Every Winner of the Mr. America Competition Since 1939

Before Mr Olympia and Mr Universe there was Mr America. Every novice dreamed to become Mr. America! Dennis Tinerino, Chris Dickerson, Bill Pearl and all other oldtimers are just proud calling themselves Mr. America! Even Germany started its own version entitled ‘Mr. Germany’!

Ed Giuliani (Arnold’s training buddy) said: 

“Wherever you were born, you’ve got to win that state.

You can’t ever run away from where you were born and raised and then win the state where you’re now residing. You’ve got to go back and do it. For some reason, it just burns in the head: it just works. I’ve never known a great bodybuilder who hasn’t won at home first. 

Franco Columbu, Mr. Italy, born and raised there; Arnold, Mr. Germany, Mr. Austria; Frank Zane, Mr. Pennsylvania, where he was born; Larry Scott won Mr. Salt Lake City where he was born. Dave Draper won Mr. New Jersey, then came out here. Robby Robinson, Mr. Florida. “

Mr. A 1939 Bert Goodrich (First Mr. America, but not AAU sanctioned)

Living near a river in the State of Arizona, where he was born and raised, he was first attracted to swimming. At the age of 13, he started winning contests in high and fancy diving, as well as in swimming race.

He was a consistent winner in these events throughout the years he competed in them at high school and college. Tumbling and hand balancing stunts also commenced to appeal to Goodrich when he was a boy.

By the time he graduated from high school he was nearly six feet in height and weighed 170 pounds.

His leisure time during school years was absorbed almost constantly through his participating in wide variety of sports, consisting of football, basketball, baseball, track athletics, swimming, tumbling, gymnastics and weightlifting.

Over a period of years he has developed a physique to such a super-excellent state that the physical culture experts, who acted as judges at the “Mr. America” contest, selected him as being the finest physical specimen among all the outstanding physical cultures athletes. At the age of 32 he weighed 195lb. [source: H&S 9.7.1940]

1939 Mr. A Roland Essmaker

Roland Essmaker. Photo Courtesy George Coates

He was born on 24th March 1916 in Richmond, Indiana USA, son of  Harry and Anna. He had two brothers and one sister. His mother died when he was very young, so life was tough for his father, a chiropractor.

Unable at first to afford ‘proper’ weights, Roland commenced training with an assortment of scrap metal odds- and -ends obtained from a local junk yard. Later with a friend he worked out at the YMCA gym. Most trainees in those days included gymnastic ring work, and Roland developed the ability and power to make three repetitions of the single arm ‘chin or pull up.

After his historic Mr America win in 1939 he worked for a while as an artists model, including posing for the famous Walt Disney Company.

Roland’s philosophy was: “Train for health and a symmetical physique”.
He also said, “Don’t struggle with too much weight. Many oldtimer are paying the price with joint problems.”

Roland died of cancer at the age of 86 yrs. [source: Roland Essmaker 1939 Mr America Dies A TRIBUTE by David Gentle]

1940 – 1941 John Grimek

Champion weightlifter John Grimek did not become a quote-on-quote competitive bodybuilder until AFTER winning the 1940 and 1941 AAU Mr. America contests. (He was never defeated in a physique contest.)

According to strength historian Jim Murray, former managing editor of Strength & Health magazine, Grimek only practiced standard barbell and dumbbell exercises but, concentrated on competitive weightlifting. From 1932 until 1940, his main training consisted of snatches, clean-and-jerks, heavy squats and tons of clean-and-presses.

One of Grimek’s memorable philosophies for life was,”Keep your focus on good health as a primary motivation for your toil. Build muscles the old-fashioned way. Earn them by hard work and dedication.” [source: Bill Pearl Fan Page]

1942 Mr A Frank Leight

Frank Leight won the 1942 Mr America title. He also won the Best Chest category several times. A tall, powerful, athletic figure, he was one of the Siegmund Klein’s moist famous pupils.

He did not particularly indulge in heavy weight lifting as far as Olympic lifts. He did, however, use very heavy weights. He did an abdominal raise with 155 lbs!

