5 Forgotten Golden Era Bodybuilders You Should Know About

Golden Era Bodybuilders

The golden age of bodybuilding refers to the era when muscular aesthetics gained mainstream attention. One of the reasons for this was the establishment of several bodybuilding associations that promoted the concept of using weight training to improve body shape instead of just bulking up. And then, the entry of the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lee Haney into the world of showbiz helped to create a perception of the perfect body.

While several Golden Era bodybuilders gained recognition for their stage performances or Hollywood stints, most couldn’t make it to the podium despite being in the top echelons. This blog is dedicated to those underrated bodybuilders.

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Golden Era Bodybuilders

Every high-profile rivalry results in fierce competition, after which only the winner comes on top, and the runner-up often becomes a lost story. The same is the case with bodybuilding. And since we are talking about the golden age when there was no social media that could help people have some authority over information, many bodybuilders who seemed to deserve fame became anonymous.

In the following lines, we will discuss a few lesser-known Golden Era bodybuilders who helped shape the industry and set the foundation for modern-day physical culture.

Ed Corney

Ed Corney - Golden Era Bodybuilders

The Physical Attributes

Ed Corney was 5’6″ tall and weighed around 194 lbs. Although he was not as tall and heavy as other opponents, his balanced, aesthetic physique won him several titles.

Early Life

Ed was born on November 9, 1933, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Since his childhood, he had been inclined toward sports and athletics. That led him to join martial arts at the age of 14 and earn a black belt in just four years.

In 1950, Ed joined the U.S. Coast Guard. After a few years, he worked as an aviation radio mechanic at the Oakland Airport. This was when he turned to the weight room and started building muscles.

It was in his late 20s when Ed decided to join competitive bodybuilding. Despite the fact that it was a late start, he was able to achieve a stage-worthy physique.

Bodybuilding Achievements

Corney won his first title, the Mr. Fremont, at the age of 33 in 1965. This was the beginning of his winning streak as the next year brought him the titles of Mr. Heart of California, Mr. Northern California, and Mr. Golden West.

His impressive run continued with the wins of the 1970 Iron Man, the 1971 AAU Mr. California, the 1971 Mr. USA, the 1972 Mr. America, and the 1972 Mr. Universe. While these wins earned him wide public recognition, his reputation as the best poser came with his appearance in the book and movie “Pumping Iron,” in which he was filmed training alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ken Waller

Ken Waller - Golden Era

Physical Attributes

With a height of six feet and weight of around 235 lbs., Ken Waller had a beast of a body that stood out every time he entered the stage. His broad, round shoulders and narrow waist made a perfect V-shaped torso and an incredibly aesthetic overall form.

Early Life

Ken Waller was born on March 20, 1942, in San Francisco. At the age of 12, he and his family relocated to Jeffersonville, Indiana, where he continued his early education. At the age of 20, he joined the football team of the university he attended, the Western Kentucky University. He then went on to become a professional footballer in Canada. His fitness form and workout routine set the foundation for his bodybuilding career.

Bodybuilding Career

Ken started his bodybuilding career in 1968. In the same year, he participated in the AAU Mr. Olympia and AAU Mr. America competitions and finished fourth on both occasions. His first victory came in 1969 when he made it to the center stage of the AAU Junior Mr. USA event.

Ken stepped into the senior division after his victory in the junior division. At this point, he was confident enough that he could make an impact, which he did by achieving the title of Senior Mr. USA.

Before taking part in the Mr. World Competition, Ken participated in four shows, namely the AAU Junior Mr. America, AAU Junior Mr. America Most Muscular, AAU Mr. America, and AAU Mr. America Most Muscular. He managed to secure the second position in all these events.

Despite being the runner-up in all these events, he kept himself motivated, which paid off in the form of first place in the Mr. World competition. This win paved the way for his entry into the IFBB pro league, after which he never looked back. During the 1970s, he achieved nine titles, including the 1975 Mr. Universe, 1976 Mr. Olympia, and 1973 NABBA World Championships.

Ken retired from the sport in 1976 but continued his on-screen performances, which included his appearance in the TV show “Pumping Iron” and several big-screen projects.

Serge Nubret

Serge Nubret Golden Era Bodybuilders

Physical Attributes

Serge Nubret was 5’11” tall and weighed around 225 lbs. With a nicely sculpted body and huge muscles, Nubret was one of the most aesthetic Golden Era Bodybuilders. For his prominent body cuts and lean waist, he was given the title “Black Panther.”

