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The First 5 Mr. Olympia Winners, Then Versus Now


There are not many things on this planet that will reward you with exactly what you put in. You can put in a 110% at work but politics might prevent you from that promotion. You can put in a 110% in basketball practice, but the team might not have a need for someone with your skill set. Bodybuilding is one of the very few things that will reward or punish you with whatever you give it. No one can cheat you out of your reps, no one can cheat you out of eating your meals, and no one can cheat you out of getting that rest which incites muscle growth. If you give it 100%, you will get back a 100%.

Here are several bodybuilders who dedicated their life to bodybuilding and as a result reached a pinnacle of the sport and won the Mr.Olympia trophy.

Have a look at the first 5 Mr.Olympia winners then and now.

1. Known as ‘The Myth’ and also a 3-time Mr.Olympia winner, Sergio Oliva was a Cuban native who was able to leave Cuba due to his weightlifting career. He was a three-peat champion winning in 1967, 1968 and 1969 where he beat the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Oliva got his nickname ‘The Myth’ due to his unbelievable physique and the jaw-dropping response he would usually receive when he stripped down. He was one of the most aesthetic physiques of his time and bodybuilders of today still try to emulate his physique. Due to his wide back, broad shoulders and tiny waist (the thinnest in Olympia history), he was truly a sight to behold.

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Controversially, Oliva should have won another Mr.Olympia title in 1972. At 270 pounds in the off season and standing at only 5’10 (compared to Arnold who was much taller), his competition weight was 240 pounds with striations and cuts everywhere. In an interview, Oliva said that Arnold himself told him “I don’t deserve to win this.”

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Unfortunately, Oliva died on November 12, 2012 at the age of 71 due to kidney failure. His son, Sergio Oliva Jr. and daughter Julia carry his name. Oliva Jr., who has quite literally big expectations to fulfill, is expected to compete on the IFBB stage in the coming years.

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2. Probably THE most famous bodybuilder of all time is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Nicknamed the ‘Austrian Oak’ for his oak barrel of a chest, Arnold was not merely a bodybuilder. He is also an actor, producer, businessman, philanthropist, author and politician just to name a few of his side jobs.

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With 7 Mr.Olympia titles under his belt, he currently hosts the second biggest bodybuilding competition in the world, the Arnold Classic. Pros from all over the world enter into his competition just to have him take a peek at them and get an objective critique.

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Controversially, he lambasted a host of current professional bodybuilders who were seen on stage with big distended guts and bloated bellies. He called for a return to the Golden Era where men with flat stomachs, striated chests, and ripped abs were considered champions.

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He currently hosts The Apprentice, and is regularly seen with his longtime workout partner, Franco Columbu and occasionally visits other bodybuilding shows that his name is not affiliated with.  

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3. Larry Dee Scott was the first and second Mr.Olympia winner. He was nicknamed ‘The Legend’ and ‘The Golden Boy’ for his impressive physique and his good looks. He retired after his second Olympia win at the tender age of 28. He attempted a brief comeback in 1979 before finally retiring once and for all.

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Originally gifted with a narrow physique he had to work to build up his shoulders and back to create the illusion of width and the v-taper that is so sought after in bodybuilding. He began training and learning under the tutelage of Vince Gironda (who was by then a well-known bodybuilder.)

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After training with Gironda, he became well known for his unusually large and long biceps. The preacher curls exercise (invented by Gironda) was eventually named after him: the Scott curls.

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As evidenced by these pictures, Scott possessed some impressive biceps even up to 60 and 70 years old. Unfortunately he passed away on March 8, 2014 due to complications with Alzheimer’s.

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4. Franco Columbu is probably the smallest bodybuilder on this list standing at only 5’4’’ in height. Hailing from Italy, he came in fifth in the inaugural World’s Strongest Man Competition. He got injured during the refrigerator race and settled for $1 million in a settlement for compensation for his injuries.

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A long time training partner and friend of Arnold, they regularly trained together even though they stepped on stage and had to compete against each other. When Arnold won in 1980, Franco won the following year in 1981.

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Known as ‘The Giant Killer’ of his time, he took out a lot of professional bodybuilders, who were taller, bigger and outweighed him by over 50 pounds! More often than not, Franco and Arnold would be standing next to each other, trying to out pose the other all the while knowing each other’s strong points and weaknesses.

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Franco was Arnold’s best man in his marriage to Maria Shriver and their friendship has been going strong ever since. As a certified chiropractor, Columbu can perform many techniques on Arnold. As an actor and producer, Arnold could help Franco find acting roles. True friends indeed.

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5. Frank Zane is a 3-time Mr.Olympia winner and he is commonly known as the ‘Father of Aesthetics.’ His intense focus and regimen on symmetry and proportions gave him a physique to be admired and desired. 

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He was nicknamed ‘The Chemist’ due to his Bachelor of Science degree and his abundant use of ‘supplements and amino acids.’ He had the second tiniest waistline in Olympia history and won all three of his titles at under 190 lbs!

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In a time when most guys were trying to get bigger and put on more muscle mass, Zane was doing everything he could to look smaller all the while appearing much larger. His focus on light weights instead of heavy weights led to him building a truly admirable body.

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Frank Zane is truly a bodybuilding legend. He was one of the few people to have bested Arnold on a bodybuilding stage and win a competition while weighing under 190 lbs. 

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