History of the Mr Olympia Contest
- 04 Jun, 2019
The Mr Olympia contest is without doubt the peak of the bodybuilding and fitness world, drawing the best of the best from around the world to bring you the best physiques over the course of one amazing weekend. The name Mr Olympia is associated with bodybuildings great names such as Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates and the most recent multiple winner of the ‘O’, Phil ‘The Gift’ Heath, not to mention the most famous bodybuilder of all time and the creator of his own bodybuilding contest, the ‘Arnold Classic’, considered the second most important bodybuilding contest on the planet, Mr Schwarzenegger.
It was Arnold and his well-known documentary depicting the battle for the 1977 Mr Olympia ‘Pumping Iron’ with the future incredible hulk, Lou Ferrigno, that captured the mass audiences imagination for bodybuilding with a supporting cast including the smaller but notoriously strong and equally impressive Franco Columbo. It was this documentary that paved the way for the acceptance of muscles into the main stream and onto the big screen, creating a platform for the action heroes of the 80’s onwards, where a muscled physique became the expected norm and the popularity of weight training in the general public really took off. It was again Arnold in films such as the ‘Conan’ series that again paved the way for bodybuilders, athletes, wrestlers and in more recent times MMA fighters to be accepted into the film industry. The Mr O was founded by Joe Weider, whom many consider to be the god father of modern bodybuilding. The original incarnation of the Mr Olympia was first held in 1965 and was won the first two years by Larry Scott. As the years have passed the physiques have become bigger, leaner and denser. The classic bodybuilder’s aesthetic physique epitomised by 7 time winner Arnold, 3 time winner Sergio Oliva and 3 time winner Frank Zane were to be replaced by bigger, more muscled physiques of the likes of 8 time winner Lee Haney. Haney’s successor and 6 time winner, Britain’s own Dorian Yates is considered by many to have brought in the dawn of the new super freaky bodybuilder. Bringing a physique with levels of muscle not yet seen before, with freaky, grainy conditioning giving a granite look, full of striations and which is now the expected norm for top level competitors. This look culminated with the appearance on the stage of the gigantic Ronnie Coleman, his size dwarfed even the biggest of rivals and he brought condition that won him 8 straight Mr O’s on the bounce. Second to big Ronnie on several occasions was a bodybuilder with one of the most successful competition records in history and went on to become 4 time Mr O and the only person to have lost and regained the title, Jay Cutler.
The current M. Olympia was actually talent spotted by big Jay himself, the reigning 3 x Mr O, puts much of his success to the interactions he has had with Jay Cutler. Phil Heath has a balance of aesthetics, full muscle bellies and freaky conditioning which makes it difficult to see him being dethroned in the near future. The Mr Olympia weekend isn’t just about the big boys the hotly contested 212lb showdown is currently held by the Welsh Dragon, James ‘Flex’ Lewis and in 2014 will be going for his third straight win, it has been a great year for flex also being named the inaugural winner of the first ever 212lb class held at the Arnold Classic this year. Bodybuilding is the primary focus of the Olympia weekend, but it is also a chance for a number of people to be crowned the best in the world in a number of fitness and figure classes including the increasingly popular male physique class, showcasing a more achievable aesthetic look. The pinnacle of female bodybuilding is also crowned the Ms Olympia and Adela Garcia is currently dominating women’s bodybuilding, winning 7 out of the last 8 years. The Olympia weekend has turned into a giant expo, showcasing many sports including a wide variety of martial arts, crossfit, weightlifting, strongman and even arm wrestling! The 2014 Olympia weekend held on the 18-21 September in Las Vegas promises to be the biggest yet. Flex is again the favourite to retain the 212lb division but will come under stiff competition from some big names including Jose Raymond, David Henry and Kevin English. For the title of Mr Olympia many, myself included, cannot see past ‘The Gift’ winning it for a fourth time. On previous occasions Kai ‘The Predator’ Green has pushed Phil close, but if he is ‘on’ Phil is going to be difficult to beat. Other people in contention include the 2014 Arnold classic winner Dennis ‘the Big Bad’ Wolf and previous winner Dexter ‘the Blade’ Jackson. My choice of the new crop of bodybuilder as an outside bet would be that of the giant Cedric McMillan, this guy has the potential to go all the way in the future if he can nail his condition. Whatever the result this is sure to be a spectacular weekend and an event we at CSN will be staying up to cheer on our very own Flex Lewis. So grab your popcorn, sit back and watch in awe as these muscle monsters pose their hearts out to become the very best physiques in the business. Peace, weights and protein shakes. Paul Rimmer (BSc, MSc).