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Building the Zuverman

by Bob Zuver

It all started back in the early 1960s when Bob Zuver was dreaming of ways to make his gym more famous. He always wanted things to be bigger, stronger and better than the rest. So he designed a seven-foot muscleman statue and called it Zuverman.

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It wasn’t long before he chopped one in half and mounted it on his delivery truck and started attracting all kinds of attention around town. He chopped another one and painted it gold for display on his ‘odd lift’ stage in the original Costa Mesa Gym. People told him the statue looked pretty big, and was well done.

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That just got him started thinking more and more, and bigger and bigger, until he decided to build a much bigger one. He called his good friend Eric Askew, who is the artist who painted most of the signage for the gym and the Zuver’s delivery truck and helped design the seven-foot Zuverman.

Zuverman

Eric came right over and Eric, Bob, and Bob’s sons went to work setting up the shop for the task. With many pallets of modeling clay, we went to work getting a rough shape put together under the guidance of Eric leading the way. We worked long hours getting the clay patterns ready to make a rubber mold. There were five patterns and molds to make for the 18-foot tall Giant Zuverman. Quite a lot of work, that’s how we got our workout in those days. Eric did the final carving of the clay before we put the rubber on.

These photos show the pieces being carved from the clay.

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The next few photos are of the finished product, the bigger Zuverman. He was displayed many times over the years, in front of The original Zuver’s Hall of Fame Gym, at the 1977 WSM Show, in front of Zuver’s Equipment Factory. He was also displayed for other TV shows such as Us Against the World in the mid ’60s.

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Here is a little known fact. Eric modeled Zuvermans face after Bob Zuver himself.

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Bob Zuver got his Big Zuverman, but he still wanted Bigger, Stronger Better. So he went to work on what was going to be the Biggest Muscleman Statue ever constructed. Yep, you guessed it, a 50-foot Monster Zuverman. We made the patterns and finished the feet and the hands. Here Jean Zuver shows just how big the patterns were.

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Sadly that’s as far as we got, with too many pressing business ventures at the time. Bob strayed away and never got to finish his dream of the SUPER GIANT 50-foot ZUVERMAN. I wonder if he had finished it, would he have some day wanted a 100-foot ZUVERSORIS?

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The last known home for the 18-foot Zuverman was in Portland Oregon at Giants Gym, where he worked hard and turned to solid gold.

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UPDATE MARCH 2013

George Comalli, who kept the Zuverman at Giants Gym/Hollywood Fitness in Oregon since 1989, reports the giant statue is headed east to Pennsylvania.

Zuvermand in Portland

UPDATE APRIL 2013

Here he goes!


14 Responses to 'Building the Zuverman'

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  1. Robert Zuver said,

    on March 19th, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    PS
    There is a rumor that someone wants The Giant Zuverman to come and live with them back east.
    Ill keep you updated.
    RZ

  2. Dave Hartnett said,

    on March 20th, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Keep us posted Bob, great stuff!

  3. Anonymous said,

    on March 20th, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Awesome story, thank you for the updated photos!
    Bert Sorin

  4. Dave Yarnell said,

    on March 20th, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Thanks, Bob. Awesome stuff!


  5. on March 20th, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    This is perfect timing. I was just wondering about that statue a couple weeks ago as I was watching my dvd of the 1977 WSM. Thanks for posting this.


  6. on March 20th, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    A great story and thanks for the photos.
    William Kazak

  7. Mike BonDurant said,

    on March 25th, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Wonderful commentary !- please keep up with it and consider a book or a publication of some kind.

    Mike BonDurant

  8. Robert Zuver said,

    on March 27th, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Thanks Mike
    I like sharing some of the great old stories from my past. Perhaps one day I will release a book with the whole story of Bob Zuver and his gym from start to finish. But for now ill just keep sending more small stories with photos to Laree and try not to be to much of a pest. She has always been so kind to post so much about my father’s gym and it’s history.
    Thank’s to all for listening.
    RZ


  9. on March 28th, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I have had the Zuverman since 1989 at Giants Gym. We changed the name to Hollywood Fitness last year. I am happy that Rick from back east is going to restore him to his old glory. We had him on the roof of the building at one point…city made us take him down and move him inside. He needs some air…and now he is going to get it.
    George


  10. on April 2nd, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    […] iconic statue, that dates behind to a over-the-top 1960s, is a brainchild of California gym owners Bob Zuver, who […]

  11. Primož said,

    on July 9th, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Wow, this is fascinating. I didn’t know that anything like this exists. This could be the biggest statue of muscleman since colossus of Rhodes :)

  12. Robert Zuver said,

    on July 9th, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Well another week or so and The Original Giant Zuverman will be standing at his new home The Brickyard Gym in Darlington Pennsylvania.
    Also Zuverman is now an Official Road Side Attraction on The Roadside America Web Site.
    Check it out.

  13. Robert Zuver said,

    on August 30th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Zuverman is standing in his new home in front of the Brickyard Gym In Darlington Pennsylvania. He looks Magnificent as always. Its been 45 years sense dad and I built him. He is a Special Masterpiece of Zuver’s Gym History. I wish all of you could get to see him in person. Perhaps someday you will.
    Long May He Shine.

  14. Kathie Bisson said,

    on July 3rd, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I found this fascinating! I knew your family for many years, but all this happened before I met you.
    The Zuvers also built an 18 foot hammer for the Bisson and sons hardware store “General Surplus Hardware” on Superior in Costa Mesa. When they closed their doors in November 1980 the giant hammer was sold to Temecula Hardware where it was displayed on their roof until it burned down (not sure when). The hammer was not lost in the fire, but we never knew what happened to it until a friend of ours saw it and took a picture of it in Crestline, CA. In the picture it was for sale. Now it is again lost to us as to it’s location.
    Love you, Bob. Keep up the posts.

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