From The Desk Of Clarence Bass
Pound-for-Pound the Strongest Man of His Time
Eder Comments on Loss of Amateur Status
Marvin Eder was on the way to winning the biggest physique titles of the time—and becoming a world champion Olympic weightlifter—when his days in the Iron Game spotlight came to an abrupt end.
I became aware of Marvin Eder when I was a teenager—and met him for the first time 50 years later. Steve “Mighty Stefan” Sadicario sent us this photo of Marvin and me on the morning after the Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongmen 25 year reunion. I found myself in the hotel restaurant discussing diet with one of the most famous bodybuilder-strongmen of the 1950s. (He was the only man in the world under 200 pounds to bench press 500. What’s more, he did a 330 clean and press, when the American record was 281 and the world record 316.) Marvin was one of my early idols. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be talking to him--about anything. But there we were, discussing the virtues of whole grain bread. (Look closely and you’ll see him holding a slice of white bread.)
Marvin Eder’s photos were all over the Weider Magazines when I discovered him. As it turned out, this was to be his downfall. The clash between Muscle Moguls Joe Weider and Bob Hoffman washed over Marvin and he never recovered.
Bob Hoffman had sway in AAU physique competition and Olympic weightlifting. Joe Weider was the outsider, the enemy. Hoffman accused Weider of causing Marvin to lose his amateur standing by using his photos in advertisements. The misstep was not put right and Eder was sidelined from competition for good.
My guess is that Eder was happy to be in Weider’s ads and didn’t expect to be--and wasn't--paid. Bodybuilders and lifters were eager to be in the muscle magazines. (Most still are) I was delighted to be on several covers and never expected to be paid.
Arnold and a few others have made some changes, but that’s the way it was.
Iron Game politics killed Marvin’s charge to greatness. He was too good for his own good!
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Ed Scofield has recently been in touch with Marvin and has uploaded an excellent video rundown on his life and training. “It would be good, I think, to acquaint a new generation of health and fitness enthusiasts to the training methods of this ‘natural’ strongman,” he wrote in an email. I watched and listened to his video and whole-heartedly agree. Ed packs an amazing amount of information into only 5:40 minutes.
Here’s the link to the video:
For more about the back story on Marvin’s “forced” retirement, I also watched a YouTube video by LeRoy Colbert—of giant arm fame—who trained with Marvin when he was in the throes of deciding what to do about the Weider-Hoffman squeeze. LeRoy is a little “wordy” but fun to listen to, and has some interesting insights into Marvin’s early retirement. To watch and listen to LeRoy’s 11:21 minute lookback:
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Thanks Ed for letting us know about your video on Marvin Eder. Well done. Wonderful photos. Good job!
Please give Marvin our regards.
(LeRoy Colbert passed away shortly after doing the piece on Marvin Eder. His humorous, wise, and wordy YouTube videos will be missed. A true bodybuilding legend has left us—the first black bodybuilder to be on a Weider cover. I never met him, but I join the many in wishing him a smooth passing.)
November 1, 2018
Marvin Eder Comments on Loss of Amateur Status
Ed Scofield followed up on our assumption that Marvin received little or nothing for appearing in Weider advertisements. Here's how Eder remembers it:
ED: IS IT TRUE THAT … BECAUSE YOU APPEARED IN A WEIDER PUBLICATION … THAT HOFFMAN SAID THAT YOU WERE A PROFESSIONAL AND THUS INELIGIBLE TO COMPETE IN THE AAU?
EDER: YEAH, HE MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO BE THROWN OUT AND LOSE MY AMATEUR STATUS. THAT’S WHAT BOB HOFFMAN DID. OTHERWISE, I COULD HAVE LIFTED IN THE OLYMPICS. THAT’S WHAT HE DID. I REMEMBER I WAS GIVING AN EXHIBITION ON HIS SHOW, AND HE HAD SOMEONE WALK OUT ONSTAGE AND HAND ME A CHECK FOR $15.00. THAT WAS THE END. I LOST MY AMATEUR STANDING. THAT’S WHAT BOB HOFFMAN ARRANGED FOR. ALSO, HE USED TO HAVE THE SHOWS AT YORK … HE CALLED IT THE “YORK PICNIC” … AND ALL THE LIFTER USED TO COME AND DO THEIR LIFTS, AND … OH, GOD … BOB HOFFMAN INVITED ME TO HIS HOUSE FOR CAKE & COFFEE. I WENT THERE. HE WANTED ME TO BETRAY JOE WEIDER, BUT I DIDN’T DO IT; I REFUSED TO DO IT, AND THAT WAS THE END OF THAT.
ED: BUT, THE REASON THAT HOFFMAN USED TO DISQUALIFY YOUR ABILITY TO COMPETE IN THE OLYMPICS WAS YOUR APPEARANCE IN WEIDER’S MAGAZINES?
EDER: NO, IT WAS THE FIFTEEN DOLLARS… LIKE A JERK, I REACHED OUT AND TOOK THE CHECK. I APPEALED, BUT NO WAY DID THEY ACCEPT (AND) THAT WAS THE END OF THAT.
Marvin went on to explain that Joe Weider was "difficult to have a conversation with" and never paid him a penny.
So a check for $15 cut short Eder's opportunity to compete on the world stage. .
Eder started a plumbing business--and that was that.
January 1, 2019
Purist, Amateurs and Avaricious Money Moguls
HAPPY NEW YEAR MR. & MRS. BASS:
The article on Marvin Eder caught my eye. Thinking back how all in the CCCP uniforms were subsidized and how long it's taken to change our system just makes one reflect how politics infiltrates and debilitates so many aspects of life. We know that some purists in those international hierarchies that Avery Brundage and supposed American AAU purists inhabited did so much damage to young aspiring athletes like Marvin. On the other side were the mercenary Weider Brothers who helped "bugger up" the works for a pittance payment for their pictures. As young kids we couldn't help but see what a "screwing" Art Harris and Leroy Colbert got when it came to true evaluation of their physiques. You just have to laugh at the politics knowing that Harry Johnson actually became a Mr. America and those men were by passed so many times. We now thankfully do better.Regards, Richard Down by The Alamo
February 1, 2019
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Copyright © 2018 Clarence and Carol Bass. All rights reserved.