Doug Hepburn, ‘The Challenge’ (c. 1999)

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The below text is something I’m rather excited about. Earlier this month, I stumbled across Doug Hepburn’s website from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hepburn was one of the strongest men of the mid twentieth century, famed for his seemingly inhuman feats of strength.

You can imagine, then the joy I felt when I began reading Doug’s articles on his now defunct website (I’ve included the source at the bottom and would encourage you to check it out!).

I don’t want to give away too much but Hepburn’s ‘Challenge’ was a shot fired at modern lifters to match the feats of strength of gear fear lifters. I’ve published it in its entirety below (including the ALL CAPS text). It’s provocative but shows Doug’s love and promotion of pure strength. Enjoy!

I WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT WHAT I BELIEVE TO BE A FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH IN RESPECT TO THE CREDIBILITY OF TOP LEVEL STRONGMEN, PAST AND PRESENT.

IT MAY SHOCK THE READER TO HEAR THAT I HAVE BEEN INFORMED BY NUMEROUS WORLD RECOGNIZED AUTHORITIES THAT IN MOST INSTANCES RECORD COMPETITIVE STRENGTH LIFTS PERFORMED IN OUR PRESENT DAY HAVE BEEN INCREASED BY AT LEAST 30%, DUE TO THE USE OF DRUGS AND BODY SUPPORT GEAR.

WHAT MAY SHOCK THE VIEWER EVEN MORE IS WHEN WE SUBTRACT 30% FROM PRESENT DAY LIFTS THEY ARE REDUCED TO A LEVEL 40 YEARS AGO ESTABLISHED BY DRUG FREE LIFTERS. IT SEEMS THAT THE GENERAL PUBLIC HAVE BEEN “KEPT IN THE DARK” BY THE NEWS MEDIA IN MANY ASPECTS OF MODERN SPORTS. ESPECIALLY SO WHEN COMPARING THE NEW TO THE OLD.

WHERE THEN ARE OR IS THE NATURALLY STRONGEST MEN OR MAN, IN MODERN HISTORY?

IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT THOSE WHO HAVE UTILIZED DRUGS TO ELEVATE THEIR STRENGTH LEVEL HAVE ELIMINATED THEMSELVES FROM THE TITLE. IF FOLLOWS THEN THAT A CRITERIA MUST BE ESTABLISHED TO ARRIVE AT THE DISCOVERY OF WHO IS, OR WHO WAS, THE NATURALLY STRONGEST “ALL ROUND” LIFTER IN MODERN HISTORY.

THERE ARE A LIMITED NUMBER OF STRONGMEN PAST AND PRESENT, ALTHOUGH VERY FEW, WHO POSSESS THE CREDENTIALS TO SERVE AS PRE-MENTIONED CRITERIA.

ACCORDING TO THE PUBLICIZED STATEMENTS OF WORLD RENOWNED EXPERTS I STAND ALONE AS THE STRONGEST FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

COMPETITIVE PURE STRENGTH LIFTS.

THE LIFTS THAT HAVE BEEN PERFORMED DAILY IN GYMS, HOMES, ETC. WORLDWIDE IN OUR MODERN TIMES BY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. THUS ESTABLISHING THE ONLY CRITERIA TO MEASURE AN OVERALL STANDARD OF PHYSICAL STRENGTH FOR COMPARATIVE EVALUATION. ODD LIFTS DONE WITH CHAINS, HARNESS, BARRELS, ROCKS, PLATFORMS ETC, ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR OVERALL EVALUATION AS THEY ARE PERFORMED BY SPECIALISTS, WHICH REPRESENT POSSIBLY A FRACTION OF 1 PERCENT OF THE GENERAL POPULATION.

THE BASIC LIFTS I REFER TO FOR PROPER EVALUATION ARE THE FOLLOWING:

OVERHEAD PRESS

DEAD LIFT

BENCH PRESS

SQUAT

CURL

FROM THESE LIFTS, AND THESE LIFTS ALONE WE CAN ARRIVE AT JUST WHO ARE THE NATURALLY STRONGEST MEN, AND MAN, IN HISTORY. AS I SAID IT SEEMS THAT ACCORDING TO THE OPINION OF INTERNATIONAL AUTHORITIES, DUE TO THE FACT THAT I ALONE SET A STANDARD OF OVERALL STRENGTH CONSIDERABLY ABOVE THAT OF ALL OTHER ELITE IN THE BASIC LIFTS WORLDWIDE IN THE EARLY 1940’S, THE PERIOD IN WHICH STEROIDS AND OTHER MODES OF DRUGS USAGE WERE NON EXISTENT, A LEVEL OF STRENGTH INCIDENTALLY THAT IS COMPARABLE TO ELITE LIFTERS OF THE DAY.

