Reg Park Memorial Service
‘To speak about Reg, the love of my life, to talk about our fairy tale marriage and life together, is too, too upsetting and sad for me. Our lovely daughter Jeunesse has agreed to read this for me.
Reg always said, ‘I love that I cannot find anything not to love about you. I love loving you as much as I do. You are my wife, you are my life. I love you dearly and I thank you for our beautiful children and grand children. I feel love in your eyes, your touch, your smile, in all you do and your warmth and tenderness. You deserve happiness every day.’
Reg truly cared about people. He was kind, had great humility and helped so many people all over the world. He wanted to help and encourage people to have a healthy mind and body. He was sincere and a real gentleman with a gentle soul as big and strong as he was. He said, ‘My work makes me smile. I love what I do and when I am able to help my clients who have injuries or illness I feel great and of course I like that they enjoy being in the gym.’
He never spoke about his magnificent physique. He was a special and real man who will be sorely missed by thousands of people all over the world. It is impossible for me to praise my great wonderful Reg enough.
Reg had a great sense of style and a hidden talent not many knew about. Besides a wonderful speaking voice he also had a superb singing voice and would often sing the music we will hear today in the middle of the night. A true romantic’
Reg, my beloved soul mate you will ever live in my heart.’
Reg taught me to live for the moment, that I could do anything I wanted to do with focus and hard work, and to always be positive. To grow up with his and Mareon’s love and to experience his huge life first hand is a blessing for which I am eternally grateful. Reg’s influence on me, and all of us, has forged our lives. We are here today to give thanks to this great human being, to share our love and memories of him and, mainly, to celebrate his life.During the depression, when he was around 9 or 10, he was sent to live with his grandparents, who he called Little Dad and Little Mam. They lived an austere life in the coal mining town of South Elmsell, where mining disasters were a regular occurrence. They boiled water on a coal fire to bathe and used a toilet down the block. Little Dad was a coal miner who had suffered from TB and was gassed during the war, but recovered from both and maintained his strength, humour and love of sport. As Reg wrote: ‘Little Dad had a most profound affect on my life. The simple and basic daily lifestyle was so filled with sincere and hard, honest endeavor. Their love, warmth, care and basic values inspired and influenced me in so many ways – my Little Dad will ever be my hero. He had hardly any education in spite of which he was an avid reader, he was a keen gardener and a very open minded non judgmental person with a great sense of humour. Even as a small boy I regained the fact that in spite of all the adversity in his life, he was an exceptional man. I felt great tenderness and compassion for him. I inherited my total passion for sport from him for which I am eternally grateful.’ We all know what that that led to’…
The past eight months, from when Reg was diagnosed, have been extremely hard. For me the irony is great. He came to South Africa for the vast skies and the sun. It was the sun that brought him down in the end. For a man who was never ill and honoured the body so much it was even harder and at times I could see the bewilderment in his beautiful blue eyes as this terrible disease ravaged his body. He was brave, dismissed a lot of the indignity and pain and was positive throughout. He cared deeply for all the family, friends and fans who surrounded him in this time. He died with the dignity and grace that he lived with. He had resigned himself to passing and said goodbye to us all in his own way once he was comfortable that we were all fine.
The last thing he wrote was, ‘The years have passed rapidly and here I am in 2007 closing my biography. It pleases me considerably to know that the Park name lives on in capable bodies.’ He goes on to write with pride of my dedication to the environment and caring for those less fortunate. He talks of Jon Jon and his six grandchildren with great love. And it is his love that endures’.He loved Nature Boy and sang it to us often in his exquisite deep voice’.
Thank you Mareon for being the tower of strength and the well of love that held our family together all through the years.
Thank you Gavin for your love of Reg and our family and your huge generosity in hosting Mareon and Reg’s 50th anniversary and the memorial gathering, and all else in between, not least your gift of light and humour, which Reg loved so much.
Thank you Frik. You know how Reg grew to love you and admire your strength and was reassured that I have a real man in my life.
