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BAJAN CULTURE: The body sculptor

Ena Thompson

BAJAN CULTURE: The body sculptor

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BEFORE THE BARBADOS flag was flown high by track stars such as Obadele Thompson and Ryan Brathwaite, another athlete had brought pride and recognition to the island at the regional and international level.
Muscleman Darcy Beckles has an impressive list of sporting achievements which he accumulated since winning his first regional bodybuilding title, Mr West Indies in 1969.
The sporting icon defended that title successfully for three years, before subsequently copping Mr Barbados, Mr Barbados Olympia, Mr Caribbean Champion, Mr Caribbean, Mr World (Tall Class) and Mr World (Overall) – the last won in 1976.
A humble Beckles said that going into the discipline of bodybuilding was just a chance event.
“I remember going to a bodybuilding show just to watch. Some friends of mine said, ‘Man, Beck, come, you could compete in that; you have the body; you is a novice, you can do well.
“I was about 19 at the time and I didn’t even have a posing trunk. But they said ‘we are getting a posing trunk for you’,” he recalled.
“The show was called Mr Physique Junior. So I went and I competed and I won the show.”
Beckles said he was always a natural poser. It would see him being the first bodybuilder on the island who would win two shows on the same night – Junior and Senior Barbados.
He quickly became a household name and was unquestionably one of Barbados’ most outstanding musclemen.
Winner of Mr Western Hemisphere in 1975, Beckles had a superbly sculptured physique. And even though he no longer competes, still looks impressive.
The veteran sportsman now uses his vast experience on the local and international field to train aspiring young musclemen and women.
In collaboration with the National Sports Council, where Beckles has been employed for the last 32 years, the former national champion teaches fitness and bodybuilding in primary and secondary schools.
“I produce bodybuilders at every level. Each year, we have Mr Schoolboy Junior and Senior; and we also have Miss Fitness.”
Beckles said bodybuilding was a very difficult discipline, especially when training for competition where strictness in diet and intensity of training could sometimes be overwhelming.
Awarded a Barbados Service Medal (BSM) in 1982, Beckles lamented that the gym at the National Stadium was in serious need of an upgrade, noting that most of the equipment there had been donated by its members.
“I would like to see Governments in Barbados view sports as more than just sport, see it as a serious issue. We have people in Barbados who can do well, but need help; and nobody is helping them.”
Beckles also appealed to private businesses to make sponsorship of local athletes a top priority.
“I think if sports in Barbados, especially bodybuilding, was better looked after, our sportspeople could go a long way. The youngsters would really like someone to believe in them and show appreciation for the effort they put into the game,” Beckles said.