He did 100 sit-up repetitions with a sixty pound barbell. He has also lifted a 150lb barbell 35 times in succession in the two arm press and has done 15 repetitions with two one hundred pound dumbbells.

When he won this title, the newspapers flashed this all over the country and the New York Journal American gave him a full page spread with pictures and story.

Many offers came to Frank Leight but he would just smile in his good natured way and would not consider them. He did not want interviews or have photos taken.

Frank Leight uses his mother’s maiden name, which is German, and “Leight” means “easy” or “light” in the sense of being “easy to do… feels light”. His real name is Frank Stepanek.

Back in the day he was an instructor at the New York Police Academy teaching recruits boxing, wrestling and Judo as well as

physical conditioning. [source: S&H October 1957]

1943 Mr. America Jules Bacon

Jules S. Bacon (July 8, 1917 – January 13, 2007) was an American professional bodybuilder. Bacon was born in Philadelphia. He began weight training at age 20 and came second in the 1941 Mr. America bodybuilding contest. He won Mr. America in 1943. Bacon died in York, Pennsylvania, aged 89. [Source: wikipedia]

Mr. America 1944: Steve Stanko

steve stanko bodybuilder

Steve Stanko (September 5, 1917 – December 31, 1978) was an American heavyweight weightlifter and bodybuilder. In weightlifting he won a silver medal at the 1938 World Championships and set three unofficial world records in 1941: in the snatch, clean and jerk and in the total. In bodybuilding he was crowned Mr. America in 1944, Most Muscular Man in America in 1946, and Mr. Universe in 1947. [source: wikipedia]

1945 Mr America: Clarence Ross

Clarence Ross (October 26, 1923 – April 30, 2008), also known as Clancy Ross[1] was a bodybuilder from the United States.Ross was born in Oakland, California on October 26, 1923, the second of the four children of Hershel Ross, a teamster, and his wife Jeannette Levi.[2] His mother died when he was young, so he grew up in a series of foster homes. He started weight training at age 17, weighing 135 pounds at a height of 5’10”. He was motivated by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to enlist in the Air Force, which he did on October 31, 1942 at San Francisco, and was then stationed in Las Vegas.[3] Around this time he married his wife.In 1945, Ross won the AAU Mr. America contest in Los Angeles. After this success, he started to appear on the covers of popular physique magazines such as Your Physique, Iron Man, Muscle Power, and Health and Strength. [source: wikipedia]

1946 Mr America Alan Stephan

To George Hanus, Chicago strongman and gymnastic star, goes much of the credit for Al’s desire for physical perfection. Hanus since given his life in the Merchant Marine during the war, but he has left a record of encouragement and assistance to many young lads in the physical culture game. (..)

Al owes his start in bodybuilding to the day he saw George Hanus performing on the flying rings in Chicago’s  Douglas Park. (..)

Al did develop a fine start in gymnastics, weight lifting, and general athletic skill. He worked out two nights a week and Saturdays, at the same time spending long hours in the gym at J. Sterling Morton High School with the gymnastics team. (…)

His body took on the rugged contours of his father’s; his chest deepened and broadened; his arms grew; he grew taller. With only an eighty-pound dumbbell set, plus a stiff routine of training at Douglas Park and with the gymnasts at high school, the gangling kid took on his Mr. America form. (..)

Soon after his graduation from Morton High School, Al enlisted in the Navy, in July, 1943.  (…)

At Camp Perry, Virginia, his rugged physique served him well. He was assigned as a judo and wrestling and physical training instructor, under Roy Moore, 140 pound amateur world wrestling champion and the only white man to hold the coveted “5th Degree Black Belt,” symbol of over 100 matches without defeat in judo.

