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What we can agree on about Albert Beckles is that he was born in Barbados and that he later emigrated to London. We can further agree that his first contest was the 1965 NABBA Mr. Universe Contest and that he subsequently entered over 100 bodybuilding contests. Where the consensus breaks down is regarding Albert Beckles’ actual birthdate. Besides his physique, one of the things that bodybuilding magazine writers loved to promote about Beckles was the fact, or at least idea, that he was competing and winning against much younger competitors. In other words, Beckles was inspirational because he was defying Father Time. The problem is that Beckles may have been as many as nine years younger than the age that many bodybuilding magazine writers reported. The year that Beckles was reportedly born in ranged from 1930 to 1939. So, why the wild discrepancies regarding Albert Beckles age? Because Beckles himself gave different ages to different writers at different times in his life. Bodybuilding historian and Flex Magazine writer Joe Roark has documented the numerous instances where Beckles age fluctuated in bodybuilding magazines. Here is but a small excerpt:
Then in Ironman Nov 1983, by Bartlett, “Many people really do not know Albert’s real age and rumors have stated that he is past 50. However, most of us believe he is about 47.”  But Bartlett six months later is writing, “I mean, the man is 52 years of age.” So what changed in that half a year to cause Albert to become 5 years older? Stay tuned. By March 1985 he is reported by the same author to be age 54, but by the next issue is back to 53.
So, cut to the chase, when was Beckles born? After reading much of the material on the subject of Beckles’ birth year, it seems more than likely that Beckles was born in 1938, which would make his defiance of Father Time less spectacular. Beckles, to this day, likes to keep his age a mystery possibly because his perceived age is one of the things that defines him. Age is a qualifier. Suppose someone says, “He looks great for his age”. However, if that same someone later finds out that this “looking good for their age” person is actually 10 years younger than they thought, then the qualifier is stripped away and that same person may only look “okay” for their age. Regardless, Al won the IFBB 1991 Niagara Falls Pro Invitational bodybuilding contest when he was anywhere from 53 to 61. Even if he was “only” 53 when he won, which is most likely, that is still remarkable considering many bodybuilders are shut down physically by injuries or other reasons at much earlier ages, much less winning at the highest levels.
There may be legal implications or at least ethical reasons why one might want to report their real age. Some bodybuilding contests have age requirements such as ‘Teenage Mr. America’ or ‘Masters Mr. Olympia’ and it would be, at the very least, unfair for a competitor to have an advantage age-wise whether it is actually being older or younger than the contest’s rules allow. In Beckles case, he never entered any age dependent contests. The upshot of this age issue is that Beckles seemed to benefit from his perceived age. Was it all just a clever marketing ploy orchestrated by Al? To quote Beckles himself on whether this mystery should be solved, “No, I like it just the way it is.”.
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