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Matt Shepley

Greetings from Matt Shepley of MD (and sometimes AZ)

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Matt Shepley

Hello all,

I'm grateful to have found this community where I can expand my knowledge about the iron game's history from many folks who are much more knowledgeable about the subject than I am. I kind of have a narrow focus of interest in that I really only follow & research the natural side of physique competition (meaning from 1978 forward when actual drug testing started). I didn't even enter the scene until 1999 when I entered my first bodybuilding competition. For some reason, though, I found myself having a particular interest in the history of natural (tested) bodybuilding after I spotted and purchased a publication titled Natural Bodybuilding off Ebay. The publication was from October 1981. I don't think I ever heard of Chet Yorton before then (since I hadn't previously tracked the sport and had no interest in it prior to 1999). Chet was on the cover, and information about him conducting the first drug tested contest (in 1978) was described inside. Learning of this fact, and it seeming like practically no one active in natural bodybuilding at the time had any awareness of it anymore (I searched the Internet for Chet Yorton after receiving the magazine and only found a few mentions of him, and they had to do with him being one of three men who ever defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger (this was around 2003 or 2004)), I couldn't help but feel it was a shame that more people weren't aware of the contributions Chet made to the sport. Anyway, this initial discovery led to me starting to research the history of tested bodybuilding more seriously for the next few years. The project was put on hold when I found myself too busy with other obligations to continue with it as well, but about a year or so ago I picked back up on the project. My ultimate goal has been to someday publish a book about all my findings (I’m probably about 3 years away from completing it), because it seemed information in this particular area was pretty hard to come by. A lot happened between 1978 and presence of widespread activity on the Internet, so most of the early days' happenings are practically nowhere to be found. I'm aware that a book on this particular subject will never prove profitable, but my goal isn't to profit from this project, but to instead enjoy the process of discovery and documenting and preserving the sport’s past for any folks who may have interest in learning about it in the future.

Another of my goals has been to spread awareness about Chet Yorton’s contributions to the natural movement in the sport. Around the time I learned of Chet, I happened to be trying to come up with some sort of unique concept for what was planned to be OCB’s (Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders, but now going by Organization of Competition Bodies due to all the added categories over the years) flagship show (I founded OCB in 2003). The idea of naming an event after Chet came to mind because of the significance of the name of the person who initiated the movement,  and as a former hard-core hockey fan with knowledge of the NHL’s top title called the Stanley Cup, I thought to combine the two and create a Yorton Cup event to serve as OCB’s top honor, complete with adding names of winners onto nameplates on the trophy’s base each year in similar fashion to what was done for the Stanley Cup (no organization in the sport of physique was doing this). The concept was unveiled at the 2004 year-end OCB Championships in Raleigh, NC. As OCB expanded (it currently hosts considerably more events across the USA than any other all-natural federation), the Yorton Cup has grown to what is arguably the top title in Natural Bodybuilding today. Perhaps part of what helped elevate the OCB organization and Yorton Cup title was a magazine I published for over a decade called Fitness & Physique, which was launched in 2003 – the same year OCB started – and was picked up on national newsstands starting in 2007 (the publication came to an end in 2014, like many other print publications that fell victim to the advancement and proliferation of online social media).

When I created the Yorton Cup, I had no idea whether Chet was dead or alive. It seemed no one had seen or heard from him in over two decades after he left the scene in 1982 out of disgust of the prevalence of steroids in the sport. Through an Internet search, I did find an address associated with Chet’s name, but had no idea whether he still resided there or not. Regardless, I began sending a copy of each issue of Fitness & Physique to that address (and a letter with the first one sent). I never got any responses, but the magazines were never returned to me as undeliverable either. I kept sending each issue, and one time the magazine erroneously got forwarded to Chet’s daughter, Shannan, who sometimes got mail intended for her father due to a change of address filed with the post office when she moved from home. Shannan emailed me and thanked me for what I was doing with respect to her father. We began communicating afterwards, and after a little time I got a call from Chet himself, regarding appearing at 2006’s version of the Yorton Cup, which was held in Pittsburgh. Chet ended up attending that event. It was the first time he was seen on the bodybuilding scene in 24 years. He attended the 2007 Yorton Cup also, which was held in the Washington, DC area, and attended an event in 2008 near Philadelphia where he was inducted into a U.S. Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame (naturalbodybuildinghalloffame.com). He was subsequently inducted into the Muscle Beach Hall of Fame in 2009 and was honored by AOBS in 2010.

