Don Dorans

In Strongman Mastery by Admin6 Comments

Don Dorans was born in 1912 and he was one of the most, if not the most respected bodybuilders in modern British history. He earned the “Mr. Britan” title in 1943, “Mr. Europe” in his class in 1950 and “Mr. Universe” during the same year. Dorans was recognized as The Finest Developed Man in the World at his height.

Don Dorans

Don Dorans

Following definite success on many contests, Don Dorans created his very own bodybuilder course titled “The ‘Mr. Britain’ Course” which became very popular for a good reason – who else would you turn to in order to mold your body other than someone with “Mr. Universe” title?

One of the exercises from his course

One of the exercises from his course

Aside from creating and marketing this course, Don often wrote articles for Health & Strength Magazine. He died in 1999 at the age of 87.




  1. My Great Uncle Don. The only thing that he regreted that he never won his titles in his real name Antimo Donatelli x

  2. I would like to claim Don was Scots Italian as before departing to England he spent his early years in the West of Scotland and retired to Prestwick. He featured for many years in the Health and Strength magazines, I have several of these. I am friends with Ray Nobile, now living in Bulgaria who knew and trained with Don. Like me he was unaware of Don’s real name, we were recently discussing whether Don had, in his retirement, trained at my old club Ayr Health & Strength club. When Ray visited him in Prestwick he said he was working out at a local gym. Would be delighted if you could add to what we know, happy to send you some of my findings, he was one of the most covered athletes from his era.
    Here is a partial summary of Ray’s achievements. Training since the age of 13. the year being 1964. im from scotland but now live in bulgaria.still training at 67 . i have competed in body building,powerlifting and strongman. 3 times junior mr scotland,mr europe masters. 4 times british powerlifting cup powerlifting champion and european powerlifting champion.3 times scotlands strongest man.2 times competitor in britains strongest the first bsm which was televised, i won 3 events outright.tore 16 london telephone directories in 1 minute. only competitor to complete the backlift and won the car deadlift. after 8 events i was in 2nd place to geoff capes. with 4 events to go. however i had injured my lower back doing the backlift so just had to cruise through the final events.ended up 4th overall.started competing from 1967 till 1998.1998 I won the world bodybuilding championships in south africa with the fire and police federation.

  3. Barbara your comment on your Uncle Don’s real name interests me. sounds Italian. I am friends with Powerlifter, Bodybuilder Ray Nobile who trained with Don presumably at Cambuslang. Ray’s father is Italian, he finds it strange that the subject of his real name never came up .As you no doubt know, we have a large number of Scots Italians in the West of Scotland. Ray said that he spoke to Don after he retired to Scotland, Don settled in Prestwick and apparently was doing some training at a local gym in Ayr. I was a member of Tam McKean’s Ayr Health & Strength Club I would suspect Don would have known Tam, the founder of the gym who may have given a key to train in private. Tam was a major figure in the world of Weights starting from about 1920. My friend and I are doing a profile on vintage Scottish weight trainers, many years my friend described meeting a unknown bodybuilder one Sunday morning who was doing heavy bench presses. The description given fits with it being Don. I have a number of vintage magazines featuring don, one includes the story of him going south on his bike and taking up residence in Biggleswade Edinburgh. Hope you get to see this post, I look forward to learning more from a family perspective on Don. Happy to give more information fro the Magazines I hold Adam.

    1. Hi My Great Uncle Don was born in Deptford London and his family moved to Scotland when he was really young. My Uncle and his brothers were orphaned and ended up Staying with Mrs Dorans their foster mum. My granpa his big brother Joe was a weight lifter and won many a contest.

  4. Hi My Great Uncle Don was born in Deptford London and his family moved to Scotland when he was really young. My Uncle and his brothers were orphaned and ended up Staying with Mrs Dorans their foster mum. My granpa his big brother Joe was a weight lifter and won many a contest. His family were from Monte San Biago.

    1. Thought I would share some of the interest shown on Donf rom persons who knew and respected him. Ray Noble a moderator on David Gentles site wrote this piece on Don.
      by » Wed Feb 05, 2020 12:50 pm
      antamo donnateli was born in stepford, london, england in 1913. he was orphaned at a very young age.he was fostered, along with his brother by a family in scotland. the familys name was dorans, antimos name was changed to don dorans. don went on to be a legend in british bodybuilding. wining mr britain and mr universe titles. he ran a succesful bodybuilding postal buisness from mid 1940s to mid for people of all ages and gender.all courses were tailored for each individual and hand writen by don personally.he trained a couple of mr britain winners. his knowledge of training and nutrition was unsurpassed and way ahead of its time.he trained me for my junior mr scotland wins.he recomend i send away for the maxalding courses, as this would help me control my muscles during my onstage posing routines. he authored many articles for health and strength magasines in the 1950s. he also designed many pieces of bodybuilding machines, all hand built by himself.david has spoke about these machines here on this site.don and i became firm friends throughout the years.i helped him backstage when he competed in the over 40s mr britain. don was 60 years of age then. competing against guys 20 years younger than him.he took 3rd place. when he posed the audience went wild. dons posing routine was built around muscle control, which most of the crowd had never seen before.don passed away in january of 1999. he was 86 years old. sleep well my friend.

      Re: antamo donnateli
      by peter yates » Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:11 am NEW YORK, USA
      Hi Ray, thanks for this very interesting information about Antamo/Don.I had no idea that he was from Italian origins. Certainly one of the true pioneers of Physical Culture in the British Isles and great all round strength athlete.You were lucky to have known him and been trained by him. As you mention he was way ahead of his time in inventing machines for training,some that were claimed to have originated in the USA at a much later date.

      Re: antamo donnateli
      HI Ray i am delighted you have written such a good feature on Don Dorans. I think i have mentioned before how he trained me for nearly two years with his genuine personal schedules with which i made more progress than any other time or using any other system. later i got to see him in the flesh as it were and became good mates also with his wife(Vera) Don was a great pal of Arnold S when they trained at Wag Bennetts, and Don trained more potential Mr Britain’s then any other, including famously Spencer Churchill, the latter whom i saw at the Annual . Spence is now over 90 yet still has a keen interest in the game. Don also invented some great training aids, the one i used most was his incline leg press or squat machine, a simple yet great device which took the pain out of having those heavy weights on your shoulders. Back to dear old Don on the site you will find his training system and i highly recommend it for those seeking some decent muscle gains. Thanks for the memories Ray. David Gentle Chief Moderator Author & Historian, Physical Culture

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