Arnold discussing his defeat of Reg Park
The NABBA Mr. Universe was scheduled in London a week before the IFBB Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia contests. I went to London first and had the shock of my life. One of my competitors was Reg Park, my idol. Over twenty years after his debut in bodybuilding, he had trained for a year and staged a comeback.
I couldn’t believe it. Here I was competing against my idol, whose pictures I’d hung up all over my bedroom, whose words I’d lived and trained by. Thinking about it left me with this weird, unreal sensation. I said to myself, “There are two possibilities open to you: one is to beat Reg, and you most likely will, and destroy your idol; and the other is to leave London and not compete at all.” I decided leaving was stupid. It would be good for my ego and good publicity to compete against Reg, to destroy my idol and win. We were both competitors, sportsmen, and there was dignity in that. I didn’t look at it as beating Reg Park but as being able to step up beside him, to finally share an equal place with him.