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Why Have Their Only Been 10 Mr. Olympia Winners?

The Topic: Why Have Their Only Been 10 Mr. Olympia Winners? Find out what people from our popular message boards think...

TOPIC: Why Have Their Only Been 10 Mr. Olympia Winners?

In nearly 40 years since the Mr. Olympia was started, there have only been 10 Mr. Olympia winners. Why so few? Why is it that when somebody wins, they usually continue to be Mr. Olympia until they retire? Is this good or bad for the sport? Bonus question: Will Ronnie Coleman ever be de-throned?

The Winners:

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1st Place - Ravadongon

I will expand on the great point Elliot made while adding some more:

1. Too Many Clones

Every now and then someone sets a new trend in the sport of bodybuilding, may it be going primarily for symmetry or size, or looking for either that V taper or the more complete X shape which has been adapted by today's professionals. And what happens? Other bodybuilders jump on the bandwagon and get sucked into following this trend, by training and dieting in almost identical ways to this bodybuilder.

The starter of this trend is clearly a notch above the rest in that department, but what do other bodybuilders do? They copy him. Adapting the style of this bodybuilder, allows for less variation which means a much lower chance of other bodybuilders winning.

If newer bodybuilders on the scene varied their builds, by training and eating differently, not just adapting the Ronnie Coleman or 'whoever it may be' look, then we would see different winners on the podium, more frequently.

2. More Competitors

I found something interesting on another bodybuilding site the other day which contained facts about the history of Mr Olympia. Here is a small collection of interesting stats I found:

  • During the Lee Haney Years, (1984-1991), the Mr. Olympia averaged 20-21 competitors per contest.
  • During the Dorian Yates Years, (1992-1997), the Mr. Olympia averaged 18 competitors per contest.
  • During the Ronnie Coleman Years, (1998-2003) so far, the Mr. Olympia averaged 17 competitors per contest.

This shows that progressively less and less bodybuilders are competing in Mr. Olympia. If we bring more people into bodybuilding, as discussed in another topic of the week thread (WEEK THREE :: What 3 Things Could Be Done To Make Bodybuilding Mainstream?), then we'll most likely have more competitors in the Mr. Olympia, in the near future, which means a greater chance of different people taking out the title.

Another reason why we are getting less people competing could be to do with the judging, and this leads me on to my next point...

3. Who's Judging The Judges?

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With the trend being that bodybuilders are getting as big as possible, judging is following, by moving away from rewarding bodybuilders with great aesthetic appeal, to now rewarding those who are simply bigger. Sure aesthetics are still judged, but those who excel in that area are not rewarded as much as they deserve to be.

Another way the judging could be improved is by altering the panel of judges every year, so we get different opinions every year, and increase other competitor's chances of winning. At the moment the same judges are judging every year, which means it's pretty much going to be the same bodybuilder winning each year (until he retires), based on the same judges opinions.

Those I believe are the three main reasons why we have had the only 10 winners in nearly 40 years since the first Mr. Olympia was held. I don't even hesitate to believe it is good for the sport because we all like seeing someone different win, as is the case in all sports with spectators.

To answer the bonus question will Ronnie Coleman ever be dethroned: I'd have to say NO, at least not with the current methods of judging.

2nd Place - Izzy05

There are many reasons why there have been only 10 winners since the 40 years that the Mr. Olympia started. Although bodybuilding has been popular in terms of the internet as you can see here as the main example, but the reasons why are still a matter to discuss.

Bodybuilding Isn't A Major Sport

Bodybuilding still isn't labeled as a major sport like baseball or basketball, etc. The reasons why are mainly based on the concept that it really doesn't have so much attention media wise. Thus leads to the fact that little people know or have even heard about bodybuilding at all, which means less attention = no people = little competition.

The Lack Of People

As you have noticed over the years little people compete for Mr. Olympia over the years. Here are some statistics that I found on a web site:


  • The first nine Mr. Olympia contests from 1965 to 1973 averaged only 3-4 competitors per contest. Number of contestants in the Mr. Olympia were: 1965 (3), 1966 (4), 1967 (4), 1968 (1), 1969 (3), 1970 (3), 1971 (1), 1972 (5), 1973 (3). <-- As you can see in the beginning of Mr. Olympia the competitors were very little in terms of competing for the title of Mr. Olympia. But its pattern was a sort of rise and fall of competitors, don't you agree?

  • In 1974 to 1979, the Mr. Olympia has two classes, over 200, and under 200. The average number of contestants during these years climbed to 9-10 per contest. <-- At this time bodybuilding was beginning to rise in terms of competitors.

  • During 1980 - 1983, the Mr. Olympia averaged 16 competitors per contest. <-- Another increase in competitors

  • During the Lee Haney Years, 1984 - 1991, the Mr. Olympia averaged 20-21 competitors per contest. <-- Here we are at the maximum of competitors, it was very competitive since the increase of bodybuilders competing for Mr. Olympia.

  • During the Dorian Yates Years, 1992 - 1997, the Mr. Olympia averaged 18 competitors per contest. <-- Then the number of competitors decreased.

  • During the Ronnie Coleman Years, 1998-2001 so far, the Mr. Olympia averaged 17 competitors per contest. <-- The same as well.

