Bodybuilder Dave Draper a Pioneer

Caden Barker, Writer

Overshadowed by bodybuilding greats like Schwarzenegger, Columbu, Waller, and Zane, Dave Draper was a critical piece in the 60s-70s Golden Era of bodybuilding. Tall, tan, and huge, he represented the archetypical American bodybuilder of the West Coast. Schwarzenegger writes in his Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding that Draper was part of his inspiration to move to America and train in the original Gold’s Gym. Arnold, who’s popularity transcended that of just the bodybuilding scene, was crucial for the explosion of physical fitness and weight training popularity world wide. Without Draper, the epitome of American Bodybuilding, the growth of the sport would not be possible. 

Like Arnold, I’m incredibly inspired by Draper. Hailing from my home state of New Jersey, Draper was a pioneer in what used to be a niche sport. He was blonde, spent his free time on the beach, and loved to lift weights and work on his physique. I, this summer, was blonde, spent most of my time on the beach lifeguarding, and spent all of my free time lifting weights. He started lifting at age twelve; I started lifting at age thirteen. He was six feet tall, I’m six feet tall. Seeing what this man was able to accomplish so long ago, teaching himself bodybuilding techniques and creating a career for himself doing what he loved, and with a similar origin story to the one that I am living, inspires me immensely. His success and influence on the hobby which I love so much is something that I’m incredibly grateful for, and he is absolutely an unsung hero in cultivating healthy lifestyles. Without the popularity of well-equipped gyms in the wake of Golden Era bodybuilding, many more Americans would be sedentary, perhaps not exercising at all.