NABBA is the first and the original competitive bodybuilding association. Formed in 1950, NABBA’s first Mr Universe contest was won by Steve Reeves, who went on to make over 30 Hercules movies. Top bodybuilders who won the Mr Universe title include Reg Park, Bill Pearl and Arnold Schwarzenegger (four-times winner).
The late Oscar Heidenstam was appointed Secretary in 1956 and continued to drive NABBA forward for more than 30 years. At a meeting in London in 1984, NABBA International was formed and became host to the European & World Championships. This branch of NABBA is now supported by more than fifty countries.
Today, there are nine elected area reps covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they are members of the NABBA council. Each area holds a qualifying event, which leads to the Annual Mr & Miss Britain Finals. This in turn becomes a qualifier for the European and Universe Championships. The Universe contest gets stronger every year – at the last Universe, representatives from 36 countries took part and a total of 151 athletes competed.
Bob Gruskin, the President of NABBA USA, is responsible for bringing NABBA to the United States. Bob attended his first NABBA Universe in 1983 and was so impressed with the efficiency of the organization, its world-wide establishment, and its direction in catering to and having athlete’s interest foremost, he took it upon himself to lay the ground work for NABBA USA. In 1992, NABBA USA was officially christened, providing athletes with a new opportunity to compete nationally and internationally as an amateur and to qualify for professional competitions.
NABBA USA has developed and built an American Body-Building organization affiliated to NABBA International. Now for a full generation, in the US, we have seen NABBA contests annually established, and growth of the organization has been supported, steady and stable.
The American affiliate and all those that have made personal efforts to see the organization thrive deserve a great debt of gratitude!
Affiliation to NABBA International and also to the World Fitness Federation opens to extensive competitive opportunities. The ability to seek regional and national status in the US then furthers to World Championships along with the original Universe title held for over 60 years in Britain!
The people that have given their efforts for more than 20 years through NABBA USA are the finest most idealistic advocates for Body-Building and Fitness on our Continent. Followed by Mr Bob Gruskin, President of NABBA USA, affiliated since inception 1992 to NABBA International, the ‘love’ of our special endeavour that some call sport, others call lifestyle, while others call art, has provided a home for all those seeking physical betterment, improved health, and yes, physique supremacy!
NABBA and Canada
In 2010 travelling to the US and having the opportunity to attend the NABBA USA North America Championships in York, Pennsylvania was inspirational. Finding this contest set in the historic York Barbell Auditorium was like finding something lost to you for so long. The event, the venue, the people, and the City were at the heart of why any of us ever seeks to ask so much of ourselves in our pursuits. Meeting and getting to know the officials that administrate NABBA USA was a great personal privilege! They have advanced Body-Building, Fitness, Health and a Lifestyle that returns us to what was once described as ‘Physical Culture’.
Coming from Canada and finding our undeniable kinship, often described genuinely as the ‘NABBA Family’, recaptured the love of Body-Building.
In late 2010 NABBA USA appointed a Canadian Representative. The method in finding a Canadian competitive alternative was a ‘dream’. That dream, in finding a place, with the first and original Body-Building organization for over 60 years; NABBA. This organization holding the annual Universe competition since 1950,in Britain? This then working along with our American affiliate to NABBA International, and responding to encouragement for us in Canada? Yes a dream, in finally reaching Body-Building’s competitive organizational origins? But, yes, sometimes dreams can come true, even if they find a lifetime to realize!!