3 Bodybuilders Who Committed Suicide

Many people suffer with those issues. Battling with issues is a common and normal thing in life. Strength stars like Travis Ortmayer, Chris Duffin and Chad Aichs used to discuss about those topics in the past.

I researched and found three famous bodybuilders (Chuck Sipes, Vern Weaver, Joe Meeko) who committed suicide officially. There’s an another bodybuilder named Luke Sandoe who apparently killed himself in 2020, but there’s no really bulletproof source or any documents. Thus I would call it a rumour instead of a fact.

Chuck Sipes (1932 – 1993)


Chuck Sipes the real bodybuilding hero: Mr. America, Mr. Universe and Mr. World. He was not only a bodybuilder, Chuck Sipes was also a role model. He changed, helped, and shaped lives of troubled men and youngster.

Chuck’s beginning is documented in a Flex article, published September 1990, called ‘Man Of Iron’. Chuck Sipes started training in his school days. While his classmates were sleeping, he made his way to the schoolyard an hour before school started and performed pull-ups and dips. During the breakfast his classmates smoked and ate unhealthy stuff, but Chuck Sipes followed a different lifestyle and went to the nearest supermarket to stock up on healthy and high-protein foods.

The school time ended and he didn’t know where to go. Feeling lost and looking for a challenge, he joined the US Army as a paratrooper.

Chuck pursued an occupation and many hobbies away from bodybuilding. His recreational activities included water skiing, snow skiing, climbing, cycling and hiking.

“I love the mountains, and if I had the time, I would climb the Alps,” said Chuck Sipes.

About Chuck’s way of attempting are different sources. I had heard that on his first attempt he cut his wrists (not cut off) but he survived. There are no really sources except by word of mouth. Other sources indicate when he took his life he used a gun- but I cannot confirm it. Another source is telling that Chuck hung himself, so simply we do not know.

Joe Meeko (1961 – 2009)

joe meeko bodybuilder
Joe Meeko w. girlfriend Renee Knappenberger (Author of picture: unknown )

Joe Meeko was born on October 25, 1961. It seems there are some sources indicate that he was born in the year 1960.

Joseph John Meeko comes originally from North Catasauqua, Pa. Furthermore he graduated at Catasauqua Highschool in 1978 and Lehigh County Community College 1980. He was religiously and loved to attend churches like the Herrickville Wesleyan and Hope Baptist Church in Herrickville. [1]

He made a name himself in the world of bodybuilding and was able win titles such as 1984 Mr. America AAU in Pasadena, CA (1st Place Medium Class + Overall Winner) and 1988 Mr. Universe AAU in Tuscon, Arizona (1st Place Heavyweight Class + Overall Winner, where Joe was at his best at 5 ft. 7-3/4, 235 lbs.).

At the age of 27 he retired from bodybuilding competition, but he never lost
the passion working out. For the past years Joe offered free bodybuilding
advices through internetforums and some of his wisdoms are well-documented
in muscle-magazines.

After Joe died, his friends Bob and Val Barker posted the following on the
oldschool-bb forum www.ironage.us: “Joe had endured hardships in the recent
years including marital difficulties, car accidents, injuries and complications from Lyme
disease. According to a longtime friend of Joe and the family, Joe passed away on Dec.8 at 11 p.m. by his
own choice. He called me earlier in the day and he expressed
sadness over events and what he saw as failures but was repentant before God
and made his peace. He was saddened that he heard from very few friends and
felt very alone. It’s easy for those who were not part of the situation to judge his actions
and so it is best to consider not only the closing days of his life but his life
in its entirety, which included a distinguished career in competitive bodybuilding.
We place our faith in a loving God, in whom Joe trusted.”

Vern Weaver (1937 – 1993)

1963 Mr America Vern Weaver(Photo by Doug White)

He started with weightlifting at the age of 16. Jules Bacon, 1943 Mr. America,
worked at the barbell company “York Barbell” and used to deliver
any kind of weight lifting equipments to the customers. In August, 1953
Jules Bacon drove to the Weaver’s property to deliver a “York Big 12

Vern Weaver remembered the day very well and wrote: “He got out of the car,
opened the trunk, and dumped a 100-pound box on the ground. Then he handed
me the bar and other accessories. As he was getting back into his car,
Jules said, ‘I hope you will win Mr. “A” someday!’.”

Vern Weaver was very athletic and for the 100-yard dash he was able to run 10.3 seconds, but weight training was the only regular physical training he ever followed.

Somewhere I Belong
“Training was the big thing in my life. As soon as I got home from school I would dive
into the cellar for a few hours with the weights.My family thought I was crazy: they didn’t know why I had to train.”

His thoughts and road to the top is well-documented in the Strength & Health magazine November 1963. He felt quite often lost in life and wanted to belong somewhere. Several times he tried his luck with becoming an actor and tried learning from the bests like Tuesday Weld and Paula Prentiss. But again he realized that an acting career was not for him and his searching for a purpose in life seems to be endless, but later he realized that bodybuilding could solve some of his problems.

1963 Mr. America: A Dream Come True
Vern Weaver faced the greatest competitors ever such as Harald Poole, Bill Seno and Craig Whitehead. After winning the title he was just numb. He was not able to realize what happened. He felt very proud and privileged to have been chosen as Mr. America 1963. It seems he finally found the reason for “the being”. He wrote endless articles for muscle magazines. Gave training tips and inspiration!

In Newspaper ‘York Daily Record’ appeared an article about Vern Weaver’s death:
“He died of self-inflicted wounds at Gifford Pinchot State Park. He died between 4:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.”

National Suicide Prevention
Lifeline Hours: Available 24 hours.
Languages: English, Spanish.


3 thoughts on “3 Bodybuilders Who Committed Suicide”

  1. BART HUGHES was a body builder. He was named “Mr. Western States”,
    (amateur). He opened a gym in Klamath Falls, Oregon, named: FLEX
    Like CHUCK SIPES, he worked alone, made his weights and was persistent.
    Later moved to Apache Junction, Arizona.
    Photograph is available if desired.

  2. Chuck Sipes hung himself in his garage. After several failed attempts because he couldn’t tie the knot because of his earlier cutting his wrist.
    He was a totally nice guy and a friend. He was soft spoken and very kind.
    He was a good artist also.
    He had an accident in the paratroopers and was in a coma for (I think) a month.
    In his last years his hands shook like essential tremors.

    • It’s nice to know that Chuck Sipes isn’t forgotten by the general public. Thank you. I had always heard he shot himself. I also heard that it was due to divorcing his wife coupled with his gf breaking up with him (thereafter)


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