With the 2020 Olympia coming up in less than 2 weeks what better time to talk about how the Olympia started and evolved.

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The First Decade of Mr. Olympia Title
By Dane C. Fletcher

The genesis of the Mr. Olympia title can be traced to 1963, when Joe Weider first expressed the need for a bodybuilding title that could propel the sport to the next level. The Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe titles had become far too low to host the new generation of body builders. It was the 1965 Mr. Olympia title that finally emerged as the ultimate contest with highest prize for the greatest physique in the globe. On its inaugural contest held at Brooklyn Academy of Music, the title took professional bodybuilding to unexplored heights.

On September 18, 1965, Larry Scott the bodybuilding Legend took the crown as the predecessor of a truly trend-setting decade. Having worn the Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe titles, Scott took the first title as a crown to a life well lived. He went on to win the 1966 contest before announcing his retirement for the pro scene. That created room for Sergio Oliva, The Myth. It was Oliva who won that third contest in 1967. He was so big, so amazing that, he contested and won the 1968 Mr. Olympia contest unchallenged.

In 1969, Olivia faced his greatest challenge, which was to brew into the greatest contest rivalry in the American history of professional bodybuilding. A very young Austrian, Arnold Schwarzenegger, debuted in the Mr. Olympia contest but lost in a closely contested battle. Olivia was the first Mr. Olympia champion to take home the trophy for three consecutive years. But in 1970, Arnold stopped Olivia short to become the third body builder to take the Olympia title.

Arnold was to perform even better than his predecessors. He was unopposed in the 1971 Mr. Olympia contest held at Paris. This was the year that the contest was held anywhere outside New York. For the 1972 edition, he Mr. Olympia title was held in Essen, Germany. It was here that Arnold put to rest the battle between him and Olivia, by winning the trophy in a very close race determined by a four to three judges' vote.

Back again to New York, the 1973 Championship became Arnold's fourth consecutive title, a record but an easy win by all measures. In 1974 however, Lou Ferrigno made his debut on the New York edition, at Madison Square Garden. Arnold broke his record again and bagged the fifth Olympia title. He was not yet done since, when the Mr. Olympia title was held in South Africa for the 1975 edition, he still won and immediately retired. The 1975 Mr. Olympia title was the first to be filmed and preserved in Pumping Iron.

The 1976 Olympia contest was held moved to Columbus, Ohio, promoted by Arnold and Jim Lorimer. It was here that Franco Columbu won the Olympia title five appearances. After the win, he announced his retirement and gave Frank Zane, his greatest competitor in the 1976 contest, the leeway to win the 1977 Mr. Olympia title.


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