Champion bodybuilder Robbie Hazeley has died of throat cancer. Robbie competed at international level as a bodybuilder – see his profile for more background and links to video of him competing.
Robbie started bodybuilding in his 20s and soon suffered health problems including six operations on his tendons. He also developed arthritis and used painkillers daily. Following discussions with a vegan friend who owned a gym. Soon afterwards Robbie became vegetarian, then vegan.
This enabled him to stop using painkillers and to train consistently for competitions. In 1994 he returned to bodybuilding aged 39 and three years later placed 2nd in the Mr England competition and 6th in the Mr UK competition, which he repeated for the following two years.
Other highlights include 4th in Mr Great Britain 2002, and 2nd in 2004 Solent Open, which surprised a lot of onlookers who felt he should have won. In 2005 he came second in Mr Britain and another second at the Solent Open. 2006 saw him finish second at the British Championships, and therefore qualified for Mr Universe, where he placed 10th. In 2007 he finished 7th at the World Championships and came first in the Mr UK over 50s class.
Next year he won Mr Britain over 50s and took 6th in the World Championships.
Robbie's was one of the original profiles on our site and told us about his experience of changing to veganism: "I went vegan in 1989 and that was on health grounds. I started bodybuilding back in 1971 and was experiencing a number of health problems, especially with my knees. Going vegan made a lot of sense on paper and in practice was instrumental in improving my all round health, stamina, freedom from injuries and ability to train more intensely. It was the turning point for me in so many ways."
Robbie was aged 66 and died of throat cancer. He had smoked for many years and while he gave up recently, the damage had unfortunately been done. Smoking was relatively popular for years among bodybuilders, partly because there is a belief that smoking reduces oestrogen levels.
Since his death he has been remembered fondly by many including Pete Ryan of Veganbodybuilding.org, a clinical nutritionist and personal trainer who described him as a "friend and mentor". Pete also remembers Robbie as a "passionate advocate for animals."
"He was well known as having a story for any problem and was always there with humour or a shoulder if you needed it. He was there at the start of veganbodybuilding.org and hopefully will be remembered as THE guy who stood up and said 'you can bodybuild and be a vegan!' "
Rest in peace Robbie.