Moore considered Al his prize instructor, but within six months the Navy transferred Al to Davisville, Rhode Island, then to Pearl Harbor for eight months, and finally to Guam for another eight months following the end of the war. He was finally discharged on April 2nd of this year – two months to the date that he was to win his title as Mr. America. [source: Your Physique 1946 October]

1947 Mr America Steve Reeves

Stephen Lester Reeves (January 21, 1926 – May 1, 2000) was an American professional bodybuilder, actor, and philanthropist. He was famous in the mid-1950s as a movie star in Italian-made sword and sandal films, playing the protagonist as muscular characters such as Hercules, Goliath, and Sandokan. At the peak of his career, he was the highest-paid actor in Europe. Though best known for his portrayal of Hercules, he played the character only twice: in Hercules (1958), and in its 1959 sequel Hercules Unchained. By 1960, Reeves was ranked as the number-one box-office draw in 25 countries around the world. [source wikipedia]

1948 Mr America George Eiferman

George Eiferman (November 3, 1925 – February 12, 2002) was a notable figure in the sport of bodybuilding. Born in Philadelphia in 1925, he served in the Navy during World War II and entered into the sport of bodybuilding afterwards. He won the AAU Mr. America competition in 1948 and the Mr. Universe in 1962. [source: wikipedia]

1949 Mr America Jack Dellinger

Jack Delinger (born June 22, 1926 – December 28, 1992 in Oakland, California) was an American professional bodybuilder from Oakland, California.[1] He won the 1949 AAU Mr. America and the 1956 Mr. Universe.[2] (wiki)

1950 Mr America John Farbotnik

Before and After Picture of John Farbotnik

John Farbotnik was the popuilar winner of the 1950 AAU Mr. America contest, held in the Academy of Music in Phliadelphia.

The contest, with 32 contestants, was one of the more successful AAU Mr. America events. Farbotnik scored a total of 71 points out of a possible 75, with Melvin Wells at 68, and Roy Hilligenn at 65.

At the time Farbotnik won the Mr. America contest, he was an instructor at the Physical Services Institute of Bruce Conner and Harold Zinkin, located in Los Angeles.

Later he partnered with Les and Pudgy Stockton to open a gym in Pasadena, California. In the early 1960s, he immigrated to Eastern Canada and became heavily involved in commercial real estate.
John Farbotnik died in 1998, at age 72. [source Bill Pearl fanpage]

1951 Mr America Roy Hilligenn

Roy Hilligenn broke the national junior lightheavyweight clean and jerk record at this time with lifts of 335 on his third and 350 (double bw) on a fourth attempt. The record was held by no less a personage than John Davis. Photo shows a snatch with 245.

Roy Stanley Hilligen (November 15, 1922 – August 3, 2008) was Mr. South Africa four years and the 1951 AAU Mr. America. Famous for his incredible strength, vegetarianism, and dazzling smile, Hilligen mixed body building and weight training in his fitness program. [wikipedia]

Roy Hilligen is not a big man, but is compact and possesses unusual power for his size and weight, plus all-round athletic ability. 

Before the 1951 Mr. America contest he left his job and went to stay and train with Ed Yarick where between them, they devised a fantastic training program: to train six days a week and EIGHT HOURS A DAY! Such training would kill the ordinary man..but who said Hilligenn was ordinary? (…)

His entire day consisted of sleeping, eating and training. (…) He trained five hours in the first session, rested and then trained three more hours. This went on six days a week for about two months. 

Roy’s measurement: neck 17 1/2, arms 18, forearms 14 1/2, wrists 7 1/2, chest 48, waist 31, thighs 24, calves 16. Bodyweight ranges between 176 – 189. [S&H March 1953]

1952 Mr America Jim Park

Jim Park. 1952 AAU Mr. America, was raised in Brave, Pennsylvania, population 500. At age 13, his family moved to Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, where he attended the local high school. He wrestled on the school team and showed promise of future athletic greatness.

At age 17, Park left school to join the United States Navy. Discharged in 1947, he moved to Chicago to attend the American Television Institute. (…)

He then began training exclusively at Johnson’s Gym and won the 1950 AAU Mr. Midwest, while placing ninth in the AAU Mr. America event.

The following year, Park placed fifth at the 1951 AAU Junior Mr. America and decided to have his last try at the 1952 AAU Mr. America contest. Approximately three months before the competition, he allowed Johnson to plan his diet and training protocol for the upcoming event. The system, included large amounts of a milk-and-egg based protein supplement, while Park engaged in a combination of heavy and light weight-training workouts.
Following his Mr. America victory, Jim worked for the York Barbell Company as a designer and fabricator for much of York’s home-style weight equipment. (…)
Jim Park died of natural causes on August, 28, 2007, at age 79. [source: Bill Pearl Facebook]

1953 Mr America Bill Pearl

Bill Pearl
Bill Pearl (Year 1952!)

