Bill Pearl

Below is an article written by George Coates for Iron Man magazine in early 1971

Bill Pearl is almost 41 years old. He has once again decided to enter N.A.B.B.A.'s famed Mr. Universe Contest to be held as usual in London in September. I'm sure many people are wondering why should this man who has been at the top longer than any other physique star lay his hard-earned reputation as the world's best-built man on the line against fellows half his age? There are many reasons.

Bill, like a lot of other people, loves the sport he has done so well at for over 20 years. He hates to see the game being abused in any shape or form. He is particularly appalled at the methods certain top physique men are resorting to in their quest for greater muscle size. Bill has a 14-year-old son and he swears if his boy has to take drugs and do some of the other crazy things these physique men are doing, he would sooner his boy never touched a barbell.

We all know that so many young men have radically changed the course of their lives, always for the worse, through the use (or should I say OVERUSE) of tissue-building drugs. Rumour has it that some men in the weight game have actually died as a result of taking these drugs. Bill wants to do all in his power to rid the weight game of DIANABOL and its counterparts. These drugs have their part in medicine, but they are NOT needed by ANYONE who desires to be healthy, fit and strong through the use of barbells!

Another reason that Bill has decided to enter this, his final contest, is due to the fact that for years he has silently endured ridicule and uncouth comments by a certain magazine with "the trainer of champions" at the helm. For years this magazine would provoke people like Bill, Reg Park and the one and only John Grimek by running "polls" to supposedly determine who was the world's greatest bodybuilder. In the final ratings, all three would appear way down their list. It got to be quite ridiculous! They would be rating men who would look like boys standing next to this trio of giants way up on their top ten, or top twenty, or whatever.

Last year things came to a head when an article was published attributed to Arnold Schwarzenegger, hurling rather unwarranted remarks at certain top liners, most of these being aimed at Bill Pearl in particular. I know Arnold Schwarzenegger. He would never write an article of that nature. He is a nice young man with a fantastic physique, currently associated with an organization that took similar advantages of Reg Park many years ago. In fact, Arnold and Earl Maynard (Mr. "U" of 1964) were visiting Leo Stern and me about six weeks ago, and believe me, big Arnold has nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for Bill Pearl. Being the gentleman he is however, Arnold would not comment.


Bill knows the only way he can compete fairly against anyone will be on neutral ground with fair and impartial judging. In other words, the N.A.B.B.A. Mr. Universe Contest!

Late last year, Bill and Leo Stern embarked on a one-year plan to prepare Bill and have him in the greatest shape of his life to compete in London. They had spared no efforts in this their final and most important undertaking. Every two weeks Bill and Leo get together and I feel deeply honoured to be allowed the privilege of attending most of these meetings, as the three of us will be associates in producing many magazine articles in the future.

To say Bill looks fantastic right now would be a gross understatement. As I write, the annual Mr. California Contest to be held in Los Angeles is only three days away. Bill is the guest poser in what may be his last public appearance in the United States. Most of the drug users will be in the audience and I will state here and now Bill will shock them right out of their seats.

Leo took some pictures of him last weekend and he is in unbelievable condition. You will be seeing some of these pictures soon. After the Mr. Universe Contest is over Bill and Leo will be disclosing some of the methods Bill has used to attain this fantastic condition. One or two phases of Bill's preparation for the Mr. Universe contest are closely guarded secrets and will be told after the great event.

Bill and Leo both hope all the top liners enter this year to decide once and for all the question, "Who is undeniably the greatest of the modern day bodybuilders?" I know one thing for sure and so does Bill, they don't play favourites in London. You have to be the best man there or you don't win. People like Oscar Heidenstam, Bert Loveday, Colin Sheard, Hal Wrigley and the rest of the judging panel are the most knowledgeable in the world.

I sincerely hope Bill Pearl can do it! I personally hope he can bump off the very best of the drug users and anyone else on the scene besides.

