Joe Weider’s Bodybuilding Hall of Fame was launched in 1999 to celebrate the achievements of those who have made an impact in establishing, shaping and developing our sport. To qualify for the Hall of Fame, a candidate must have made a major and lasting contribution to bodybuilding and must have been retired from competition for at least five years.
Over the next several days, IFBBPRO.com is proud to feature the four inductees for 2009, with profiles by Joe Roark.
Born August 23, 1965, in Fresno, California
Like Levrone, Flex Wheeler is inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He earns that distinction by sculpting one of the most aesthetic physiques, and one thought by many to be the best never to win a Mr. Olympia title.
In seven tries as the Olympia, he was runner-up three times - in 1993, 1998 and 1999 to Dorian Yates, then Ronnie Coleman, twice. His placings in the Mr. O yielded an average of fourth. His overall pro record shows he placed top five in 29 of his 33 events.
Flex Wheeler was born August 23, 1965, in Fresno, California, and took up weight training as a teenager. After some early AAU contests, including a medium-tall class victory at the 1985 Teen Mr. America and a heavyweight win at the 1985 Governor’s Cup, he switched to the NPC. He snagged fifth place among the light-heavies at the 1989 Nationals, and a second place among the heavyweights two years later at the same contest. In 1992, he won the heavyweight and overall at the NPC USA and earned a pro card, which he cashed in for four consecutive pro wins right out of the gate in 1993 - a feat matched only by Mike Francois the following year. Wheeler won the Ironman, the Arnold Classic, and the French and German Grand Prix contests within the span of exactly one month.
By the time of his retirement, a decade later, he had won 16 of his 33 pro contests (from age 27 to 37). Several interruptions faltered what could have been an even better professional bodybuilding career for Wheeler. There was a car crash that resulted in a neck brace and dropped him out of the 1994 Mr. Olympia, a reported attack by ninjas that knocked him out of the 1997 Mr. Olympia and kidney failure that essentially put an end to his top-level competitive days.
Wheeler once revealed that both the highlight and lowlight of his career occurred in 1996 when he won the Night of Champions and lost the Arnold Classic to Kevin Levrone. A highlight of his personal life occurred a year later; since June 28, 1997, he has been married to Madeline Ann Love.
Following his third-place finish at the 2000 Olympia, Wheeler announced on the internet, "I won’t be competing as a professional bodybuilder anymore." That lasted until the following year, when he ended in seventh at the Olympia. He was back onstage in early 2003, placing third in the contest that had begun his record string a decade earlier, the Ironman, which proved to be the end of his pro career. Oh, but what a career it was.
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