Scotland’s Champion Bodybuilder

Born: June 14, 1937;

Died: August 16 2019

Norman Rough, who has died in Edinburgh aged 82, was a champion bodybuilder.

Born in the capital he played rugby as a pupil at Daniel Stewart’s College and shone in athletics events where he was junior and open champion in successive years; a record unbeaten.

Norman went on to qualify as an architect, but became an architectural and interior designer, working for Grants of Edinburgh before starting his own company, Rough Design.

Naturally muscular, Norman had a good head start as a bodybuilder and was dedicated to the sport from the day in 1958 when he joined the Dunedin Amateur Weight-lifting Club, which occupied a former WWII decontamination centre in Edinburgh’s East Meadows. Training conditions were spartan to say the least, but Norman arrived straight from work every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and would work his way through two to three hours of gruelling exercises, increased to six hours, in the weeks before physique contests. It was calculated that he moved more than 600 tons of iron during each of these extended workouts.

In the summer, weekends were spent at Portobello outdoor swimming pool along with friends from the Dunedin who gathered at the North-East corner to soak up the sunshine. Sunscreen lotions were unheard of at this time and Norman recently recalled how they covered themselves with olive oil to keep their skin from drying out and literally fried in the sun.

Norman always stood out from the crowd and he was always ready to encourage anyone who asked questions or was attracted to the sport of bodybuilding. Nicotine and alcohol were taboo in his own lifestyle.

Norman was very competitive in everything he did and competed in every bodybuilding contest across Scotland’s central belt. Initially there were disappointments but his perseverance eventually paid off and after winning all the Scottish events he was invited by organizer, Oscar Heidenstam to represent Scotland at the 1969 National Amateur Body-Builders Association ‘Mr Universe’ contest in London where he placed sixth in Class One (the tall contenders). Norman was presented on stage with the 1969 Maxalding Trophy for the ‘Most Improved Muscular Physique and Chest’.

Before long, Norman was sought out by television companies who needed a ‘heavy’ to appear in various dramas and it became no surprise to see the normally affable face turned to menace on our TV screens.

In 1969 Norman fronted the new Norman Rough Health Studio on Portobello Promenade along with partners David Mitchell and myself. Unfortunately this venture didn’t last long after serious structural problems were detected in the council property and it had to be vacated.

Norman held the following titles: Mr Physique 1964; Mr Grand 1964; Mr Caledonia 1964; Mr Edinburgh 1965; Mr South Scotland every year from 1965 until 1970 when he retired unbeaten to concentrate on developing his own design consultancy and spend more time with his family.

In 2018 Norman was diagnosed with cancer, which he fought with his usual determination and the doctors treating him recently confirmed that he had survived this particular type of the disease longer than any other known patient.

Norman is survived by Pat, his wife of 56 years, his son Grant, daughter Lyn and five grandchildren.

The funeral will take place on August 30 at Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh at noon