The History of the Mr.Olympia Contest

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As the New Year is finally upon us with all of its grandeur and its unmet resolutions, we can’t help but enter the gym and think to ourselves “Hope the Bench Press line-up will soon disperse.” But, our minds also wander to the men and women whose New Year resolutions never die out; the ones who want to be the best they can be; the ones who will walk the stage at the Mr.Olympia weekend. We are still ways away from Olympia 2018 but we are positive that Heath and the gang are going at it and prepping for the upcoming competition. Here at EII, with no hopes of reaching the Olympia stage, we settle with the History of the Mr. Olympia contest. In the 1960s, seeing that bodybuilders were leaving the scene to pursue careers outside the realm of iron, a decline in the sport seemed inevitable. In particular, this was the case for Larry Scott. Having won all of the titles available to him (competitions were a ‘one and done’ situation) Scott decided that retirement was the next logical/forced move. At that point, Joe Weider invented the Mr.Olympia contest; a place where all past winners could return to the stage and prove that they were the best in the business. In 1965, the first Mr.Olympia competition kicked off in Brooklyn New York, crowing Larry Scott as the first Mr.O. Up until 1999 the Mr.Olympia contest was given the same treatment as the Olympic Games; despite the contest being held yearly rather than every four years, the Mr. O moved from location to location to finally settle in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now the history behind the name itself is fuzzy however. Joe Weider, in his autobiography ‘Brothers of Iron’ explains that the name ‘Olympia’ came to him while he was having lunch with his wife Betty. Either he, or Betty, or a third party was drinking a beer called ‘Olympus’, when all of a sudden Weider was hit by the spark of Iron inspiration; “I shall call it, Mr.Olympia.” If this is true or not is unknown to us. We do know, however, that Weider acknowledged that bodybuilding was an extension and representation of the Greek ideal which means ‘Olympia’ could be linked to Mount Olympus where the famed ripped Gods resided. Regardless, Weider’s decision to create this contest of Champions ensured bodybuilding’s survival and allows fans everywhere to marvel at the best of the best.

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