Reaction to the 1980 Mr. Olympia

1980 Mr. Olympia stage from rear B&W

In a previous post we discussed Arnold’s controversial win in 1980 – here’s a quick recap. The Austrian Oak came out of retirement without telling anyone and appeared at the Mr. Olympia competition as a competitor rather than a promoter, stood on stage, and won.

The reaction from the fans has already been discussed – boo’s and sneer’s towards someone who people termed, ‘the Greatest Bodybuilder of All-Time.’ Now this is a shock…Arnold was a fan favorite for a very long time which clearly indicates that something was out of place.

Among the competing bodybuilders Chris Dickerson, who finished 2nd ran out of the theater when the contest ended and “disappeared into the night.” Reasoning behind this is that he was not expected to place so high; maybe he feared retaliation. Frank Zane, who was the Olympia holder the previous year and who finished 3rd in 1980 either smashed his trophy on a wall in the locker room or on the pavement outside of the venue; regardless, the trophy is gone! Mike Mentzer, who was the favored winner/runner-up and who scored a perfect 300 the previous year, placed 5th and decided  to retire from the sport of bodybuilding. Finally, another favored runner-up, Boyer Coe, placed 4th and threatened to follow the same path as Mentzer.

For Arnold, well for one thing he had support from his friend Franco Columbu who decided to follow in his footsteps and came out of retirement the following year to win the 1981 Mr. Olympia – the event was boycotted by many bodybuilders including Zane, Mentzer and Coe. Arnold, after knowing Mentzer retired that night simply said that he should add a new chapter to his book: ‘How to make your competition retire.’

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