MOVING tributes have been paid to a popular bodybuilder who has died at the age of 79.
Don Styler, from Gosport, was a well-known figure in the town and spent most of his life perfecting his physique for international competitions. He died on Thursday.
Without his courage and belief, I don’t think I would have made it in the sportMarina Cornwall
His love for bodybuilding led him to open his own gym and training centre in Monks Way.
Marina Cornwall, world, European & British powerlifting champion of 2015, said Don was the reason she got into the sport.
She said: ‘I owe so much to Don. Without his courage and belief, I don’t think I’d have made it in the sport.’
Don used to host the annual Solent City Bodybuilding Championship each year at Thorngate Halls, which attracted some of the best in the sport.
Marina added: ‘He was a very close friend who encouraged me to have a go at his bodybuilding show, which is still held every year and is very successful.
‘Don and I became good friends and shared some funny moments together.
‘It’s a tragedy that we have lost such a legend. He was softly spoken and told it like it is. I always liked that about him. I will never, ever forget Don.’
Don’s friend Mark Cole said: ‘He had such a positive impact on the lives of all those lucky enough to have come into contact with him.
‘He never really appreciated how many people loved him, and are now left devastated at his passing.
‘He was, and will always remain, a real local legend.’
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage also paid her respects to Mr Styler.
Ms Dinenage said: ‘If you go to Don’s gym there are lots of pictures of him as a young man competing and training other people. He was a real character and was well known and loved in Gosport.’
Don was also a budding artist and often showcased his pieces. As a believer in ghosts, he was proficient in psychic drawings and often sketched spirit guides.
A donation page has been set up to help pay for his funeral, with extra cash going to HASAG, a charity that supports people with asbestos-related diseases. Don was hoping to raise money for the charity this year. To donate go to gofundme.com/don-stylers-funeral