Success Over Adversity In Bodybuilding

Herbert Gibbons

Herbert Gibbons has certainly developed an outstanding physique which enabled him to compete in the Mr. Universe in London, quite an accomplishment for a man with so little promise previously. His case is ample proof that adversity need not keep you from accomplishment. Photo courtesy author.

Herbert Gibbons
c-o Herbert Gibbons Health Centre
3rd Floor
Lenburn House
cnr Moffat St. – Union Ave.,

Vince Gironda
Vince’s Gym
11262 Ventura Boulevard
North Hollywood, California 91604

Dear Vince:

Firstly, many thanks for your two letters I received. Being a gym owner myself, I appreciate how difficult it is to be able to sit down and write letters to people. Anyway, also thanks for the three books you sent. They have been a tremendous help over the past few months in the gym and particularly in my own training. Since I have received your book on arms, I am employing it to improve my own for this year’s Mr. Universe in London, to which I have again been invited by Oscar Heidenstam.

Vince, you ask me for my life story in the gym so you could have it to publish in the “Iron Man.” Well, it would be a tremendous honor for me if you could do this and it would show many our cause towards helping the fight against Communism.

Going back to 1957,1 started weight training in Northern Rhodesia in a small town called Livingstone, where we found it very difficult to train, because of the extreme heat and humidity, and as we sweated so much we used to drink a lot of water between exercises. The man I owe much gratitude to during my early days of training was Dave Hughes who himself was an outstanding bodybuilder, despite a late start at weight training at the age of 28. He was also an ardent follower of Vince Gironda theories and Systems which he followed through the “Iron Man” etc.

After having placed in and won a few small contests, and also having won numerous weightlifting titles, I opened up my own gym in 1960, in Bulawayo in Rhodesia. My gym then was a small wood and iron building that was very old, and on numerous occasions when someone dropped a heavy weight, it went right through the wooden floor. However, although it was a rough and ready gym, it was great training with chaps who in later years to come returned to my present my gym.

In 1965, I moved to Salisbury Rhodesia and opened up another gym where I still operate today. Moving to a bigger city and also going into gym business full-time, I had to build better and more equipment. As I am by trade an engineering fitter, I was able to build all my own conventional equipment.

My first three years in gym business in Sallabury were very hard going to establish myself and at times I had to take on other employment to get by. Also in 1965, the Communist terrorists started attacking Rhodesia and I joined the police anti-terrorist unit to help in the fight against this threat.

This took up a lot of time through the years up to the present where we are still fighting Communism and terrorism on our borders not only fighting the terrorists, but also neighboring countries who have already been taken over by the Communists.

Despite the terror war, we in Rhodesia have carried on our daily lives in a country that is still one of the peaceful countries in the world today, free of big crime, drugs, etc.!

Through the gymnasium, I have helped hundreds of men get fit for army service as almost every man in Rhodesia is dedicated to fighting Communism, and we have many men from all countries – British, American (ex Vietnam soldiers) in our Rhodesian Army fighting the Communist threat.

As my gym membership grew, I moved into larger premises in 1966 where I still operate my present gymnasium, which I have equipped with virtually all selectorized equipment which I have personally built during the last eight years, plus the conventional barbell, dumbbells and other equipment.

Through the years of training, I have personally trained on most of Vince Gironda’s theories and systems which I studied through the “Iron Man” and some years ago, when Vince brought out his series of books. Using his methods only, I have instructed others in my gym.

I have also done well in physique contests – in 1973 I placed second to Reg Park in the Mr. Southern Africa, I won the 1973 Tall Man Mr. Republic of R.S.A. and was invited to enter the Professional Mr. Universe in London in 1974 and 1975 and have been once again invited this year to compete. Therefore, I feel without the help of Vince Gironda through his letter and books, I would not have achieved these few successes at the age of 43 years. My wife Wendy has been a tremendous help through the years of building up the gym, instructing our lady members and keeping the records of the membership and accounts, etc.

My three children, Sharon 23 years, keeps in shape at a gymnasium in Johannesburg where she lives, Audrey 21 years of age, my second daughter, keeps fit through diet and playing tennis. My son, Ernest, 19 years of age, also trains in the gym, time allowing as he is doing his national service in the army. There are hundreds of fathers and sons of all races fighting together on the Rhodesian borders. Our fight in Rhodesia may be a long war, but we will win through against the scourge of communism and I hope that through the kindness of the “Iron Man” publishers, publishing my lifestyle in the gym etc., this will serve to show readers in America and elsewhere the true situation in Rhodesia and not the trumped up stories by biased news media around the world.

(IronMan Magazine May 1978 Vol. 37 No. 4)

By Herbert Gibbons – As Told to Vince Gironda


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