Surrey’s Dawn Alison at the Canadian Bodybuilding Nationals in Edmonton on July 1. (Photo: David Ford/CBBF)

Surrey bodybuilder wins pro card after 30-year journey fraught with adversity

After 21 tries, Surrey’s Dawn Alison received her first pro card at Canadian Bodybuilding Nationals

A week after Surrey’s Dawn Alison won her pro bodybuilding card, she said the reality has yet to completely sink in.

It’s a dream she’s been pursuing for more than 30 years.

“I’ll just be driving down the road and be like, ‘Oh my god. I’m a pro athlete,’” she said excitedly in an interview with the Now-Leader.

On July 1, Alison won two IFBB (International Federation of Body Building) Pro Cards at the Canadian Bodybuilding Nationals in Edmonton, AB.

“I got this dream when I was 19 years old and I’m going to be 53 in November,” she said. “I worked it out and I’ve tried to get my pro card 21 times.”

She recalled a flood of emotions on stage after her win.

“I started crying and feeling like I was losing it on stage, as I was walking off, I could feel this well of emotions coming up in me,” she said. “Not only happiness and joy but just relief.”

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Alison called the cards “golden eggs” in Canada, because so few are given out compared to the U.S.

“In women’s bodybuilding there’s one or two a year given out in this country,” she explained. “Even total pro cards in Canada, probably about 20 pro cards for the entire country for all the classes of men and women. Whereas the States give away over 50 pro cards at each competition, and they have nine shows. In Canada we have two – one drug tested and one not. So it’s a lot tougher in Canada.”

She said the road to reach her dream has been a difficult one. On her path to the pro stage, she’s come back from drug addiction, dealt with two broken marriages, and has undergone nine major surgeries.

“Sometimes you feel like, am I really on the right path?”

Alison said something told her she was.

Though, she revealed she almost threw in the towel last year.

“I really thought, ‘Should I just hang it up?’ But something told me to just keep going. You have to take your licks. Just because you don’t get what you want, you don’t quit.”

She chuckled as she recalled a B.C. judge once telling her she didn’t have what it takes to make it to the top.

“I don’t have the bone structure, right?” she said. “I’d love to see that judge now.

“I never gave up on my dream, no matter what,” she added. “And really, I can’t believe that after all I’ve been through that I’m still alive at my age because I’ve live my life wild and hard and fast. But I’ve always said God was keeping me around for a reason.”

Alison laughed as she recalled being a 19-year-old horse trainer from Canada before meeting her first husband, powerlifting legend Doug Young.

She said Young, who has won multiple world powerlifting championships, was the reason she embarked on her lifelong journey into the world of bodybuilding.

“He’s the one that saw it in me,” she said. “He took me under his wing and taught me everything. He changed my whole life.”

Young has passed away, but Alison said she felt him at the competition.

“He was with me, he’s always with me.”

So, once one reaches the goal they’ve been chasing for 30 years, what’s next?

Alison said her sights are already set on a pro competition in Tampa, Florida next month.

“To me it’s about going out on that stage,” she said. “Once I step out on that pro stage, I’ll know I’ve made it.”

Alison runs a bodybuilding business in Newton with her current husband Brandon Best.

He couldn’t be more proud of his wife.

“She is a testament to perseverance and determination,” said Best. “This culminates a lifelong dream, 30-plus years in the making, a story that has been full of many highs and lows, struggle and adversity. But through it all, she has held steadfast to her goal and now, finally, has been rewarded.”

amy.reid@ surreynowleader.com

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Surrey’s Dawn Alison at the Canadian Bodybuilding Nationals in Edmonton on July 1. (Photo: David Ford/CBBF)

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