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Dave Draper, Bodybuilding’s ‘Blond Bomber,’ Dies at 79



Dave Draper, a popular bodybuilder of the 1960s who won three major titles before dropping out of competition at age 28, died on Nov. 30 at his home in Aptos, Calif., near Santa Cruz. He was 79.

The cause was congestive heart failure, his wife, Laree Draper, said.

Mr. Draper — who stood six feet tall, had a 54-inch chest and competed at 235 pounds — emerged as a force in bodybuilding in 1962 with his victory at the Mr. New Jersey competition. He soon moved to Southern California, where he continued to sculpt his body at the Dungeon, a gym on the fabled Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, and at Gold’s Gym, in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles.

He loved lifting weights for its physical and spiritual benefits. But he disliked the preening and posing required of bodybuilders at competitions and exhibitions.

“For a reasonable season of my life, it seemed like the thing to do,” Mr. Draper said in an interview in 2009 with T-Nation, a strength training and bodybuilding website. “But competition stood between me and the relief of hoisting the iron — the private exertion, the pure delight and the daily fulfillment of building muscle and strength.”

Despite that ambivalence, Mr. Draper, who became known as the Blond Bomber, was a star on the bodybuilding scene of the 1960s. He was named Mr. America in 1965, and Mr. Universe in 1966 — before Arnold Schwarzenegger had arrived from Austria — and won the Mr. World title in 1970.

“Dave trained harder than anybody else and always wore jeans to the gym,” Frank Zane, a three-time Mr. Olympia, said in a phone interview. “He loved to train, and he was very strong. He just didn’t like competing.”

Mr. Draper’s spectacular physique found an occasional home in Hollywood. He had roles in sitcoms like “The Beverly Hillbillies” (as Dave Universe, a date for Elly May Clampett) and “The Monkees” (as a character named Bulk). He was also in a few films, including “Don’t Make Waves” (1967), in which he played Sharon Tate’s boyfriend.

“In Austria, I kept his cover of Muscle Builder magazine on the wall above my bed for motivation,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in a statement after Mr. Draper’s death, “and when I saw him starring in ‘Don’t Make Waves,’ I thought, ‘My dreams are possible.’”

Mr. Draper, who was also a skilled woodworker, became one of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s training partners and built some furniture for his home in Santa Monica. “I learned his heart was as big as his pecs,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

Even as he was competing, Mr. Draper was abusing alcohol, marijuana and angel dust. (He said he also used steroids, sparingly, under a doctor’s supervision.) He continued to have problems, chiefly with alcohol, until 1983, when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Ms. Draper — who met her future husband at a gym in Capitola, Calif., near Santa Cruz — attributed his alcohol and drug use to the tensions brought on by competing and dealing with the demands of Hollywood.

“He got caught up in it, and I guess he couldn’t handle it,” she said in an interview.

David Paul Draper was born on April 16, 1942, in Secaucus, N.J. His father, Dan, was a salesman; his mother, Anne (Simsek) Draper, was a homemaker.

Dave, who did not excel at team sports, got his first set of weights at age 10. By 12 he was fervently working out with barbells and dumbbells.

“They were my solid steel friends that I could trust,” he said in his book “A Glimpse in the Rear View” (2020), a compilation of columns from his website. “When the going got tough, when I kept missing the baseball, and when girls were far too cute to talk to, the weights were there and they spoke my language.”

He bought his gear at Weider Barbell in Union City, N.J. — part of Joe Weider’s empire of muscle magazines, fitness equipment, supplements and competitions — and at 19 became the weekend manager of a gym in Jersey City. He also got a part-time job in the Weider Barbell warehouse, where he worked out with the other shipping clerks. Mr. Weider, who was known as the Master Blaster, gave Mr. Draper his Blond Bomber nickname.

“He had the fire in the belly, don’t kid yourself,” Mr. Weider told GQ magazine for a profile of Mr. Draper in 2000. “He wouldn’t have gotten the kind of body he did without hard work.”

After winning Mr. New Jersey, Mr. Draper moved to Santa Monica, where he continued to work for Mr. Weider. As Mr. Draper’s profile in bodybuilding rose, he appeared on the covers of magazines published by Mr. Weider, like Muscle Builder and Mr. America, and in ads for his equipment.

Reflecting on his victory in the Mr. America event, held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mr. Draper wrote that he took pride in being a “muscle-building original.”

“I invented, improvised and rooted about, along with a small, disconnected band of rebels with a cause: to build solid muscle and might through the austere, hard labor of love — the lifting of iron,” he wrote in a column included in “A Glimpse in the Rear View.”

In 1972 Mr. Draper sued Mr. Weider for not paying him for his endorsement of Mr. Weider’s gym and bodybuilding products. He settled for $17,500 before the jury was to deliver a verdict.

