Chuck Sipes

In Strongman Mastery by Admin32 Comments

Unlike most old time bodybuilders, Chuck Sipes who was born in 1932 in Illinois was deeply involved in feats of strength as well. While he was still a teenager, Chuck’s family moved to California where he wanted to join a school’s football team. Unfortunately, he was too skinny to be part of the team and following this rejection Chuck decided to start weightlifting and build some muscle mass.

Chuck Sipes

Chuck Sipes

Very similar to Bruce Randall, Chuck Sipes started weightlifting to make a football team and ended up being an incredible successful bodybuilder. Chuck won numerous titles, such as Mr. America in 1959, Mr. Universe in 1960, NABBA World Championship in 1967 and Mr. World in 1968. Aside from his impressive bodybuilding career, Chuck regularly performed various feats of strength. In the picture below, we can see him bending 60-penny spike, but he also liked to do long braced feats. And he did all this while working long shifts as a lumberjack with less than optimal diet and recovery periods.

Chuck Sipes bending 60D Nail

Chuck Sipes bending 60D Nail

Chuck Sipes was involved in braced bending as well

Chuck Sipes was involved in braced bending as well


After Chuck retired, his time was devoted to helping the California Youth Authority in Stockton and almost 20 years of dedication has been very successful. Among other things, Chuck managed to change the lives of two troubled young people completely.

Sadly enough, Chuck Sipes died in 1993 after taking his own life due to depression issues which stemmed from the fact that he couldn’t perform his favorite outdoor activities due to various physical limitations.


  1. Chuck Sipes was my favorite bodybuilder when I was growing up in the early 60s. He not only looked strong–he was actually very strong and very powerful. I remember seeing him in the back of fitness magazines with Joe Weider commenting: “The strongest arms in the world belong to my pupil Chuck Sipes. Ten thousand dollars to anyone that can duplicate his feats of strength.” This was rather daring since Norbert Schemansky and Paul Anderson were two of the strongest men at the time, winning multiple medals and accolades in Olympic weightlifting. He was a mild-mannered, soft-spoken man who never had an unkind word to say about anyone. He let his physique and feats of strength do his talking for him. I am sorry for his passing. He will be missed.

      1. Im 65 + now.chuck.spike got me into.working.on fit.

    1. Fantastic powerful physique BUT – How can people still believe that these guys built their physiques without steroids? Just admit it and move on. They worked out a lot but they did use steroids that’s a fact. Stop the fantasy idol worship and let’s get real so people can move on and just do what makes them happy.

        1. It’s obvious,do you really think a frame can hold that much muscle naturally? Lol if you do you are deluded

      1. almost every top lifter/physique competitor used steroids in that era. They were not illegal if you had a doctors prescription. Sipes was a great man. It is not fantasy idol worship to admire and respect the man.

      2. My Dad worked with Chuck in the California Youth Authority. My Sipes did an opining act when Pop opened “Family Billiards” in Stockton or Lodi.

        Steroids were not a part of Mr Sipes workout.

        1. No but a part of his diet. Very great frame indeed! Impressive since they did not got the same steroids as today (HGH, insulin , tren and so on)

      1. Dear friend! Vincent! CYA, Stockton 1984/85. 515- 203-7078! Wanted to meet chucks family!

    2. I was in Youth authority an had polio as child. While i was locked up,he brought me to work out trying to strengthen my legs. Great man and im sad to read he killed himself.

    3. Chuck Sipes was my favourite body builder. He did incredible feats of strength that was beyond imagination. He will always be remembered also for his gentle spirit and his kindness. RIP Chuck

  2. Amazing individual. However, his work at the C.Y.A. must’ve started much earlier than you suggest. I lifted with Chuck at Preston in ’67 & ’68. I left there with 17″ biceps. @ 18 yrs old. If somebody decided to go over the fence there, Chuck was one of the chasers?

    1. Always great to hear from someone who knew one of the old time strongmen in person. Thank you for sharing the updated info with us.

  3. I met Chuck @ Jamestown school I was in 4th grade he was friends with Bob Slater from Jamestown Ca. they did a strong man routine & got train wheels from Railtown were bench pressing them, & Chuck did his amazing re bar bending what a amazing strong man, & so informative! RIP Mr. Sipes!

  4. My name is coleman mcguire i was at preston school and lifted weights with chuck he changed my life for the good attend there for over 1 1/2 years my mentor god bless chuck he helped alot of young men to have a better life i will always miss him rip chuck thank you

  5. Chuck sypes was my y.a. counselor back in 1967 or 68 in Stockton (Preston) he did a show broke chains by flexing his biceps tore a couple of la phone books in half too. He was a cool dude helped everyone learning to lift and with lower body workout. I just was telling my grand children about him and how he was old school. No steroids sorry to hear why he left but do get it i can’t do those things either anymore. Well have to say i think he was fare and didn’t ask questions he knew what loyal meant.

  6. I was in preston myself in 1970.i remember chuck starting up a weight club called the 300 club which meant you had to be able to bench press was in the basement of the old hosp building .i was part of tamerack in those days where we ended up on one side .john thomas also a conselor back then worked out withus .anybody out there with me.yep its been a while

  7. Met Chuck while in C.Y.A (Karl Holton)1986 then again in Fouts Springs 1990 he was still in good shape for his age he had some very intense old school work outs that inspired me,the man was a good man helped a lot of troubled kids to turn they’re lives around he certainly changed mine.

