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"The St. George Barbell Studio welcomes everyone to their ambitious project designed to foster greater interest in Australia in the wonderful sport of weightlifting and bodybuilding. It is sincerely hoped that all visiting officials, guests and competitors enjoy their short stay in our city. A special welcome to our guest star Tan Tee Yap, Mr Singapore 1953. His long journey to Australia will be richly rewarded by the acknowledgement of the wonderful crowd here today, upon viewing his magnificent and inspiring display of symmetry, posing and muscle control. Mr Herb Morton (sponsor), is the man responsible for the wonderful display of Australia's great athletes here today. His generosity is exemplified by the huge trophy (valued at 100 pounds), which he will present to the winner of today's contest. The weightlifting and bodybuilding fraternity thanks you most sincerely Mr Morton."

 These words were spoken in 1954 by Len Gilmour (Mr Muscles), the promoter of the 1954 Mr Australia competition. This event was publicised as the 'EXTRAVAGANZA'.

In 1893, Florenz Ziegfeld started the modern mania for muscles with a German strongman he called "Sandow the Magnificent". The first body-building magazine was launched in 1908, but the Golden Age of Beefcake really began in 1952 with the debut of a little magazine called "Physique Pictorial." A dozen such magazines soon appeared. "Tomorrow's Man" offered advice as well as pictures: "Adonis" and "Body Beautiful" had colour photography and in-depth expertise.

By 1955 their combined sales had probably reached a million copies a year. Photos of guys posing not completely naked hardly seem revolutionary today, but in those early muscle mags, for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire, attractive young men were naked purely to be looked at and enjoyed. This was radical enough, but the real reason they were considered dangerous was that they were the first homosexual magazines.

Well into the 1960s, those little physique magazines were not just an aspect of gay culture in America; they virtually were gay culture. It took a series of censorship trials before the judiciary ruled, in 1968, that the portrayal of a fully naked man was not pornographic.

The physique field expanded into a multi-faceted billion-dollar industry, but not one of the little muscle mags survived the massive changes which occurred after really graphic erotica became legally admissible. Bob Mizer's Physique Pictorial - the first - was also the last, closing its doors on 31 December 1993.

Timeline - The early days

1901 This year is the first of an organised bodybuilding contest in Europe when a famous German Strongman, Eugene Sandow, judged an event at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The event drew an attendance figure in excess of 2,000.
1906 The Health and Strength League was formed on a wintry evening in December by a group of enthusiasts who wished to pursue all aspects of physical culture. The league title was taken from a fitness magazine of the same name – first published in 1894.
1930 The first Mr and Miss Britain Title was held. This inaugural event caused a great surge in membership. In 1936 alone 11,398 new members enrolled. The organisation became Worldwide and had a motto “Sacred thy body even as thy soul” inscribed on its membership badge. By 1943 the League had a staggering 191,000 members.

The first “British Empire Games” were first held in Hamilton Canada. Every four years since (except 1942 and 1946 WWII) they are renown as the “Friendly Games”.
1948 Health and Strength magazine organised the first Mr Universe contest to commemorate the Olympic Games being held that year in London. Won by John Grimek, twice Mr America winner who had previously represented the USA as a weight lifter at the 1936 Olympic Games.
1950 NABBA was formed. Mr Universe was won that year by Mr America Steve Reeves, who later went on to make more than 30 Hercules movies. The following year, when Reg Park won, one of the competitors was a young man from Canada, Joe Weider.

In the years that followed the top bodybuilders worldwide came to England to try and win the Universe title. Famous names like John Grimek, Steve Reeves, Bill Pearl, all Americans, were part of a group, which also included Reg Park, England and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austria, whom won Mr Universe four times. These five were the most influential winners who later became the legends of the Universe.