In 2006/2007, Chet sent a box of stuff to me to browse through for possible inclusion in the magazine I was publishing at the time. I scanned everything (with his permission) prior to returning it all. I recently started sharing some of the exclusive content on this message board and look forward to sharing much more in the coming weeks and months.

Returning to the level of awareness of Chet’s contribution to the drug testing movement… I created a section on OCB’s website starting in 2004 or 2005, that included an article laying out Chet’s contributions, along with a considerable number of images collected through the research I was doing about the history of the sport of natural bodybuilding (and Chet Yorton) at the time (I’ll be publishing an even more extensive site in the near future at ChetYorton.com) . Afterwards, numerous websites copied, saved, and published details and images that were posted on the OCB site. I didn’t mind at all since my goal was to spread awareness of events that took place. Present day, information about Chet’s role in Natural Bodybuilding is all over the Internet!

Through my time involved in the sport, combined with research I’ve done on it, I’m extremely grateful to have had opportunities to communicate with many of the sport’s pioneers. They include Chet Yorton, founder of the first drug tested federation (1978), the NBA (Natural Bodybuilder’s Association), Pete Samra and Clay Quinn, founders of the second federation to test for steroids (1980) – the CBA (Christian Bodybuilders Association), Jack O’Bleness, founder of the ABCC (American Bodybuilding Coordinating Committee), which started drug testing at contests in 1982, Paul Jacobson, founder of the ANBC (American Natural Bodybuilding Conference) in 1984, Jim Evans, founder of the NANBA (North American Natural Bodybuilding Association) in 1984, Wally & Meshelle Boyko, founders of the Ms. Fitness federation in 1984 (not really a drug tested organization but of significance), Bob Gallucci, competitor in both Chet Yorton’s first drug tested (blood) show in 1978 and Tom Ciola’s NBBA (Natural Body Builders of America) first tested (polygraph) show in1981, Bob Gormley, who took over the ANBC in 1990, Andy Bostinto, founder of the NGA (National Gym Association), which started holding independent drug tested shows in 1991, and Lou Zwick, founder of Musclemania (started drug testing in 1993).

Through many of the above contacts, plus several other individuals who have been involved in the sport’s past, I’m grateful for having had the good fortune of assembling quite a vast collection of natural bodybuilding publications put out over the years, including several extremely rare ones (I plan to post on a site in the near future).

Perhaps also worth mention is that I got into physique photography starting in 2001 (as a result of being so disappointed with the images “professional” photographers captured of me over the first three years I competed) and have covered quite a number of events since then (including the Ms. Fitness USA & Ms. Fitness World shows for several years, a Musclemania Superbody, a ton of OCB contests, of course, including every Yorton Cup, plus events for other organizations, such as the NGA and ANBF, to name a couple). In addition, after 8 years of being baffled by occasional discrepancies of polygraph testing results (where someone may pass with one examiner but not pass with a different one), and crossing paths with quite a number of questionable characters/polygraph examiners over the years, I had the opportunity to attend polygraph school in Phoenix, AZ in 2012 at one of about a dozen schools that were accredited by the APA (American Polygraph Association) at the time. Schooling consisted of 8 hours/day 5 days/week for two months. It gave me tremendous awareness of the process, which is one of two that OCB relies on to weed out competitors who have used banned substances (the second one being urine testing).