The 1953 AAU Mr. America event, held in Indianapolis, Indiana, was quoted as, “one of the best ever.” Bill Pearl, a sailor in the United States Navy, stationed in San Diego, California, took the bodybuilding world by storm. Training at Leo Stern’s Gym, he had won the 1953 Mr. Southern California and the AAU Mr. California titles earlier that year, prior to Stern suggesting he compete in the AAU Mr. America contest for “the experience.”
Pearl was born on October 31, 1930 in Prineville Oregon, weighing 12 3/4 pounds at birth.
With $2,800 saved from his four-year military enlistment, he opened his first health club in 1954 in Sacramento, California. (…)

During the 1960’s, Pearl was in constant demand for guest appearances. On one occasion, he performed before a crowd of 25,000 in Bombay, India, posing, bursting hot water bottles, bending tent spikes, breaking chains, and tearing matching pairs of licence plates in half.  [source: Bill Pearl Facebook]

1954 Mr America Dick DuBois

DuBois is at the left. Dom Juliano is in the center, and Harry Johnson (Eastern Jr. Mr America) is at the right. (Cecile Charles Photo)

Born March 4, 1933, in New York City in the Bronx, Richard DuBois, 21, was the youngest man to be crowned Mr. America.

He has always been athletic, having won the Long Island championship in the 100 meter swim, and he used to amuse himself by diving 125 feet off bridges. He also did quite a bit of boxing and was in the New York City Golden Gloves Tournament twice in the 147-lb class.

He began weight training at the age of 16. At first he did mostly lifting, then gradually changed to bodybuilding as he wanted to win contests in order to make his mother proud of him.

Shortly after beginning bodybuilding, Dick met Geroge Eiferman, one of the most popular of Mr. Americas, who immediately saw Dick’s latent possibilities and encouraged him in his bodybuilding. Prior to the contest he trained faithfully, following Coach Eiferman’s instruction were just what was needed is self-evident.

Dick does not have any particular favorite exercise, but does all exercises, sometimes heavy, sometimes light; high repetitions, low repetitions, but adhering to progression in weight always, gradually bringing the body to its peak in muscular development, definition, strength, coordination and endurance.

Dick’s measurement: 6′ 1 1/2″ tall and weighs 215lb. He has a 50″ chest, 32″ waist, 18″ biceps and 17 1/2″ neck. [source: S&H September 1954]

1955 Mr America Steve Klisanin

Steve Klisanin, born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania on May 17, 1929, was named1955 AAU Mr. America at the Masonic Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio, beating out 46 contestants.
Klisanin had previously won the 1949 AAU Mr. Pittsburg, and the AAU 1953 Junior Mr. America titles and competed as a lifter at the 1954 Junior Nationals and won the middle heavyweight division with an 850-pound total.

Klisanin started weight-training at age 17, at the local YMCA, at a bodyweight of 135 poinds. His efforts rewarded him with muscles that were put to good use on the gridiron.

In 1950, he entered the AAU Junior Mr.America, and placed third to John Farbotnic and Roy Hilligenn. He entered the AAU Mr. America weeks later and tied with Jim Park for tenth place.
In 1954, Klisanin, on active duty with the United States Marine Corps, was sent overseas with little opportunity to weight-train due to lack of equipment and time. He resumed his heavy training when given the opportunity, and still stationed in the Far East, he traveled over 8,000 miles to Cleveland, Ohio , to win the Mr. America contest. 
Steve Klisanin died May 9, 2005, at age 75. [source Bill Pearl’s fanpage]

Mr America 1956 Ray Schaefer

In the center you see Ray Schaeffer. He won the award of Jr. Mr. America. At right he is posed with the trophy in London, England for winning Mr Universe in amateur class

He won the Mr. A 56 and IFBB historian Joe Roark had a telephon conversation with him (2-8-1987)..further he made some short notes!

