Hopefully after four years, Venice residents have become accustomed to the thundering noise overhead on Memorial Day at noon. The C-17 Globemaster, a strategic airlifter, is flown in from the March Air Reserve Base as a way to show appreciation for the efforts of Joe Wheatley Productions to incorporate the military in the Memorial Day activities at Muscle Beach Venice, scheduled Monday, May 26th, this year.
A brigadier general (name not available at press time) is coming from the Los Angeles Air Force Base for an induction ceremony on stage for new recruits into all branches of the military. Keeping with the theme, Loyola Marymount’s ROTC Air Force Silent Rifle Drill Team will also be on hand to perform.
The annual Muscle Beach International Classic will take place at noon Monday, May 26th. Prejudging is from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, May 25th.
In addition to the Muscle Beach International Classic, a new event this year is amateur boxing on a 20-by-20-foot ring canopy which will be constructed on the basketball court and is sponsored by Pro Fight Supplements. Bouts will involve the military, UCLA versus USC, and members of the Boys & Girls Club of Venice (which includes students from Venice High School). The event is sanctioned by USA Boxing and all the participants will be required to wear protective gear.
Notables in boxing such as Alex Ramos and Bobby Chacon are expected to be in attendance. One of the boxers is sponsored by Maurice Bernard, an Emmy-winning actor who plays Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital.
Boxing isn’t entirely new to Venice. It didn’t always have the rules and regulations that are in place now. Abbot Kinney turned down three offers from a Los Angeles syndicate to erect a boxing ring in Venice. They claimed it would make Venice the greatest sporting center in the country. Kinney permitted only short bouts in The Auditorium that stopped as soon as they became cruel. He wanted Venice to “continue to be a mecca for clean sport and amusement.”
Although it’s not a holiday weekend, Saturday, May 17th, is going to be a special day at Muscle Beach. It’s the 2 p.m. grand opening of the renovated weight pen. BodyBuilding.com paid for all-new equipment and HeadBlade paid for new flooring. For bodybuilding buffs, the pen will be closed from Thursday, May 8th, through Friday, May 16th.
Another attraction on the 17th is the plaque unveiling of the newest inductees to the Muscle Beach Venice Bodybuilding Walk of Fame. This will bring the current total to 28 since the inception of the Hall of Fame in 1993. It was Joe Wheatley’s idea to create a museum, and after thinking about it, he decided to do a Walk of Fame much like what’s done in Hollywood to honor stars who have made a contribution to their craft.
He came up with a simple dumbbell design with the name on the bronze handle. A sculptor suggested doing it three-dimensionally. The plaques of recognition, paid for by BodyBuilding .com, are incorporated in the foundation of the weight pen.
The Hall of Fame, under the jurisdiction of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, recognizes excellence in bodybuilding and physical culture in acknowledging those who have inspired, informed, entertained and advanced the art, sport and science of bodybuilding.
Bodybuilding champions must be retired for at least five years before being eligible for consideration and have at least ten years of active participation in the bodybuilding field as a competitor, trainer, gym owner or bodybuilding journalist.
The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given only to individuals who have had at least 30 years of active experience in the field and they must have demonstrated significant influence in the advancement of the art, sport and science of bodybuilding and physical culture.
The 2007 honorees whose plaques will be unveiled are bodybuilding champions Franco Colombu, who was Mr. Universe 1970 and Mr. Olympia 1976 and 1981; and Tony Pearon, Mr. America 1978 and Pro Mr. Universe 1980.
Also included are Santa Monica Muscle Beach pioneers DeForrest “Moe” Most and Pudgy Stockton.
“It’s important to include these folks in our induction process because it all started with them and had it not been for Muscle Beach Santa Monica, we wouldn’t be here today,” says Wheatley.
Jack LaLanne, known as the godfather of physical fitness, was a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient last year.
LaLanne, now 94 years old, co-authored with Mathew Rettick a book called Fiscal Fitness, which was released in March, about being physically and fiscally fit as an elderly person. After his plaque is unveiled he will give away 200 of these books free.
Inductees for 2008 are Reg Park, Mr. Universe 1951 and Pro Mr. Universe 1958 and 1965, on Memorial Day; Irvin “Zabo” Koszewski, Mr. Los Angeles 1953 and Mr. California 1953 and 1954 — who Wheatley says “was considered the world’s most muscular man at one time” — on July 4th; and Sarah Hirsch Clark, Ms. Muscle Beach 1948 (the second year of this honor) on Labor Day.
Information, www.muscle beachvenice.com/.