The Doug Hepburn Statue Project
A statue would be outstanding to see.
Feel free to send 'em funds.
Q (Jake Striefel): When you were at your peak in training, did you train every day or 3 times a week or what?
A (Doug Hepburn): Well, I trained a lot but I never trained that long, but I trained very hard, and I remember some of my routines.
I would probably go in and do about 10 sets of squats, I know that I trained hard, because there were several occasions where I fainted, and you got to train hard to pass out. I did it once when I was squatting, I actually fell down, fainted, and you know how you can do that, if you're in good shape, real good shape, you can do repetition squats till you faint. Not when you're doing them, but when you stop you'll get real dizzy if you go far enough. You just pass right out, but it's funny, you wouldn't necessarily do it while you're squatting.
Q: You never trained that much on the deadlift, did you.
A: No, I disliked the deadlift. I don't believe I could have been a good deadlifter, it never felt right to me, even pulling I couldn't do. I don't think I was naturally levered to deadlift, although I know that when I squatted I had a very strong back in a different way.
I used to squat with my back, almost good morning it up. I used to use my back to come out of it. I was doing these squat movements, they were like a good morning and I found it wasn't the lower back that was strong, where the deadlift is, it's up higher, it's up about halfway, you got that huge muscle up there, that you can do this, but when I was doing that with the squat I couldn't deadlift anything because I had no lower back power. Actually, squatting does not develop the lower back very well; to some extent but not real power, I don't think it does. I think you've got to deadlift to do it.
Q: Do you think these super-suits they have today help them an awful lot?
A: Sure, 60, 60 pounds and more.
Q: You think that much?
A: Yes. This is what I want to do again. I want to go out and show them that this stuff is maybe a load of crap. I mean, a super-suit is nice, buy maybe you can do it without a suit. It's like a guy who says, well maybe I can do more and easier if I got a crutch. You know.
And if I went out, here at the age of 56, and I go out there with no suit, no knee wraps, no drugs, and go out there and set a bloody world record or something and say, Okay, boys, when you're 55 there it is. You wait till they get to be 55, it's just as bloody hard as what you're doing now.
Q: I thought, quite a few years ago, you were in a contest at Broadway Gym with Ben Cote, and it was on television.
A: Not in Vancouver, no. I'll tell you a little story. I went to the World Championships, and I won, and there was a guy named Humberto Selvetti from Argentina, and he came out of nowhere, and he was big. It was kind of funny, and nobody knew about the guy, and he's the guy that almost finished off Anderson. Anderson was almost beaten by Selvetti at the next Olympics because Selvetti came out, and Anderson had lost weight.
Hoffman told Anderson to lose weight, which he shouldn't have done because he got weak, and if he had that extra weight . . . Anderson was crying . . . he was out of his tree, because Selvetti nearly beat him. He had his best lift and he said there was something wrong with his ears, and his balance was gone, and he lost his balance . . . well anyways, when I lifted in 1953 here comes Selvetti out of nowhere and the guy weighed about 340 ouns, and he's lifting in the heavyweight division, and nobody knew about it. I went out and started to press off, and I pressed about 320, and Selvetti game me a kiss, they do, you know, but he didn't kiss me when I did 371, and beat him. It was funnier than hell!
So I came back to Vancouver, and about six months later Selvetti and his coach comes through. Here's Selvetti and he's saying Selvetti's stronger than Hepburn. But what I had done, I was training hard, I was in the gym and was in good shape. I weighed about 285. I was squatting with 760 and all this stuff, and I got hot, because I knew I was in good shape, and I didn't think he was that good in six months, and I said, Selvetti is mouthing off, and I have Selvetti come over to my gym . . . well, he's in town, and I said if he can beat me I'll give him my bloody gymnasium.
Q: He was here.
A: Yes, he was in Vancouver, but I said if he can beat me . . . I put up a sum of money, $5,000 and I'll give him the gym on top of it, and he never came near me.
Q: Was that Broadway?
A: No, the one on Commercial, Commercial Gym down there. I said I'll give you $5,000 dollars and my gym if you can come in and beat me.
Q: You were pretty sure.
A: I was, there was no way he would have beat me, no way because I was in good shape.
Q: What was that picture of you, holding out to the side, a weight.
A: That's, I think, two 45-pound plates, two of them put together, I put a belt around them, through the hole, and then held them on my little finger, straight out sideways, that's 90 pounds.
Another one I used to do which was a pretty good trick, I would clean & press about 320 or 330 to arms' length, and then I would drop it and catch it in my elbows and that's hard to do. I'd push it up, and let it go, and catch it, and that thing's coming down hard too with 320, 330.
Of course you see with me, I could press 330 and it felt like 145 when I was in shape. I could take 350 to the shoulders and stand with my heels together and I could press it halfway up at the sticking point and hold it there with little effort, all this . . . nice day we're having today, beautiful weather . . . look around and just BLAST it up. I could hold it there without any real effort, just hold it, stop it and hold it, that shows you strength, that holding easily.
Q: Can you tell us about the time you met John Davis?
A: That was at the World Championships. Davis knew when I was there he was worried, he knew he was in trouble, and they said Davis wasn't sleeping, and he had little papers all over his room where he was staying, with totals on them, they were all over the floor, and all over the walls and ceiling and everywhere else, and he's doing this, and he's doing this, and he came out, and I did my press and my snatch, and after I finished the snatch, didn't even do a clean & jerk and all the coaches came over and said, You won. They knew, those guys were smart, they said you've beaten Davis, there's no way, he has to clean & jerk this, to beat you and he can't do it. They were cheering me, shaking my hand and there's still three attempts to go in the clean & jerk.
