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History of the Mr. Olympia Competition


BodybuildingPro.com Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles Written by Matt Canning History of the Mr. Olympia Competition



The Mr. Olympia competition is the most coveted contest in all of bodybuilding. The holder of the famous Sandow trophy is said to be the greatest bodybuilder in the world. The contest is held annually in Las Vegas.

Many great champions have come and gone in the history of the Mr. Olympia competition. From the first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Lee Haney and Dorian Yates, and our current champion Ronnie Coleman. Below is a history of the winners of the Mr. Olympia competition, and the number of Sandow Trophies they each have.


Competitive History
Years Won Name Total Sandow Trophies Won
1965 Larry Scott 2
1966 Larry Scott 2
1967 Sergio Oliva 2
1968 Sergio Oliva 2
1969 Sergio Oliva 2
1970 Arnold Schwarzenegger 7
1971 Arnold Schwarzenegger 7
1972 Arnold Schwarzenegger 7
1973 Arnold Schwarzenegger 7
1974 Arnold Schwarzenegger 7
1975 Arnold Schwarzenegger 7
1976 Franco Columbu 2
1977 Frank Zane 3
1978 Frank Zane 3
1979 Frank Zane 3
1980 Arnold Schwarzenegger 7
1981 Franco Columbu 2
1982 Chris Dickerson 2
1983 Samir Bannout 1
1984 Lee Haney 8
1985 Lee Haney 8
1986 Lee Haney 8
1987 Lee Haney 8
1988 Lee Haney 8
1989 Lee Haney 8
1990 Lee Haney 8
1991 Lee Haney 8
1992 Dorian Yates 6
1993 Dorian Yates 6
1994 Dorian Yates 6
1995 Dorian Yates 6
1996 Dorian Yates 6
1997 Dorian Yates 6
1998 Ronnie Coleman 6
1999 Ronnie Coleman 6
2000 Ronnie Coleman 6
2001 Ronnie Coleman 6
2002 Ronnie Coleman 6


Trends of Mr. Olympia Winners

From the beginning until now, every Mr. Olympia champion has held one thing in common: Dominance. From stage presence, to rippedness, to overall size and muscularity, Mr. Olympia champion bodybuilders have always dominated in comparison to their fellow bodybuilders. Below a critique of the past Mr. Olympia champions will be described, as well as what made them dominate in their era.

Larry Scott

Larry Scott is a man whose physique has stood the test of time. The man was massively muscled during a period of bodybuilding where such muscularity was little seen. He had what can be described even by today's standards as perfect arms. His biceps were full and round and came into crisp clarity during a front double biceps post. During a side triceps pose, the sheer mass of his triceps could not be avoided. He was incredibly lean and had an excellent twisting lat shot. He was among the pioneers of bodybuilders who brought it to a modern level.

Sergio Olivia

Sergio was a bodybuilder who was 20 years ahead of his time in terms of sheer muscularity and dominance in many poses. Even today, few bodybuilders can execute the perfect hands over head forearms pose which was his pose of victory. His arms, back and legs could all hold up well to bodybuilders who competed far after he had retired from the bodybuilding scene. Sergio had small joints, a trim waist and large muscles, all of which put him ahead of the competition and in a league of his own for many of his victories.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold was truly the man who brought bodybuilding into the mainstream. Like Sergio and Larry Scott who dominated before him, Arnold was well ahead of his time and brought it all together on stage. He had incredibly well peaked biceps which, aside from being huge, had a structure only the best genetics can create. His chest was thick and huge and both his arms and his chest are as good as or better than the majority of top competitors out there today. Although Arnold's best qualities were definitely his chest and arms, he also had excellent calve muscles and overall muscularity. By today's standards, his back and legs would not be competitive, but during his era, he was in a league of his own. He brought confidence and charisma to the scene and that could be viewed in the film he was the star of - Pumping Iron. He was a physically strong bodybuilder, and as we can all see from his movies, he was born to be in front of the camera. Although arguably, superior physiques have come, Arnold's contribution to bodybuilding was beyond physique alone. Arnold brought bodybuilding to the mainstream by presenting the every man with a physique which was both massively muscled, but also not overly freakish. Most people would not want to look like any of the competitors around too, as they are far too muscular. Arnold was big, but not to the point where he was a circus side show. His charisma and contribution to the sport through film have been like nothing any other competitor has ever done. He started the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic competition in 1989 which is among the best pro bodybuilding competition available in the world today. He also wrote the book "Arnold's Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding". Arnold will always be remembered as one of the greatest to ever take part in the sport.