Mr. Draper did not stop lifting weights until a year before he died.

Once sober, he was hired as a special programmer at a gym in Santa Cruz. He married Laree Setterlund in 1988 and opened two World Gyms with her in the 1990s, which they owned and ran into the 2000s.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sisters, Dana Harrison and Carla Scott; his brothers, Don and Jerry; two grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. His daughter, Jamie Johnson, died in 2016. His marriage to Penny Koenemund ended in divorce.

In one column, Mr. Draper contemplated what his life would have been like without weight lifting. The thought, he said, was unbearable.

“No sets? No reps? No cunning determination of how to bombard the delts or blast the biceps?” he wrote. “Days on end without pursuing extreme pain through maximum muscle exertion?” He added: “Full body, full strength, full breath and fulfillment are lost, gone, no more: nary a remnant to remind, disappoint or shame. Shoot me!”

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Chelsea and Liverpool prove Premier League excitement, even if title is a foregone conclusion



LONDON — Manchester City have shown themselves to be in a league of their own, so the Premier League should be thankful that Chelsea and Liverpool are still able to keep us all entertained. Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge helped neither team and only consolidated City’s vice-like grip on the top spot, but football is about jeopardy, risk and overcoming flaws, and when it all comes together, you get an unforgettable game like this one.

Even before City moved 11 points clear at the top of table with a 2-1 win at Arsenal on Saturday, this second-versus-third clash was always a case of both sides needing to win to maintain faint hopes of catching Pep Guardiola’s winning machine. City’s win at the Emirates was their 11th successive Premier League victory and they have all been won with such monotonous ease, scoring 33 goals and conceding just seven, that every three points is now met with little more than a shrug of inevitability.

Barring an unlikely collapse in the second half of the season, City will win a fourth league title in five years and you will struggle to count on the fingers of one hand the times they have had to dig deep into their reserves to overcome adversity during that period. Guardiola has built one of the all-time great teams in English football history during his six years at the Etihad, but they may simply be too good to contribute to games like this one.

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Chelsea and Liverpool gave us such a pulsating encounter because they both have weaknesses that can be exploited by their opponents. And as a result, they both had to take risks in an attempt to secure a crucial victory.

And they also had to go into the game with unwanted distractions hovering over both clubs.

Chelsea, with three wins from their past eight in the league, were without £97.5 million striker Romelu Lukaku, dropped by coach Thomas Tuchel because of an outspoken interview about his failure to impress so far at Stamford Bridge since returning to the club from Internazionale in the summer. And Liverpool were without manager Jurgen Klopp, goalkeeper Alisson, defender Joel Matip and forward Roberto Firmino — all isolating because of COVID-19.

City, in contrast, have enjoyed a remarkably serene run of successes since losing to Crystal Palace in October, which is why they are free-rolling to another title. But the Premier League is regarded as the most exciting in world football because of games like this, and teams like Chelsea and Liverpool and the drama they create.

From the first minute, when Sadio Mane was fortunate to escape a red card for appearing to strike Cesar Azpilicueta in the face with an elbow after just 14 seconds, the game was incident-packed. Azpilicueta later said it was a “clear red card” when interviewed after the game.

Christian Pulisic, playing centrally in the absence of Lukaku, wasted a golden chance to open the scoring on seven minutes when, with only stand-in keeper Caoimhin Kelleher to beat, he was indecisive and allowed the youngster to smother the ball. It proved a costly miss when, two minutes later, Mane took advantage of his lucky escape from a sending off by pouncing on a mistake by Trevoh Chalobah to score.

Chelsea were in disarray and Liverpool looked like the team that won the title in 2019. When Mohamed Salah made it 2-0 on 26 minutes with a stunning near-post finish after gliding past Marcos Alonso, it seemed as though Liverpool were about to give Chelsea the kind of hammering they inflicted on Manchester United during a 5-0 rout at Old Trafford earlier this season.

Liverpool were unable to score a third, though, and two Chelsea goals in the space of three minutes at the end of the first half turned the game on its head.

When Kelleher punched Alonso’s in-swinging free kick clear on 42 minutes, the keeper looked to have done well to deny the Chelsea defender. But the ball dropped the Mateo Kovacic on the edge of the penalty area and, as he was backpedaling, the midfielder somehow guided a volley beyond Kelleher and into the net. It was a spectacular display of technique by the former Real Madrid player and it gave Chelsea a foothold back into the game.

And it took them just three minutes to score the equaliser when Pulisic atoned for his earlier miss by latching onto N’Golo Kante‘s pass before beating Kelleher with a precise left-foot shot past the Republic of Ireland international. As the chaos continued on the pitch, Mason Mount almost put Chelsea 3-2 up in first-half stoppage time with a scuffed volley that bounced just wide of the post.

