In memoriam Kenneth McDonald (1928 – 2015)

In memoriam Kenneth McDonald

Super heavyweight gold medallist – 1958 commonwealth games

We would love to share with you the inspiring story of our late Club member Ken McDonald, who sadly passed away last year. Writing in his will, he asked us to tell his story and display photos of him in the Club to inspire future generations and immortalise his memory in the place he loved.

Ken was an ambassador for health and fitness and during his time as a weightlifter broke the British and Empire record in 1957 at Kentish Town with a 300lbs press, 300lbs snatch and a 402.5lbs clean and jerk, totalling over 1000lbs. He also competed in the 1956 Olympics in Helsinki as a Light Heavyweight and placed 6th. Despite being born in Australia he competed for England in the 1958 Commonwealth Games as a Super-heavyweight and won gold – at the time being the first man in the Commonwealth to lift more than 400lbs overhead with a clean and jerk record of 402.5lbs. We were lucky enough to have Ken train at our Club where he was a member from 1950 to 1980.

Viktor Mustafa, a long term friend of Ken’s, kindly sent us his photos of Ken in the Club in the 1950s and 60s. Hopefully some of you may still remember him. Today’s members won’t recall our gym here in the 1890’s (London’s first gym), but some will have known our old site, replaced by our current building in the 1970s.


Ken at the Central YMCA, 1956           Viktor at the Central YMCA Club, 1965

If you would like to share your memories of Ken or the Club through the ages please email


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ymca | 4 March 2016