Thank you to Robbie, the three Basils, Keith, Bernard, Mareon’s wonderful cousins and all the other friends, clients and family (too many to mention) who visited and gave and are giving us so much support daily. Thank you to Mark Oliver and all the medics who tried hard and were all inspired by Reg. Thank you also to Fanboy, Shaun and Webster who were there to help Reg at the end and continue to help Mareon.
Jon Jon Park:
Reg ‘ The Legend ‘ the one that we all love. It really is a blessing to have come from such a good soul. Reg was my father for the first years of my life and for always. He is the magic that makes the world turn. I really hurt and it saddens me that he is no longer here in the physical form though I do know and feel that he is out there indaskys, in our eyes and a part of our lives. I love you so much Reg. Love Tamarac (first grandson) Reg said he is so handsome and has a most beautiful body
My last words to Reg were you made my life and I love you. Reg and Mar’on’s romance is a fairy tale that taught my how to love.
To Reg’s grandchildren he was and always will be more than just a man. He is the iconic figure that the whole family aspires to be. While many see Reg as a man of great strength. We saw him as a man of great love. Reg was always interested in and concerned in all our lives and managed to instill a great sense of awareness in each of us. We are eternally grateful that we were able to bask in the presence of such a legend and humanitarian, not only to have been taught by him but, more importantly, to have been loved by him. We will pass the lessons he taught us onto our own children and grandchildren. Reg will be eternally missed. Kaya and Travis, younger grandsons. Thanks to Kaya for being with him daily this year.
I know today is extremely upsetting, but Reg was a strong man and he would of wanted us to be strong. Reg will always be with us in our hearts and souls. I hope everybody and everything is okay there. I miss you all so much. Me and mommy really wanted to be there, we are upset we can’t be there with all of you. Reg you will always be my hero! Rest in peace Regie! Bye everyone! Love from LA, Savy
I feel so honoured to have been asked by Mar’on to speak about Reg.
I met him in 1982 when he came to the Hyde Park gym and after a few months he asked me to train with him ‘ well he didn’t actually ask me ‘ it just happened. And what a fantastic and wonderful period of my life then started. We use d to work out at 4h30am daily and sometimes twice a day on a Sunday!
Of course I learned everything there is to know about weight training but learnt so much more about everything. During those work outs Reg was such an interesting man ‘ complex yet down to earth, strong yet gently, sometimes a total chauvinist and sometimes exactly the opposite. Truly a man for all seasons!
He knew something about everything and much about most. His knowledge of sport, particularly soccer, was phenomenal. What a pleasure it was to hear him talk about the football stars of yesteryear as he was a great raconteur and held me spellbound for hours.
In his field he was superb but you k now it was not only his knowledge of his subject that made him great, it was his personality. Going into the gym with him was a complete experience. In those days of course there were no personal trainers but Reg was everyone’s personal trainer. He could see around corners and eyes in the back of his head! He helped everyone with a word, a little advice, and some laughter. What an ambience he created. I was sad when he himself became a personal trainer and I had to spot working out with him. But I was happy to have Mar’on as my new training partner and that began another wonderful partnership.
Needless to say, Reg mad a huge success of his role as a personal trainer. He found his metier in remedial work and finished his life helping others to be fit and well which was so typical of him.
Reg is the most famous person I know, yet he remained unimpressed by his fame. How I loved the stories which showed ho renowned he was. Laurence Durrell, in his book ‘Bitter Lemons’ writes of a young English teacher asking pupils to compose a letter to a public figure they admire. One boy begins ‘dear Reg Park”
Another example ‘ Reg was walking in New York at 2am. A man passed him, looked at him and said, ‘Hi Reg.: I can’t tell you how I love these stories but Reg could be cynical about his fame. I remember him telling me that as he was presented with the trophy for winning the Mr Universe contest he thought to himself ‘ so, is this what it’s all about? But he certainly knew what life was all about ‘ his home, his wife and family, and his many friends. He was known always as a true gentleman, and strong, not only physically. As I saw him growing weaker and weaker his spirit remained undaunted.