While the rest of the bodybuilding world awaits with bated breath what could prove to be the greatest ever N.A.B.B.A. Mr. Universe contest, Bill Pearl will be training with a vengeance and a quest. The quest being to put the game back on its feet where it belongs. To show everyone connected with the game that it's possible to attain the physique they desire without resorting to the dangerous practice of using drugs. In this writer's humble opinion, it's not only dangerous, it's absolute madness. Bill Pearl will be using the sane and sensible methods he has always believed in with one or two innovations, which will be made public at a later date. I hope all readers of this magazine will join me in wishing Bill Pearl success in his final venture as a physique contestant.


Legendary bodybuilder Bill Pearl lives a disciplined and consistent life

By LJ Anderson
Published February, 2011
Daily News Columnist

Growing up in the 1930s and '40s with only a distant role model to read about in Strength and Health magazine, young Bill Pearl knew that he wanted to be a bodybuilder. He was determined and even waited two years during World War II -- when iron was at a premium -- for his first set of York barbells. That patience eventually paid off for him in the fledgling sport as Pearl began earning bodybuilding titles in 1953, when he was named Mr. Southern California. He went on earn Mr. California, Mr. America, Mr. USA, and was a five-time Mr. Universe titleholder.

Today Pearl lives in Oregon, where, at 80 years old, he still works out six days a week and is a model of discipline in his drive to remain strong and physically fit. He also continues to teach the rest of the world what he knows through his best-selling books (www.billpearl.com) including "Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women."

Q: What initially sparked your interest in bodybuilding?

A: Probably insecurities, and looking for recognition. I started when I was 11, and knew that if I lifted weights and got bigger and stronger, I'd get more attention. I also had an older brother who was constantly pounding on me, so that was an incentive. Weight lifting wasn't accepted in those days, though. My dad told me that if I did more work around the house -- instead of lifting weights -- the house would look a lot better. And in 11th
grade, when the track team coach found out that I was lifting weights, he actually kicked me off the team. It was thought that you would become muscle-bound, and it would ruin your athletic ability. One of the reasons I persevered was because people told me that I couldn't do it, and I wanted to prove that they were wrong. Everything I've ever done that was worth anything has come from the persistence (I developed) in weight training.

Q: How did you learn how to weight lift, and progress in the sport of bodybuilding?

A: I admired John Grimek, who was one of the first Mr. Americas in the 1940s, and he was like my mentor even though I'd never met the man at the time. But everything back then was trial and error. If you tried something and it seemed to work, then you continued to do it. Because I was a relatively good athlete in high school -- and I think it was because of my weight training -- I got recognition that I probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise. I was the type of kid who would roll up my T-shirt and show off my arms. Also, I followed Strength and Health magazine like a Bible, and you could buy it at a drugstore at the time. When I got it, I would stick it under my coat so people couldn't see what I was buying.

Q: What training advice do you have for non-professionals?

A: It's about consistency, and if you're going to train or exercise three or four days a week, make sure that you don't let anything else take that time away from you. I would also like to see everyone spend a little time on themselves every day. I wake up every morning and spend a little bit of quality time on me before I try to take care of the rest of the world. I like to say that there are 24 hours in the day, and I'll give the world 22 hours, but I'm not going to give 24. So if you enjoy going on a walk or bird watching, or anything that makes you feel good about yourself or about the world, I think it's smart to do.

Q: What does your daily routine consist of now?

A: I get up every day at 2 a.m. and spend about 45 minutes to an hour reading, meditating a little bit, and deciding what I want to do with the rest of my day. We have a big barn behind our house where I train, and I'm in there at 3:45 a.m. six days a week. I go through regimented weight training from 4 a.m. until about 5:30 a.m. and then go back to the house, clean up, and go to work in our little office, where we sell exercise equipment and books. We work until about 1 or 2 p.m., then take it easy, and come the next day, we do the same thing all over again. We're in bed by 7 p.m. every evening, but we live in a very small town and we're not night people, and thank God I have a wife who will put up with it.

(In terms of diet), my wife and I have been lacto-ovo vegetarians for the last 45 years or so -- which means we don't eat any red meat, fish or fowl. We'll have homemade soups, breads and beans, and we eat about 15 different things that my wife makes. I probably consume about 3,500 calories per day at the maximum. We're kind of stringent-like in everything else we do. Some people have a tendency to socialize with food, but we are more used to using food as a fuel. I can say that I'm having a good life, enjoying myself, and I still laugh -- so I have absolutely no complaints at all.