In closing, I apologize for such a long rant (I happened to be in a talkative mood) and hope this post doesn’t come across a me attempting to “toot my own horn”. I’m just very interested in and passionate about the subject, and very appreciative of having had the opportunity to experience so many different facets of it and to have had the opportunity to meet so many key characters within it.
 

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Joe Roark

We are happy to have someone with passion! If a thousand different people specialized in one narrow band of the iron game (different bands), then when those are combined, we have a wonderful overall resource!

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Ken Sprague

I've no doubt that this will evolve into an interesting thread---you've already taken a big step in making it so. Thank you.

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peter yates

Nice one Matt.

Peter.

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Thomas Klose

Welcome Matt.

Looking forward to reading more of your experiences in the Iron Game.

From Germany,

Thomas

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Matt Shepley
On 1/28/2019 at 9:46 AM, Ken Sprague said:

I've no doubt that this will evolve into an interesting thread---you've already taken a big step in making it so. Thank you.

Hi Ken, if I'm not mistaken, Pete Samra, mentioned above, was a morning manager at the original Gold's Gym for a few years - during at least a portion of that time when you owned it.

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Marc Martinez
2 hours ago, Matt Shepley said:

Hi Ken, if I'm not mistaken, Pete Samra, mentioned above, was a morning manager at the original Gold's Gym for a few years - during at least a portion of that time when you owned it.

Hello Matt

  Here is a link with Bill Grant, Ken Sprague and Peter Samra.

  Welcome to the forum.

Marc

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bwj9XpGH--uVM3oxSEhyT21yOW8/view?usp=drivesdk

Edited by Marc Martinez
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Al Greenson

Welcome to our wonderful group. Greetings from Acushnet Massachusetts 

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Matt Shepley
On 1/29/2019 at 10:34 PM, Matt Shepley said:

Hi Ken, if I'm not mistaken, Pete Samra, mentioned above, was a morning manager at the original Gold's Gym for a few years - during at least a portion of that time when you owned it.

This seems like an opportune moment for posting this information about Pete Samra... (Disclaimer - Pete doesn't claim to have been drug-free for life. To his credit, in demonstrations of honesty, he has admitted that he used steroids in his early days. It was after those experiences that he became a big advocate for avoiding them, and played such a crucial role in the early establishment of tested competitions)

Pete Samra was involved in the infancy of more than one natural bodybuilding federation. First, he founded the Christian Bodybuilding Association (CBA), which became one of the earliest organizations to conduct drug tested contests, holding its first in 1980. He simultaneously published Power, a magazine that catered to natural bodybuilders and covered CBA activity. In addition to his work with the CBA, Pete assisted other early natural federations. He judged Chet Yorton’s Natural Bodybuilder’s Association (NBA) Natural Mr. America contest in 1981, contributed articles to The Natural Bodybuilder, Natural Body Builders of America (NBBA) founder Tom Ciola’s 1980-1982 publication, co-promoted the 1983 Natural Nationals in Santa Monica, CA with American Bodybuilding Coordinating Committee (ABCC) founder Jack O’Bleness, and served as Master of Ceremonies at the 1986 ABCC Natural Nationals.
In 1989, Pete was involved in the creation of a federation for the second time. He, along with Denny Kakos and Wally Boyko, launched the American Bodybuilding Association (ABA). Pete was in charge of the natural events.


Pete holds degrees in business and naturopathy. Two years of his studies were spent in the specialization of sports medicine. In 1977, Pete helped start the Gold’s Gym line of supplements. In 1979, he launched his own nutrition company, Samra Nutrition.


As a competitor, Pete won his class at the first CBA USA Perfect Man (AKA Natural Mr. USA) and CBA Natural Mid-American contests, staged by Clay Quinn in 1980. And recently, Pete won the Masters Age 60-69 division at the 2017 ABA/INBA (International Natural Bodybuilding Association) America's Natural championships.


