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Mr. Olympia is the title awarded to the winner of the professional men's bodybuilding contest at Joe Weider's Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend—an international bodybuilding competition that is held annually by the International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness (IFBB).[1] Joe Weider created the contest to enable the Mr. Universe winners to continue competing and to earn money. The first Mr. Olympia was held on September 18, 1965, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City, with Larry Scott winning his first of two straight titles.

The record number of wins is eight each by Lee Haney (1984–1991) and Ronnie Coleman (1998–2005). Shawn Rhoden currently holds the title.

The film Pumping Iron (1977) featured the buildup to the 1975 Mr. Olympia in Pretoria South Africa and helped launch the acting careers of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.

There is also a female bodybuilder crowned, Ms. Olympia, as well as winners of Fitness Olympia and Figure Olympia for fitness and figure competitors. All four contests occur during the same weekend. From 1994 to 2003, and again in 2012, a Masters Olympia was also crowned.

Starting in 2016, a new division called Classic Physique was introduced. Danny Hester was the inaugural champion in Classic Physique division.




The 1965 and 1966 Mr. Olympia were won by Larry Scott, a famous bodybuilder of the time. Scott subsequently retired after his 1966 victory.

Harold Poole holds two Mr. Olympia distinctions : one is that he is the youngest ever competitor to have participated in the Olympia—in 1965 he competed in the first Mr. Olympia at the age of 21; the other is that he was the only man to compete in all three of the initial Mr. Olympia contests. He was runner-up in the 1965 and 1966 shows.

The 1967 Mr. Olympia, won by Sergio Oliva, heralded a new era in bodybuilding competition. At 5 ft 10 ins and 240 lbs[2] Oliva, nicknamed "The Myth", displayed an unforeseen level of muscle mass and definition, including a "V" shape of a large and a well-formed upper-body that tapered down to a narrow waist. Oliva would go on to win the Mr. Olympia competition in 1967, 1968 (uncontested), and 1969—where he would defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger four to three, marking Schwarzenegger's only loss in a Mr. Olympia competition.


Schwarzenegger defeated Oliva at the 1970 Mr. Olympia after finishing second the year before, and also won in 1971. He defeated Oliva again in 1972, and went on to win the next three Mr. Olympia competitions, including the 1975 edition, which was highlighted in the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron and featured other notable bodybuilders such as Lou Ferrigno, Serge Nubret, and Franco Columbu, who would go on to win the 1976 and 1981 competitions.

From 1974 until 1979, a dual weight division system was used, splitting competitors into two categories: "Heavyweights" (over 200lbs) and "Lightweights" (under 200lbs). The winners of each division would then compete against each other to decide an overall champion.

After winning the 1975 competition, Schwarzenegger announced his retirement from competitive bodybuilding; this was also depicted in Pumping Iron.

Frank Zane won the 1977, 1978, and 1979 competitions. While not as physically massive as previous competitors such as Schwarzenegger, Oliva, or Ferrigno, Zane developed his physique to highlight symmetry aesthetics and definition. As such, Zane was able to defeat opponents who exceeded his own muscle-mass but lacked his level of muscular definition.

1977 was the first year the Sandow trophy was awarded.


In 1980, Schwarzenegger came out of retirement to win the Olympia yet again, after a five year hiatus. Schwarzenegger (who was supposedly training for his "Conan" movie) had been a late entry into the competition, and his competitors did not know of his intentions to compete. This seventh victory was especially controversial, as most fellow competitors and observers felt that he lacked both muscle mass and conditioning, and shouldn't have won over Chris Dickerson or Mike Mentzer. Several athletes vowed to boycott the contest the following year, and Mentzer retired for good.[3]

The following year, Franco Columbu was victorious for the second time. Chris Dickerson won his only title in 1982, and Samir Bannout won his only title in 1983. Then in 1984 Lee Haney won the first of 8 straight Mr. Olympia titles.


Haney retired from competitive bodybuilding after his last Mr. Olympia victory in 1991.

