Legendary pt1 main

What makes something great? You can’t plan it. You can’t predict it. It just happens. It’s the real-life drama unfolding right then and there, unscripted and unexpected that brings us to our feet and makes us say, “Yeah, I was there. I saw it. I remember.”

A moment of such magnitude requires everything coming together at just the right time. You need an occasion big enough and important enough that people will talk about it long after it’s over. You also need the right people. The kind of people who perform their best when nothing less will do; that special breed with the courage and resolve to do something great that people will never forget.

In bodybuilding, there is the Mr. Olympia. Created by Joe Weider, it is the ultimate proving ground. The journey to this stage for each man is measured out in the years committed to perfecting the human form. Only a select few have realized this dream and their names are celebrated across generations. With the 2016 Mr. Olympia looming on the horizon, we’ll take a look at these 13 men who seized the opportunity of a lifetime, immortalized their names, and in the process, helped us remember that greatness endures.

Click NEXT PAGE to see Legend #13! >>

Larry scott


BORN Oct. 12, 1938

DIED March 8, 2014


WEIGHT 205 pounds

MR. OLYMPIA 1965–66

The Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY, 1965. It began here. A small but elite lineup; you had to be a Mr. Universe just to enter the contest.  There was no cash prize, no big money endorsements, not even a Sandow, just the respect and recognition that comes with being the absolute best. Larry Scott, at age 26, was already the most popular—and unofficially, the best bodybuilder in the world when he walked to the center of that stage.

By the end of the night, he would walk into the history books as the first Mr. Olympia and officially, the greatest bodybuilder in the world. Scott defended his title the following year, then retired while still in his prime. Though he staged a brief comeback in 1979 before retiring again, Scott will always be remembered as the young phenom with the next-generation physique who ushered in the modern age of bodybuilding. Scott passed away earlier this spring at the age of 75.

Click NEXT PAGE to see Legend #12! >> 


BORN July 14, 1941

DIED Nov. 12, 2012

HEIGHT 5’10”

WEIGHT 255 pounds

MR. OLYMPIA 1967-69

There was

Sergio oliva
a reason people called him the Myth and perhaps nobody captured it better than Arnold Schwarzenegger recounting his first encounter with Sergio Oliva in his autobiography, Education of a Bodybuilder: “Then for the first time, I saw Sergio Oliva in person. I understood why they called him the Myth. It was as jarring, as if I’d walked into a wall. He destroyed me. He was so huge, he was so fantastic, there was no way I could even think of beating him.”

The Cuban weightlifter defected to the U.S. via the 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games in Jamaica. After a short stay in Miami, Oliva relocated to Chicago, where he remained for the rest of his life. He placed a respectable third in his Olympia debut in 1966, but his outlandish physique—which combined jaw-dropping muscle mass (even by today’s standards) atop a skeletal structure that seemed more suited for a ballet dancer than a bodybuilder—was a sign of the inevitable and in 1967, Oliva beat out the men who placed ahead of him the year before, Chuck Sipes and Harold Poole, to win the throne vacated by Larry Scott.

Olivia defended his title unopposed the following year and it seemed that he could go on being Mr. Olympia for as long as he wanted—until a 23-year-old upstart named Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had given the champ a run for his money in 1969, succeeded in stopping him in 1970. The two met for their final rematch at the 1972 Olympia, a contest many consider to be the most controversial in the show’s history as an all-time best and almost inhuman Oliva took second to Schwarzenegger.

Oliva competed in rival federations until his return to the IFBB at the 1984 Olympia, where he placed eighth. His final contest was the ’85 O, where he again placed eighth. The 71-year-old (conflicting reports of his actual birth date have him older) died on Nov. 12, 2012. The former king, and his hands-over-head pose that has never been equaled, is a reminder to all who saw him in his prime that even though there was bodybuilding before Sergio, and certainly bodybuilding after Sergio, there will never be an equal to the man known simply as the Myth.

Click NEXT PAGE to see Legend #11! >> 



BORN July 30, 1947


WEIGHT 250 pounds

MR. OLYMPIA 1970-75, 1980

We’ve all heard the story by now and we know it’s real because we’ve been witnesses to it, but if you sit back and really think about it, it still sounds too outlandish to be true: A kid from a small European village comes to America and becomes the greatest bodybuilder in the world, making his very name synonymous with the idea of physical perfection; then he gets in to the movies, and not just any movies but some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, to become one of the most recognizable celebrities of all-time; then (yes, there’s more!) the former champion bodybuilder turned Hollywood action superstar enters politics and becomes, wait for it…the governor of California. All this with a last name that’s as hard to pronounce as it is to spell. Oh, and let’s not gloss over that thick, Dracula-ish accent (for want of a better description).

