Precious McKenzie

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full namePrecious•McKenzie
Used namePrecious•McKenzie
Born6 June 1936 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal (RSA)
Measurements150 cm / 52 kg
NOC Great Britain


Given the name Precious after surviving serious surgery soon after his birth, his father was killed whilst crocodile hunting when McKenzie was still a baby and he was brought up by his alcoholic mother and then by a sadistic foster mother. An ambition to become a circus acrobat was denied by apartheid but it brought him into contact with weight-lifting and he soon progressed to be South African record holder.

Classified as “coloured” by the South African authorities he was overlooked for the 1958 British Empire Games in Cardiff in favour of a white rival he had previously defeated. Frustrated in his international ambitions he moved to England in 1963 and took a job working in a shoe factory. His application for British citizenship was personally approved by the UK Minister for Sport to allow him to compete in the 1966 Commonwealth Games where he took the first of his four successive Commonwealth gold medals in Kingston, Jamaica.

After his victory in the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Auckland he settled there and represented New Zealand from 1977 onwards. Five times world power lifting champion, he works as a consultant on back injury prevention. In 2006, over forty years after he left his native country, he was inducted into the South African Sports Hall of Fame.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1968 Summer Olympics Weightlifting GBR Precious McKenzie
Bantamweight, Men (Olympic) 9
1972 Summer Olympics Weightlifting GBR Precious McKenzie
Bantamweight, Men (Olympic) 9
1976 Summer Olympics Weightlifting GBR Precious McKenzie
Flyweight, Men (Olympic) 13

Special Notes