Ray Beck Photos, proof sheet
Q (Jake Striefel): Were you a vegetarian when you were lifting?
A (Doug Hepburn): No, no. I ate all kinds of stuff, but what happens when you get older, for example, if you took this thought right now and I believe this, muscle would grow. If you put a new stomach in and a digestive system, I'd be going again. I'll guarantee you I'd be pushing 500 to 600 in the bench, because that's what happens when the machinery breaks down and the carburetor, and you put food in it doesn't do the job anymore, but if you got that thing working and that could go into muscle, the nutrients, that's why they give old people steroids. The steroids help the system to absorb that protein into the muscle again, and that was the purpose, the reason the medical community developed steroids, for old people, that are sick and in the hospital.
Q: Cancer patients.
A: Not only that, but old people that are very sick and very weak, they put steroids in them and the muscles mend and they begin to get their strength back.
Q: How many gyms did you have back then?
A: Well, I had the Broadway Gym.
Q: Did you start that one?
A: Yes, and two of them on Commercial Drive (Vancouver). The first one was way down near Venables, and then we opened one up the street and then I had one in New Westminster.
Q: Where in New West?
A: Right on Columbia Street. I forget now, it was towards the bridge, and the other one I had was in Burnaby. I had one out on Hastings Street by Sperling.
Q: There used to be a story, about a barber shop that had some weights in it, and you used to go in, and if a person could lift it, they got a free haircut, and you used to lift it. Is there any truth to that?
A: There was a guy that used to have weights, only I didn't know him that well, he had a barbershop out here, I think if was on Clark Drive near Cambie, and he used to be and old weightlifter and he did have a weight in there, he had it on the floor there, but I never went for a free haircut, but I think maybe he was doing that. He may still be there, he's an old weightlifter.
Q: So you never went in and lifted it for a free haircut?
A: No, no, I didn't do that.
Q: What this feat . . . you would do a handstand on a leg extension machine in the Broadway Gym, and dropped to the floor in the handstand position, Did you do that.
A: Yes, it's possible. I used to be able to dive into a handstand from four feet in the air and land right on my hands and balance.
Q: Drop from the leg extension to the floor.
A: Yes, and I used to stand up, and take a little run and dive right up in the air and boom! I'd just take a jump and my feet would be way up in the air and I'd land right on my hands. I weighed about 270, I used to do it in the shows, you know.
Today, how many of the heavyweights that weigh 270, how many of these men could do what I did, jump about four feet up in the air and land directly into a handstand and hold it, and I also could hold a one arm handstand and balance, swing my weight over to the one arm and hold a one finger handstand.
Q: Stand on one finger.
A: No, just the one hand, and then the one finger supporting the other hand, that's how you work into a one arm, and I used to do tiger bends where you go into an elbow stand, and I would do this at 270, 280. After you're in an elbow stand, you balance, then you throw your bodyweight forward and pushup and French curl into a handstand. It takes a lot of triceps power and I used to do that for repetitions.
Q: Down at Western Sports Center, some fellow was supposed to have done a handstand on a Coke bottle. put his finger in a Coke bottle and kicked up. Who could that have been?
A: That might have been Johnny.
Q: Johnny Tutt.
A: No, Johnny Irving. He's a little friend of mine, we were like Mutt and Jeff, and we used to have fun, he used to follow me around. I weighed about 280 and Johnny weighed about 110, and there were various things I could do with him. You know, we used to go to the beer parlors in those days, and I'd put my head and one hand on the beer parlor table and he'd put one hand on my head and one hand in my hand and go up into a handstand, and then we'd hold a one to one, which means that I'd have my elbow on the table and he'd hold the one hander, and then I'd smoke a cigar, and hand it to him and he'd smoke it, and when we did that in the beer parlors there was no buying, we got all the beer we wanted for the whole night, it was coming right over to the table. Johnny Irving was killed a few years ago, a house fell on him during construction.
At one time, I pressed with one arm a 220 pound man, I side pressed him, balanced him on his back, I worked on this one summer and I actually, at the end of the summer, worked the whole summer, over and over and over, he weighed 220 and I pressed him to arm's length, side pressed him to arm's length. I only weighed about 245 at that time.
Q: Did you ever do any backlifts?
A: I did a show once, and I lifted the Canucks hockey team.
Q: How many people was that?
A: About seven or eight guys, they weighed about 160, 170 each, that's nothing. I could lift 4 or 5 thousand pounds, but that's what they wanted, this was just for a publicity stunt.
Q: Harry Daniels said you used to do something down at Second Beach with the garbage can, turn it on its side and then do handstand pushups on it.
A: Yes, another one I used to do, you know the big lifeguard boats that Clinker built? I hold them over my head.
Q: The big ones.
A: Yes, I held a clinker boat. They got it up in the air on a hoist.
Q: What kind of boat?
A: It's a row boat, one of those big red and white lifeguard boats they have, which go out there fairly heavy, you know, I put my hands up and they had it jacked up in the air, and they lowered it on a crane, then they took the crane away, and I held it, for a stunt. And then I used to pack the guard boat myself down into the water by standing the boat up on its back. I did this at English Bay.
Q: Were you a lifeguard there?
A: Yes, everybody in those days, going back it was so nice down there, when you went to English Bay, it wasn't like now. You'd walk along and they'd say Hi Doug, or Hi Bill. Now I go down there and you gotta have an interpreter, it's all different, but used to lift the boat up on end and put the seat on my back, and tip the boat forward, and I'd walk or fun down to the water with it on my back.
Q: What was the most you pressed over your head?
Continued in Part Four.
Enjoy Your Lifting!