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.

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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