It happened way back in 1980 in the most unlikely of locations. A short, skinny kid with seemingly little potential for bodybuilding stardom emerged from his shell and proceeded to shock the physique world to its core. He made such an impact that he even caught the attention of the most powerful man in the sport, prompting a personal phone call to invite him to the Mecca of Bodybuilding and future stardom.
In stark contrast to the eagerly anticipated excitement that accompanied the 2013 Mr. Olympia, this year’s event has snuck up on us with little fanfare or media “buzz”. The ads for this year’s biggest event in bodybuilding have more to do with the 50th Mr. Olympia contest than the actual specific competition.
Last year, the bodybuilding world was extremely excited over the return of four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler to the Olympia line-up. After Jay’s remarkable comeback victory in 2009, many of his huge fan base were waiting to see the biggest upset in bodybuilding history as Teacher Jay would put his Student Phil back in his place. Unfortunately, the hype did not live up to reality and Cutler failed to show the mass or dominance that he displayed in 2009 as he limped into the sixth place position.
There is a hilarious video cartoon floating around YouTube called “I Want To Be a Bodybuilder”. In the four-minute-and-twelve-second animated video, a hapless husband stands nervously in his kitchen, trying to explain to his confused wife that he is changing his lifestyle because he “wants to be a bodybuilder.”
For those of us all too familiar with the bodybuilding and fitness competition lifestyle, we may begin to question how ridiculous our chosen sport/obsession appears after watching a video in which it is explained to a “regular person.” Adding to the humor of the video is the disjointed way in which the husband and wife talk, a computer animated voice level where “bodybuilder” is pronounced “body-BUILder.”
The 10th Mr. Olympia contest was somewhat of a milestone in the history of bodybuilding’s biggest competition due to the emerging media attention it began to attract. In 1974, President Nixon was forced to resign in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Hank Aaron beat the beloved Babe Ruth’s home run record, frustrated motorists waited hours in line to fill up their cars, and streaking was in. The idea of muscles on a man’s body seemed as ridiculous a notion as not being allowed to smoke in a restaurant.
Despite the rampant prejudices imparted toward the strange and misunderstood community of bodybuilders on the part of the general public, Sports Illustrated was intrigued enough about this weird sub-culture to send out one of their ace writers to cover the subject for a substantial ten-page article in their October 14th, 1974 issue.
“The wolf on the hill is not as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill.”
“That’s true, but when he wants the food, it’s there.”
– Quote from the movie “Pumping Iron”
Since its inception in 1965, there have only been 13 Mr. Olympia winners. It is a very elite company and once you are declared the King of Bodybuilding, it is not easy to be dethroned. In less than three months, Phil Heath will attempt to win his fourth Mr. Olympia title. Vegas money is on him doing it again. What would it take for someone to enter the contest and knock Phil off his throne? Let’s take a look at the history of the Mr. Olympia contest to see some of the more memorable examples of when the reigning champ was defeated by the hungry wolf climbing the hill.
In 1989, after promoting eight international and professional bodybuilding competitions between them, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Lorimer decided to create their own unique competition called the Arnold Classic. When they first began promoting the Mr. Olympia contest in 1976, the Schwarzenegger-Lorimer team totally recreated the contest experience by bringing in top professionals to design the onstage sets and light the stage in a way that had never been done before. The result was an exciting and innovative experience for the audience, one never seen before at a bodybuilding competition.
In light of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s disappointing box office performance since his return to the big screen last year, I started to think about what defines a movie action hero in the year 2014. Arnold, of course, is no longer in his prime. He is 66 years old now and, despite his return to roles in which he plays an action hero, he doesn’t possess the hulking, muscular physique that catapulted him to superstardom in the 1980’s.