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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

DOUG HEPBURN

Inducted in 1955

Member Details

Date of Birth: September 16, 1926
Place of Birth: Vancouver, British Columbia
Date of Passing: November 22, 2000
Sport: Weightlifting
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1948

Canadian press record - 300 pounds

1949

U.S. National Open Champion

1953

World Heavyweight Champion

Lou Marsh Award

1954

British Empire Games - Gold medal in heavyweight

Man of B.C.

Honoured Member DOUG HEPBURN
Inspire

Story

Doug Hepburn's rise to fame calls to mind the scrawny kid who, after getting sand kicked in his face, transforms his body into something resembling classical Greek statuary. Whether apocryphal or not, Hepburn's status as the "World's Strongest Man" during the 1950s can only be matched in the annals of Canadian sport by the famous 19th-century strongman, Louis Cyr. Hepburn was born with a club foot. After failed surgery to correct the trouble left him with a withered leg, the young Hepburn embarked upon an intensive weightlifting program. In 1948, the unknown and self-taught weightlifter set a Canadian record by pressing 300 pounds. A year later, he won the U.S. National Open Championship and set a world record with a lift of 345.5 pounds. Despite this success, Hepburn was ignored by the Canadian weightlifting establishment. He was not chosen for the 1952 Canadian weightlifting team, for the Oslo Olympics, where the gold medal was won by John Davis of the U.S. whom Hepburn had defeated for the U.S. title three years earlier. Disappointed but not disillusioned, Hepburn paid his own way to 1953 world championships in Stockholm. Once there, he surprised the international weightlifting community by winning the heavyweight championship with a combined press, clean-and-jerk, and snatch total of 1,030.25 pounds. He returned to Canada with little fanfare outside of his hometown of Vancouver, though he soon garnered national reconnection when he was awarded the 1953 Lou Marsh Award. Hepburn's competitive career peaked at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver. He won the heavyweight gold medal with a press of 370 pounds, snatch of 300 pounds, and clean-and-jerk or 370 pounds. As a result he was named 1954's Man of British Columbia. Despite his international triumphs, Hepburn couldn't raise the money to return to Europe to defend his world title and so retired from competitive weightlifting. He didn't return to the sport he dominated until age 47 when, in 1974, he returned to training in an attempt to set a world record in the one-arm military press.


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