Bodybuilders Who Defeated Ronnie Coleman After His First Olympia Victory

The Mr. Olympia contest, the pinnacle of bodybuilding competitions, has seen many legends rise to the top. Among these legends, few stand as tall as Ronnie Coleman, a man who dominated the sport with an iron grip and unmatched physique.

Known as the ‘King of Bodybuilding,’ Ronnie Coleman secured his place in history by winning the Mr. Olympia title eight consecutive times, matching Lee Haney’s record.

However, even the mightiest champions face challenges, and Ronnie Coleman was no exception.

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This article delves into the stories of the four bodybuilders who managed to defeat Ronnie Coleman after his first Olympia victory, showcasing their triumphs and the moments that led to the uncrowning of the king.

The Rise of Ronnie Coleman

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Early Struggles and Breakthrough

Ronald “Ronnie” Dean Coleman’s journey to becoming a bodybuilding legend was far from a fairy tale.

His early years in the Mr. Olympia contest were marked by humble beginnings, with a 16th-place finish in 1992 and a 15th-place finish in 1994.

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Ronnie Coleman’s persistence and dedication, however, set the stage for an incredible transformation.

By 1996, he had moved into single-digit placings, finishing sixth. A setback in 1997 saw him drop to ninth place, but it was in 1998 that Ronnie Coleman made history, seizing his first Mr. Olympia title in what was considered one of the biggest upsets in bodybuilding history.

Dominance and Legacy

Ronnie Coleman’s victory in 1998 was just the beginning. He went on to win the Mr. Olympia title eight times consecutively, from 1998 to 2005.

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His reign was characterized by an impressive combination of massive size, impeccable conditioning, and unmatched symmetry.

The ‘mass monster’ era of bodybuilding was defined by Ronnie Coleman’s presence, as he outclassed competitors like Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone, and Chris Cormier.

His famous catchphrases, “Yeah buddy!” and “Lightweight, baby! Ain’t nuthin’ but a peanut!” became gym staples worldwide. Despite his dominance, a few challengers managed to defeat Coleman, making their mark in bodybuilding history.

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Gunter Schlierkamp: The First Challenger

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The 2002 GNC Show of Strength

Contrary to popular belief, Jay Cutler was not the first bodybuilder to defeat Ronnie Coleman during his reign.

This honor goes to the German giant, Gunter Schlierkamp, who achieved this feat at the 2002 GNC Show of Strength.

Gunter Schlierkamp’s victory was a significant moment, as he became the only bodybuilder to defeat Ronnie Coleman while he was the reigning Mr. Olympia.

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Journey to Victory

Gunter Schlierkamp, known for his striking smile and imposing physique, had struggled to make a significant impact in the early years of his career.

Despite receiving special invitations to the Mr. Olympia contest from Joe Weider, he had lackluster finishes, including 12th in 2000 and 15th in 2001. However, 2002 marked a turning point for Gunter Schlierkamp.

He finished fifth at the Mr. Olympia and brought an improved package to the GNC Show of Strength.

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His upper-body thickness, conditioning, and separation were unmatched, allowing him to best Ronnie Coleman, who was not at his peak.

Aftermath and Legacy

Gunter Schlierkamp’s victory was celebrated widely, but Ronnie Coleman did not take the defeat lightly.

Motivated by his loss, Ronnie Coleman returned to the gym with renewed vigor, ensuring he remained unbeatable at the Olympia for the next three years.

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Gunter Schlierkamp continued to compete, with his best Olympia finish being fourth in 2005, before retiring in 2006.

His victory over Ronnie Coleman remains a highlight of his career, symbolizing the unpredictable nature of competitive bodybuilding.

RELATED: Lou Ferrigno’s Return at the 1992 Mr. Olympia

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Jay Cutler: The Rivalry

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Building a Contender

Jay Cutler’s rivalry with Ronnie Coleman is one of the most storied in bodybuilding history.

Jay Cutler, who earned a second-place finish at the 2001 Mr. Olympia, emerged as Ronnie Coleman’s most formidable competitor.

Unlike many who faded in the face of Ronnie Coleman’s dominance, Jay Cutler consistently improved, bulking up and refining his conditioning to challenge the reigning champion.

