Chet Yorton: The Father Of Natural Bodybuilding

Chet Yorton made a speech in 1975 at the first bodybuilding competition that performed testing for steroid use. Of natural bodybuilders, he said, 'See friends, these are the real champions'.

Chet Yorton made a speech in 1975 at the first bodybuilding competition that performed testing for steroid use. Of natural bodybuilders, he said, "See friends, these are the real champions".

From Accident Victim To Bodybuilder

Chet Yorton was born in 1940. He was involved in an auto accident just out of high school that cut his left eye through the eyeball, cut his left forearm from his elbow to his wrist, dislocated his hips, and shattered the bones in his thighs. His leg injuries were so bad that doctors at the hospital debated about amputating his right leg, only he wouldn't consent.

He ended up having a steel plate put around his right thighbone, and a steel rod inside the femur bone of his left leg. He was in casts from hips to toes. As he began getting about with the aid of crutches, he lost his balance and fell down a set of stairs, which re-injured his left thigh. More surgery, and then 4 months in a wheelchair before he got back to being able to get around on crutches again.

While in a wheelchair at the hospital, he noticed a set of dumbbells in the corner of a room. He never touched a weight prior to his accident. He asked his doctor if using weights would assist his recovery. Seven months later, he was 55 pounds heavier.

He continued to train, and after two years competed in a bodybuilding contest for the first time. That was in 1960. He went on to win the IFBB Mr. America and NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe titles in 1966, and the NABBA Pro Mr. Universe in 1975.

Chet Yorton's victory at the 1966 NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe contest was one of three ever occasions where someone would place above Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is perhaps what Chet Yorton is best known for, which is unfortunate, because he had a great impact on the sport of bodybuilding.

Chet Speaks Out Against Steroids

In 1964, just 4 years after starting to lift weights, Yorton first became aware of steroids. It was in a gym when a top bodybuilder introduced them to members. Yorton was tempted until he talked to a doctor and was told of the side effects that could result like acne, gynecomastia (formation of breasts), impotence, hair loss, headaches, increased risk of heart disease, stunted growth if used at too early of an age, kidney problems, liver problems, and high blood pressure. Yorton started speaking out against steroid use immediately afterwards.

In 1975 Yorton launched the NBA, which stood for Natural Bodybuilder's Association, the first federation to test for drug use at all of its competitions.

In 1981, he started a publication titled Natural Bodybuilding. The magazine provided exposure to bodybuilders who didn't use steroids, and also served to educate the public about the dangers of steroid use.

Currently (2005), bodybuilders from non-tested events are the ones that most people know of, because they are the ones featured in magazines on the grocery store's magazine racks, and they are the ones typically featured in the supplement company's ads.

They are often looked up to as role models, especially by youths, because they receive the majority of the media exposure for bodybuilding. However, steroids are illegal to use, buy or sell.

To reach the level of getting mass media exposure and landing endorsement deals, or winning the most well known bodybuilding title today, the Mr. Olympia, one must use steroids, growth hormone and other illegal and dangerous drugs. Basically, they must break the law and risk their health to try to get a little bit of fame and fortune.

Should this be what the media promotes? Should this be what the supplement companies seek out to offer endorsement deals to? Should this type of activity be rewarded with top placements from bodybuilding federations?

Providing Opportunities To Natural Bodybuilders

Chet Yorton felt bodybuilding was headed in the wrong direction. He attempted to provide competition opportunities for those who chose not to use steroids, and he attempted to make those athletes the role models children looked up to by featuring them in the magazine he launched.

After all, shouldn't the athletes who don't compromise their health, or break the law be the real role models? Aren't they... as Chet Yorton himself said at that first drug-tested competition in 1975, "the real champions"?

Chet Yorton was basically the founder of natural bodybuilding, and to honor him, the first OCB (Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders) Championships held November 13, 2004 in Raleigh, NC started a tradition. The overall male and female bodybuilding champions were awarded the first annual Yorton Cups.

Each year the championship will award identical trophy cups. And each year's winner will be engraved on one of the awards plaques so subsequent awards contain a historical record of all its previous recipients. The 2005 Yorton Cup's will be awarded November 12th in Miami, FL. Details on the event can be found online at

Past Yorton Cup Recipients

Tina Weber

Mike Mutschler

Dianne Brown

Chet Yorton Biography

Contest History

  • 1960 Mr. Wisconsin - 1st
  • 1961 AAU Mr. America - 21st
  • 1962 AAU Mr. America - 21st
  • 1963 Mr. Los Angeles - 1st
  • 1964 IFBB Mr. America 2nd Tall
  • 1964 AAU Mr. Los Angeles - 1st
  • 1964 AAU Mr. Pacific Coast - 1st
  • 1964 Mr. California - 3rd
  • 1965 IFBB Mr. America - 2nd Tall
  • 1966 IFBB Mr. America - 1st Overall
  • 1966 NABBA Mr. Universe - 1st
  • 1975 NABBA Pro Universe - 1st Tall
  • 1976 WBBG Pro Mr. World - 7th
  • 1979 WBBG Pro Mr. World - 3rd

Magazine Cover Appearances

  • 09/1964 Strength & Health
  • 03/1965 Mr. America
  • 07/1965 Muscle Builder
  • 03/1967 IronMan
  • 04/1967 Muscle Builder
  • 09/1976 IronMan
  • 01/1978 IronMan
  • 10/1978 Muscle Training Illustrated
  • 10/1981 Natural Bodybuilding

Movie Appearances

  • Muscle Beach Party
  • Don't Make Waves

About The Author

Matt Shepley is a natural bodybuilder, photographer, and bodybuilding/fitness contest promoter. He can be contacted via email, by visiting his federation's (OCB - Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders) website for steroid-free bodybuilding, fitness and figure competition in the United States (, or by visiting the website for his magazine, which covers steroid-free physique competition in North America (