In the realm of bodybuilding, there exists no greater accomplishment than winning the prestigious Mr. Olympia title. Since its inception in 1965, this competition has been the ultimate test of physique, strength, and dedication.
Organized by Joe Weider and his brother Ben, the Mr. Olympia was created to crown a true world champion in bodybuilding.
Over the decades, it has evolved into a grand spectacle, complete with fan expos and multiple divisions. However, at its core, the Mr. Olympia title remains the ultimate prize.
Here we will discuss the rich history of Mr. Olympia, highlighting each of its illustrious winners, their unique contributions to the sport, and the venues that witnessed their triumphs.
Larry Scott (1965-1966)
The inaugural Mr. Olympia in 1965 marked the beginning of a legacy. Larry Scott, known as the “Golden Boy,” was the first man to claim this prestigious title.
His 200-pound frame, relatively slender by today’s standards, belied his extraordinary arm development.
Larry Scott’s dedication to his craft popularized the preacher curl, now often referred to as the Scott curl.
Being the first Mr. Olympia and having a biceps exercise named after him solidified his enduring legacy.
The Cuban Sensation
Sergio Oliva (1967-1969)
Sergio Oliva, famously known as “The Myth,” dominated the late 1960s Olympia competitions. Notably, he went unopposed in the 1968 contest, as his competitors withdrew due to other commitments.
In 1969, a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, the only contender, was bested by the Cuban sensation.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Reign (1970-1975, 1980)
The 1970 Mr. Olympia was a showdown between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva, marking the beginning of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s era of dominance. This win set the stage for his incredible six consecutive victories.
Arnold Schwarzenegger transcended bodybuilding to become a global icon as an actor, governor, and activist.
Franco Columbu (1976, 1981)
He briefly retired but made a surprising return to win again in 1981, a victory that sparked debates and discussions in the bodybuilding community.
Frank Zane (1977-1979)
Frank Zane’s victories were symbolic as they introduced the Eugen Sandow trophy, a symbol of excellence still awarded to champions today.
Despite his relatively light competition weight of just under 190 pounds, Frank Zane’s impact on bodybuilding aesthetics endures.
Chris Dickerson (1982)
Chris Dickerson, at the age of 43, became the oldest winner of the Mr. Olympia.
Samir Bannout (1983)
“The Lion of Lebanon,” Samir Bannout, claimed the title in one of the most competitive eras of Olympia history.
Samir Bannout’s defining feature was his incredibly defined back, particularly his lower back.
Lee Haney (1984-1991)
Lee Haney’s eight consecutive victories in the 1980s made him the undisputed king of the Olympia for an entire decade.
Dorian Yates (1992-1997)
Dorian Yates, known for his mass and conditioning, introduced a new level of muscularity and density to the Olympia stage.
His high-intensity training style and “grainy” look redefined bodybuilding in the early ’90s.
Ronnie Coleman (1998-2005)
Ronnie Coleman’s remarkable rise from ninth place in 1997 to first in 1998 is legendary.
His unparalleled size and strength, with a competition weight of up to 296 pounds, left an indelible mark on the sport.
Jay Cutler (2006-07, 2009, 2010)
Jay Cutler’s ability to regain the title in 2009 and his consistent presence at the top of the Olympia stage showcased his determination and skill.
Dexter Jackson (2008)
Phil Heath (2011-2017)
His 2013 win, in particular, stands out as a testament to his excellence, with judges reevaluating second place during prejudging.
Shawn Rhoden (2018)
However, his subsequent legal troubles prevented him from returning to competition, leaving fans with a memorable but brief reign.
Brandon Curry (2019)
He joined the ranks of champions, securing his place in bodybuilding history.
Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay (2020-2021)
His journey from 8th place in his 2013 debut to winning the 2020 Olympia showcased his dedication and growth in the sport.
Hadi Choopan (2022)
Hadi Choopan’s perseverance and dedication, despite years of trying, finally paid off.
The Final Thoughts
The history of Mr. Olympia is a testament to the dedication, passion, and perseverance of each champion who has graced the stage.