Written by Peter McGough
08 August 2014

Harold Poole: 1943-2014

A Legend Passes



 In any discussion of who was the best teenage bodybuilder of all time the name of Harold Poole would loom large, and maybe dominate. He was born on Christmas Day, 1943 in Louisville Kentucky of African-American and German heritage; he died August 7th this year, aged 70. It is poignantly ironic that as we are sixe weeks away from the 50th Mr. Olympia, the two main protagonists from the very first Mr. Olympia in 1965 have passed away. Poole was second in that contest, and the winner, Larry Scott, died on March 8 this year.

 Having a speech impediment from birth did not slow Harold’s sporting abilities. He showed athletic prowess at a very young age and excelled in football, wrestling, boxing and the 440-yard dash. Then living in Indianapolis, he was 15 when his track coach encouraged him to train with weights to improve his performance (an unusual move in those days when most athletes shunned weights; the thinking being it would make then muscle-bound). The youngster made rapid strength and size gains and so a bodybuilding superstar was born. At age 16 he remarkably entered the full blown AAU Mr. America and finished 18th.

 In 1963, aged 19, he won the IFBB Mr. Universe contest and successfully defended it a year later. He entered the first ever Mr. Olympia contest in 1965 finishing second to Larry Scott. In 1966 he was again second although many thought he should have beaten winner Scott.

 From then on his early promise seemed to fade somewhat and he entered other federations contests as well as those of the IFBB in the remainder of the ‘60s, Then from 1979 he entered a succession of IFBB pro contests with his highest placing being 6th at the 1981 Night of Champions, by which time he called himself Damian Poole. He bowed out of competition with ninth spot at the 1982 World Championships.

 Upon retirement he over the next few decades took up personal training and became a martial arts teacher, his preference being Tae Kwon Do. By the 2000s he had moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and later to Titusville (near Orlando) and began to be dogged by ill health. He finally expired on August 7th.

Harold Poole will be remembered (as stated earlier) as possibly the best teenage bodybuilding of all time, as a protégé who was renowned for the chiseled mass and balance he displayed on his 210-pound physique. He will also be celebrated as a stylish and inspirational poser and as the one who really popularized the most muscular shot. Furthermore he will be lauded as a competitor who very nearly won the 1966 Mr. Olympia. Rest in Peace Harold, you will be remembered by our generation as a legend who made a major impact during a very important and influential period of bodybuilding.