Having placed second to Haney the previous year, Dorian Yates won the competition six straight times from 1992 until 1997. Dorian is given credit for revolutionizing the sport during his reign as Mr. Olympia by combining larger mass than seen before with what was dubbed "granite hardness". The 1990s were given[by whom?] the nickname "The Growth Hormone era". Dorian was the first Mr. Olympian to experiment with the hormone[citation needed], which had succeeding bodybuilders packed with size.[incomprehensible] Subsequently, judging in professional bodybuilding competitions started placing greater emphasis on muscle mass, with many bodybuilding traditionalists commenting that muscle mass had now become the most important factor to winning, even greater than that of symmetry, aesthetics, and proportion.[citation needed]

Yates retired from competitive bodybuilding after his 1997 victory, having accumulated several injuries. Kenneth “Flex” Wheeler seemed to be the heir apparent, but Ronnie Coleman, who placed 9th in 1997, surprised everyone with a much improved physique in 1998, winning the first of 8 consecutive titles.

In 1994 Joe Weider decided to add a separate Masters Olympia competition for professional bodybuilders to continue to compete at the highest levels in their later years.[further explanation needed]


Ronnie Coleman won the Mr. Olympia competition eight consecutive times, tying the record set by Lee Haney. Coleman returned in 2006 to defend his title but instead placed second to Jay Cutler, who won his first title after four consecutive years of finishing second to Coleman. Cutler successfully defended his title in 2007. Coleman came in fourth place and announced his retirement from competition. In 2008, Dexter Jackson defeated Jay Cutler and became Mr. Olympia. In 2009, Jay Cutler became the third Mr. Olympia in history (the others being Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu) to reclaim the title, and the only Mr. Olympia in history to reclaim the title after having lost it, by returning on stage and defeating the reigning champion, Dexter Jackson, who placed third in 2009.


In 2010, Cutler returned to claim his fourth Mr. Olympia title, becoming the fifth competitor in Olympia history to win the title more than three times. In 2011, Phil Heath defeated Cutler for the title, beginning a winning streak that lasted until 2018. From 2012 to 2014, the Olympia was dominated by the rivalry between Kai Greene and Heath, with Heath winning all three and Greene placing second. In 2016, Heath won his sixth straight title, while Greene did not compete in either the 2015 or 2016 Olympia. The 2008 Mr. Olympia winner Dexter Jackson took second place in 2015 while Shawn Rhoden was runner up in 2016. Heath won his seventh-consecutive Mr. Olympia in 2017, with Mamdouh Elssbiay (better known as Big Ramy) taking second. With his 2017 win, Heath tied Arnold Schwarzenegger for second most Olympia victories, behind Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman who won eight. Shawn Rhoden defeated Phil Heath in 2018, snapping Heath's streak of seven victories.


In 2011, days after the conclusion of the 2011 Olympia Weekend, Chairman of the IFBB Professional League Jim Manion amended the qualifying rules as follows:

  • Top five in each division at the Olympia.
  • Top three in each division at the Arnold Classic/International.
  • Top two in each division at the New York Pro.
  • 1st place at all other competitions, even the Amateurs World Championship Competition.

The IFBB Professional League and Mr. Olympia 2016, LLC may offer special invites.