I was reminded of the poem written to his dying father by Dylan Thomas:
‘Do not go gentle into that good night’.rage, rage against the dying of the light’
Reg was actually bigger than life. William Shakespeare so aptly gave these words to Mark Antony on Julius Caesar’s death and they are eminently applicable to Reg:
‘His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world ‘This was a man!’
I was honoured and privileged some twenty years ago to propose a toast to Reg and Mareon at JonJon and Michelle’s wedding.
Today I have again been honoured and privileged to pay tribute to Reg at the request of the Park family.
I first met Reg in 1951 as a very young boy of 12 when he visited South Africa as the then reigning Mr Universe. Reg was 23 and quite by chance shortly after I met him we discovered that we shared the same birthday 7th June.
My late father Ike who was known as Ike Schwartz the Sportman’s Jeweller a well known sporting personality in Johannesburg together with my mother Ruth ran a jewellery store in the old Carlton Hotel in Eloff Street Johannesburg. Reg as all visiting dignitaries, sportsmen and women, showmen and other personalities stayed at the old Carlton Hotel and inevitably ended up in Ike’s Carlton Hotel store. On 3rd July 1951 Reg signed Ike’s visitor’s book I still have the original in my possession together with all the famous personalities who had signed the book safely protected in my safe at my office. My father who was a keen snooker player and my mother had both fallen in love with Reg. As you will all remember him he was this giant of a man good looking friendly, personable and everything good. Reg had been invited by Ockey Geffen to his home in Berea for a drink thereafter he had been invited by my father to visit us at home have dinner and play a few games of snooker.
I very well remember driving with Ike to Ockey Geffen’s home in Berea to collect Reg.
I will never forget what greeted me when Reg came out of Ockey Geffen’s house. This ‘mountain of a man’ who then proceeded to sit in the front left hand seat next to Ike and I could not see out of the front window. You can well understand the awe inspired into me as a youngster of 12.
My mother Ruth had already met Reg on 3rd July 1951in the store in the Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg and had already been working behind the scenes with Mareon’s late mother Phoebe and Mareon’s brother Johnny.
My mother particularly had advised Phoebe and Johnny that this wonderful good looking giant of a man was going to visit us have dinner and play snooker and she carefully orchestrated and arranged that Johnny would bring Mareon ‘just purely by chance’ to our home where of course the idea was for her to meet Reg. Not withstanding Mareon’s resistance at that time she was a very young girl Ruth, Phoebe and Johnny persuaded her that she should come along and meet Reg.
The history of the matter speaks for itself. Reg on meeting Mareon flipped, he then asked my father if he could use our telephone. It all seemed a little strange at that time however what transpired was as follows: Reg had made a date with one of South Africa’s top models and in a flash he had decided to call off the date and invite Mareon out. He duly went to our telephone in the house and cancelled the date came back and continued with his snooker game.
Everyone had a wonderful evening and on the way home I remember Reg saying to Ike ‘would you mind if I invited your niece out for dinner.’ Ike who was not part of the original conspiracy looked quizzically at Reg and then of course when he twigged he said ‘ yes of course go right ahead’. He had not been privy to the operations being conducted by Ruth, Phoebe and Johnny at that time.
We are all well aware of the final outcome of this first meeting. Reg returned to the UK and then within a few weeks was back in South Africa. The plot conjured up by the girls had worked Reg and Mareon were married within months and Jeunesse, Jon Jon and their children are the happy result of this fortuitous meeting.
Reg was and is the first and only Mr Universe who won the Mr Universe title on no less than three occasions and he is acknowledged throughout the world as an Icon. Reg was extremely disciplined and all who knew and worked with him acknowledged his discipline and dedication. He dedicated his life to his family, friends and clients and stayed with what he believed in, he was highly principled and a man of great integrity. Amongst his many qualities are the following: A Gentleman, not at all mercenary or money driven, dedicated to his family, friends, clients and his vocation. He took great pride in what he did. If someone acted in an odd way or said something not to his liking he would refer to them as Jokers and nothing harsher. There are not sufficient adjectives in the English language to describe what a great man and what attributes Reg had.
Many years ago whilst shooting Hercules movies in Italy he took care of my late brother Dennis who was in Italy at the same time and then he brought Dennis back to South Africa with him and gave him a job in his gym. Dennis ran the front desk and many of Reg’s pupils and prot’g’s will well remember Dennis.
There are many stories that I could cite of Reg’s assistance meted out to many of South Africa’s top businessmen setting them on the right path. They would train with him and during the course of training seek his advice, regarding business matters, particularly where they had encountered problems. Reg had a knack of setting them on the right path and a number of them have over the years acknowledged to me that they took heed and paid respect to Reg’s business intuition. He would always give advice and his opinion in the most friendly and generous manner and it was always good advice he had a real nose and intuition. Many years ago the Chief Executive Officer and majority shareholder of one of South Africa’s most important companies advised me confidentially that at that time he had had a major problem in his business and could not find the right answer to deal with the problem. During the course of a training and fitness session with Reg he told me that Reg had simply and easily advised him as to how to sort out his problem with a logical solution that none of his board members or he himself had thought of.
Reg was not only highly principled but had high morals and integrity and always stayed true to all of his beliefs and high values.
As testimony to this I cite one of the most powerful men in the world and in fact on the North American Continent that probably owes his life success story to Reg and that is none other than Arnold Schwartzenegger who as you know is the governor of the State of California which is probably one of the most powerful positions in the USA.
In the late1960s Reg and Mareon visited Gail, my wife, and myself at our home in Westcliffe and they brought to our home for dinner this young Austrian body builder who really was very unsophisticated, very unworldly and could not utter one word of English. Reg being the great linguist and communicator that he was had no difficulty in communicating with Arnold he took Arnold under his wing trained him set him on the right path and today we know the success that Arnold has enjoyed. I will never forget Arnold’s wide eyes whenever he spoke to Reg he looked up to him and admired him as he was to all of us Arnold’s hero.
Today tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of people around the globe are paying tribute to Reg.
It would be very simple for me to write a book of many chapters on Reg setting out the merits and wonderful qualities of this great man. The proliferation of gyms around the world are in fact the brainchild of Reg and I have no doubt that he would be so humble as to not even acknowledge it if he was told so. The most important thing about Reg was that he never ever ever lost ‘the common touch.’
We are all here today to celebrate Reg’s life and to pay our respects to his family.
It is difficult to put into words without keeping you here for hours all of the wonderful deeds that Reg achieved during his life.
He will be missed by all who knew him and knew of him I take this opportunity to wish Mareon and her family and the rest of the family and all of his friends and associates a long life.
Reg in the good old traditional African way we wish you Hamba Kahle!!!!
When I think of everything Reg Park meant to me over a friendship that lasted more than 40 years, I am still blown away.
I was a 15-year-old farm kid growing up in Austria when I was first inspired by a bodybuilding magazine with a picture of him on the cover from one of his Hercules movies. My life was never the same.
He was so powerful and rugged-looking that I decided right then and there I wanted to be a bodybuilder, another Reg Park. I could not have picked a better hero to inspire me.
Reg went from bodybuilding to the movies. He became a smart and successful businessman, and he was the first person who gave me a glimpse of what my life could someday become if I dreamed big and worked hard.
I devoured every article about him I could find in German. If they were in English, a friend translated them for me. I pasted his pictures all over my bedroom wall. I watched his movies over and over again. I learned his training regimen and tried to copy everything he did.
Inspired by his example, I was working harder and harder and starting to have great success as a young bodybuilder. Then in 1966, in a gym in East London, my greatest dream came true.
Wag Bennett, whose gym it was, arranged to have Reg and I work out and pose on the same day.
I will never forget it. It was a cold winter day. Reg had just arrived from South Africa and he looked so classy in neatly pressed slacks, a dress shirt and a thin sweater. I had a million questions to ask him, which was pretty hard to do because my English was not very strong back then.
But it didn’t matter. We bonded right then and there and found a way to communicate. And meeting him was a real wake up call. I had a great work ethic and trained harder than any of my bodybuilding friends. But when I saw how hard he trained and how much weight he used, I was stunned. He was at a whole other level, and I knew if I wanted to be a true champion, I would really have to step up my workouts.
Then I was lucky enough to do some exhibitions with him in England and Ireland and we became great pals. He took me under his wing and became a real father figure and mentor. He was so generous with his time and knowledge, telling me everything he knew about training, diet, discipline, how to work all the different muscles. It was like a graduate seminar in advanced bodybuilding. And the next thing I knew Reg invited me to come and stay with him in South Africa, to train, put on more exhibitions and just hang out.
Can you imagine what that felt like to me? I had finally met and worked out with my boyhood hero, and then he invites me to come stay with him and his family. This was as big a thrill to me as making my Terminator movies. Hanging out with Reg, my boyhood idol ‘ it was surreal. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
I realized very fast that I was not dreaming because Reg didn’t let me sleep. He woke me up every morning at 4:30 for breakfast so we could get to the gym by 5 for our first two-hour workout of the day. I will never forget those 1,000-pound calve raises he made me do first thing in the morning. And everyday it was the same breakfast. Corn flakes. Some people sprinkle sugar over them. Reg covered his with milk and protein powder, then it was off to the gym.
When we weren’t training, we were hanging out at his pool, going to dinner with his amazing wife, Mareon and their two fantastic kids, Jon-Jon and Jeunesse. They made me part of the family and that’s how Reg inspired me in ways that had nothing to do with bodybuilding.
I saw what a loving, doting father he was to Jon-Jon and Jeunesse. I saw what a devoted husband he was to Mareon, his incredible wife of more than 50 years. She treated me like another son, and she is a jewel to this day.
I didn’t grow up in that kind of environment and it had a tremendous effect on me. Seeing him so free with his hugs and kisses and affection, I realized that’s the kind of father and husband I wanted to be. By example, he showed me what a truly full and successful life looked like.
And no matter where our careers took us, we always stayed in touch. And he was the greatest support and friend. Whenever I won a competition, later in my life when I made movies, and certainly when I was elected Governor of California, Reg was always there with a phone call or a warm letter. Always to pump me up and congratulate me. To inspire me to do even more.
I know he was proud of my success. He had an awful lot to do with it, and I am very happy that he got to experience so much of it with me.
It was a special highlight for me to see him each year at the Arnold Classic, and he always had a ball. He loved how it grew and became such a big event. And at the Arnold Classic 2007, I got another great thrill when I presented our lifetime achievement award to the man who has meant so much to me over my lifetime.
I will always miss and love Reg, as will the worldwide bodybuilding community and anyone who was lucky enough to know him.
Basil Hauser: My Friend Reg Park : 7 June 1928 ‘ 22 November 2007
Confuscious says ‘Weakest link is better than strongest memory’.
Please bear with me in case there is repetition in my message. To Gavin and Joanne Varejes, and everyone else that have supported and been of help to Reg, Mar’on and family, thank you, thank you, thank you.
‘To each is given a book of rules, a shapeless mass and a bag of tools.
And each must make ere life is flown a stumbling block or a stepping stone.’
Jon-Jon and I were chatting last night ‘ and he said; do you realize Bas, that you were the first with him into his home and the last to see him go. The September 2007 issue of ‘Muscle Man’, two 18 year olds were autograph hunting, turned down by Bill Pearl and Jack Delinger. Suddenly 26 year old Reg Park arrived looking resplendent in a gray suit and lariat tie. The youngsters knees were shaking as they asked ‘ ‘Mr. Park may we have your autograph?’ ‘ With a broad smile this Herculean muscleman put his hands ‘ ‘Reg has beautiful hands’ ‘ on their shoulders and said ‘It would be my pleasure.’
Reg had more than just muscles, he was dignified, friendly, relaxed and always displayed what can only be described as a regal presence, Joe Weider in 1996 said that Reg Park is a man of culture and a true gentleman. Even adults and children alike respond to Reg’s warmth and sincerity.