The problem is that WE NEED MORE PEOPLE TO COMPETE for this sport. Because of the lack of people this leads to little to no competition, which is what a sport is mainly about: to show that you are the best. This then leads back to the media: We need to get the media's attention in order for more people to compete. Hey, the same thing happened to baseball and football, they were small mediocre sports, but as it got the attention of the media (newspapers, t.v's and etc.) it became popular with the people.

Children wanted to have that glory of winning as there favorite team or the people would cheer on for their favorite team or person. Because of one impact of a sport people wanted to be them and some, later on, worked hard to gain that goal or glory. Then later on it leads to these same people that will be the future football players. Or in our case future bodybuilders. Then we go to the other concept: Companies.

Major Companies Or Bust!

Major companies like Nike, Adidas & Reebok were formed based on that concept of a particular player of particular sport advertising by showing a particular sporting item or clothing, which lead to more money for the companies and the athlete.

Although Bodybuilding has a sort of major industry like ISS (also known as Integrated Sports Science: it is an industry that supplies people with supplements that help people compete in bodybuilding.) we still lack the major industry that will influence people for this sport in its entirety.

The Changes In Bodybuilding & Bodybuilders

There have been plenty of changes of bodybuilding and bodybuilders as the time changed. Since time has passed the different physiques of the bodybuilder have gradually changed. Major huge biceps, to major huge triceps and pectoral muscles, etc. As the years pass the physique of the bodybuilder has changed a lot, since new machines have been introduced or revamped in that kind of matter.

Also, supplement wise, we have seen a lot of new supplements in terms to help the bodybuilder for that boost in competitions. In the beginning bodybuilders had little to no supplements to support themselves, so they were mainly all natural bodybuilders. But as the years passed new supplements appeared with the help of science and the new technology we have today to help support bodybuilders as a boost to enhance their abilities to become stronger.

Which today is more competitive and difficult for the natural bodybuilders and also every bodybuilder competing? The main importance of this toward the 40 year span for Mr. Olympia is the fact that the more things that are introduced, the harder it is to compete and win.

Speaking of which, the history of bodybuilding (which will be provided by the link below) is explained from 1965-1999. From the starting of it all from what had occurred from that time. It is a really educating experience.


These 4 reasons are why I think there only have been 10 Mr. Olympia's after 40 years.

Then there is another question being asked: Why is it that when somebody wins, they usually continue to be Mr. Olympia until they retire? Is this good or bad for the sport?

The answer is mainly because, in the perspective of that person they always want a challenge from a new person. Think about it in your concept: what would you want, a better challenge or none at all? Plus, the reason why they continue to compete is because of the benefits of actually winning more than one competition. More wins for Mr. Olympia = more organizations willing to use this person for advertising or commercials = $$ for bodybuilder.

And the answer to whether or not it is good or bad to the sport it is actually both to be exact. As you can see people always want to see someone challenge the "Mr. Olympia", which would mean a lot of competition toward the bodybuilders and Mr. Olympia and a lot of people coming to see this competition. But, it may be also a bad thing as well because if Mr. Olympia wins in a repeated process then it wouldn't be of anyone's interest to even go anymore because of the predictable outcome. Thus leads to a 50/50 outcome of wether or not it may be good or bad for the sport, because either way it would lead to both, but only depending on what you assess.

:Bonus question:

Will Ronnie Coleman ever be dethroned?

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I think that Ronnie Coleman, probably will never be dethroned in his title of "Mr.Olympia". Unless he breaks a portion of his body in which he cannot lift or cannot workout for a certain amount of time.

Since as a result you will be a more weaker than you are before you broke that certain area, which leads to a difficult and time consuming recovery (physical therapy).

This will make it difficult to gain back "Mr. Olympia" after the recovery for Ronnie Coleman (if this does happen to him). Any who, in conclusion I think that Ronnie Coleman will continue to live on with his reputation.

3rd Place - ~jAmeZ~

I suspect that the primary reason is market pressure.

Weider owns bodybuilding. Having bankable stars helps Weider sell magazines and products.

Weider figures out which bodybuilder is most adored by the public. Then he gives that bodybuilder the ultimate credential (a Mr. Olympia title). He turns a popular star into a SUPER star. Who'd complain? After all, their guy WON!

Bingo. A license for Weider to print money. A bankable star to promote your products.

It makes sense from a business point of view to create multiple-time champions.

Most importantly, it eliminates risk for Weider. Imagine if NIKE could create their own stars! If Michael Jordan had only a couple of good seasons (and then bombed out), NIKE would have wasted millions in signing him to endorse their products. If you KNEW who the big star was going be in a particular sport, and how long they were going to be a big star for, you couldn't lose.

Fame is also related to consistency, and bank ability. The longer you are famous (famous for achieving great feats), the bigger star you become. The bigger star you are, the more you're worth to Weider. Weider builds up a huge fan base, which in turn equates to a large market of people eager to buy anything and everything related to the object of their worship.

So in answer to the bonus question: When Coleman is no longer useful to Weider, someone else will win. Or Coleman will just retire!

Bodybuilding champions do go to great efforts and have fantastic physiques. But I suggest that the issue here is a--well--a hidden agenda!

Weider OWNS bodybuilding. It is in his best interest to have multiple-time champions. That's why I think there's been so many. Coleman is the current Golden Child.

PS. Just want to have a comment on "Mr. O competitors are declining". Actually, there were fewer competitors in the Schwarzenegger era. Then more people got into bodybuilding after the Arnold era. Now it's in decline again. That could indicate that participation peaked around the time of a SUPER SUPER star and is now in a slowing declining again.