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The Battle Intensifies

After his second-place finish in 2001, Jay Cutler skipped the 2002 Olympia, a decision he later regretted as it was a year when Ronnie Coleman was not at his best.

Jay Cutler returned stronger in 2003, but Ronnie Coleman had already learned from his previous mistakes and secured his sixth consecutive title.

The rivalry between the two intensified over the next few years, with Jay Cutler finishing second behind Ronnie Coleman in 2004 and 2005.

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The 2006 Breakthrough

In 2006, Jay Cutler finally broke through Ronnie Coleman’s defenses. After four consecutive runner-up finishes, Jay Cutler defeated Ronnie Coleman to claim his first Mr. Olympia title, ending Coleman’s eight-year reign.

Jay Cutler’s victory was a testament to his perseverance and strategic improvements, marking a new era in bodybuilding.

Victor Martinez: The Uncrowned Champion

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via victor martinez instagram

Steady Climb to the Top

Victor Martinez, known as the “Dominican Dominator,” steadily rose through the bodybuilding ranks.

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After finishing ninth in his first Olympia in 2004, Victor Martinez improved to fifth in 2005 and third in 2006, positioning himself as a serious contender.

The 2007 Showdown

Victor Martinez’s moment came at the 2007 Mr. Olympia. Although he did not win the title, he defeated Ronnie Coleman, who placed fourth.

Victor Martinez’s impressive showing earned him a second-place finish behind Jay Cutler, narrowly missing the top spot.

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This contest is often regarded as one of the closest in Olympia history, with many believing Victor Martinez deserved the victory.

Challenges and Setbacks

Despite his near victory, Victor Martinez’s career was marred by setbacks. A severe injury in 2008 and subsequent legal troubles in 2011 hampered his progress.

Although he made several comebacks, including a fourth-place finish in 2011, Victor Martinez never captured the Olympia title.

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He retired in 2020, but his defeat of Ronnie Coleman remains a significant highlight of his career.

RELATED: The 5 Most Inspirational Bodybuilding Icons of All Time

Dexter Jackson: The Consistent Performer

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The Blade’s Rise

Dexter “The Blade” Jackson is renowned for his consistency and longevity in bodybuilding.

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With 29 professional titles, including five Arnold Classic wins, Dexter Jackson’s career is a testament to his dedication and discipline.

He first broke into the top five at the Olympia in 2002 and secured a podium finish in 2003.

The 2007 Breakthrough

In 2007, Dexter Jackson defeated Ronnie Coleman to secure a third-place finish at the Mr. Olympia. This victory marked a turning point for Dexter Jackson, setting the stage for his future successes.

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The 2008 Triumph

Dexter Jackson’s crowning achievement came in 2008. After reclaiming the Arnold Classic title, he arrived at the Mr. Olympia in peak condition.

Dexter Jackson’s flawless symmetry, conditioning, and presentation earned him the Olympia title, dethroning Jay Cutler.

This victory solidified Dexter Jackson’s place in bodybuilding history and highlighted his ability to peak at the right moment.

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Longevity and Records

Dexter Jackson continued to compete at a high level, holding the record for the most Mr. Olympia appearances with 20.

He is also the only bodybuilder to have won both the Mr. Olympia and Masters Olympia titles.

His consistent performance over the years is a testament to his unparalleled work ethic and dedication to the sport.

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RELATED: The Legendary Rise of Ronnie Coleman: 8x Mr Olympia Champion


Ronnie Coleman’s reign as the ‘King of Bodybuilding’ is one of the most remarkable periods in the history of the sport. However, even the greatest champions face challenges, and Ronnie Coleman was no exception.

Gunter Schlierkamp, Jay Cutler, Victor Martinez, and Dexter Jackson each had their moments of triumph, defeating Ronnie Coleman and carving their names into the annals of bodybuilding history.

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Their victories over Ronnie Coleman were not just about winning a contest they were about overcoming a legend, a feat that required unparalleled dedication, strategy, and resilience.

These four bodybuilders demonstrated that even the mightiest can be challenged and that the spirit of competition continues to drive the sport forward.

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