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Brett Chatz

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Tribute to a Legend
By Brett Chatz   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, April 06, 2007
Posted: Friday, April 06, 2007

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Reg Park won his first title in 1949

In life we are not always measured by what we are doing, but by what we have already done.
Who is Reg Park? Why is he considered a bodybuilding legend? What are his views on modern-day bodybuilding? Finally, why is he the most influential figure in Arnold Schwarzenegger's meteoric rise to fame and fortune?
It's not everyday that you get to conduct a one-on-one interview with the best in the business: Reg Park fits the profile in every way. It is hard to believe that this demure man has received such enormous praise the world over. It only takes one look into his steely eyes to confirm that everything about him is true .
Bodybuilding is more than just a sport; it is a way of life. For many 'Gym-Rats' pumping iron, day in and day out, the Adonis physique is a faraway dream. It takes a whole lot more than sweat and tears to be crowned Mr Universe but Reg Park has broken record after record in his pursuit of this sport's highest crown.
Besides for being the star of six Hercules films in Europe, for which he attained cult status, he repeatedly won international acclaim for his magnificent physique. He won Mr Britain in 1949; Mr Europe in 1949 and Mr Universe in 1951; 1958 and 1965. These amazing accomplishments exclude his placing in the top three in the Nabba Pro-Universe in 1970, 1971 and 1973. Reg was inducted into the American Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 1986 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
His contribution to the popularisation of the sport in South Africa is instrumental, and for this reason alone Reg Park most certainly deserves a tribute.
Reporter: "Reg, your profile certainly is impressive: List some examples of your record achievements?"
Reg Park: "Thank-you. I performed a 258-pound dumbbell press; squatted 600 pounds and sitting curled 120 pounds for eight reps while my knees were being held down. On the press-behind-neck I managed 303 or 304 pounds. At one point I recall bench-pressing 605 pounds at Buster McShane and Ivan Dunbar's gym in Belfast."
Reporter: "The world of competitive bodybuilding has seen a dramatic shift away from the beautifully sculpted physiques of Frank Zane, Steve Reeves, Reg Park and the like. Today's Pro-Universe Contenders are hulking giants in the 280–320 pound range like Ronnie Coleman and co. There is obviously widespread steroid usage – what are your views on this?"
Reg Park: "People today are impressed with mass; few are interested in aestheticism. The whole steroid and growth hormone thing came about, if I recall correctly, in the late 1960s. I did it all the natural way. My gymnasium was nothing more than my back garden in minus five degree Celsius temperatures – no electricity, no water. We put candles behind the chairs and that's how I trained in those days. My message is to stay away from all the steroids; they adversely affect you as you get older. In today's competitions they don't care either way. Builders use all sorts of masking agents to conceal their steroid usage and many spend thousands of dollars a month on these substances to maintain their physiques."
Reporter "Probably the thing most people know about you, is your association with Arnold Schwarzenegger. How much of an impact did you have on his career and are you guys still friends?"
Reg Park: "Yes certainly. This year in February I met up with Arnold for the 2006 Arnold Classic. Last year at the same competition, it was a very special time for me as Arnold singled me out in front of a packed house to say thank you. We do have a long and colourful history together. Let me tell you how Arnold Schwarzenegger came into the picture: when I was filming in Rome, during my Hercules films, Arnold would have been about fifteen. He saw one of the movies that I did and from that moment onward he just wanted to be in the physique industry. He then started training.
"In 1966 he got second place to Chet Yorton, in his first Nabba Universe show and the next year he won it. But even before all of this, I spoke with Wag Bennett about bringing Universe contenders to South Africa. Arnold was one of these guys that I brought over. After the 67 Universe, around November/December I brought him over. He stayed with me and we toured the country. The rest is history."
Reporter: "You are still very active in the gym industry here in South Africa, what is a typical day like?"
Reg Park: "I put in a lot of hard work, every day. That's the only way I know!"
Reg Park has been a personal trainer at Morningside Virgin Active for many years. His peers, colleagues, clients, friends and family are both proud and enamoured by him. Reg is a true gentleman, a true icon.

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Reviewed by Ed Coet 4/6/2007
Outstanding! This was a very informative article. I realy enjoyed it. I am a 58 year old semi-bodybuilder. I'll never achieve competititve status but I don't care. I build and tone for strenth and health. As such, your article was very interesting to me. I hope "Muscle magazine" or some other body building periodical picked it up. Once again, well done sir.


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