When a game is so eventful in the first half, it rarely delivers a second half of the same quality because of coaches plugging the holes that had led to the earlier excitement. But while the goals stopped flowing, the entertainment didn’t.

Salah forced a crucial save from Edouard Mendy with a 25-yard lob on 57 minutes and Mane was also denied by the Chelsea keeper. Kelleher, not to be outdone, then produced a stunning save to prevent Pulisic from scoring his second of the game.

In total, there were 25 chances over the 90 minutes, with both sides registering six on target. Neither could find a winner, though.

“For the outside world it was quite a good game to watch, but we came here for three points and didn’t get them,” Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said.

Even if one team had done enough to claim all three points, it’s difficult to imagine they would have been able to close the gap on City, who are destined for another title. And the challenge facing both chasing clubs only grows more daunting in the next month, with Salah (Egypt), Mendy and Mane (both Senegal) now heading off to the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

But the Premier League still knows how to excite, even if the title is already a foregone conclusion.

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Michael Scudamore has Do Your Job in mind for Doncaster | Racing News



Doncaster’s Lightning Novices’ Chase could be next on the agenda for Do Your Job following his creditable effort in defeat at Kempton over the festive period.

Runner-up to My Drogo and Belfast Banter in Grade Two and Grade One novice hurdles in the spring, Michael Scudamore’s stable star made a successful start to his chasing career at Warwick in November.

The eight-year-old fell at the eighth fence when stepped up in class for the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown, but bounced back to finish second to Edwardstone in the Wayward Lad last week.

With Scudamore keen to avoid a rematch with the winner, who is seemingly bound for the Kingmaker at Warwick, Do Your Job could instead bid for Grade Two honours at Doncaster on January 29.

Reflecting on his Kempton performance, the trainer said: “I was very pleased. He jumped well and travelled well and did everything right, he was just beaten by a better horse on the day.

“The main objective was a clear round really and maybe if we hadn’t fallen at Sandown we might have pressed on a bit more and made it more of a staying race.

“The most important thing was to get a clear round under his belt and get some more experience over fences for him.

“I think we’ll stick to novice races while we can and we might look to the race at Doncaster. That is what we have pencilled in at the moment, anyway.

“It would certainly be Plan A to try and avoid Edwardstone and I was very pleased to read he was going to go for the Kingmaker. Hopefully they stick to that plan!”

While Do Your Job looks set to remain in novice company on his next start, Scudamore admitted is considering a step into the handicap arena for the Grand Annual at Cheltenham – a race he won with Next Sensation in 2015.

He added: “I’m sure he’ll have an entry in that. He also ran very well at Aintree last year, so there’s that to consider as well.

“He looks like a horse that could have the right sort of profile for a Grand Annual and we’ll see nearer the time.

“In some ways it might make more sense to go for a handicap now, but as we saw at Kempton some of these novice events don’t have a lot of runners in them and there’s some decent prize-money on offer, so it seems silly to pass them over when you’ve only got one chance to run in them really.”

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Adiwang hopes to fight Saruta next



Lito Adiwang was booted out of ONE Championship strawweight rankings after coming up short against Jarred Brooks. ‘The Thunder Kid’ is already itching to step back inside the cage and hopes to fight a ranked fighter next.

Of the fighters in the ONE Championship strawweight division rankings, the 28-year-old Filipino seeks to score a date with No.2-ranked Yosuke Saruta.

“I want a big comeback. I still want a big name. I want to challenge Yosuke Saruta. Maybe if ONE allows it, and he wants it, then I’ll take it. Saruta is someone who I really want to test myself against,” said Adiwang in an interview with ONE Championship.

The 28-year-old admits it is a dangerous fight and a huge risk to take. The high-risk, high-reward scenario is something that Adiwang would like to take as he seeks to put his name back in the rankings again by beating a former champion.

“It’s a big risk for me because I’m coming off a loss, but I want a great comeback and a big name in my return so I don’t fall far off from the rankings.”

Lito Adiwang seeking for a better year in 2022 at ONE Championship

Adiwang now holds a professional record of 13-4 and has been competing in ONE Championship since October 2018. He won his first five fights before receiving his first loss against Koha Minowa via a split decision two years later.

The Benguet-based fighter had three fights in 2021. However, he also suffered his second loss in ONE Championship against Jarred Brooks.

Still in his prime, Adiwang goes back to the drawing board and seeks to polish his MMA skills in 2022.

“I have to check my mistakes inside the Circle, but I also have to check my mistakes outside the Circle. It has to be a balance. Sometimes, I forget other personal obligations and those are the things that I have to work on. I have to balance things out based on last year. I have to correct this in 2022.”

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