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Duncan YMCA


Duncan YMCA The Midwest Mecca of Muscle

In the 1960s Bob Gajda turned the Duncan YMCA into a haven for bodybuilders and Olympic weightlifters, which was often called "The Midwest Mecca of Muscle".

It was there that Sergio Oliva switched from weightlifting to bodybuilding transforming himself into "The Myth" and went on to win three Mr. Olympia titles.

Sergio would work ten to twelve hours a day at a steel mill and then go to the YMCA to workout for three hours.

With both Bob Gajda (Mr. America and Mr. Universe) and Sergio Oliva (Mr. Olympia) the atmosphere was electric with clanging weights, good old-fashioned hard work and sweat.

In 1969, Arnold Schwarzenegger came to visit the Duncan YMCA to train with Sergio and learn what he could in hopes of taking the Mr. Olympia title from him. But Oliva defeated Arnold in both the gym and the stage that year.

The Duncan YMCA was located at:

1515 W Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60607

Sadly, three decades ago the Duncan YMCA closed and the building was purchased by the Salvation Army.


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