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RIP Bodybuilding Legend Harold Poole


Back in Aug 7, 2014, Bodybuilding Legend Bill Grant reported the following...


"Today was another bad Day for Bodybuilding. The owner of the Iron and Silk Fitness Center in New York where I work informed me that The Legendary Harold Poole has Passed away in New York (at the age of 72). I am saddened to hear this. He was one of the nicest guys you could ever know. Harold was the manager of the Cheetah Club in New York. He also worked at the Weider Headquarters back in the day when it was located at 801 Palisades Ave. Union City along with the Legendary Leroy Colbert. He also was a Mr. America and Mr. Universe winner and competed against Larry Scott for the Mr. Olympia. He will be sorely missed. So Lets give Harold our respect as a Legendary Bodybuilder. I will miss you my Friend. It was an honor to have known you. RIP Harold Poole..May God Bless you." ~ Bill Grant

Harold Poole at 18 Years Old

* Photo above: Harold Poole at 18 Years Old

Bodybuilder Harold Poole



Harold Poole (Dec. 25, 1943 - Aug. 7, 2014 ) was a former AAU, IFBB and WBBG professional bodybuilder.

Poole's athleticism was apparent very early on. He was quarterback on his football team at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, placed fourth in the state high school wrestling championships, ran 440 yards in 50 seconds and put the 12 pound shot 55 feet.

Harold Poole Shot Put

In 1960, Poole entered the AAU Mr. America and, at the age of 16, took 18th place. His final AAU teen opportunity came in June 1963, where he won most muscular, but was the runner-up to Vern Weaver. Three months later, Poole switched to the IFBB and, at age 19, he won the Mr. Universe. In 1964, he became the first African-American to be named IFBB Mr. America. Starting in 1965, Poole became the only man to compete in the first three Mr. Olympia contests finishing runner-up to Larry Scott in the first two Olympias.

* Photo below: 1963 Mr Universe - Harold Poole Wins at 19 Years Old

1963 Mr Universe - Harold Poole Wins at 19 Years Old

* Photo below: 1966 Mr Olympia - Chuck Sipes - Sergio Oliva - Harold Poole

1966 Mr Olympia - Chuck Sipes - Sergio Oliva - Harold Poole

1967 Mr America - Harold Poole


1965 Mr Olympia - Harold Poole and Larry Scott

1966 Mr Olympia - Larry Scott - Sergio Oliva - Harold Poole

He retired from bodybuilding competition following the 1982 IFBB Night Of Champions, where he placed outside the top 10. He lived in Florida, where he continued to train with weights and practice martial arts until the end of 2010, when he moved to New York City. He was inducted to the IFBB Hall of Fame in 2004 and the WBBG Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2008, Poole was voted the Greatest Teenage Bodybuilder of All-Time.

Young Harold Poole



  • Mr America - AAU, 18th
  • Mr Mid-America - AAU, Most Muscular, 2nd


  • Mr America - AAU, 4th
  • Junior Mr America - AAU, Overall Winner


  • Mr America - AAU, Most Muscular, 1st
  • Mr America - AAU, 2nd
  • Mr North America - AAU, Winner


  • Mr America - AAU, Most Muscular, 1st
  • Mr America - AAU, 2nd
  • Teen Mr America - AAU, 2nd
  • Universe - IFBB, Tall, 1st
  • Universe - IFBB, Overall Winner


  • Mr America - IFBB, Tall, 1st
  • Mr America - IFBB, Overall Winner


  • Mr. Olympia - IFBB, 2nd


  • Mr. Olympia - IFBB, 2nd


  • Pro Mr America - WBBG, Winner
  • Mr. Olympia - IFBB, 2nd


  • Pro Mr America - WBBG, Winner


  • Mr USA - IFBB, Tall, 1st


  • Mr World - IFBB, Tall, 3rd


  • Night of Champions - IFBB, 12th


  • Grand Prix California - IFBB, 7th
  • Grand Prix New England - IFBB, 9th
  • Night of Champions - IFBB, 6th
  • Canada Pro Cup - IFBB, 8th


  • World Pro Championships - IFBB, 9th


  • IFBB Hall of Fame


  • WBBG Hall of Fame


1968 Muscle Training Illustrated - Harold Poole and Freddy Ortiz


timfogarty states...


"Harold jumped from the AAU to a no-name org because he knew as a black man he would never win the Mr America. The AAU Mr America was meant to represent the ideal American man, with points for facial appearance, interview ability and other athletic ability. Weider offered a contest that was based on muscle size only, where Poole could win the overall title." ~ timfogarty

Harold Poole Training Calves

Harold Poole Squatting

Harold Poole - Incline Dumbbell Presses

Vince B states...


"Apparently Harold had a stutter so wasn't suitable for an AAU Mr America title. Being black also went against him. They gave him the consolation Most Muscular Man title. He was bitter after this so he started competing with the IFBB and immediately started winning big titles. Larry was a hugely popular winner in 1965. The fans would have destroyed the theatre had Larry not won that night! " ~ Vince B

Harold Poole used to work as a bodyguard for the first ever supermodel, Twiggy.

