Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Doug Hepburn Interviews, Part Two - Jake Striefel


Part One is here:

Snowjob in Chicoutimi with Ben Cote . . . 

Q (Jake Striefel): What was the story there, about the rules? 

A (Doug Hepburn): I'll tell you the story, what happened. I was drinking. I was boozing, okay. I used to go out and drink beer, and just before the Cote contest, on top of it, I went and I tied one on for about four days, and I was hungover before I left for Quebec and I was hungover all week. You know what I was doing, I was drinking more beer just to even keep going. I was really bad, I was hungover, see, but on top of it, what I was doing, it knocked my bench way down. I didn't realize what I had done, and the long trip back on the plane, and when I get there the rules of the contest were, which we agreed on by mail, there were four lifts, the press, squat, deadlift and bench press.

Q: Press from the rack?   

A: Yes, from the rack. Now, the way the contest was going to be done was the man that got, it wasn't total, the man that got the top 3 out of the 4 lifts. 

Q: Like 3 out of 4 falls.

A: Yes, okay, so that is what they did, but originally that was not the agreed upon rules, it was best total, that's what we agreed upon in the mail correspondences. It was to be the total poundage of all the four lifts, with the highest total the winner. 

So I go there and they don't know a little thing about me, that I could squat, and I went into he gym, and Cote's manager is watching and I just knocked off a 630 pound squat easy, just went down and up quick, and the guys eyeballs came out. He says, Mr. Hepburn, we want to change the rules, because he knew he was beat because they figured Cote would take me on the squat and he couldn't, they figured he'd get a big deadlift and a big squat. I could out-press him on the bench, but he would get so much with the squat and deadlift that I couldn't catch him on press and bench press.

Q: He was a powerful deadlifter. 

A: He was a helluva deadlifter, yes, but he couldn't press worth a damn and he couldn't bench press much either, and what they did was, I agreed with this, and I allowed them to go with the 3 out of 4, you see. Anyways, to make a long story short, the rules were changed, and I was hungover, and I agreed with it, and I shouldn't have done it, because they had me, and on top of that I was so rotten from the drinking, my bench press was way down and that finished me. I only had to bench press 420 or something and I couldn't do it, I was shot, I was just tired, I was completely shot and some of the guys watching said I put him over, they wouldn't or couldn't believe that he beat me, they said, You laid down for that guy, some of the guys were mad at me. 

Q: What was this billed as, The Strongest Man in Canada? 

A: Yes, then the York magazine came out with an article and they said, "Hepburn did it again." They wouldn't even accept the fact that his happened. It was my own fault for doing it, but he could never have beaten me, had I had it the way I trained on it. 

Q: When you started out here in B.C., who was the president of the weightlifting association at that time? 

A: I think one of them was Harry Brown, he's an old-timer. I think he's still around. He worked for the Post Office, and then he retired. But he may still be around, he was one of the guys in the weightlifting.

Q: When you used to travel around the country doing strength shows, what did you do in them, what kind of feats? 

A: Do some dumbbell presses, presses off the rack, some bench presses. I used to bend 12" spikes.

Q: Didn't you bend a bolt at one time too? 

A: No, just 12" spikes. I sued to bend them, then, I used to tear two decks of cards into quarters.

Q: Horseshoes? 

A: No. I didn't bend horseshoes. No, no. 

Q: Why didn't you ever enter some squat and deadlift meets and get your name on the books? 

A: I don't believe they had any at that time, actually, if I remember there wasn't any squat meets, there was nothing. At the time they had that bench press contest that probably was just a little contest  they had locally, because they didn't have any powerlifting at that time, that I know of. 

Q: So you never saw any more powerlift contests after that back in those days? 

A: There weren't any powerlifting contests, it didn't even exist. You know, coincidentally, a guy told me in of the big encyclopedias of powerlifting, a big book about it, the guy says, Doug, they got you in there as the father of modern powerlifting, Doug Hepburn . . . I guess because I was one of the very first. 

Q: What in your opinion do you consider tobe your greatest feat of lift that you ever did? 

A: One of the greatest, and there are several ones that strike my mind, obviously that 260 curl had merit, although I didn't really think about it as that, and at one time, I was doing some push pressing, I used to push press, which was almost a press, and I remember one time I was weighing about 260 and I push pressed around 500 pounds. 

Q: Off the rack? 

A: Yes, I took it off, and I gave it just a little kick and I pushed it right up at a bodyweight of 260, and that was 500 pounds. 