In 1963, his third day on the job, a pile of steel fell on him
crushing a leg. was off work for 5 years.

In 1970, a drunk, driving 115 mph in the wrong lame crashed into Ray and injured his other leg. was off work for four years.

He has no memoribilia from the old days..no trophies, no mags, nothing. Doesn’t care for the modern female bodybuilders. Wrestled for a while as the Mighty Samson; one year he wrestled in England.

Signed one year contract with Weider around 1957. Ray contacted Weider recently and was told that Weider would send some old mags etc. which featured Ray. None was sent.


1957 Mr America Ron Lacy

“As a little boy I played all the games that interest children in their early years. At the age of 11 I began to play golf while working as a caddy at the Winchester Country Club. I developed and have maintained a keen interest in this sport, and although I don’t play as often as I would like to, I still regard golf as my second favorite sport.

Competitive weightlifting is my favorite, of course. In junior high school I became interested in football and basketball and played both of them through all four years of high school.

In addition I made the track team fo two years. In each of these sports I was fortunate enough to win district, regional, and state honors. [..]

I accepted the offer of a four year grant-in-aid scholarship at the University of Kentucky. It was only at this time that I was introduced to barbell training. [….]

I became more and more familiar with bodybuilding and weightlifting and knew the names of the top lifting and physique stars. [source: S&H 1958 May]

The winner, 28-year old Ron Lacy, scored 97.5 points, which was far ahead of the runner-up Gene Behaty and third place winner Harry Johnson.

Known for his leg strength, Lacy was able to do 50 consecutive 300-pound squats. In 1980, at age 51, he completed 15 half-squats with 535 pounds. In 1997, he was still capable of squatting 405 pounds for 12 reps. [source Bill Pearl’s fan page]

1958 Mr America Tom Sansone

We see Tom as he won the Mr. Universe, and is posed with Oscar Heidenstamm, the promoter of the Mr. Universe event.

Tom Sansone, born October 20, 1935, in New York City, was an outstanding baseball player in high school, with major league potential. He captured the 1958 AAU Mr. America contest in Los Angeles, California, after weight training for only four years. In spite of local sentiment favoring Lynn Lyman, Sanson was the popular winner, finishing with 95 points
As a physical education major at the City College of New York, Sansone had won the 1958 AAU Junior Mr. America event and during an interview commented, “I’m no brain. All I want is a degree and the know-how to someday operate my own gym.”

Tom Sansone died of cancer on October 16, 1974, at age 38. [source: Bill Pearl’s fanpage]

1959 Mr America Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson, the 1959 AAU Mr. America winner, won the event over 27 contestants held at the Interstate Fairgrounds in York, Pennsylvania. He was 35-years-old and had entered the contest each year since 1952. [source: Bill Pearl’s Fb page]

“Well – I’m married, the father of five healthy, happy children. I hold down two jobs, and yet I still find time to train five times a week, three hours each workout. What I’ve gained from barbell exercise can be counted not only in physical, but in spiritual values” – Harry Johnson [Source: Muscle Builde Jan 1957]

1960 Mr America Lloyd Lerille

loyd “Red” Lerille, Jr, born June 9, 1936, in Harvey, Louisiana, became the winner of the 1960 AAU Mr. America contest held in Cleveland, Ohio.
A high school wrestling champion and a graduate from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lerille took the Mr. Armed Services title in 1960, and was discharged from the United States Navy just months before capturing the Mr. America title with mass, muscularity, and broad shoulders.
Red entered the 1960 NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe contest and won his height class. At a height of five-feet, six-inches and weighing 185 pounds, his arms measured 17 1/4 inches; chest, 49 inches; waist, 31 inches; thighs, 24 inches; and calves, 16 1/4 inches. [source Bill Pearl Fb]

1961 Mr America Raymond Routledge

Mr. Routlege won both the Mr. Universe title and Mr. America title in the same year 1961. For my younger followers: those two titles were the most prestigious titles in American Bodybuilding history!

Mr. Routledge was very famous, every bodybuilding magazine wanted to print his physique on their covers. Millions of young people saw and admired Routledge’s physqiue in those magazines!