Another interesting fact about Pete is that he was the morning manager of the world-famous Gold's Gym in Venice, CA for a few years in the mid-to-late 1970’s. He can be seen in the “Pumping Iron” documentary from time to time. When you consider Pete worked right in the heart of the mecca of bodybuilding during its heyday when steroid use was prevalent, it makes his leadership in the natural movement even more impressive.
 

 

PeteSamraX.jpg

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David Hartnett

Welcome Matt. I used to subscribe to your Magazine. I knew your name sounded familiar...

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Ken Sprague
14 hours ago, Matt Shepley said:

This seems like an opportune moment for posting this information about Pete Samra... (Disclaimer - Pete doesn't claim to have been drug-free for life. To his credit, in demonstrations of honesty, he has admitted that he used steroids in his early days. It was after those experiences that he became a big advocate for avoiding them, and played such a crucial role in the early establishment of tested competitions)

Pete Samra was involved in the infancy of more than one natural bodybuilding federation. First, he founded the Christian Bodybuilding Association (CBA), which became one of the earliest organizations to conduct drug tested contests, holding its first in 1980. He simultaneously published Power, a magazine that catered to natural bodybuilders and covered CBA activity. In addition to his work with the CBA, Pete assisted other early natural federations. He judged Chet Yorton’s Natural Bodybuilder’s Association (NBA) Natural Mr. America contest in 1981, contributed articles to The Natural Bodybuilder, Natural Body Builders of America (NBBA) founder Tom Ciola’s 1980-1982 publication, co-promoted the 1983 Natural Nationals in Santa Monica, CA with American Bodybuilding Coordinating Committee (ABCC) founder Jack O’Bleness, and served as Master of Ceremonies at the 1986 ABCC Natural Nationals.
In 1989, Pete was involved in the creation of a federation for the second time. He, along with Denny Kakos and Wally Boyko, launched the American Bodybuilding Association (ABA). Pete was in charge of the natural events.


Pete holds degrees in business and naturopathy. Two years of his studies were spent in the specialization of sports medicine. In 1977, Pete helped start the Gold’s Gym line of supplements. In 1979, he launched his own nutrition company, Samra Nutrition.


As a competitor, Pete won his class at the first CBA USA Perfect Man (AKA Natural Mr. USA) and CBA Natural Mid-American contests, staged by Clay Quinn in 1980. And recently, Pete won the Masters Age 60-69 division at the 2017 ABA/INBA (International Natural Bodybuilding Association) America's Natural championships.


Another interesting fact about Pete is that he was the morning manager of the world-famous Gold's Gym in Venice, CA for a few years in the mid-to-late 1970’s. He can be seen in the “Pumping Iron” documentary from time to time. When you consider Pete worked right in the heart of the mecca of bodybuilding during its heyday when steroid use was prevalent, it makes his leadership in the natural movement even more impressive.
 

 

PeteSamraX.jpg

Pete Samra was a great guy, as well as organized and honest as the day is long. I felt so highly of Pete that I seriously considered (w/out Pete's knowledge) that I'd hand Pete the keys and walk away, leaving absolute control in his hands. [Denny Malloy, Bob Fisher and Grymko stepped forward w/ offers---as did several investment-types and gym owners.] I have no doubt that Pete Samra would be (and is) a success.

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Thomas Klose

Pete Samra leading the parade

A35D586C-A656-47A7-896F-184388FF83ED.thumb.png.559669bd3a1263e97f451a1f0d7319e6.png

Edited by Thomas Klose
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wolf hasenmaier

Pete Samra appears to be a guy who enyoyed life. 

Awesome post of Matt Shepley!!!

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Thomas Klose

Pete Samra is actually from South- Africa, right?

 

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Ken Sprague
2 hours ago, Thomas Klose said:

Pete Samra is actually from South- Africa, right?

 

Yes, Pete was born/raised in South Africa. Moved to US/Gold's in the mid-70's.

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Thomas Klose
15 minutes ago, Ken Sprague said:

Yes, Pete was born/raised in South Africa. Moved to US/Gold's in the mid-70's.

One of those interesting ( life) journeys in the world of the builders..

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