 214, Neck 18, Waist 32, Thigh 26 1/2, Calf 17 1/2, Chest 52, Bicep 18 1/2.
IM: Did your family's health improve after the move?
Reg: My wife and children's health improved almost overnight. Also, our business "took off" again, as well.
IM: How did you get involved starring in the movies?
Reg: Toward the end of 1960, my father received correspondence from two film companies located in Paris and Rome respectively, asking if I was interested in film work, to which we replied in the affirmative. I soon received a letter from the Rome Company at my home in Johannesburg asking me to come to Rome by the 12th of December, but due to prior commitments, I was unable to leave for Rome. Since I did not hear anything further, I subsequently left for Cape Town, where one, whilst working out at Issy's Gym, I received without any preparation, a direct phone call from Rome asking me to be in Rome by December 27 for a film test.
IM: Who handled your business affairs while you were gone?
Reg: I quickly arranged for my colleague Jannie Graff to supervise both the studio and the equipment business in my absence and on December 26, I was winging my way to Rome.
IM: How did the film test go?
Reg: Upon arrival in Rome, the following morning, I was met by an official of the film company, Mr. Ralph Pinto, who promptly booked me into a comfortable hotel and then on to an office where I met the executive producer, Mr. Achille Piazzi. The film test was arranged for Thursday, December 29. I was very nervous, but both the director, Vittorio Cottafavi and an American actor, Burt Nelson, were most helpful and full of beneficial advice which I tried to assimilate. We did two speaking scenes for the test, the funny part was I spoke in English and my counterpart spoke in Italian, it was hard to tell when to start and when to end the conversation.
IM: Did you get an immediate reaction to the test?
Reg: I did not get an immediate reaction from anyone present. My always present confidence was a little upset.
IM: When did you receive the word?
Reg: The screening of the test was arranged for December 30th, but I was a little skeptical about what the reactions of the officials might be. I decided to stay away. Later that same evening, I received a telephone call and was told. "Your test was a success. We want you to appear in the role of Hercules in the film entitled "Hercules Conquers Atlantis."
IM: When did the actual film shoot start?
Reg: January 23rd, 1961.
IM: How many films did you do in Rome?
Reg: We did a total of five films over a span of two years: Hercules Conquers Atlantis; Hercules in the Center of the Earth; Maciste in King Solomons Mines; Hercules in the Haunted World and Hercules and the Captive Women.
IM: Were you asked to "trim down" for the movies, like it was rumored to have been told to Steve Reeves when he was making the Hercules films?
Reg: Actually, the film directors requested that I should, if possible try and be even bigger. [8. Ed Note - Reg gave the director what he wanted and put on even more muscle to please his public. The result was a series of films, which show an action hero with the greatest living mass of muscle the world had ever seen.
IM: Where did you train?
Reg: I asked and received an Olympic weight set, along with other equipment, which were made available at the studio, so I did not have to travel anywhere to train. IM: It is true, Reg, that you never watched any of your Hercules films?
Reg: Yes, I went for years until I finally watched them with my grandchildren. The kids think that I am the greatest, especially when lifting all of those heavy objects. My son, Jon-Jon, has all of my movies on video.
IM: How many languages do you speak fluently?
Reg: English, Italian and French. In the 1960's the upper crust of Italian society spoke French, especially at social functions - hence the need to learn French.
IM: After coming back from Rome to South Africa, were there any changes in business?
Reg: We incorporated separate studios for men and women, judo and karate section, as well as a mail order equipment business, which involved wholesale and retail sales.
IM: Did you continue to do exhibitions?
Reg: My father, who ran the Reg Park Barbell Company in Leeds, arranged a series of exhibitions for me. I especially enjoyed posing at the 1963 Mr. Universe contest where Tom Sansone and Joe Abbenda won their titles. I weighed 235 for the exhibition and received one of the greatest receptions from the audience ever.
IM: How did you prepare for the tour?
Reg: I began working out six mornings a week. Each workout required about two and one half hours to complete. During this time, I eliminated my power training and concentrated more on bodybuilding principles with only moderately heavy weights. I handled lighter weights because power and bulk were not requirements of the tour.
IM: Why did you decide to enter the Mr. Universe contest again in 1965?
Reg: It was good for business, I thought that I would enter every seven years or so until somebody better came along. Another reason was that Reg Park studios sponsored four physique shows in South Africa in July of 1965. We flew Bill Pearl from California to put on a number of exhibitions at these shows. Since I personally was in such good shape at the time, I thought with little shaping up I could do well at the Mr. Universe in September. Also, the audience's reaction to my and Pearl's posing routines was outstanding.
IM: I heard the contest was almost won before the professional Mr. Universe even took place. No one seemed anxious to tangle with you.