Even young Arnold Schwarzenegger was aware of him! In his autobiography he wrote of seeing Routledge in many muscle magazines!

Ray Routledge: “When I came out on the stage to accept my Mr. America trophy, I knew that all the sweat and strain and pain had been rewarded.

I have mentioned the great help afforded me by Bill Peal and Vince Gironda. There were others, too, who helped me in more ways than one to reach my goal, not the least of which are my long-suffering wife and children, who saw so little of me during this intensive training period that they were beginning to wonder if I still belonged to them. I owe many thanks to all of them. Without their help and understanding I never would have made my fondest dream come true.”

[source: neckberg.com]

1962 Mr America Joe Abbenda 

joe abbenda

“Joe Abbenda, born July 4, 1939, in New York City, was a popular choice as the 1962 AAU Mr. America winner. His all-around musculature and ability to display his physique won the aproval of the judges and spectators. His closest rivals were Harold Poole and Hugo Labra.
Abbenda’s early physique development was a product of home training. He, along with Tom Sanson and Dennis Tinerino, (AAU Mr. America and NABBA Mr.Universe winners,) did their training in a cramped one-car home-gym garage adjacent to the Abbenda’s family home in Queens, New York.
Following his Mr. America victory, Abbenda flew to London, to capture the 1962 NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe crown. He returned to London in 1963, and won the NABBA Professional Mr. Universe title, becoming the first bodybuilder to win back-to-back NABBA Universe awards.
In 1964, Joe appeared with Reg Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a guest ententainer at the Mr. Republic of South Africa contest. He then retired from competitive bodybuilding, taught school for a time, and became an attorney.
In 2017, at age 81, Joe continues to weight train and lecture on the benifits of a healhy life-style as he carries on his law practice.” [source Bill Pearl fan page]

1963 Mr America Vern Weaver

Photo Courtesy Doug White

Vern Weaver the 1963 AAU Mr. America

Forty contestants entered the 1963 AAU Mr. America contest held at the Zembo Mosque in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Vern Weaver captured the title with 92.5 points out of a possible 100. This was Weaver’s fourth attempt to win the elusive crown.

In second place was the legendary African American Harold Poole, who walked off stage when his placing was announced. However, Poole had the consolation of winning the Most Muscular award.

Craig Whitehead, a medical student, at Tulane Medical School, placed third.

At a bodyweight of 205-pounds, Weaver represented the York Barbell Club and was a highly qualified Olympic weightlifter in the 198-pound division. At one meet he power-cleaned 370 pounds before jerking the weight overhead.

Weaver won the tall man’s division at the 1964 NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe. His final physique competition was at the 1966 NABBA Professional Mr. Universe contest where he placed second in the tall man class.

Little is recorded regarding Vern Weaver from 1966 onward. It is known he took his life in 1993, at age 56. [source Bill Pearl]

1964 Mr America Val Vasilieff

 Val Vasilieff mr america
Mr America Val Vasilieff (Photo by Milton Sacks)

“When I was 17 years old I weighed 170 pounds and practiced acrobatics everyday with my brother Bob. I started weightlifting in order to gain extra strength and endurance for the routines we rehearsed. A short time after I started I found I had greater strength and could easily do an iron cross in the rings, a three finger handstand, a straight arm hand stand lever, a straight arm flag and reverse flag. (…)
Through acrobatics and odd lifting I developed my upper body, but my legs were lacking in both size and strength. Determined to improve my lower body, I started to train on the Olympic lifts.”
 The men who entered the contest were 39 of the most well developed contestants ever to enter the Mr. America Contest. Not only were these men developed physically, but also mentally. For example, the second place man was John Gourgott, a senior year medical student; third place was Randy Watson, a minister from Tennessee; fourth place was Bill Seno, a school teacher; fifth place was Dr. Graig Whitehead, an eye surgeon and Captain in the Air Force. (…) I would like to take this opportunity to thank my many friends for the hundreds of letters and telegrams I received after winning the Mr. A title.” [source: S&H 1964 October]

1965 Mr America Jerry Daniels

Jerry Daniels Mr America 1965

Jerry Daniels was born in 1944 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He had an on-again, off-again relationshp with bodybuilding, but not before he ruffled feathers by winning the 1965 AAU Mr. America title, at the Embassy Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.