Is it any wonder that Reg’s passing on has had this reaction from family, friends, acquaintances and the media? Reading the tributes to Reg we know that this is a man who lived his dream ‘ His way was the natural way.
He spoke against the use of unnatural substances always. Reg was the real McCoy. Blessed with this body, that he shaped the natural way must atest to be the best in our opinion, in the world.
Ravaged by the illness his body may have grown thinner, but the definition was still there. Reg never suffered fools lightly, but with his honesty and no nonsense attitude you knew the response to questions were in your best interest. Reg was the sounding board, the giver of advice and support to one and all ‘ He gave his life to serving people and one feels so inadequate standing in the shadow of a giant of a man such as Reg ‘ a man of depth, compassion, strength, courage and love: And there are few of us here today that Reg did not help in a physical, mental or emotional way.
Reg was always there for his family, ready to encourage, uplift, inspire and motivate. His help was given unconditionally and spontaneously, irrespective of the time of day. ‘A love like this happens once in a lifetime’.
Reg and Mar’on celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on the 22nd October 2007 and of that love was born a daughter Jeunesse and a son Jon-Jon. They in turn were blessed with six children who have brought Reg and Mar’on so much pleasure and joy.
His grandsons Tamarac and Kaya were at his side daily, Travis also came from America, Jhana in England would phone on a daily basis and Jhana, ”. you were his reason to smile each day.
Reg, surely has been one of God’s gentlemen, what a wonderful and loving soul throughout his life.
I find that in this day and age we do not take time out to tell people just how important they are in our lives. But you Reg, during your life as husband, father, grandfather and friend have enriched many lives. Your grandchildren love you for always being there for them and when they have a tale to tell about you, it will always be with a sense of pride, pride for having known you this time round.
Travis was the strong arm that brought Mar’on home when the sad news reached them. Trent is studying in Japan, Michelle and Savanah are with Jon-Jon in spirit and love. Thank you Jeunesse, Jon-Jon, Michelle, Tamarac, Kaya, Jhana, Trent, Travis and Savanah for loving him and making him feel so special. Thank you Mar’on, ‘Parkie’, for loving Reg so unconditionally. You all know he left you, as Jeunesse said, only when he knew you were strong enough to let him go.
‘My family, I need to let you know that if this were my choice I would not have left you. But in our universe there comes a time to move on to a greater journey.’
My message to my loved ones is ”..
‘I leave you my love and all I have taught you to be; Honest, caring, kind, – but not at the detriment of yourself. I leave you happy and humorous memories on days that may be sad’ – ‘Speak to him thou, for he hears where spirit with spirit shall meet, closer is he than breathing, nearer than hands and feet’.
I will love you all, my darling ‘Parkie’, Jeunesse, Jon-Jon, Michelle, Tamarac, Kaya, Jhana, Trent, Travis and Savanah ‘ and close family that I leave behind.
Reg would say: ‘Your work is your love made visible’. And this too, ‘The greatest masterpiece one can ever create, is that of a life well lived’.
And so to ‘Our Reg’ who was always there for us as a husband, father, grandfather, friend, confidante and soul mate, we say, that for your bottomless well of love, your unwavering support and your immense strength that you gave with such kindness ‘ for having shared that special someone, ” Reg Park, with us, know that you not only touched our lives, but our souls also.
‘I wish you joy of heart today,
The joy that laughs and sings.
The carefree happiness that finds pleasure in simple things.
And many a comrade staunch and true to travel through the years with you.
A friend who never finds a fault, a friend who’s ever true.
A friend who’s sure you’re always right, whatever you say or do.
Through all the years may fortune send her choicest gifts to you.
And may you never lack a friend that’s honest real and true’.
We thank you for having crossed our path in this life. Thank you Reg!
