Precious McKenzie

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Precious McKenzie
Personal information
Birth namePrecious Patrick McKenzie
Born (1936-06-06) 6 June 1936 (age 84)
Durban, South Africa
Height145 cm (4 ft 9 in)
Medal record
Men's weightlifting
Commonwealth Games
Representing  England
Gold medal – first place 1966 Kingston Bantamweight
Gold medal – first place 1970 Edinburgh Bantamweight
Gold medal – first place 1974 Christchurch Flyweight
Representing  New Zealand
Gold medal – first place 1978 Edmonton Bantamweight

Precious Patrick McKenzie MBE (born 6 June 1936)[1] is a South African-born former weightlifter who won Commonwealth titles representing both England and New Zealand and has won several World powerlifting and Masters World powerlifting titles. He is of diminutive stature at 1.45m (4' 9").


Born in Durban, South Africa, Precious McKenzie suffered from ill-health during his childhood. An ambition to be a circus performer ended because of South Africa's race laws and this led him to weight training and weightlifting. Although he was ranked the best weightlifter in his weight category in South Africa, he was barred from representing his country at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games that year. Because he was classified as "Coloured" under the apartheid regime he was also excluded from the South African team for the 1960 Rome Olympiad. In 1963, he was told he could be included in the South African team for the 1964 Olympics, provided he was segregated from the white members of the team. He refused and left South Africa for Britain in 1964 with his wife and young family. British minister for sport, Denis Howell, fast-tracked his citizenship application to allow him to compete for England in the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica where he won gold.[2][3][4]

Initially working as a clicker in a Northampton shoe factory, he moved to Bristol where he completed a Physical Education degree.

McKenzie competed in three Empire and Commonwealth Games representing England [5][6]and at three Olympics (1968, 1972 and 1976) representing Britain. As a result of contacts made during the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, he decided to settle in that country, where he was offered the opportunity to be a weight trainer in a gym. He settled in the North Island city of Auckland and won his fourth Commonwealth gold representing New Zealand at the age of 42 at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. He has won more Commonwealth and world medals in his sport than any other person, competing in both the bantam and flyweight divisions.

McKenzie has one of the longest-held world records in sports, (possibly the longest-held current record): 37 years. His 1,339 lb total in the 123 lb class, was achieved in 1979.

He subsequently became a private consultant in the field of back injury prevention and the New Zealand Safety Council's Manual Handling Advisor, running courses in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and United States.

In 2006 he was recognised by his native country with an induction into the South African Sports Hall of Fame.[7]

In 2008, a film was planned about his life. A New Zealand-based father-son team had a screenplay and sought funding in Cannes. They hoped to start shooting in South Africa by early November 2008.[8] The relationship between McKenzie and the film makers deteriorated and ended in 2012 when McKenzie became disappointed with the slow pace of progress.[9]

Documentary film[edit]


  1. ^ IMDb
  2. ^ Oliver, Brian (2014). The Commonwealth Games. Extraordinary stories behind the medals. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. pp. 15–31. ISBN 978-1-4729-0732-5.
  3. ^ "1966 Athletes". Team England.
  4. ^ "Kingston, Jamaica, 1966 Team". Team England.
  5. ^ "1970 Athletes". Team England.
  6. ^ "Edinburgh, 1970 Team". Team England.
  7. ^ "Precious McKenzie film goes to Cannes – National – NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald. 13 May 2008.
  8. ^ "Precious McKenzie film goes to Cannes". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Dream becomes a nightmare". The New Zealand Herald. 15 April 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  10. ^ Hicks, Wessely (28 July 1979). "Going the Distance". TV Times, Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 7 October 2013.

External links[edit]