Daniels was a star football player in high school, with a father who was reluctant to let him work out with weights, believing it would hamper his ability in other sports. A conversation with Dave Collier, manager of the Colonial Health Studio in Chattanooga, put his father’s fears to rest, and Jerry was permitted to continue weight training.

The year 1965, proved to be Daniels banner year in bodybuilding. He won the AAU Jr. Mr. America and captured the Senior version. At age 21, at the height of six-feet and weighing 215 pounds, he shared the honor with Dick DuBois as the youngest to win either competition. [source: Bill Pearl’s Fan Page]

1966 Mr America Bob Gajda

mr america bob gajda
This shot was taken on the afternoon that Bob won the Mr. A title.

Bob Gajda, born September 13, 1940, was announced winner of the 1966 AAU Mr. America contest. It was the first year the competition was conducted on a seperate evening from the Senior National Weightlifting Championships.

The contest, held at the High School Auditorium in York, Pennsylvania, was a success with anyone of the top six competitors a worthy choice. Gajda, the winner, worked at the Duncan YMCA in Chicago, and trained with that year’s Mr.America runner-up and Most Muscular winner, Sergio Oliva.

Preparing for this competition, Gajda had devised a system of weight-training he called Peripheral Heart Action (PHA), which he clamed developed muscles quickly and was beneficial aerobically.

Bob had entered the Mr. America contest for the first time in 1964, but placed out of the top ten. In 1965, he had an outstanding year, winning the AAU Mr. USA and the Most Muscular award after taking second place at the Mr. America event.

At a height of five-feet, nine-inches and weighing 195 pounds, his arms measured 19 inches; chest, 49 inches; waist, 29 inches; thighs, 25 1/2 inches; and calves, 18 inches. [source: Bill Pearl’s Fan Page]

1967 Mr America Dennis Tinerino


Dennis Tinerino
Caption says: 1966 Mr Usa (photo by Doug White)

Dennis Tinerino, born December 25, 1945, in Brooklyn, New York, grew up surrounded by poverty and crime and still won the 1967 AAU Mr. America contest. As a youngster, Dennis shared his father’s interest in boxing and baseball, however, at East New York Technical Highschool, he took up fencing, prompted by a fellow student who commented, “he’s probably too muscle-bound to participate.”
In 1964, at age 19, Tinerino burst on to the bodybuilding scene by winning the AAU Teen Mr. America, the AAU Junior Mr. USA, and placed in the top ten at the AAU Mr. America competition. The following year, Dennis was crowned AAU Mr. USA, and finished sixth at the Mr. America event.
The year 1967, saw Dennis sweep the board as he won the Junior Mr. America and Most Muscular awards, followed by capturing the Mr. America contest held at the Veterans Memmorial Auditorium in Columbus Ohio. At a height of six-feet and weighing 217 pounds, his arms measured 19 1/2 inches; chest, 52 inches; waist, 32 inches; thighs, 27 inches; and calves, 18 inches. [source: Bill Pearl’s Facebook]

1968 Mr America Jim Haislop

Jim Haislop (Date Unknown)

” One evening he was persuaded to accompany a former schoolmate to the Tampa Health Club where for the first time, he took some interest in barbells and dumbbells. He met Dick Fudge, the gym operator, who was quick to realize that Haislop had the posibilities of becoming a physique star. Fudge spent considerable time explaining the benefits that are obtained from training with weights, such as health improvement, acquiring a better physical appearance, increasing the strength and developing an outstanding body.” [source: neckberg ]

1969 Mr America Boyer Coe

Boyer Coe Mr America

Boyer Coe holds the record for winning the most amateur and professional national and international bodybuilding contests. His competitive career spanned from 1964 to 1995. It consisted of 91 physique contest with 31 first place wins. He also appeared on 33 magazine covers.

Boyer had an exceptional year in 1981. At the height of five-feet, nine-inches and weighing 215 pounds, he won four out of nine professional physique contests. In 1994, he competed at his all-time heaviest bodyweight of 224 pounds at the IFBB Masters Mr. Olympia contest.

