Dave Draper was the face and physique of bodybuilding in the early to late ’60s. In this look back, he reveals why he and others toiled away in dark, dungeon-like gyms day after day for little to no pay. And still do today.
The smiles on the beaches were hard earned, and their payment was gained in the dark confines of gyms filled with heavy iron. Barbells and dumbbells were the source of resistance that built the muscles that built the men that built the magazine. We lifted the cold and noisy metal not for a moment on a page of paper, but for reasons, wonderful reasons, too numerous to count. Oh, heck! Let me give it a try.
There’s health, muscle, and might for starters. Not bad. There’s the fun of lifting weights and the exciting challenge it presents, the physical pushing and pulling and stretching, the intelligent formation of exercises, movements, and routines, and the tantalizing pumping, burning, and striving. Weight training is a dynamic diversion providing strong camaraderie, identification, and hope. Few pastimes provide more benefits, rewards, and fulfillment.
Training builds discipline, perseverance, and patience. Mountains are climbed with these superior characteristics, lives are saved, and nations are shaped. Tough exercise puts order and rhythm in our lives, diminishing confusion and reducing stress, and that’s worth more than a few trips to a psychiatrist’s couch.
A strong back and strong heart match one’s courage and confidence, four natural by-products of working out and regular lifting.
So why did we do the stuff we did? Don Howorth, Larry Scott, Frank Zane, Chet Yorton, Hugo Labra, Bill McArdle, Irvin “Zabo” Koszewski, George Eifferman, Chuck Sipes. The money? No. Not the money. Sure, a few bucks would have paid some bills and broadened the smile, but, no, not the dough.
The fame and glory? Such rewards circulated close to home, and no one was profoundly impressed. The brotherhood of recognition was quiet, almost silent. Fame and glory were as rewarding as the kiss of congratulations from the pretty girl in the miniskirt onstage.
It was the doing it that was good. And it’s the doing it that continues to be good. None of us would change much if we were to do it all again. The smiles came when they weren’t expected, and they’ve lasted a long, long time.
Lift weights for fame, glory, and money and you miss the point entirely. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, I can’t explain it.
DAVE DRAPER STATS
BORN APRIL 16, 1942 HEIGHT 6' WEIGHT 235 LBS
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 1963 MR. NEW JERSEY, 1ST; 1965 MR. AMERICA, 1ST; 1966 MR. UNIVERSE, 1ST; 1967 MR. OLYMPIA, 4TH; 1970 MR. WORLD, 1ST