Serge Nubret

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Serge Nubret
Serge nubret11.jpg
Historical photo of Serge Nubret
Born(1938-10-06)October 6, 1938
DiedApril 19, 2011(2011-04-19) (aged 72)
Paris, France
Other namesThe Black Panther
Height1.83 m (6 ft)
Weight99 kg (218 lb)

Serge Nubret (October 6, 1938 – April 19, 2011) was a French professional bodybuilder, bodybuilding federation leader, movie actor and author. He was awarded many bodybuilding titles, including IFBB Mr. Europe (1970) Tall, NABBA Mr. Universe (1976) and WBBG Pro. Mr. World (1977). Serge Nubret was nicknamed "The Black Panther."

Early life[edit]

Serge Nubret was born on October 6, 1938 in Anse-Bertrand, Guadeloupe. After a happy childhood, running around and playing in the fresh air of such an environment, he moved to France with his family in 1950 to pursue his scholarship, when he was 12 years old. Soon enough, he became aware of his exceptional potential for athletics. Thus, in 1958, back in Guadeloupe after accounting studies, he decided to dedicate himself to bodybuilding which was to become, in his own words, his "reason for being." Gifted with real artistic aptitudes, Serge Nubret was then ready to fulfill his potential of becoming the "sculptor of his own body." Serge's inspiration was British bodybuilder Lee Price.


All were amazed and perplexed when he started to talk about his intention to become a world champion after only 2 years of training. Living up to his words, in 1960 he joined the International Federation of Bodybuilders, and was declared World's Most Muscular Man in Montreal. From this day forward, this exceptional athlete kept improving, winning the most prestigious titles including NABBA Mr. Universe in 1976 (London), WBBG Pro. Mr. World and Mr. Olympus in 1977 (New York) and another World champion title in 1981 (Geneva). In 1983, 23 years after his first world class achievement, further demonstrating his lifetime dedication, he became the WABBA World Champion in Rome, winning his fifth major title. In 2003, Serge Nubret offered a stunning last show to his public during the World championships in France (Gravelines). He was 65 years old.

Additionally to being recognized by experts, peers and fans as a reference in the bodybuilding field, Serge Nubret has also dedicated himself to development and promotion of Bodybuilding. He became the head of the France and Europe IFBB bodybuilding federation from 1970 to 1975. He is also the founder of the WABBA since 1976 with one objective in mind: ensuring that affiliated athletes receive the best support via representing organisations. The cinema could not miss out on such a character. Thus, Serge Nubret featured in 25 movies including Arrivano i titani with Giuliano Gemma (1961) César et Rosalie with Romy Schneider and Yves Montand (1972) and The Professional with Jean-Paul Belmondo (1981). Serge Nubret remains one of the most significant figure and for lots of bodybuilders, he represents the out-of-the-box aesthetic reference. His legacy is well alive, witnessing the Golden Age of bodybuilding when balance and harmony were keys to all achievements.

Nubret is best known in the bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron where he competed as a last-minute entry against (eventual seven-time winner) Arnold Schwarzenegger for the title of Mr. Olympia in 1975. While he looked fantastic, Serge finished second in the Tall Man category to Schwarzenegger, while Lou Ferrigno finished third. He was known for his excellent chest development, which would scare off fellow contestants.

The documentary film Pumping Iron follows the events occurring before the Mr. Olympia 1975—the preparation for the competition as well as its final phase. For contract reasons, his part is comparatively brief; and, apparently, certain scenes containing him could not be put in the movie. These episodes are discussed further in his autobiography.

In the 1980s, Serge appeared regularly in 60 episodes of the television series Breakfast Included, with Pierre Mondy and Marie-Christine Barrault, in which he played a role that mirrored his real life as a bodybuilder/gym owner in Paris.


In 2006, 68-year-old Serge Nubret penned the book I am…Me and God in collaboration with Louis-Xavier Babin-Lachaud. The book is not only autobiographical in nature, but also includes his personal reflections on his Christian faith and mysticism. Through his life narrative, it adopts a definite position on the role of God in this world, on the conflict between destiny and free will, and on the illusion of this world. The book indicates the will to succeed and to follow the way traced by God, love of the author's "reason for being."

A second work was completed in 2009 and is a 400+ page autobiography entitled Seventy Years Young. It is entirely autobiographical and recounts his days as a bodybuilder. This last work details his unique training routine, famed for high volume to maximize the pump and plenty of food to fuel his body, including up to 6 pounds of horse meat in a day with rice and beans. A lot of Serge's training advice can be found on forums he posted on, including and

Personal life[edit]

Nubret was father to three daughters (Pascale, Karine and Grace) and a son (Stanley) from two marriages and one relationship. His second marriage was with Jacqueline Nubret, a female bodybuilder with various competition titles.

In March 2009, Nubret fell into a coma, eventually dying on April 19, 2011 of natural causes.[1]


  • His competitive bodybuilding career spanned 25 years.
  • Serge Nubret is the only athlete to have won six world titles with four different federations. IFBB(1)/NABBA(1)/WBBG(2)/WABBA(2)
  • He would guest pose at the WABBA world championships in 2003 at 65 years old, 20 years after his retirement from competition.
  • Serge was active on up to 15 bodybuilding forums from 2006 to 2009 in three different languages (French/English/Italian), giving training advice to young athletes and beginners in his spare time.
  • Inspired by the movies Hercules and The Last Days of Pompeii starring Steve Reeves, Serge began lifting weights in 1958 and soon got noticed by Italian film producers which led to a rich career in movies, including Arrivano i titani and Sette baschi rossi.
  • Serge Nubret would later pay tribute to his lifelong idol Steve Reeves at the 1977 WABBA world championships honouring him with the first ever lifetime achievement award.
  • At the 1975 Mr. Olympia in Pretoria, South Africa, Serge Nubret was told he could not compete on his arrival and stopped training for 12 days, losing 12 lbs of muscle between then and the day of the contest, when he was informed the night before pre-judging that he was able to compete. He finished second to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the heavyweight class, but still beat Lou Ferrigno.
  • Serge Nubret and Sergio Oliva both rebelled against the IFBB in the mid 1970s and between them won 10 world titles between 1975 and 1985 for the WABBA, WBBG and NABBA. Sergio also won the first WABBA world championships held in 1977.

List of bodybuilding awards[edit]

  • 1958: Mr. Guadeloupe
  • 1960: IFBB World Most Muscular Man
  • 1963: NABBA Pro Mr. Universe (2nd)
  • 1964: NABBA Pro Mr. Universe (2nd)
  • 1969: NABBA Pro Mr. Universe (3rd)
  • 1969: IFBB Mr. World (Tall) (2nd)
  • 1970: IFBB Mr. Europe (Tall)
  • 1972: IFBB Mr. Olympia (3rd)
  • 1973: IFBB Mr. Olympia (3rd)
  • 1975: IFBB Mr. Olympia (Heavy Weight, 2nd)
  • 1976: NABBA Pro Mr. Universe
  • 1976: WBBG Mr. Olympus (2nd)
  • 1977: NABBA Pro Mr. Universe (2nd)
  • 1977: WBBG Mr. Olympus
  • 1977: WBBG Pro Mr. World
  • 1978: NABBA Pro. Mr. Universe (2nd)
  • 1981: Pro WABBA World Championships
  • 1983: Pro WABBA World Championships


See also[edit]


External links[edit]