THIS STANDARD THEN MUST REPRESENT THE “BOTTOM LINE” AS IT WERE, FROM WHICH ALL OTHER POTENTIAL CHALLENGERS WOULD UNDERGO AN EXTENSIVE COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS IN ORDER TO ASCERTAIN WHO IS THE STRONGEST NATURAL MAN IN MODERN HISTORY.

AT THIS POINT IN TIME I HAVE ISSUED A PERSONAL CHALLENGE TO A LL WORLD STRENGTH ATHLETES TO DUPLICATE THE LIFTS THAT I PERFORMED IN MY PRIME PRIOR TO THE STEROID AND DRUG ERA DRUG FREE. I HAVE ALSO EXTENDED THIS CHALLENGE TO ALL WORLD ATHLETES OVER THE AGE OF 70 YEARS.

TO DATE BOTH WORLDWIDE CHALLENGES HAVE APPEARED IN 65 COUNTRIES. TO DATE BOTH CHALLENGES ISSUED TO THE WORLDS BEST YOUNG AND OLD STRENGTH ATHLETES STAND

UNANSWERED!

In order to reestablish a comparison of true strength among our present day strongmen worldwide we of necessity must have a genuine drug free, that is lifetime drug free, elite strength athlete to serve or act as the source of comparison. Such a person must have the greatest overall credibility among those very few lifters, past or present.

It seems according to the opinion of international authorities, because of the fact that I alone set a standard of overall strength in the basic recognized lifts I stand alone as the only criteria from which an overall standard of strength could be established worldwide.

This challenge I have issued is not, I say again, is not for the purpose of self-aggrandizement, but rather to reestablish the sanctity and credibility within our modern world of heavy athletes.

All would be contestants are required to comply to the following terms:

No belt or wraps.

Loose fitting sweat suit only to be worn.

Must be lifetime drug free

Polygraph and drug test as required by the W.E.W.A. upon acceptance of entry form.

Undisputed birth certificate required plus VHS video documentation of qualifying lifts endorsed by three qualifying witnesses presented with entry form.

All qualifying lifts to be performed with internationally accepted calibrated bars and plates. I wish to say here that it seems, after numerous attempts to have this information published I am forced to do this myself so that my story will reach *you* One of many dedicated athletes in or modern world of strength.

An international television promotion, based in Hollywood, U.S.A. is presently being arranged to ascertain the strongest group of natural men in modern history and which man within this group reigns supreme.

This promotion will show throughout Canada, Europe and the U.S.A. under the title “Search for the Worlds Strongest MAN!”

Invitational challenges have been issued to top caliber strength athletes in the U.S.S.R. and 65 countries to both young and senior category divisions by the World Elite Weight Lifting Association.

5 Qualifying basic lifts have been chosen by the W.E.W.A. They are:

1.          Standard press off rack – 450 lbs.

2.          Strict two hand curl – 260 lbs.

3.          One arm strict dumbbell press – 200 lbs.

4.          Squat – 800 lbs.

5.          Dumbbell hold out at side 110 lbs

– Qualifying lifts for seniors over 70 years

Standing press off-rack 210 lbs.

Strict two hand curl 160 lbs.

One arm dumbbell press 110 lbs.

Squat 400 lbs.

Close grip bench press 225 lbs.

Benefits for those who qualify:

Proposed cash award

Potential movie involvement

VCR tape Promo sales

Endorsements

Celebrity status

Tours

Worldwide publicity

Expenses. Etc.

Perhaps the viewer, as well as myself will find it hard to believe that no one has come forward to take advantage of such an opportunity. As to the reason why, I will leave this to the viewers imagination.

In order to ascertain the claim to the strongest natural man in modern history I am compelled to present a comparative analysis involving those outstanding lifters of the past. Unfortunately there is no method available to document the fact of being lifetime drug free in respect to those strongmen active in the late 1940’s and early 50’s. who are deceased. However in respect to those great lifters they must be accepted as possible candidates for the ultimate title in the world of strength. However there is a “gray side” to this situation, as the possibility of drug usage exists which would nullify comparative evaluation and conclusion. There is the possibility however that this situation could be surmounted via an extensive investigation of the candidate’s background.  

Source: http://web.archive.org/web/20000229210155/http://doughepburn.com/

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