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  • Writer's pictureSi Sweeney

OSCAR HEIDENSTAM ‘The Father of NABBA’ by Si Sweeney Oscar was born in Cyprus on 27 February 1911 .

  1. OSCAR HEIDENSTAM ‘The Father of NABBA’ by Si Sweeney Oscar was born in Cyprus on 27 February 1911 .. His father was in the Colonial Police . Oscar came from a wealthy background, his grandfather was Swedish and came to England to study medicine and became a British citizen . Oscar returned to England when he was nine years old ,after his fathers Police duties in Cyprus were served . In school Oscar became a very accomplished gymnast , athlete and swimmer winning many titles at school and county level . When he left school he decided to study fitness and became a Physical Fitness instructor in various private schools. In the early 1930’s George Kirkley , Oscars lifelong friend persuaded him to take up weight training. Oscar enjoyed it and at the time improved his physique quickly . He appeared in multiple physical culture magazines of the time . One of the biggest selling magazines in the 1930’s was ‘SUPERMAN’ and Oscar appeared in it many times , winning a total of 64 different’SUPERMAN ‘ awards . This made him very well known in Britain and Europe. He went a step further when he competed in and won the 1937 ‘ Health & Strength League Physical Excellence’ contest. This was the forerunner to what became H&S League Mr Britain 🇬🇧 and then became NABBA Mr Britain 🇬🇧 in 1955. Oscar of course became a valued member of the Health & Strength league board in 1940 . After his victory in 1937 Oscar became the first British bodybuilder to venture abroad to compete . He went to France 🇫🇷 and entered a contest in Le Touqet , held by Federation de Francois Le Culture . He won a Grand Prix and Diploma of honour. Even though he placed 8th in the main event .. This event was Mr Europe . Oscar made up for this result by placing 4th in the ‘Mr World’ contest in 1938 and winning the Mr Europe title in France 🇫🇷 in 1939 . Classical lines , symmetry. definition and proportion was the criteria back then and Oscar had them all . After 1939 competing for Oscar stopped for awhile as World War 2 started . Oscar went into the elite Army Physical Training Corp . He reached the rank of captain and saw action in the Middle East . After the war ended Oscar appeared at the London Palladium to a packed house doing his hand balancing act , which people really appreciated in those days . Oscar competed again in 1948 where he placed 4th at Mr Europe and 5th in Mr World .. but of course the major contest in 1948 was the Mr Universe that was held to coincide with the Olympics in London . It was organised by the BAWL ( British Amateur weightlifting league) , HSL ( Health & Strength League ) and sponsored by Health and Strength Magazine which was founded in 1892 and had become the most popular fitness journal in Britain. Oscar had valuable input in the organization of the contest which was a massive success.. it opened the minds of Oscar and other members of the HSL to work on forming NABBA (National Amateur Bodybuilders Association) .. He also competed in the 1948 contest placing 3rd in the Tall Class begins Reub Martin 🇬🇧 2nd and Steve Reeves 🇺🇸 1st .. The Legendary John Grimek 🇺🇸 won Medium Class and Overall Mr Universe title . Oscar stayed friends with John Grimek and Steve Reeves and used Grimek’s silhouette in the famous NABBA logo. After the 48 Universe ,Oscar spent the next two years with members of the H&S Leafue forming the NABBA Federation.. and in 1950 they hosted in London Scala theatre the now longest running and most prestigious bodybuilding contest in history of the irongame , The NABBA Mr Universe. Which celebrities it’s 70th anniversary this year . The idea was to simply bring the best competitors from all over the world to compete for the prestigious title of NABBA Mr Universe .. Steve Reeves USA 🇺🇸 won the first contest in 1950 and received the Sandow Trophy ( the Bronze one that was given to A C Smith at the Great competition in 1901) it was the first time a Sandow was given as a trophy in an official federation contest. . , Oscar who was now thirty nine competed and placed 