Asked what his greatest moment as a bodybuilder Boyer replied, “It wasn’t winninng a contest. I set a goal to bench press 400 pounds before I graduated high school. I managed to accomplish that. The weight may not be a lot by current standards, but I only weighed 180 pounds.”

Coe, the “Ragin Cajun,” presently lives in Huntington Beach, California. He continues to take his workouts seriously, training at 5:00 a.m., six days per week. “I have the gym nearly to myself,” he said. “And… I like it that way. [source: Bill Pearl’s Facebook]

1970 Mr America Chris Dickerson

Chris Dickerson around 1967. Photo by Clif Swan

Chris Dickerson, the winner of the 1982 IFBB Mr. Olympia award, was born August 25, 1939, in Montgomery, Alabama. Following graduation from a New York City college, he moved to Los Angeles in 1963, to train under the direction of Bill Pearl.

In 1970, Dickerson became the first African-American to win the AAU Mr. America crown and captured other major physique titles, including the 1973 NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe and the 1974 NABBA Professional Mr. Universe. In 1982, he won the IFBB Mr. Olympia contest, following two consecutive years as runner-up.

Standing 5′ 6″ tall, and weighing 190 pounds, Chris became the oldest, at age 43, to win the crown and the $25,000 first-place prize money.

On the heels of his 1982 “Olympia” victory, Chris began shuffling between Los Angeles and Manhattan to oversee his personal-training clientele. His last physique competition came at the 1994 IFBB Masters Mr. Olympia where, he won the Over 50 category,
Now living in Wilton Manors,Florida, Dickerson continues to weight-train and preach the benfits of a healthy lifestyle. [source: Bill Pearl’s Facebook]

1971 Mr America Casey Viator

1972 Mr America Steve Michalik

1973 Mr America Jim Morris

Jim Morris around 1969. Photo by Konig

Jim Morris (August 31, 1935 – January 28, 2016) was an American bodybuilder known for winning competitions over a thirty-year career. Among the titles Morris won are: Mr. USA (1972), AAU Mr. America (1973), Mr. International (1974), and Mr. Olympia Masters Over 60 (1996).

At age 50, he became a vegetarian and over 15 years transitioned to vegan, a diet to which he credited much of his excellent health. He posed nude for a PETA ad in support of the vegan lifestyle.[source: wikipedia]

1974 Mr. America Ron Thompson

1975 Mr. America Dale Adrian

1976 Mr America Kalman Szkalak

1977 Mr America Dave Johns

1978 Mr America Tony Pearson

1979 Mr America Ray Mentzer


1980 Mr. America Gary Leonard


1981 Tim Belknap

1982 Rufus Howard


1983 Jeff King


1984 Joe Meeko

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. (source neckberg.com)

1985 Michael Antorino


1986 Glenn Knerr


1987 Richard Barretta

1988 William Norberg


1989 Matt Dufresne


1990 Peter Miller

1991 Joe DeAngelis


1992 Mike Scarcella

1993 Billy Nothaft


1994 Andrew Sivert

1995 Terence Hairston


1996 Doug Rieser

1997 Bill Davey

1998 Harvey H Campbell

1999 Tracey Dorsey

– End

The Golden Way Of Every Mr. Olympia Winner Since 1965

5 thoughts on “Every Winner of the Mr. America Competition Since 1939”

  1. Note; I had some trouble to find information about the 80’s and 90’s Mr America winner. But I’ll research and update the list. If you know about some bodybuilders, then feel free to comment here, thanks!

  2. I won the medium tall 1993 mr America and don’t have any pix my name is Genaro Covino if anyone can help me find any I would apreciate it

  3. I am a life long resident of the State of Delaware. I have been looking for a complete list of Men’s Mr. Delaware Winners, from the first winner to the current winner. I used to spot for Richard Bird, Rick Reichert, and Tommy Stopyra. Can you point me in the right direction as to where to look for the placings and overall winner’s lists. I know that Kalman Kalman Szkalak won the 1975 title. I just cant the other winners like Felix Poppitti, etc. HELP


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