Q: Let's say, it was set up then like today with all the weight classes. Would you lift as a 275 or would you lift as a super heavy? 

A: Well, I would say that I would lift as a superheavyweight because I got stronger, I think the strongest I ever was in my life is when I weighed that 310. I didn't have the endurance, but I was very strong, pressing and everything else. 
And incidentally, I never tried a heavy bench press then but I am certain, I don't remember, but I think that I was easily on the bench in training going up over 500, with a straight grip. I used to train for that, I remember I used to take a close grip and stop it. because I used this for my standing press, and I remember many times working up to 460, 470, 480 with a close grip about shoulder width. 

Q: What do you think your potential would have been, or do you think you reached it? 

A: Do you mean with the use of the pills and drugs? 
Q: No, just regular.

A: Had they had powerlifting then and I kept going, I would say that my squat would have been well over 800. I don't know for sure, I don't think I would have been doing any 1000 pound squat. I give the man credit, because there is no way I would be squatting with 1000 pounds, but, the thing is, how much would they be squatting with if they did it clean. Let's put it this way, if the guys today didn't take drugs, is it possible that I was as good as any of them in my day. That's what I want to know. Would they be doing this or would they be down to an 820, 830 squat, because that would be where I am, and remember on top of that, I did it 20 years ago (interview Sept. '82), with very little to push you and increase on that. 

Q: I would like to bound a couple of names off you to see if you've ever heard of them. Stan Gibson. 

A: Sure, a good friend of mine. Yes. 

Doug, kneeling right, Stan Gibson, standing right

You might enjoy this 2011, 236 page document, "The Origins of Canadian Olympic Weightlifting": 

Q: Do you still see him today? 

A: He comes in all the time. 

Q: Do you know where I could reach him? 

A: I have his phone number. Of course you know Bill Wallace. I've known him from way back. Bill's doing good for his age, the guy's really serious, he goes in there, the guy's doing really good I would say.

Q: Are you going to come out of retirement? 

A: For lifting? 

Q: Yes. 

A: I wouldn't bother doing anything, unless I could do something really important, and what peed me off, the press here, these reporters here, the only word that I could give you is ignorant of what the real values are, they're ignorant. I could use other words, I'll use ignorant, combined with immature, in regard to the value of accomplishments are and you can quote me on that, because I went out here and went to a meet, and I did a one arm press which was close to military-strict, which was a world record and I was 53 years old, and David Willoughby told me if I could do this, I think it was a one arm press with 170 pounds doke strict . . . I could claim it as a world record, and he's the expert. He says Alekseyev probably could do more, but hasn't done it so I go down and do it . . . what do these guys do? They don't know what it is, they write, Hepburn came out and did a lift. I says if that's all I'm going to get for busting my ass, I says forget it. 

I just train for myself now, but if I knew the powerlifting association was there, I would train to show the world what can be done form a person who devotes his life all the way to his sport, and I'm one of the very few who did this; most guys they kind of fade away, it's hard the way I do it. I go down and I do it because I like it, but I don't take it seriously . . . the worst thing about when you get older, if you get serious, forget it. You have to go in there, and let nature take its course. 

You have a nice little workout. little light one, fiddle and diddle and I do this and I actually got stronger. If you go in there and you get your notebook out, and today I'm going to do 6 reps with this weight, it's gone, unless you want to work down far below, then you can do it. For example, when I was young I would go to the gym and do sets of 3 with 340, but when I pushing them I'm working and down in there, but when you get older the juice is gone, it's not the same anymore . . . you're pushing, it feels like it's dead, like it's numb, you haven't got that drive anymore, and one of the reasons I haven't got it, it's not only my age. 

I eat vegetables, and I don't eat the meat and stuff which will give you that zip. I'm a complete vegetarian, and if I set a world record I will do it as a vegetarian. Another thing I want to prove, because I say when a man gets older, he has to be able to preserve his health, he must change his diet, because he gets sick otherwise. 

So another factor comes in, because at that age you can't eat all that food, you have to change your diet, and the trick of it is you have to keep your body healthy so it still functions well, so you can do it. Most guys would kick the bucket, they might be strong, but they went too far along, and their gone, they get a stroke, whatever, so you got to back off, and you got to change your diet and your whole philosophy, and then train in a different manner and you can get very strong, if you want to change your whole outlook.

Q: You're a complete vegetarian? 

A: Yes. 

Q: No fish. 

A: No nothing. 

Q: Were you a vegetarian when you were lifting? 

Continued from here in Part Three. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!  


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