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Gallery of Ironmen: Bodybuilding?s Betting Man

Bob McCune beat the odds on the stage and in the ring.


It's often difficult to say what a bodybuilder will do after a successful athletic career. What are the odds that one of the finest physique stars of the 1950s would end up being involved in the gambling industry? When it comes to Bob McCune, the answer is, pretty good.

McCune was born December 11, 1921, and he started working out at his home in Amsterdam, New York, when he was 17 and weighed 165 pounds. He had always enjoyed competition, and he entered many local weightlifting and physique contests. After a stint in the Navy, Bob decided to remain in Northern California, where he'd been stationed. In 1946 he opened a gym in San Francisco and continued to enter physique contests. Despite his determination and an impressive musculature, however, first-place finishes eluded him.

Bob moved south to Los Angeles, and he became a fixture on the sands of Muscle Beach. McCune continued to exercise intensely, but despite all his work and his popularity with fans and physique photographers, his bodybuilding career seemed to go nowhere. So in the summer of '50 McCune decided to try something different. He became a professional wrestler. Taking advantage of his handsome features and beautiful body, he transformed himself into 'Lord Pinkerton,' and he fought successfully for several years.

By early '56 Bob had decided to quit wrestling. He gravitated back to Southern California, where he opened a gym in Long Beach, but two years later he was selling sets of Great Books of the Western World. After that he dropped out of the physique world and turned to another interest: betting on sporting contests.

Professional gaming takes a cool head, a steady nerve and self-confidence'all qualities Bob gained from athletics. Although he experienced moderate success in a number of fields, McCune finally hit the jackpot with his handicapping advice. Bob stresses that he only places recreational bets. 'It's not my nature to gamble,' he explains. After retiring at the age of 76, Bob moved to Arizona, and he continues to place a bet or two. The former bodybuilder and wrestler still exercises, and he's currently writing an autobiographical novel. IM

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