REG PARK FILM BIOGRAPHY
- Date of Birth – 7 June 1928, Leeds, Yorkshire, England, UK
- Date of Death – 22 November 2007, Johanesburg, South Africa (melanoma)
- Birth Name – Roy Park
- Nickname – Reg the Leg
- Height – 6′ 2″ (1.88 m)
The future Italian epic star was registered as Roy Park in 1928, but little Reg was soon re-named after his father Reginald Park Snr., a well-known gymnasium proprietor in Leeds and owner of the Reg Park Barbell Company. Reg Jnr. played reserve team football for Leeds United before turning to body-building in 1946. He finished Mr Universe runner-up to future film rival Steve Reeves in 1950, then won the title outright in 1951, 1958 and 1965. After marrying South African-born Mareon Isaacs in Johannesburg in 1952, the Parks moved permanently to South Africa where Reg ran a chain of fitness studios. In December 1960 he was invited to Rome to star in two back-to-back Hercules movies, Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide (1961) followed immediately by Ercole al centro della terra (1961). Since these were directed by intellectually acclaimed veterans Vittorio Cottafavi and Mario Bava, Reg Park himself became something of a cult personality in the Italian epic genre. His friend and protege Arnold Schwarzenegger considered Park to be the best of the “peplum” heroes.
Three more sword-and-sandals followed, including Maciste nelle miniere di re Salomone (1964) which, handily for Park, was filmed on location in South Africa.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Marshall
Mareon Isaacs (22 October 1952 – 22 November 2007) (his death) 2 children
Mr. Universe in 1951, 1958 and 1965.
Father of environmentalist and tree-planter Jeunesse Park (born 1954) and Montreal Olympics swimmer Jon-Jon Park (born 1957).
His father, Reginald Park, owned a gymnasium and barbell company and followed his father into competition.
In later years he served as a contributor to a muscle magazine and judged competitions.
His wife, whom he married in 1952, was a former ballerina from South Africa.
He was Arnold Schwarzenegger”s bodybuilding inspiration. Arnold trained with him in the late 60s and actually lived with him and his family for a time in their home in South Africa. It was he who urged Arnold into taking the Hercules in New York (1970) film role as a money-making proposition.
On October 22, 1952, he married the beautiful Mareon Isaacs, the sister of bodybuilder star and commercial film technician Johnny Isaacs. The powerfully built Isaacs almost won the Mr. Universe title himself in 1953 and competed into the early 1960s winning several prestigious titles.
Not only massively built but incredibly strong, Park often demonstrated his strength in public promotions, lifting up the back of cars, among other feats.
He was the only British bodybuilder to become a star in the Italian made sword and sandal/mythological muscleman movies that became a popular genre from the late 1950s into the mid 1960s.
At age 42, he competed against Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 1970 body-building contest and was edged out in a closely fought contest.
Park was the first bodybuilder to bench press 500 lbs.
Reg was a dear friend, an extraordinary mentor and a personal hero. Other than my parents, there may be no single person who had more to do with me becoming the person I am today than Reg. He was like a second father to me. It was Reg who impressed upon me how hard I would have to work if I wanted to achieve my dreams. I’ll always remember him making me do calf-raises with 1,000 pounds at 5 o’clock in the morning. –Arnold Schwarzenegger, regarding Park’s influence
A Poem for Reg by Herbert J. Weiner
I prayed for you
daily after learning
of your incurable
illness Last night
I learned of your
death I still have your
journals which were
exquisite in articles
and training advice
You were a natural
athlete who could
never be considered
muscle bound pressing
300 pounds overhead from
behind the neck! A good
sprinter and soccer player
body building claimed you
as its own Symmetrical
powerful and massive you
still put the stars of today
to shame You look like an
Olympic champion shot
putter or NFL running back
to me In your last moments
you were still instructing
those in the gym You are
one of the greats’a Herculean
man who forged a magnificent
physique without steroids
It would have been to have
been trained by you I would
even settle for shaking your
hand! As a Briton you declared
independence from US
domination of the Mr.
Universe event winning the
title for the UK A
powerful man has left
us One of the greats who
used old fashioned methods
with wonderful results
You were/are the envy
of steroid users
Perhaps the greatest
respect to your memory
is to train without
artificial aids and to
develop a strong physique
without a massive ego
You embodied this
with your softness that
was just as impressive
as your raw power’
someone worth knowing
and someone I will miss