Arnold Schwarzenegger could have quietly stopped his public life after winning his seventh Mr. Olympia in 1980 (a record at the time) and he still would have been remembered by legions of fans, but what’s enough for most people has never been enough for Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger always wanted to be great at something, he just didn’t know what it was—until he saw Reg Park in a Hercules movie in the local theater. The young Arnold had found his calling. He wanted to build heroic muscles like his idol, star in movies and become famous. Of course, he went on to do that and much more. With an oversize personality to match his muscles, Schwarzenegger was a natural onstage and in front of the camera (bodybuilding, cinematic, and political). In his pro career, Schwarzenegger lost to only two men: Frank Zane at the 1968 Mr. Universe, and Sergio Oliva at the 1969 Mr. Olympia. Following the latter, he never lost another contest. All his accomplishments notwithstanding, for bodybuilding fans the world over, the boy from Graz, Austria, will always be the Oak.

Click NEXT PAGE to see Legend #10! >> 


BORN August 7, 1941


WEIGHT 188 pounds

MR. OLYMPIA 1976, 1981

He was

Franko columbu
the perennial sidekick. Franco Columbu was Robin to Schwarzenegger’s Batman. If Arnold was somewhere, you could bet that Franco was nearby. It’s tough staying out of the Oak’s shadow, so we’ll give him that one. But if that were the extent of Columbu’s contribution to bodybuilding, we wouldn’t still be talking about him 33 years after he last competed.

No, Columbu won the sport’s highest honor in 1976 and, after suffering a horrific knee injury while racing with a refrigerator on his back in the 1977 World’s Strongest Man contest, he defied the doctors and regained the Olympia title in 1981. Known as the Sardinian Strongman, Columbu was a true powerhouse, as evidenced by photos of 700-plus-pound deadlifts and bench presses with more than 500. Want further proof? Check out the scenes from Pumping Iron where Columbu lifts a car out of a tight parking space and blows up a hot water balloon (beginning at approximately the 47:20 mark). Columbu also landed several bit parts in film and TV before starring in (straight-to-DVD) action flicks. Boxer, powerlifter, strongman, chiropractor, and actor, Columbu will always be known as one of the strongest pound-for-pound bodybuilders and, if not for one other man on our list, the strongest Mr. Olympia in history.

Click NEXT PAGE to see Legend #9! >> 



Frank zane
June 28, 1942


WEIGHT 185 pounds

MR. OLYMPIA 1977-79

The Zane years. It was unprecedented, and likely to never happen again. With Arnold Schwarzenegger retired and Franco Columbu’s career seemingly terminated by injury, bodybuilding needed a new king. Enter Frank Zane. Standing 5'9" and weighing 185 pounds, the former math teacher certainly didn’t look like the prototypical bodybuilder. Sure, he had a phenomenally athletic build but bodybuilders were supposed to have arms bigger than legs and legs bigger than torsos. Zane had neither. What he did have was aesthetics, and plenty of it. Zane was Michelangelo’s David come to life, with better definition. Zane’s muscularity rivaled that of an anatomy chart. That, combined with a small, highly sculpted waist and classic lines were the weapons he used to beat bigger and heavier foes. His vacuum pose is a one-of-a-kind that the bodybuilding world has yet to see duplicated.

Click NEXT PAGE to see Legend #8! >> 


BORN August 25, 1939


WEIGHT 190 pounds


From 1981

Chris dickerson
to 1983, three men held the title of greatest bodybuilder in the world for a single year. The middle man in that span was Chris Dickerson, possibly the least talked about Mr. O in history, but not for lack of achievement. Dickerson began a competitive career that started in 1965 and ended in 1994.

Along the way, he won 24 contests (11 in the IFBB). At age 43 when he won the Sandow, Dickerson remains the oldest Mr. Olympia of all time. Retiring briefly after his win, Dickerson returned in 1984 and his last open pro show was the 1990 Arnold Classic, where the 51-year-old placed an astonishing eighth. Still not finished, Dickerson donned the posing trunks for a final time in 1994, placing fourth at the Master’s Olympia. The man known for his diamond calves and elegant posing was also an accomplished opera singer and remains an active part of the bodybuilding industry.

Click NEXT PAGE to see Legend #7! >> 


BORN Nov. 7, 1955


WEIGHT 195 pounds


It was

Samir bannout
the buildup, that space right before the big moment when Samir Bannout pulled his elbows back and placed his hands on his hips to unfurl his back in the rear lat spread. He paused for dramatic effect, and when the lower lats and muscles of the vertebra splintered and popped, two words came to mind: Christmas tree. Sure, Bannout wasn’t the first to do it, but nobody highlighted the transition quite like the Lion of Lebanon, making the new “pose” a must-have-moment for photographers and competitors alike. Never possessing the size to overpower his rivals, Bannout, like Zane and Dickerson, relied on proportion and details to outclass the competition.

Facing a new crop of bodybuilders, led by a 24-year-old from Georgia by the name of Lee Haney, Bannout placed sixth at the 1984 Olympia. Bannout’s fve-spot descent is the most of any reigning Mr. O and that year marked the transition point between two eras, the sub-200 pound Mr. O and the 250-plus pound beasts who followed. The Lion only won one more contest after his Olympia triumph, the 1990 Pittsburgh Pro, and his last competitive roar was at the 2011 Masters Pro World, where he placed 11th. FLEX

Click HERE for "The Legendary 13: Part 2"

2017 Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend

2017 Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend

Where legends are made!