top of page

Don Oliver O.B.E.– the man & the legend

16th April 1938 - 26 February 1996

Three time Olympian, the late Don Oliver is a legend in New Zealand weightlifting.  He competed for New Zealand at two Commonwealth Games in the 1960s and three Olympic Games – 1960 in Rome; Tokyo 1964 and; in 1968, in Mexico City, where he was flag-bearer for the New Zealand team.

Don Oliver did not medal at an Olympics but was clearly in world class with 12th at Rome, 9th in Tokyo and 8th Mexico.

While not an Olympic Medallist, he medalled twice at the Commonwealth Games, winning Silver at Perth in 1962 and Gold at Jamaica four years later.

He remains the highest placed NZ weightlifter ever, at world championships, having finished 5th in the 1957 event in Tehran, Iran.

On retiring from competition Don Oliver’s name became synonymous with the fitness industry. He created one of the first New Zealand based fitness brands, first with the Don Oliver gyms and from 1977, a range of Don Oliver branded weight training and fitness products, which are exported internationally.


  • Twelve times Auckland Heavy Weight Weightlifting Champion.
  • Ten times consecutively New Zealand Heavyweight Weightlifting Champion
  • Represented New Zealand at three Commonwealth Games, twice as a competitor, once as a coach.
  • Commonwealth Silver Medalist, Perth, Australia 1962
  • Commonwealth Gold Medalist, Kingston, Jamaica 1966
  • Represented New Zealand at three Olympic Games.
    Rome 1960
    Tokyo 1964
    Mexico City 1968
  • The only New Zealander to win the first weightlifting division at an Olympics at Tokyo 1964.
  • Highest ever place-getter of any New Zealander at a World Championships, in Teheran, Iran 1957. Placed fifth.
  • The only weightlifter to win the Landsdale Cup, awarded for New Zealand Olympic Sportsperson for the Year.
  • Received the international award, Elite Lifter.
  • The first New Zealander ever from any sport to captain more than one Commonwealth or Olympic Games team.
  • The first New Zealand weightlifter to break the 454.5kg total (weightlifting's equivalent of the four minute mile), eventually achieving a total of 509kg.
  • The first New Zealander to ever lift more than 181kg in the 'Clean and Jerk.'
  • Most weightlifting medals won while coaching in any games: seven medals won with nine lifters, 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games.
  • Broke more than 30 New Zealand and Commonwealth records.
  • Still holds the New Zealand record for the heaviest weight from floor to arms length above head ' the Clean and Jerk '– set defending his tenth New Zealand heavyweight title. His 205kg (452lb) lift broke the New Zealand and Commonwealth record.
  • O.B.E. awarded for services to weightlifting.
  • Patron New Zealand Christian Sports Fellowship.
  • Inaugural Chairman of the Auckland Asthma Society, 1970 - 1973.
  • Patron of the Glen Eden Athletic Club 1994-5.
  • Inaugural Chairman of the New Zealand Federation of Fitness Centres 1988 - 1993
  • Inaugural Chairman of Fitness New Zealand 1993 – 1995
bottom of page