Aussie BodyBuilding Icon – Roger Walker

roger walker iron man coverIn the heyday of modern bodybuilding when Arnold Schwarzenegger was at his best – and worst – we had one of our own mixing it with the big boys.

Strangely, there’s very little to be found about Roger Walker on the internet apart from a 2002 interview with James Sadek at

Researching the Australian ‘Mr Universe’ isn’t made any easier by the fact that up until 1976 there were 3 ‘Mr Universe’ contests. There was the NABBA Amateur ‘Mr Universe’, the NABBA Pro ‘Mr Universe’ and the IFBB ‘Mr Universe’.

Roger Walker’s triumph came in 1976 when he won the IFBB World Bodybuilding Championships Heavyweight division to become the IFBB Heavy Weight World Champion. WTF! I thought this was the Mr Universe contest?

Confused? I know I am. It appears that the IFBB decided to change some of the rules and the title bestowed on the winner. From 1976 onwards there would be no overall winner and the winners of each division would be know as ‘World Champion’ not ‘Mr Universe’. You can read about at IFBB web pages here and here.

Mr Universe 1976
Mr Universe 1976

Walker doesn’t mention any of this in his interview with Sadek so maybe the trophies still had ‘Mr Universe’ on them.

In any case, Roger would have been well versed in how IFBB contests were run when he turned up at the Opera House in Sydney for the 1980 Olympia – since dubbed the most controversial Mr O ever. Roger Walker placed 6th but things got ugly when the favorite, Mike Menzter placed 5th. One gets the feeling Walker’s still pretty pissed about the whole affair but then so is everyone else who placed between 15th and 2nd.

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Walker posing at the 1982 Mr Olympia

When I first came to Sydney in the early 1980s and started going to the City Gym Roger Walker was training there. This was when the City Gym was on William St. The photo from the Iron Man magazine could have been taken from the roof of the gym or somewhere nearby as you can see the Boulevard Hotel in the background.

Roger Walker was good enough to bark some advice at me one time when I was doing crunches in the style of a Mexican jumping bean.

“Do them slowly!” said The Man as he strode by.

“Sure thing, Rog!” And I still do.

Check out:

The James Sadek Interview

The 1980 Mr Olympia Worth the effort of scrolling down the page.

Roger Walker Classic

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