  8. I started working out when I was 13 or 14. I would read all the muscle magazine of the day. This was way before Arnold came along. Strength & Health, Muscular Development and ones I can’t remember the names. Larry Scott, Dave Draper, Chuck Sipes, Steve Reeves, (the Arnold of that age), Frank Zane. Bob Hoffman was the Olympic weight coach and was the industry leader as Joe Welder was about to take over. I went to the York factory in Pennsylvania while in college to buy a set of Olympic weights and weight stands. I met John Grimick (sp?)and George Eifferman who were working for Hoffman at the factory. Impressed me big time. But Chuck Sipes who I just saw years before in profile walking through the Atlanta airport was the first ŕeal big time bodybuilder I’d ever seen. Those arms like stone were huge. Will never forgot that sighting. Inspired me to follow the sport closely for years until steroids arrived and destroyed the aesthetics in search for mass. Frank Zane, a fellow Floridean, and Cory Everson were the end of an era. Both of who, and Albert Beckles, I met at seminars. Sorry to see those times. Just glad Frank Zane won
    the Olympia against Arnold. Slowed Welder and Arnold from building their empire. Sergio Oliva also beat Arnold. He was the most genetically gifted of all bodybuilders then and now, I feel. Huge without the juice!

    1. Hate to break it to you but they were all on roids. In fact they had the original d bol which is still to this date, the best steroid of all time.

  9. I met Chuck Sipes when I was 17 years old. I joined a gym called Taylor’s Athletic Club in 1961 & Chuck was the manager. He was a quiet & humble man as well as an incredible physical specimen. He built that incredible physique without the use of steroids. I lost a bet with him over the issue of muscle mass being detrimental to flexibility. I was very athletic & had the flexibility of a 17 year old athlete but Chuck, who was 29 at the time blew me away.
    Chuck took my money & then explained how muscles worked together as flexors & extensors & how if they are developed evenly the term “muscle bound” would not apply. Chuck also stretched before & after his weight workouts. If memory serves me right, he stood 5’9″ & his contest weight was 225 lbs. He could bench press 570 lbs. incredible!

  10. Hate to break it to you but they were all on roids. In fact they had the original d bol which is still to this date, the best steroid of all time.

  11. I remember growing up and when I was in 2nd and 3rd grade in Ione, California, Chuck “Mr. World” Sipes lived a few houses down from us on Sutter Lane. Our neighbor (my friend) Charlie Miller and I would go down the street to see Chuck. This was around 1967-68. He would often blow up the old red rubber hot water bottles until they exploded. Wow!! He had such raw lung and chest strength as well as his huge arms/legs, etc. He also would lift old hot rod cars barehanded and we were always in awe of him. He was the nicest guy and always had time for us kids. Boy, what a great guy. Sad that he had to suffer later in life. I really loved him and my parents were super respectful and happy to entrust him with our care when we would go hang out at his garage (weight benches, etc., were the main things he had in there).

  12. I actually met Chuck Sipes while I was attending Cal Poly Pomona circa 1983 or 84. He was still working with Youth Authority and was there with a buddy for a conference. I actually took him to a local gym for a workout and was blown away by his stamina and strength! For an older guy, he could really pump the weights. I remember him doing squats with 250 lbs., and was shocked how low down he went down; his butt nearly touched his lower calves!

    At the time, I did some volunteer work for Youth For Christ/Youth Guidance, running a weight training program at Camp Glenn Rockey. I actually wrote an interview of him for a small magazine they published.

    I really enjoyed his company. The next day, we went for a couple beers at the Union Center on campus. What a terrific guy! I was saddened to read how he died.

    Rest in Peace,


  13. Hi everyone,
    I was born in the UK and took up bodybuilding at a local gym in my teens. Via books and magazines I eventually discovered the incredible Chuck Sipes’.
    I loved reading all your letters about this wonderful Strongman and I tried to copy him as much as I could. I won a few competitions over here and I met many great athletes at the annual Mr Universe shows…e.g.: Grimek, Bill Pearl, Dennis Tinerino etc. I visited and trained with Frank and Christine Zane in Palm Springs. I still train as the years click by but I have loved this sport and passed on my knowledge whenever possible and I have enjoyed the company of many exceptional people.
    I live in Norfolk, East Anglia .I would love to have met Chuck too.

  14. I had the Honor to train with Chuck Sipes 4 Months . He was the guest poser for Arnald S. when Arnarld put on a semiar in Stockton Ca.

    We trained 7 hours & 7 days a week.I never did take Roids. We trained at Als gym in stockton Ca.

  15. Chuck Sipes was my counselor in unit C at Prestone in 1965-66. He was a big dude and didn’t throw his weight around. He was humble and treated everyone with respect. Sad to hear how he left this life.

  16. I remember Chuck at Al’s Gym in Stockton in the early 80’s. What I most remember is his intensity and passion, and infecting the gym with his enthusiasm as he exclaimed, “It’s a party!’” As a young lifter at the time, I truly appreciated how he changed the energy field of the entire gym and inspired others to push their limits and have fun while doing it!

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