Reg: I don't know about that, but the contest went very well for me. I came in at 222 pounds and was extremely well defined. I won the class I title along with the overall Professional Mr. Universe for 1965. I became the first three time NABBA Mr. Universe winner.
IM: How did you train for the contest?
Reg: I trained over two hours in the morning and between 6 and 8 AM on a split routine, doing one section (biceps or triceps) and another body part (deltoids or back) in each period. I usually did twenty sets per bodypart at a fairly rapid rate, seven days a week.
IM: You looked huge. What did you measure?
Reg: Neck 19 1/2, Waist 33, Thigh 28 1/2, Calf 17 3/4, Biceps 19 1/2, Chest (expandable) 54, Just before the contest, I weighed 235 lbs.
IM: What are your views on bodybuilding supplements?
Reg: In my opinion, supplements over and above healthy natural food are a must and it is my belief that the older one gets, the more important and necessary they become. Youthful cells and tissue can only be maintained by adequate nutrition and such nourishment is obtained and assured from daily consumption of supplements that are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.
IM: When did you first visit York, PA?
Reg: On February 10, 1967. We had a wonderful time and met most of the York gang, including Bob Hoffman, John Grimek, Jules Bacon, Bill Starr, Steve Stanko, Tony Garcy and Bob Bednarski among others. I trained at the York Gym. By the way, I tipped beam at 247 pounds while at York. I would have liked to stay at York for a couple of days, but due to our tight schedule we were forced to leave the following day.
IM: A new physique made an appearance at the 1966 Mr. Universe in London, namely Arnold Schwarzenegger. What were your impressions of him?
Reg: I thought he would become the greatest of all time. His calves were not full developed yet, but I figured in two years time he would wipe the floor with all the available competitors, including Sergio Oliva. Arnold came back in 1967 and won the NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe contest very easily. Of course, he went on to win three more NABBA Professional Mr. Universe contests in London (1968-69-70)
IM: In 1970 you entered the NABBA Mr. Universe in London and did quite well...
Reg: 1970 was kind of a missed year. I was very busy with my business. We opened three more gyms and I was too busy to train properly. I placed second to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Tall Men's Class and I defeated Dave Draper who placed a close third. Arnold went on to win the overall Professional Mr. Universe. I must say that Arnold looked fantastic and was the better man on that day.
IM: What did you do different for the 1971 Mr. Universe contest?
Reg: Bill Pearl announced his intentions of entering the 1971 Mr. Universe along with Arnold and Oliva, so I wanted to be in my best condition. I decided to experiment with my physique and erroneously reduced my bodyweight to 216 pounds. This proved to be my downfall, because my two main competitors, Pearl and Oliva, both were over 230 pounds (Arnold did not enter). I placed third in class I, which was won by Bill Pearl with Oliva coming in second. Pearl went on to win the 1971 Overall Professional Mr. Universe.
IM: Did you enter any more Mr. Universe contests?
Reg: Yes. In 1973, I entered the NABBA Professional Mr. Universe. I came in second in Class I behind Dennis Tinerino. Boyer Coe (Class II) was the overall winner. After that, I retired from all physique competitions.
IM: What type of routines did you use in 1973?
Reg: I trained six days a week, around 2 hours per workout, two body parts daily.
IM: How do you train today?
Reg: I train six to seven days per week for about 1 1/4 hours in the early morning, usually between 6-8 AM. I still weigh around 225 pounds.
IM: If you were starting over again, would you make any changes?
Reg: I would aim to be number one and even with today's physiques, I know that I could beat them all without drugs.
IM: What is your opinion of the current trend of drug taking, especially in bodybuilding?
Reg: I think that those who sell drugs to young bodybuilders, especially female bodybuilders should be jailed for life and the key should be thrown away. Youngsters who are taking drugs are advised to stop at once. The full effects are not known, but those that are, and the deaths that have resulted should say enough. It is not only the quality of the mind and body at age twenty that you should consider, but also how you'll function at seventy-five. I feel very sorry for the present generation of bodybuilders today because the athleticism is secondary, nutrition is tertiary and chemistry is everything.
IM: If you could give just one piece of advice to newcomers, what would it be?
Reg: Enjoy your training, enjoy your life. Pick a good partner, not just for training, but for life.
SOME AMERICAN MUSCLE MAG COVERS REG PARK APPEARED ON
BULLETINS AND BOOKLETS PUBLISHED BY REG PARK
Reg's son, Jon-Jon, has reprinted the "Bulk Developing Bulletin." Look for an ad in this issue. Reg is also writing a course on how he trains today and his philosophy on bodybuilding. It is due out sometime this summer, 1997. A video is also in the works regarding Reg's training - Ed.
Reg Park - A Hercules for Our Time
IRON GAME/PHYSICAL CULTURE HISTORY