Bodybuilding Legends Part XIII

Bob Gajda, Stage Stories

In this installment on Bodybuilding Legend Bob Gajda, we'll share a behind the scenes story that entertained crowds while riling the judges at the 1966 Mr. America competition, which took place on June 19th at the York Barbell Club in York, Pennsylvania. To get a rise out of the top competitors, someone started a rumor that Dennis Tinnerino (who Arnold beat to win his first Mr. Universe competition in 1967) had been selected as the winner. Now, in those days, contestants were ranked on a point scoring system by the judges hours before the finalists individually performed their final poses on stage. The AAU's posing criteria was very restrictive compared to today's shows. Contestants were limited to 4 or 5 poses and prohibited from exhibiting muscle control stunts. No bouncing biceps or anything like that.

When Bob and Sergio Oliva, his Duncan YMCA contemporary, got wind of this backstage rumor about Dennis being the new Mr. America, they rebelled by appearing on stage together where they ad-libbed a mirror posing routine. Some of the judges wanted them disqualified for this, but since the results were already tabulated they got off with a stern warning. While little appeared in the bodybuilding press of the day, Muscular Development (Vol 3, No. 10, Page 32, October 1966) did make a mention of this scene at the end of their Mr. America story. "Somehow Bob Gajda must have learned that he was the winner, because when he came out to pose he overstayed his time. He just continued to stay up on and on."

For the record, Bob Gajda won the overall and was crowned Mr. America, 1966. His friend Sergio came in second, also taking home to Chicago the Most Muscular trophy.
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