Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Twilight of the Golden Age of Classic Physique Buildling: Harold Poole (Mr Universe 1963, Mr America 1964)

The Golden Age of Classic Physique Building did not end ubruptly in 1960 with the advent of steroids, but it did fade away rapidly. Nevertheless, it took some time before steroids permeated the field. During the 1960s, natural bodybuilders like the great Harold Poole competed with those who began to use steroids such as Dianabol. Unfortunately, as time went on, natural bodybuilders like Poole realized that they could not match the unnatural development of the steroid-users. So, the "naturals" gradually left the competitive field as the 1960s wore on.

This is exactly what happenned to Harold Poole. He competed with Larry Scott at the first two Mr. Olympia contests in 1965 and 1966 and placed 2nd each time. In 1967 he competed against Sergio Oliva and placed 3rd. After that he realized he could no longer compete with those who had an unfair advantage due to steroids. So he gradually left the field, but occasionally reappeared to test himself against the steroid-users.

Harold typifies the 1960s as the "Twilight of the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building." He had an amazing drug-free classic physique that anyone would be proud of! For those who have no interest in steriods, isn't it inspiring to know that a physique like Harold's can be built naturally?

You can read a great interview with Harold Poole by David Robson at this site:


Johnny G said...

I wrote earlier apologizing about Harold Poole, But he sure looks thick and big for someone who suppose to be natural...Compare him in this picture then, look below at Reeves pictures...I followed bodybuilding for 45 years and you know when someone is using and when someone isn't....

- CPB - said...

Hi Johnny,

You might be right, but I think pictures can be a bit misleading sometimes. Reeves has a more graceful build - which often "masks" his massiveness. But take a look at Reg Park (who was the same height as Reeves, but had a thicker build). I don't think Harold looks bigger or thicker than Reg did in the 1950s.

I should mention that Harold, like Reg, was really into heavy training (Harold was a competitive weight lifter at one point as I remember).

In any case, if any credible evidence pops up that Harold was indeed a user, we can always revise our view.

But as far as I know, in addition to Poole, Chet Yorton and Bob Gadja also were natural, classic physique builders who competed in the 1960s with some degree of success against the steroid users. However, they also left the field. I've seen some photos of Yorton looking pretty big (He actually won against Arnold once).

As far as I know, with a few exceptions, the natural classic physique builders left the field pretty quickly in the 1960s and most of the top bodybuilders of that time that we are familiar with (like Larry Scott, Freddy Ortiz, Dave Draper, Frank Zane, Don Peters, Don Howorth, Sergio Oliva, Arnold, etc - were all first generation steroid users).

So the "Twilight of the Golden Age" (the 1960s) had only a few "stars" (natural, classic physique builders) before the darkness swallowed the light!

But hopefully, in the 21st century, a new grass-roots movement (such as ours) can bring about a Renaissance of Classic Physique Building as a continuation of the pre-roid, Golden Age!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)