JUST 11 months ago David O’Byrne weighed a hefty 17st 12lbs.

But now the 50-year-old has shed more than five stone — and been crowned World Champion Bodybuilder.

Mr O’Byrne embarked on a gruelling fitness regime after being encouraged by bodybuilding enthusiasts who told him “there was a shape under there” when he attended events to support his wife, Dawn Roberts, who is a bodybuilder.

He claimed he would when he turned 50 — thinking no one would hold him to it.

“They did not forget,” he said.

The Bolton Rugby Football Union Club player added: “I enjoyed eating — whatever people left I got. I liked a drink.

“I had done strong strength training for rugby, but not bodybuilding.”

“In January, I had my last drink, my last piece of bread, and changed my diet.”

Company director Mr O’Byrne started his intensive cardio training regime and slimmed down to 12lbs 6lbs.

Alcohol was replaced with 10 litres of water — and he could only indulge once a week when it was “cheat night”.

All other times it was simple food every two hours.

In August, he was encouraged to enter the British Championship qualifiers and four weeks later he won the title.

“I was told I might as well as go for the World Championship, so I stuck to the diet,” Mr O’Byrne said.

On November 3, he flew to Miami, Florida, and not only won the World Championship title, but also was crowned the World Master Champion, where one competitor is chosen from across the age categories.

The former Hayward Grammar School pupil said: “I never expected to win, I was just going over to compete. There was Mr Olympia and Mr Natural Universe taking part.” Mr O’Byrne, who moved from Belmont to Chorley, says he cannot wait to get back to playing rugby.

“I won’t be able to play the position I used to anymore.

“Some of my teammates saw me recently and could not believe how different I looked.”

He added: “I am retiring as the undefeated champion and I will have more credibility when I am the MC at bodybuilding events.”