Iconic American bodybuilder Dave Draper dies at 79

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Dave Draper, the muscular former Mr. Universe known as the “Blond Bomber” who inspired a generation of bodybuilders including Arnold Schwarzenegger has passed away. He was 79 years old.

His wife Laree Draper wrote on Facebook that he passed away on Tuesday, without giving a cause.

“I was with him and it was calm and peaceful,” she said. “It was, as her doctor told me some time ago, a good death.”

Draper, who was born April 16, 1942 in Secaucus, New Jersey, said that by the age of 12, bars and dumbbells had become very important to him.

“These were my solid steel friends who I could trust,” Draper wrote on his website. “When the going got tough and I missed baseball all the time and the girls were way too cute to talk, the weights were there and they spoke my language.”

After being crowned Mr. New Jersey in 1962, Draper worked for the Weider Barbell Company in Santa Monica, Calif. And trained at Muscle Beach – a symbol of the 20th century fitness boom – with Joe Gold, founder of Gold’s Gym, and renowned bodybuilders such as Frank Zane and Irvin “Zabo” Koszewski.

Draper was six feet tall and his torn body weighed 235 pounds. Among the International Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation titles he won were Mr. America in 1965, Mr. Universe in 1966, and Mr. World in 1970.

A young Austrian-born bodybuilder with whom he trained at Muscle Beach, later to become governor of California, recalled how much he admired Draper.

“Dave Draper was an inspiration to millions of people around the world, including me. He was one of my idols,” Schwarzenegger wrote on his Instagram page.

Growing up in Austria, he kept a magazine cover photo of Draper “on the wall above my bed for motivation”, and when he saw him star in the 1967 film Don’t make waves, “I was like, ‘My dreams are possible.'”

“When I came to America and finally met Dave, I learned that his heart was as big as his pecs,” Schwarzenegger said.

Draper has been featured on dozens of physics magazine covers and has spoken openly about his past steroid use, saying, “If you don’t take them, don’t. If you do, you’ll wish you never took it. have done.”

Draper has also written books on bodybuilding and fitness. His latest, a dissertation entitled A preview in the rear view, was released in 2020.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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