John GrimekSteve ReevesBill PearlReg ParkArnold Schwarzenegger

Timeline - The Australian Story

1947 The first Mr Australia contest was won by Bob Human in South Australia.
1951 The Mr Australia contest was held in Melbourne for the first time with Gordon Nutley the proud holder of this title.
1954 An Australian promoter Len Gilmour (Mr Muscles), of the St.George Barbell Club Sydney, organizes the Mr Australia Extravaganza.
1955 The late Oscar Heidenstam was appointed full time secretary and became the main driving force in NABBA for more than 30 years.
1956 Melbourne hosts the Olympic Games for the first time in Australia.
1960 Mr Fred Vella (Internationally recognised Karate teacher, 8th Dan Master) is the major identity and personal sponsor of the Mr Australia contest until 1971.
1963 The first Australian to compete in the NABBA Mr. Universe was Vic Vella NSW.
1982 Peter McCarthy, one of Australia’s legendary bodybuilders, forms the United Bodybuilding Association of Australia, and paves the way for NABBA UK affiliation.
1983 First Australian Women to compete in the Miss Universe were Beth Lopez and Michele Buckingham.
1984 At a meeting in London NABBA International was formed and became host to the European, World and Universe Championships. This branch of NABBA is now supported by more than fifty countries.
1986 Mr Jose Lopez takes control of NABBA Australia and leads the way for international competitions.
1991 Graeme Lancefield wins the inaugural MASTERS Mr Universe.

March 21, NABBA Founder/Patron Oscar Heidenstam dies aged 80 years.
1996 Pina Theodoridis wins the overall Miss Universe representing Australia.  
1998 NABBA celebrates its 50th year and pays tribute to its legends.

The beautiful Pina Theodoridis of Australia is crowned Overall Miss Universe yet again on this momentous occasion.

November 20, NABBA Legend John C Grimek dies aged 88 years.
1999 Australian legend Graeme Lancefield is elected National President, and leads NABBA Australia into the new millennium.

Timeline - The New Millenium

2000 On the Ides of March this website was launched internationally in an effort to promote the 'ART' of bodybuilding and to unite its' exponents. This Australian website will serve as a reference point and cornerstone to all who are attracted to a lifestyle which incorporates health, vitality and fitness at all levels. It is this foundation, the lifestyle which NABBA promotes, that breeds success in athletes and fitness enthusiasts universally.

May 1, NABBA Legend 1950 Mr Universe Steve Reeves dies aged 74 years.

Australia hosts the Olympic Games for the second time since 1956, in Sydney.
2003 November 17, NABBA Legend Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected California’s 38th Governor, his term of office expires Jan 2011.
2004 NABBA Qld host the World Championships on the Gold Coast.
2006 Melbourne hosts the first Commonwealth Games Bodybuilding Figure & Fitness Championships on March 11.
2007 November 22, NABBA Legend 1951 Mr Universe Reg Park dies aged 79 years.
2009 NABBA Australia launches new website.

August 10, NABBA International World President Ivan Dunbar dies aged 80 years.

October 24, Graeme Lancefield is elected NABBA International World President.
2011 April 19, NABBA Legend 1976 Mr Universe Serge “Black Panther” Nubret dies aged 72 years.

NABBA/WFF New Zealand is formed and President Dave Smith is appointed.
2012 March 19, Mr. Universe turned 100. Manohar Aich won the Mr. Universe 1952.

March 21, Fred Vella gifts the historical & perpetual Mr Australia Cup to NABBA/WFF Australia. Names of all Mr Australia title holders from 1947 will be inscribed on the trophy.
2013 June 14, WFF International founder and world president Mr Klaus Hoffmann resigns and Graeme Lancefield is duely elected as WFF International President.

October 11, Australias Lee Priest Wins the Overal NABBA Mr Universe Title

October 11, NABBA/WFF Australia President Graeme Lancefield is re-elected for a further 4 year term as NABBA International World President.
2014 New Categories introduced based on Height and Weight

January 25, www.nabba.com.au was relaunched following a redesign by Dynamic Websites.

June 21, WFF Universe held in South Korea for the first time outside of Europe.
2015 An exciting year as we celebrate the 65th anniversary of the NABBA Union.

WFF introduces PRO cards for winning contestants

June 27, The first WFF PRO card was issued to Mr Universe, Calum Von Moger from Australia, in La Ciotat France.
2016 June 11, WFF Universe held for the first time in the USA, at the Hyatt Grand Cypress, Orlando Florida with 23 countries represented.
2017 June 17, NABBA International World Championships held in Samara, Russia with the introduction of the Professional Women’s Figure category

October 27, Graeme Lancefield withdraws as honorary NABBA International World President after 8 years in office.