Early Life

Nubret grew up on a small island in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe. At the age of 12, his family moved to France, where he got his future education.

Nubret was naturally attracted to athletics and sports activities since his childhood. During his adolescence, he participated in many physical activities in school, which set the direction for his bodybuilding career.

He finished his studies at age 20 and returned to his hometown, Guadeloupe, with one goal in mind: becoming a renowned bodybuilder. And this is where it all started.

Bodybuilding Achievements

Nubret started his professional bodybuilding career in his hometown, where he won his first title, Mr. Guadeloupe. Since then, everything started falling into place for him quickly. With only two years of training, he developed an incredible physique.

In 1960, he became a member of the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB). In just a few months, he earned the reputation of being the World’s Most Muscular Man, followed by his entry into the world of big screen.

In 1970, Nubret became the head of the IFBB’s French and European legs. He retained this position until 1975 before resigning from the role.

Dennis Tinerino

Dennis Tinerino - Golden Era

Physical Attributes

With a tall 6’2” physique weighing around 235 lbs., Dennis Tinerino is regarded as one of the most influential Golden Era bodybuilders. His bulky shoulders, insane biceps, and high-definition muscular cuts gave him enviable body aesthetics.

Early Life

Dennis Tinerino was born on December 23, 1945, to American-Italian parents. He was skinny right from the beginning, which he wanted to change by bulking up. So, he developed a strong interest in bodybuilding at the age of 12. To walk down that path, he started bodybuilding training under the mentorship of his father. However, he achieved a significant breakthrough when he met two mentors—Joe Abbneda and Bill Pearl—who devised a special 5-day workout plan to help him reach a whole new level.

Bodybuilding Career

Dennis began competitive bodybuilding at the age of 18. He showed his mark in the 1964 Teen Mr. America competition by finishing third. For him, it was just the beginning.

In the same year, he participated in many events, such as Mr. Atlantic Coast, Mr. Brooklyn, and Mr. East Coast, and won all of them. Then, he took a break from competitive bodybuilding for over two years and focused only on training. This helped him achieve an even better physique.

In 1967, he returned to participate in the Mr. Universe show and finished behind Arnold Schwarzenegger, who grabbed the first spot.

After that, he participated in the NABBA Mr. Universe titles in 1968, 1975, 1980, and 1981, maintaining his winning streak throughout this period.

Aside from bodybuilding competitions, Dennis also appeared in many TV shows, fitness magazines, and bodybuilding publications. His noticeable works include Hercules in New York, a movie in which he appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.

His final stage performance was at the 1984 Mr. Olympia event, after which he retired from competitive bodybuilding.

Dennis was diagnosed with cancer in 1990. Doctors said that he had only a couple of weeks. However, his cancer went into remission, and he continued to live 20 more years. He passed away in 2010.

Related: 10 Heaviest Golden Era Bodybuilders

Chet Yorton

Chet Yorton - Golden Era Bodybuilders

Physical Attributes

Chester ‘Chet’ Yorton was 5’11” and weighed around 220 lbs. Aside from an incredible physique, Chet is known for his moniker “Father of Natural Bodybuilding.” He was a strong critic of anabolic steroids and strongly believed that a bodybuilder’s physique was achievable through natural ways.

Early Life

Born in 1939, Chet grew up as an ordinary child and teen who didn’t know much about bodybuilding. However, a life-threatening auto accident during high school changed his life forever. During rehabilitation, he engaged in the weight training regimen and decided to continue it professionally.

Bodybuilding Career

Chet Yorton entered competitive bodybuilding in 1960. It took him six years to win his first title at the Mr. Universe amateur competition, beating Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the same year, he won the Mr. America competition. In 1975, he achieved the NABBA Mr. Universe title.

Aside from his impressive run in competitive bodybuilding, Chet was known for his critical view of anabolic steroids. Being a person who used weight training for physical rehabilitation, he believed that the right nutrition was the only sustainable approach to building an aesthetic muscular physique.

Chet retired from professional bodybuilding in 1979 but continued to train even during his 70s. He died in 2020.


Golden Era bodybuilders laid the foundation for the modern physical culture. They established bodybuilding rules that later became standard protocols. However, aside from a handful of household names, many significant contributors couldn’t get into the spotlight. Still, their legacies are a source of inspiration even today.

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