Muscle Sport Magazine

Albert Beckles “Pumping Iron” Movie Snub Over Money

There is no single competitor with the longevity of Albert Beckles. The IFBB Hall of Famer still trains today at the age of 83 and competed in four separate decades before retiring in 1992. He has amasses such prestigious titles as Mr. Universe, Mr. World, Mr. Britain and Mr. Europe, while also winning the Night of Champions and placing second to Lee Haney in 1985. Yet a decade earlier, the Barbados native was snubbed out of the most important piece of film in the sport of bodybuilding – all over a few dollars.

When the 1977 documentary “Pumping Iron” was being made, it profiled a number of competitors leading up to and at the 1975 Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia contests that were held in Pretoria, South Africa. Beckles was one of the favorites in the short (under 200 pounds) Olympia class and was filmed quite a bit in the training scenes preparing for the show. The major portion of these parts of the movie took place in California and just like in any other situation, the participants spoke a lot to one another. It was during a casual conversation that Beckles learned something he was unaware of.

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“We did some shooting and then I discovered that most of the (other) guys were getting paid – but I didn’t know how much,” Beckles said. “So when I asked them (producers George Butler and Jerome Gary) about also getting paid, they said ‘we already ran out of money and can’t pay you.’ So then I said that they have to take me out of most of the stuff that they already (shot).”

There was nary a sighting of Beckles throughout the entire movie sans for a few glimpses on stage during the pose down and then when he was already standing on the podium in third place. Runner-up Ed Corney and winner Franco Columbu were both prominently shown throughout and of course had their names and placings announced.

So the question that remains is who got the short end of the stick in this situation? Was it Gaines, who did not take advantage of a popular bodybuilder who competed for another 17 years after the film was shot? Or was it Beckles himself, who perhaps cut his nose off to spite his face, if you will?

The answer is neither, but rather the bodybuilding fans.

Listen to the archived 8/25/10 episode of MuscleSport Radio when Albert Beckles was our special guest. 



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