There are times when we here in St Vincent and the Grenadines take people for granted and fail to recognise their concerted efforts at making this country proud by taking its name to ever higher levels of international recognition. Bodybuilding in St Vincent and the Grenadines has had a very long history. Like so many other sporting disciplines it has had its ebb and flows but has nonetheless remained in the forefront of Vincentian sport. Over the past few years there has been some measure of conflict within the fraternity and this has led to the splintering of the bodybuilding movement in St Vincent and the Grenadines. This has not however daunted the many persons who continue to devote themselves to the sport even though through different levels of representation.
Kurt McLean of Stubbs has been this country’s foremost bodybuilder over a number of years. His move to living in the United States of America has not in any way meant movement away from the sport that brought him to national recognition.
The late Dr Errol King once wrote a piece for The News newspaper in which he chronicled the tremendous dedication of a number of persons in the early days of bodybuilding and weightlifting here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
There is evidence that at the time to which Errol King referred in his letter, the athletes engaged in bodybuilding at the same time that they were doing weigthlifting.
Maurice King was perhaps the most prominent athlete practising the two sporting disciplines at the time sine he was accredited with an unofficial world weightlifting record achieved at the historic Peace Memorial Hall in the 1950s.
King later went on to win bronze at the Pan American Games in 1959 in Chicago, competing then for the West Indies under the political Federation banner. His achievement at the time did much to have the Americas know about St Vincent and the Grenadines as a sporting nation.
At the time of his achievement, Maurice King would have been the most known Vincentian athlete given the membership of the Pan American Sports Organisation and that of the International Weightlifting Federation, an affiliate of the International Olympic Committee, IOC.
At the time of King’s achievements there were others whose involvement in the two sporting disciplines helped him on his way to success. Frederick Ballantyne of Frenches was one such individual, along with Edmund Sealey, Sebastien ‘Bassy’ Alexander and a number of others.
Our bodybuilders traveled abroad to compete in regional tournaments. They traveled to several Caribbean Islands, including the US dependencies and Puerto Rico in the 1970s.
Matthew Llewellyn has also been engaged in the sport and still reflects this in his frame. The Sardines have also been involved in lifting weights to be decidedly proud of their physical frames.
Steve Victory did much to facilitate a tremendous resurgence of interest in bodybuilding in the 1980s and joined with athletics, boxing, cycling and netball to satisfy the IOC’s requirements of five national associations with international affiliate status, three of which must be Olympic Sports, to enable the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Olympic Committee (then Association) in early 1987.
Victory worked long and hard, at times at great personal sacrifice, to encourage the sport and bring new members on board. He worked had at raising funds to keep the Federation afloat. There were local competitions as well and the better athletes were facilitated in respect of their participation at the regional competitions. He also gained regional recognition for his efforts with placement on the regional body for the sport.