Franco Columbu

Franco was truly an exceptional bodybuilder. Although he did not dominate the stage like Arnold, he offered so much to the bodybuilder world. He won every major powerlifting and bodybuilding title. Aside from having a Mr. Olympia caliber physique he was able to deadlift more than 730 pounds at a bodyweight of 183! His background in powerlifting resulted in Franco developing dense, thick muscle mass that few pro bodybuilders of today could match. He was also a competitive boxer and a participant in the World's Strongest Man competition. He is also a Doctor of Chiropractic with a Ph.D. in Nutrition and an expert in Sports Medicine and Kinesiology. Now how many Mr. Olympias have done that?

Frank Zane

Frank Zane was one of only three bodybuilders to have ever defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger. Zane has always been considered to be statuesque in his appearance. His proportion, symmetry and balance is second to none. A picture of Frank Zane was like looking at Adonis. He also held a Master's degree in Experimental Psychology. He was a well rounded athlete and a tremendous spokesperson for the bodybuilding community.

Chris Dickerson

Chris Dickerson won the Mr. Olympia title just before bodybuilding became the show of strength and muscularity it is today. Chris was superbly muscled nevertheless and dominated the stage at a body weight under 200 pounds. Some bodybuilders come onstage today with a similar physique and do not place highly because bodybuilding these days seems to favour muscularity and condition with not so much emphasis on balance and proportion. Chris was a champion of yesterday who although could not repeat that success today, was very much worthy of his victory.

Samir Bannout

Samir was the pioneer of the "Christmas Tree" level of conditioning seen in the lower back. This is due to the muscularity and condition of the lower regions of the back, and he was the first bodybuilder to dominate that pose in the rear lat spread. Samir, or "The Lion of Lebanon" was a highly mesomorphic bodybuilder who brought an incredible amount of muscle mass and power to the stage. He will always be remembered as one of the greats.

Lee Haney

Based on his dominance in the Mr. Olympia competition, Lee Haney is the greatest bodybuilder of all time. He is the winner of eight straight Sandows, a feat which no other competitor bodybuilder has ever achieved. Ronnie Coleman may well catch up to him if he continues as he is now, but even that seems unlikely. A king of symmetry and aesthetics, with a huge upper body and beautiful lines, Lee Haney will be forever remembered as a powerful competitor and a great spokesperson for the sport of bodybuilding.

Dorian Yates

Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates, six time champion brought bodybuilding to the 1990s and to the level it is at today. He was a combination of freaky size, shape, separation, muscular density, thickness, strength and overall power. He was extremely mesomorphic and an incredible stage presence. Although competitors like Flex Wheeler, Kevin Levrone, Shawn Ray and Nasser El Sonbaty gave him a run for his money, he remained victorious to win six Sandows and leave his mark on bodybuilding history.

Ronnie Coleman

Since 1998, Ronnie Coleman is our current Mr. Olympia champion. In the tradition recently set by Dorian, Ronnie dominates the other competitors in terms of condition and sheer muscularity. Now the question is - can he do it? Will he tie Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lee Haney, or better yet, make a record of nine straight Mr. Olympia victories? Only time will tell.

So as you can see, the Mr. Olympia contest has evolved over time and in the current day, competitors are bigger than ever. Some poses, such as Frank Zane's classic vaccum pose will never happen again, but new and ever freaky muscle mass quality, definition, condition, seperation and thickness occur all the time. It is an evolving sport and only time will tell us where it will be with years to come.


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