Q: You hadn't started yet.
A: Yes, either that, or I did one with 330 or something, every low clean & jerk. They gave it to me, and I did this 330 clean & jerk, when I pressed 370, and they said, You won, because Davis has to do a 390 or something, and he's never done it in a World meet, and he's not in form, and he can't do it. And he didn't do it, he was crying afterwards too, because he got beat.
Q: When you started off your lifting, who were some of your training buddies around here, who did you train with, of did you work out by yourself.
A: There was a fellow named Mike Poppel . . .
[there's a photo of him here:
He was a friend I went to school with, he won the [first] Mr. B.C. contest [aged 17]. We used to go to the YMCA and train. I trained with a bunch of guys. George Dean, he's a weightlifter. [Mr. Dean was in a rare three-way 885 pound-total tie, winner determined by bodyweight, at the 1964 Canadian Seniors and Olympic trials].
Q: This YMCA, you mean downtown Vancouver.
A: Yes, it's still there, the weight room is still there, the old weight room right down on the corner, it's still there. A guy named George Dean used to train. He works for the brewery, drives a truck. Gerry McGourlick, he's a soldier, he's a soldier over in Israel.
Q: Right now.
A: Yes, he came back to see me, yes, he's in the Israeli army. He was a 165 pound weightlifter, he was a real character. We had a guy in there, he couldn't make his clean & jerk or a press, at the old gym, and he broke his fist against the wall, he slammed the wall and hit a 2x12 and smashed his fist, broke his fist, so bad he had to go to the the hospital. That's what you call the height of frustration, he hit this wall as hard as he could, a 2x12 plank.
Q: Who was this.
A: I can't think of his name.
Q: Who owned the Western Sports Center, when you trained down there, was that Johnny Tutt?
A: No, it was a guy named Ed Lemoin, he owned it.
Q: Johnny Tutt was the one who put on the meets.
A: He was just working in there. You see, the Western Sports Center has gambling, card rooms upstairs, and they still probably have it. If you want a license to gamble, have a card club with gambling for money, by law you have to support a gym or something. A lot of guys are missing the boat here, if you want to make some real money, if you get a gym, take the Spartacus gym, you could probably go upstairs if there wasn't a bank there and just put a card club up there.
Q: You can do that?
A: I think so, providing the card club, will subsidize the gym.
Q: Can you remember a gym below the Kind Eddy Hotel in New Westminster?
A: Yes, I wasn't in there but I remember the place. Wait, I was in there once I think. Yes, I remember those guys, there were two brothers there or something, they had the place.
Q: Harry Daniels was telling me about the place.
A: Old Harry! I remember Harry. He started when I first started down at the YMCA.
Q: I think you trained him, didn't you.
A: No, no.
Q: A lot of guys looked up to you quite a lot.
A: Well, I've known them all these years, you know.
Q: Whenever we talk to them they always say they got their routines from you.
A: Well, we've all gone our own way, you know.
Q: Is there anything you'd like to add?
A: I don't think so, we've, pretty well covered everything, you got a pretty good interview, you know. That type of an interview is something different, and I think, some of my opinions, you can put them in there for what they're worth anyway. Incidentally, I want to point out also along with this . . . who do you think I got a letter from, asking me, how to develop their press?
Q: The bench press?
A: I get letters in the mail, from several guys in the world, asking me how they can improve their strength in the press and the bench press. I'll give you a few names. Pat Casey.
Q: Pat Casey, first man to do 600?
A: Paul Anderson.
Q: Paul Anderson?
A: Paul Anderson was writing me letters, asking me how to train. Reg Park, another one.
Q: Did you ever meet Marvin Eder?
A: Sure, I did, in New York.
Q: If he was that light he couldn't have come close to competing with you in the squat or anything like that.
A: No, but he was strong, he clean & pressed 350 at 198 officially. That's a hell of a lift, the guy was strong. You know, what he could do is one of the best ones, you know how you do dips with the weights around your waist?
Q: Parallel bar dips.
A: Yes, he could do repetitions with 460 pounds around his waist. Now that's strength.
Q: Did you ever try them?
A: I can't do it, I don't like it, it's too uncomfortable, it pulls my arms and everything.
Q: What about some of the other lifts?
A: Odd stuff.
Q: Yes, like triceps extensions.
A: Well, I'll tell you one I did which was a hell of a good one. You have to be insensitive to pain. I could take a 100 pound dumbbell, clean it, with one finger, and press it.
Q: A hundred pound dumbbell.
A: Yes, you have one finger over the bar and rest it on your knuckles. You ever try to hold a hundred pound dumbbell on top of your knuckles upside down, pressing on your knuckles on the bone, and then press it.
Q: No, I never tried it.
A: That was one of my specialties too, and I could bend a dime in my teeth, push it up, a thin dime, one that's a little worn. I'd put it in my teeth, with a piece of paper around it, and push up with my thumb and I could bend it.
And then I bent quarters. I could bend a quarter with my hands by putting it into a crack in the wall, just as long as I could get enough to hold it, pull up on it, and I could bend a quarter that way.
Q: Did you ever do 1/2 squats or 1/4 squats?
Continued in Part Six . . .
Enjoy Your Lifting!