Year Award Overall Heavyweight Lightweight Venue
1965   Larry Scott Heavyweight category not held. Lightweight category not held.   New York, United States
1966 $1,000
1967 $1,000   Sergio Oliva
1970   Arnold Schwarzenegger
1971   Paris, France
1972   Essen, West Germany
1973   New York, United States
1974   Arnold Schwarzenegger   Franco Columbu
1975 $2,500   Pretoria, South Africa
1976 $5,000   Franco Columbu   Ken Waller   Columbus, United States
1977 $5,000   Frank Zane   Robby Robinson   Frank Zane
1978 $15,000
1979 $25,000   Mike Mentzer
1980 $25,000   Arnold Schwarzenegger Heavyweight category not held. Lightweight category not held.   Sydney, Australia
1981   Franco Columbu   Columbus, United States
1982   Chris Dickerson   London, United Kingdom
1983   Samir Bannout   Munich, West Germany
1984 $50,000   Lee Haney   New York, United States
1985   Brussels, Belgium
1986 $55,000   Columbus, United States
1987   Gothenburg, Sweden
1988 Unknown   Los Angeles, United States
1989   Rimini, Italy
1990 $100,000   Chicago, United States
1991   Orlando, United States
1992   Dorian Yates   Helsinki, Finland
1993   Atlanta, United States
1995 $110,000
1996   Chicago, Illinois, United States
1997   Los Angeles, United States
1998   Ronnie Coleman   New York, United States
1999   Las Vegas, United States
2004 $120,000
2005 $150,000
2006 $155,000   Jay Cutler
2008   Dexter Jackson
2009 $200,000   Jay Cutler
2011   Phil Heath
2012 $250,000[4]
2014 $275,000[5]
2015 $400,000
2018   Shawn Rhoden
Ranking Mr. Olympia champion Year(s) Number of wins
Overall Heavyweight Lightweight
1st   Ronnie Coleman 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 8 0 0
1st   Lee Haney 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991 8 0 0
3rd   Arnold Schwarzenegger 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 (overall & heavyweight) and 1980 7 2 0
3rd   Phil Heath 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 7 0 0
5th   Dorian Yates 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997 6 0 0
6th   Jay Cutler 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010 4 0 0
7th   Frank Zane 1977 (overall & lightweight), 1978 (overall & lightweight), 1979 (overall & lightweight) 3 0 3
7th   Sergio Oliva 1967, 1968, and 1969 3 0 0
9th   Franco Columbu 1974 (lightweight), 1975 (lightweight), 1976 (overall & lightweight), and 1981 2 0 3
9th   Larry Scott 1965 and 1966 2 0 0
11th   Chris Dickerson 1982 1 0 0
11th   Samir Bannout 1983 1 0 0
11th   Dexter Jackson 2008 1 0 0
11th   Shawn Rhoden 2018 1 0 0
15th   Robby Robinson 1977 (heavyweight) and 1978 (heavyweight) 0 2 0
16th   Kenny Waller 1976 (heavyweight) 0 1 0
16th   Mike Mentzer 1979 (heavyweight) 0 1 0
Ranking Mr. Olympia champion Years Number of consecutive wins
Overall Heavyweight Lightweight
1st   Lee Haney 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991 8 0 0
1st   Ronnie Coleman 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 8 0 0
3rd   Phil Heath 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 7 0 0
4th   Arnold Schwarzenegger 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 (overall & heavyweight) 6 2 0
5th   Dorian Yates 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997 6 0 0
6th   Frank Zane 1977 (overall & lightweight), 1978 (overall & lightweight), 1979 (overall & lightweight) 3 0 3
6th   Sergio Oliva 1967, 1968, and 1969 3 0 0
8th   Jay Cutler 2006 and 2007, 2009 and 2010 2 (twice) 0 0
9th   Larry Scott 1965 and 1966 2 0 0
10th   Franco Columbu 1974 (lightweight), 1975 (lightweight), 1976 (overall & lightweight) 1 0 3

Classic PhysiqueEdit

Year Winner Venue
2016   Danny Hester   Las Vegas, United States
2017   Breon Ansley
2018   Breon Ansley

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ " - History of Mr. Olympia". Archived from the original on 2012-11-22. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  2. ^ "Mr Olympia: Through the Years". Protein Hunter. Retrieved 2016-06-09.
  3. ^ Hansen, John. "The 1980 Mr. Olympia Controversy | Iron Man Magazine". Retrieved 2019-02-03.
  4. ^ "Mr. Olympia Prize Money Hits Record High $1mm". Muscle & Fitness. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  5. ^ Roling, Chris. "Mr. Olympia 2014 Results: Winner, Highlights, Prize Money and Twitter Reaction". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2 January 2019.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit