|Legendary Bodybuilder Reg Park Dies of Advanced Skin Cancer|
|Written by Muscletime|
|Wednesday, 21 November 2007 20:00|
Legendary bodybuilder Reg Park passed away today (November 22, 2007) at the age of 79. He was diagnosed earlier this year with metastatic melanoma, an advanced skin cancer that is terminal. At the beginning of November, Reg was hospitalized in Intensive Care Unit suffering from the debilitating effects during the final stages of the disease; he had come to terms with and accepted the fact that his death was imminent. With all medical options exhausted, he returned to the comfort of his home in Johannesburg, South Africa to be surround by his friends and family during his final days. His funeral service will be held in Morningside, Sandton, South Africa, on Sunday afternoon.
His legendary status is immortalized in the history of bodybuilding not only for his achievements as an athlete and competitor but also for his enduring contributions to modern bodybuilding as an advocate and ambassador for the sport over the course of his lifetime. Roy "Reg" Park was born on June 8, 1928 in Leeds, England. He was exposed to the physical culture lifestyle early on - his father owned a barbell company along with a gymasium in Leeds.
Reg Park played soccer of the reserve team for Leeds United before deciding to pursue bodybuilding in 1946 after reading issues of Strength and Health while rehabilitating a soccer injury. He placed fourth place in his first bodybuilding contest, the 1946 Mr. Britain.
A few years later, Park won 1949 Mr. Britain and subsequently visited the United States for six months where he quickly caught the attention of Joe Weider, bodybuilding magazine publisher and trainer of champions. When he returned to the competitive stage at the 1950 NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe, he was runner-up to bodybuilding great Steve Reeves. Reg Park returned to win the 1951 NABBA Mr. Universe at the age of 23 years; in addition, he was victorious at the 1958 and 1965 NABBA Pro Mr. Universe bodybuilding shows. Park was one of the most muscular bodybuilders of his generation often competing between 230 and 250 pounds at a height of 6'2".
In the year following his first Mr. Universe victory, he permanently moved to Johannesburg after marrying South-African born ballerina Mareon Isaacs. In South Africa, Park ran a series of fitness gymansiums. Up until recently, Park continued to train clients at the Morningside Virgin Active Gym in Sandton, South Africa.
Reg Park also starred in five Italian films belonging to the Peplum genre - Hercules in the Haunted World (1961), Hercules and the Captive Women (1963), Samson in King Solomon's Mines (1964), Hercules, Prisoner of Evil (1964), and Hercules The Avenger (1965). The Italian epic genre, also known as "sword and sandal" films, were films based on mythological/gladiatorial themes usually starring heavily muscled professional bodybuilders as the protagonists. The genre dominated the Italian movie industry from 1960 to 1965 and did not see a revival until the box office success of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan the Barbarian spurred a renaissance of Italian Peplum during the 1980s.
Bodybuilding great and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was highly influenced by Reg Park. "Other than my parents, there may be no single person who had more to do with me becoming the person I am today than Reg," Schwarzenegger said in a press release. Reg Park was a "fantasy father figure" for Schwarzenegger as a young aspiring bodybuilder. In fact, Schwarzenegger was motivated and inspired by Park's career in several ways from the winning at the Mr. Universe to traveling and pursuing bodybuilding success in the United States to using bodybuilding to launch a successful acting career.
Schwarzenegger and Park developed a close friendship over the years. "Reg was one of a small group of people in my life who was always there to support me," according to Schwazenegger in a statement, "Whether it was winning bodybuilding competitions, starring in a new film or becoming Governor, there was always a note and kind words from Reg. That pumped me up and helped inspire me for my next goal." Arnold trained with Reg in the 1960s and also lived with him and his family for a short time as well. It was Reg Park who urged Arnold to pursue his first acting role in "Hercules in New York." It is no wonder that Arnold eagerly accepted the Conan movie roles reviving the Sword and Sandal genre. Reg Park was clearly Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding inspiration.
Food & Trees for Africa, promoting environmental awareness and conservation. She is responsible for initiating and running the Reg Park Legacy Foundation, a non-profit with the stated goal of providing "support for disadvantaged individuals to gain access to sports and fitness."
Remembering Reg - Reg Park 1928-2007: A Tribute to a Champion - Live 8PM, Monday,November 26, 2007
"It is with immense sadness that we have to inform Reg’s friends, fans and supporters around the world that Reg passed away this morning, 22 November 2007 at 10h15 after a brave battle against the metastatic melanoma that caused him such suffering this year.
"Reg’s last months with us were spent at home surrounded by a sea of love and good wishes from his family and friends around the globe. Reg had such a huge heart, such great dignity and grace and he was so humble. He continually expressed his most sincere thanks and love to all who supported and loved him throughout his life.
"The family again thank all of you who sent so many beautiful messages of support throughout his illness.
"The Legend will continue to live in our hearts and our souls, forever. The world was a richer place thanks to this beautiful and true man who has taught so many of us so much about life and love and what it means to be human.
"Thank you to those of you who have generously donated to the Reg Park Foundation which we hope will continue Reg's legacy by offering disadvantaged youth access to sport and fitness.
"The memorial will take place on Sunday afternoon at 16:30, 25 November 2007. Reg did not want wreaths of flowers so if you feel you would like to send something please go to http://www.trees.co.za/ to plant a tree in his name or donate to his foundation.
"Please post all your messages via Reg's Guestbook
"With Love and gratitude from the Park Family,
"Mareon, Jeunesse, Jon Jon, Frik, Michelle, Jhana, Kaya, Tamarac, Travis, Trent, Savanah, Johnny, Bonnie, Taryn, Nicole, Chelsea, Kyle, Douw and Garth.
"Other than my parents, there may be no single person who had more to do with me becoming the person I am today than Reg. I first saw him on the cover of a muscle magazine when I was a kid in Austria in 1962. The photo was Reg in his Hercules film role, and I wanted to be just like him.
"He was so powerful and rugged-looking that I decided right then and there I wanted to be a bodybuilder, another Reg Park - and I could not have found a better hero to inspire me.
"I read every article about him. I saw him in his movies. I found out what his training regimen was and made it my own. He was a three-time Mr. Universe, and when we met and began working out together, it was Reg who impressed upon me how hard I would have to work if I wanted to achieve my dreams.
"I'll always remember him making me do calf raises with 1,000 pounds at 5 o'clock in the morning. It really woke me up that he worked out so hard day and night.
"He is the reason I was motivated to become Mr. Universe myself and come to America and make movies. And he was like a second father to me.
"Reg was a wonderful role model in so many ways. He was a gracious and proud champion who lived every day of his life to the fullest and was loved by everyone in bodybuilding, where he was known as 'The Legend.' And he was an astute businessman who used his intelligence, instincts and eternal optimism to become a tremendous financial success.
"Reg was one of a small group of people in my life who was always there to support me. Whether it was winning bodybuilding competitions, starring in a new film or becoming Governor, there was always a note and kind words from Reg. That pumped me up and helped inspire me for my next goal.
"As a young man, I lived and trained with Reg in South Africa. There, I saw another side of him that was impressive. That was the loving, doting father to Jon-Jon and Jeunesse and the devoted husband to Mareon, his incredible wife of more than 50 years.
"I didn't grow up in that kind of environment, but it really impressed me. Seeing him so free with his hugs and kisses and affection, I realized that's the kind of father and husband I wanted to be.
"Reg was a dear friend, an extraordinary mentor and a personal hero. I will miss him dearly.
"Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to Mareon, Jon-Jon, Jeunesse, his entire family and his many, many fans and admirers."