* Photo below: Twiggy, Harold Poole and Denie Walters (far right). Other two men I don't know.

Twiggy - Harold Poole and Denie Walters

Twiggy - Harold Poole - Michael Guibilo - Denie Walters

* Photo above: Michael Guibilo, Twiggy, Harold Poole, Denie Walters. Man on far right, not sure.


A friend of Harold's stated the following...


"I lived around the block from Harold and trained with him, often in the 60's when we were both kids. He was always full of life and very strong, for those days. I remember spotting him with 405 in Bench press for reps. Harold was never into dieting, and I can remember him eating Chef Boyardee Ravioli out of the can while we were hanging out. He was training for the 2nd Olympia and he was vascular and ripped. Never was able to gain much weight. Used to compete at 218. Hey, Harold, RIP."

Harold Poole - Mid City Gym


Richard Young stated...


"I knew Harold when he moved to Florida he got more spiritual he still had a good body in his 60s and we practiced Martial Arts together. He was planning on a comeback for senior competition! He was half German and I am German we would go to a German Restaurant and talk German! The owner loved Harold he was a funny guy overcame a lot of demons of his crazy life in NY! He was a bodybuilder that got screwed back in the day because he was black until the IFBB came along but still should have been a MR Olympia! " ~ Richard Young

Harold Poole


TheSpritz0 stated the following...


"Harold Poole was one of my influences when I first started training - in fact he was the model on the "Weider System" charts my Dad got me in a used book store! He needed about 10-12 pounds more and he would have probably won at LEAST one Mr. Olympia. He was taller than Larry Scott, but he needed a little bigger arms, etc... He still was magnificent, and I would have DIED to have been able to have one workout with him!!! " ~ TheSpritz0

Joe Weider Advert - Harold Poole

Harold Poole 1980s

Harold Poole


Michael Mavroudes response to TheSpritz0...


"Harold was a great bodybuilder and should of won the Olympia against Larry Scott, but Larry was the Weider boy and Harold had a stuttering problem, in my eyes he was a true professional, trained with him in 1982, we worked at a gym in NY, Madison ave muscle, everyone knew him, we would go out to clubs and just walk right in, I will miss him greatly." ~ Michael Mavroudes

Arm Flex of Harold Poole


There are stories of Harold being a "bad ass" and suffering mental issues...

John Backos stated...


"A genuine tough guy and in his later years, a total nut. I trained at a gym in Queens NY, in the early 90's and he trained there. He once got so mad he threw a 45 lb plate out the 4th floor window. He was mentally ill by then because of drug and alcohol issues. He was also running with shady characters and pimping on the side." ~ John Backos

Most Muscular Harold Poole


Jason Allen stated...


"Yeah, he used to come into the restaurant I worked at in Indianapolis in the late 90s early 2000s.  He was legit crazy.  He once told me he was a hit man, in town to kill someone and he was serious.  I mean, I didn't believe him of course but he obviously believed it.  He followed me around the restaurant sobbing about how everyone hated him once. Nobody else would wait on him because they were afraid. I’m a bigger, muscular guy and he was old then but still huge and he made me look like a midget. The last sighting we had of him was a bartender saw him out yelling at random people in the middle of the street. I assumed he got institutionalized or something after that because he stopped coming in to our restaurant. But he was legit nuts. I felt bad for him, it was obvious he had experienced a lot of racism." ~ Jason Allen

Harold Poole and Serge Nubret


NYC girl stated...


"I dated him very briefly in 69-70 when he was the manager of The Cheetah in Manhattan. I found out pretty quickly he was nuts. He was into all kinds of bad stuff so I ran & changed my phone number." ~ NYC girl

Harold Poole and Serge Nubret


Robert Mansfield stated...


"Harold Poole trained in Indianapolis, along with Peter Lupas (Mission Impossible) under the legendary Fred Hofmeister in the early 1960's. A severe speech impediment narrowed Poole's career to exhibition poses. Poole wrote two books." ~ Robert Mansfield


Tony Estrada stated...


"Harold had a good heart but was plagued by demons of his own. He battled chemical addiction and mental illness, and was on the wrong side of the law more than once in his life. But he was a protector, and he treated his friends and clients like they were his family. My fondest memory of him happened one afternoon at the gym. I had recently undergone surgery on my knee and was sitting at my desk. One of our trainers had an issue with his paycheck, and rather than discussing it he tried to turn it into a physical altercation. Harold was on the opposite side of our gym, and within seconds he crossed the floor and had the trainer's throat engulfed in his palm. He damn near lifted a 200 pound man off the floor like that." ~ Tony Estrada


Some older photos of Harold before he passed away...

* Photo below: Harold Poole at 66 years old.

Harold Poole at 66 years old

* Photo below: Harold Poole from around 2008 looking big.

Harold Poole around 2008


RIP Harold Poole.

Watch the following video to hear Leroy Colbert's opinions of Harold Poole...


If anyone would like to share stories on Harold please comment below.

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