Many strength sports fans know the name Odd Haugen because of his legacy that includes strongman, grip competitions, and even for helping with the growth of MAS Wrestling in North America. What a lot of his fans don’t know is that he was also active in bodybuilding.

Haugen’s connections to the sport go back to the early days of the Mr. Olympia competition itself. The Olympia was introduced to the world in 1965 when Larry Scott won the first title. The next champion to follow in Scott’s footsteps was the late Sergio Oliva, who held the title from 1967 until 1969. It would be during the middle of Oliva’s run that Haugen got to see greatness in person.

“I came to America as a foreign exchange high school student to upstate New York and had just won the Junior Mr. Norway contest,” he said. “I was competing in the Mr. World contest, which was held at the same time as the Olympia, and I stood on the same stage as Sergio.”

Haugen remembers seeing Oliva that weekend in his peak form and recalled how impressed he was with seeing the bodybuilding legend during his time as the most dominant bodybuilder on the planet.

“His arms were so big even when he didn’t flex them. He was huge, and it was amazing to see.”

Legendary bodybuilder Odd Haugen winning his first IFBB bodybuilding competition
Odd Haugen.

Oliva won his second Olympia title unopposed that year. Chuck Sipes would ultimately win the Mr. World title that year. Haugen continued bodybuilding but did not pursue Olympia aspirations himself. He ultimately became a legendary figure of strength and a very prominent contributor to fitness in a variety of ways, including through powerlifting, strongman, and grip competitions. He never lost his connection to bodybuilding over the years since.

“I ended up competing in the 1972 Junior Mr. America competition and ended up meeting a lot of people that I stayed connected to long after that.”

As he was creating his own legacy, the Olympia was growing and creating its own legacy that stands on its own today. Fast forward to 2024 and the landmark 60th edition of the Olympia is fast approaching. On the weekend of Oct. 11-13, the Las Vegas Convention Center will serve as the place where several sports hold elite competitions and all aspects of fitness will be celebrated. Passionate athletes and fans from around the world will gather to compete and take part in events that can change their lives. Haugen is one of those passionate athletes and fans, and he is excited about being in Las Vegas for the big weekend.

Haugen shared, “I have went to a lot of the Olympias over the years. The growth of the event is amazing. I even got to spend some time with Joe and Betty (Weider) when the Olympia was in Sweden. I am looking forward to being there.”

One of those Expo events will be the 2024 Olympia World Mas Wrestling Championships. For those that are new to the sport, two contestants sit on the floor with their legs straight and feet against a board while holding on to a stick. The athletes then pull on the stick with the goal of pulling stick and perhaps their opponent towards their side.

Legendary bodybuilder and MAS wrestler Odd Haugen at the MAS wrestling championship
Odd Haugen.

Haugen has been involved with Mas Wrestling for several years now, having helped introduce the sport to the American fanbase. He feels the fans that come to watch will be in for a great experience.

“We are going to have a very good group of international athletes, and we will have a good core of American athletes as well.”

Athletes that want to sign up and compete can do so through the Mas Wrestling USA website if they are members of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Aside from the competitions themselves, Haugen hopes that he can help grow the sport by introducing it to new athletes.

“It is a very simple sport. If you are strong and agile, you can learn it quickly,” he stated. “We are going to have workshops so people can try it. If you are a good strength athlete, you can do very well.” You can learn more about Mas Wrestling USA by logging on to To see the 2024 MAS Wrestling championships as well as the rest of the exciting events taking place at the 2024 Olympia World Fitness Expo, log on to to order your Expo passes.

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