2nd behind John Lees 🇬🇧 in the Medium-Tall Class (class2). The NABBA Universe was such a success that many members of royalty , worlds rich and celebrities of the times would attend . Even though it’s a predominately Amateur contest NABBA board decided to bring in a Professional Mr Universe title in 1952 with Juan Ferrero of Spain 🇪🇸 winning the first Professional title . In 1966 the first Miss Universe title was introduced with the title going to Elizabeth Lamb 🇬🇧. The NABBA Universe attracted all the big names in the irongame and Oscar became an international force in bodybuilding with the NABBA Federation.. People such as Steve Reeves , Reg Park , Bill Pearl , Jack Delinger , Andre Drapp , Robert Duranton , Juan Ferrero , Paul Wynter , Sean Connery , Mickey Hargitay, Joe weider , Len sell , , Bruce Randall , Henry Downs , Clancy Ross , Chet Yorton , Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Dennis Tinerino, Arthur Robin , Earl Maynard , Serge Nubret, Frank Zane , Ken Waller, Boyer Coe ,Jim Haislop, John Citrone , Ian Lawrence , Roy Duval, Sergio Oliva ,Albert Beckles, Roy Callender, Tony Emmott , Bertil Fox , Lou Ferrigno, Bill Grant , Robby Robinson , Tony Pearson , Ed Kawak , John Terilli , Charles Clairmonte , Chris Dickerson , Paul Grant , John Brown , Jeff King , Peter Reid , Helmut Riedmeier, Lance Dreher , Victor Terra , Shaun Davis , Brian Buchanan, Edmund Ellwood , Tim Belknap , Matt DuFresne , Andy Polhill, Lee Priest , Walter O Walter O'Malley , Ian Harrison , Lionel Beyeke, Flex Lewis , Casey Viator, Josh Maley , Lee Seung Chul , Fabian Mayr .. to name but a few have all won or competed in NABBA Universe.The NABBA Federation with Oscar at the helm was indeed the strongest and most prestigious bodybuilding Federation in the World and is still strong today. Oscar competed up to 1953 , he was 2nd behind Reg Park ( Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inspiration) at the 1951 NABBA Universe and won the HSL Mr Britain Masters in 1952 .. Oscar finished his competing at the 1953 Mr Europe placing 2nd . Oscar put all his time after that contenting on NABBA and the competitors he even bought Health and Strength magazine to promote the contests and NABBA competitors .. It covered all the area shows in Britain, European NABBA contests , the NABBA World championship and of course the prestigious NABBA Universe. It’s was in 1969 that he bought the magazine outright even though he had been an editor at the magazine since the mid 50’s .Speaking of publications Oscar wrote a few books on physical training including ‘ Modern Bodybuilding’ in 1953 . He was a very good physical trainer and helped celebrities get fit including Hollywood bombshell Jane Mansfield. Oscar life was NABBA and he made sure every decision he made was thought out and concentrated on the well being and support of the athletes . He beloved in descency, honesty and integrity he was open and never underhanded , this sometimes left him open to be used or slightly treated by certain individuals and Federations in the industry. Oscar the consummate gentleman still got on with it and NABBA attracted all the greats because of this gentleman . Oscar was still NABBA Secretary when he passed away on March 21 1991 .. Oscar worked tirelessly for NABBA from its forming to 1991 .. His serious until approximately 1979 when he had to hand over some of his responsibilities to others in the Federation. He gave nearly 50 years of his life to NABBA and was well liked worldwide .. He help form and develop the greatest Federation in the sport .. it stood the test of time .. and many federations have come and gone .. Some have copied NABBA ideas and some have tried to abuse NABBA to no avail , simply NABBA is the original and of course the original is the best . . People like Oscar Heidenstam were the backbone of the most historical federation the irongame.. His dedication. Commitment and loyalty does live on in the NABBA Family . Oscar was not just the father of NABBA he will also go down in history as the ‘Father of competitive bodybuilding’ .. Rest in Peace Oscar . You will never be forgotten. .. By Si Sweeney .

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