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Clancy Ross - Oakland Once had the Biggest Shoulders in America By Dave Newhouse | Bay Area News Group Originally published: April 21, 2008 / Source Edited by: Strength Oldschool Clarence Ross, also known as Clancy Ross was a bodybuilder from the United States. Ross was born in Oakland, California on October 26, 1923. He passed away on April 30, 2008. IF YOU HAVEN’T learned by now that Oakland is a city of big shoulders, then you aren’t aware Oaktown once had the biggest shoulders in America. It’s forgotten history, but Oakland was the bodybuilding capital of the country a half-century ago, with its very own “Muscle Beach,” if there’s any sand to be found around Lake Merritt. From 1945 to 1951, residents of Oakland and Alameda — who all trained in Oakland — claimed the amateur and/or professional Mr. America body-building title five times in seven years. The names of these Oakland musclemen are unfamiliar to today’s generation, except for possibly Hollywood film hero Steve “Hercules” Reeves (Pictured below with three other Mr America winners). Jack LaLanne (1914 - 2011) (Pictured below) pumped iron in Oakland during the same era, but this future fitness guru wasn’t ever crowned Mr. America. Norman Marks, who still owns an Oakland exercise gym, was a Mr. America runner-up in 1946 and 47. Other local recipients of this prestigious body-beautiful honor: Jack Delinger of Oakland, Jimmie Payne of Alameda, Roy Hilligenn, a South African immigrant who was living in Oakland, and Clancy Ross of Oakland. Ross, now 84, was the first Mr. America of this group in 1945 when he was an amateur. He then was named the professional Mr. America in 1946. “It was a beehive of physical activity,” Ross, now a Concord resident, said of Oakland’s long-ago image as a bodybuilding mecca. “I don’t know why. It just blossomed.” Two Oakland strong boys, Reeves and Delinger, rose to the summit of physical sculpturing as Mr. Universe. Ross was named Mr. USA in 1949 and Mr. World in 1953 in other competitions. (From left to right): Jack Delinger - Art Jones - Steve Reeves - Ed Yarick “I don’t think the public was very interested in it,” Ross said last Thursday of his individual honors. “Not too many people were knowledgeable about it.” This was prior to television’s interest in bodybuilding, which grew with the arrival of “The Austrian Oak,” Arnold Schwarzenegger. The future California governor later admitted using steroids in his quest to become Mr. Universe. Steroids weren’t available when Ross flexed, posed and preened, but he isn’t contemptuous of bodybuilders who were on the “juice.” “Anything they can do to increase their body performance or proportions is fine with me,” he said. “Steroids hasn’t killed off any of the top bodybuilders. I don’t look at it as anything terrible.” Ross noted that steroids were offered to him after he stopped competing, but he refused to use them. He pointed out that bodybuilding didn’t make him wealthy. Owning health clubs in Alameda and Walnut Creek brought him a comfortable living. Clarence “Clancy” Ross, his two brothers and one sister were given up as children in Alameda by their parents. Clancy spent his youth in foster homes and orphanages. His three siblings have died. Bodybuilding gave him something to be proud of, but making the ultimate commitment brought as much sacrifice as dedication. “It’s time, effort and work, lifting all these weights day in and day out,” he recalled. “And watching your diet, and living a healthy life for many years.” He became a champion, but he’s paying for it now. He’s had two knee replacements, three new hips including a second replacement, and a severely damaged back. He uses a cane to get around these days. So would he make that same sacrifice again 60 years later? “I sure would,” he said. “I would train a little differently. I wouldn’t lift so heavy.” (Photo below): Clarence Ross and Leo Stern. Photo taken around 1945? But he still works out spiritedly five days a week, one hour a day, on the sparse exercise equipment available at the Heritage, a Concord apartment complex where Ross lives that is open to residents 55 years and older. He also keeps a few weights in his apartment. He asks that if anybody has some equipment to donate — pulleys, rowing machine, barbells, dumbbells — to call The Heritage at 925-687-1200. Ross is the only Mr. America living there, by the way. “It was a great accomplishment on my part in the sense that it was a personal thing,” he said. “I had no desire to be a Mr. America, or whatever else came along in my life, but I had a lot of fun doing what I did. If you do it sensibly, and you do it right, it’s a good way to go. I plan on going for a lot more years.” NOTE: Clarence Ross unfortunately would pass away nine days later after the above article by Dave Newhouse was published. RIP Clancy Ross (1923 - 2008) If anyone wishes to share stories on bodybuilding legend, Clancy Ross, regarding his training or life, please comment below. Thank you.
Doug Hepburn training squats back in the 1950's at Ed Yarick's Gym in Oakland California. I love how everyone in the gym is staring in amazement. Doug Hepburn worked hard on writing his life story with writer Tom Thurston and released "Strongman: The Doug Hepburn Story". Great read if you're a fan of the man.