The Teen Years, Weightlifter Joe Dube’

August 10th, 2012, 12:30H · Topics: Famous And Not So..., Guys, Sports · Print

When I first made contact with Joe Dube’ he told me that after Loyd Sandgren passed away someone delivered an envelope of photographic prints to him at his office in the Independent Life building from Loyd.  There was only one print of Joe that I have seen in the roughly 15,000 images in the Sandgren collection so I was eager to see what else was he had.  These two are from those photographs which Joe generously shared with Vintage Jacksonville along with another great story to go with the first image.

“Now this picture was taken by Loyd at the old Jacksonville Arena. (at Main and Beaver Streets) The Jacksonville promoter and owner of the Arena was Jimmy Murdock, he was something else…Paul Anderson (known as The World’s Strongest Man) gave a weightlifting exhibition there, that’s back when Paul Anderson was wrestling.  He lifted this weight up that’s on the mat here where they wrestled, he did some squats with it on his shoulders. They put it down and the took it of the racks and they had this dumbbell, big dumbbell and they say it was a 200 lb. dumbbell but I think it was a little more than that actually, it was about 220 lb. dumbbell.  They asked anybody in the crowd, Paul Anderson did a one armed bent press with it, Jimmy Murdoch announced that if anybody out in the stands wanted to try that he would give them three ringside tickets, free tickets if anybody could lift it over their head or even get it up to their shoulders.  Two guys, pretty big guys tried to lift it but they couldn’t get it up to their shoulders.  And here I am, I was 180 something pounds, and I’d been lifting and training and weightlifting and all, and the guys I was with, some of my old buddies in the neighborhood I went down to the wrestling match with kept pushing me to go down there and try it.  They finally talked me into it so I went down there and said ‘well, I’ll try it’, raised my arm up and I went down there.  There was a big crowd in there, so I jumped up on the side there were the ropes were at and slung my leg up over the rope and when I did the whole seat of my pants ripped out.  And when it did, people cracked up and started laughing.  Well Jimmy Murdoch got a towel, a white towel, and put a towel behind my pants so no one could see my whole pants ripped out.  So I bent down to lift this weight here and I used two hands to clean it up to my shoulder, to get it up to my shoulder I used both hands. I almost jerked it over my head with one arm.  You see right there, I dipped and I jerked and it went arms length and I didn’t quite lock it out.  I held it there for just a matter of a couple of seconds and then down it came, crashed onto the mat.  Paul Anderson, he looked in amazement, he was shocked.  Here this little kid going up there under 200 ponds, almost lifted this weight over his head.  He walked up to me and kind of whispered to me, ‘do you weightlift?’ and I said ‘yes, yes sir’.  He knew right away that I was a weightlifter.  But anyway, they give me ringside tickets and all.  I was 16 or 17 years old.”    Joe Dube’

Another early photo of Joe Dube’ Sr. at a competition. According to Joe he had just turned 16 and was pressing 260 pounds in this photo.  Pretty amazing but not that surprising for someone who would go on to set Junior weightlifting records, win a Bronze Medal in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and then win the World Championship in the super-heavyweight class in 1969, beating the two weightlifters that bested him for Gold and Silver in the Olympics.


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  1. 1 Dorothy Fletcher August 10th, 2012 14:57H

    This is a great blog! I went through it very quickly, but I was struck very quickly by the tremendous quality of the work and the power of the photographer’s images. I also love that it is a look into a distant Jacksonville, something that makes this place all the more real to me as I grow older. Thanks for making the blog. I will visit it often!

  2. 2 Michael O'Connell June 6th, 2016 10:52H

    I remember my dad telling me that Joe Dube used to use the wheels off of a freight train to lift.

  3. 3 Al Dube August 3rd, 2017 12:32H

    Boy was that a long time ago.I remember around 1958/59 Joe and Virgil starting with some springs that you stretch out in front of your chest.I believe Daddy helped them get a pair.Then came the rubber ones.Well,it wasn’t long afterward that the springs and the rubber ones were just not enough then they saved their lunch money to buy a set of Weider barbells.And they started training.Then they got their first set of York barbells.They were in high cotton then. Because York was the best you could get.I believe it was a 400 lb set of weights they got started on.They sure enjoyed York barbells.And they still have some today.So many memories of days gone by.I was there when Joe lifted the World record of Jr.

  4. 4 Al Dube August 3rd, 2017 13:06H

    or Jr. World record of 400 3/4 lbs just before he turned 20 years old.That was Feb. 1964.I believe it was 4 or 5 days before his birthday.That feat happened at Jacksonville Beach and I believe Paul Anderson was there that night giving an exhibition.And I was so glad to meet him.They used to call Paul “Georgia Boy”.
    I used to go to a lot of weightlifting meets to be with my brothers because I was so proud of them.A lot of times when Joe would lift a ton,I would go out to the platform and jump up on his back and show all the love I could to my wonderful brother.He remembers that well.Of course I didn’t weigh very much.Maybe a little over a 75-90 lbs.Folks,I was nothing but bones.I only weighed 3 lbs 12 oz. when I was born.So you can imagine how little I was.I wasn’t even supposed to live according to Mama’s Dr’s.But I had help from above.Now I’m over 190.
    Well,I can’t jump up on his back anymore,but I still show him all the love I can.I’m so proud of Joe and our oldest brother Virgil.And my twin Clifford,I can’t leave him out.I remember one night Joe and Virgil walked into Milligan’s restaurant on Beach Blvd. and ordered 80 hamburgers,yep that’s right,80 hamburgers.I ordered 10 and Clifford ordered 10.
    All 4 of us and Terry White ate ‘em all.We were a little hungry.Milligan’s was the equivalent of The Krystal.They served the same hamburgers.Joe and Virgil used to live in our Aunt Clara’s house on Camden avenue just off Beach Blvd.And they would train in a shed in the back yard.Neighbors could feel the ground shaking when the weights would hit the platform after each lift.Aw,those were the good old days.
    And I enjoyed so much, spending time with my brothers on Camden avenue.Mom and Daddy gave us all the love they could give us and did their very best to raise us up right.Daddy worked so hard painting houses to make a living for us.We just couldn’t ask for better parents.Momma loved playing the piano and singing Church hymns for me.And that started me on my way to becoming a Southern Gospel DJ here in south central Ga.I’ve been on the air since Christmas day 1973.And still going at it 44 years later.I had the music in me when I was born.Just like Momma did.I sure wish she could hear that Gospel Show today,Good News Gospel Music.93.1FM in Rochelle,Ga. and 96.7 FM in Cochran,Ga.6am to 11 am on Sundays.If you’re ever passing through on a Sunday morning in this area,tune me in.I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.I’ve never had a complaint in 44 years.

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About Photographer Loyd Sandgren

I first met Loyd Sandgren in 1997 as I was putting photo gear back into my car after... Learn More