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History of the IFBB Professional League, Part 7

Submitted by IFBB Pro League Staff

THE GREAT OLYMPIA POSEDOWN

by Robert Kennedy


It’s nearly over for another year.  Arnold Schwarzenegger hits that back shot one more time and
Sergio Oliva get set to throw that arms-overhead miracle of a pose.  A few moments later, the
MC announces … "The new Mr. Olympia for 1970 … Arnold Schwarzenegger!"

Joe Weider, in the midst of it all, had gracefully consented to let all seats be sold – even to the extent of not saving one for himself.  But he wasn’t going to miss this battle of the century.  So he sat down on the floor in the center aisle right among the fans and shouted encouragement to the three muscular Olympians, along with the rest of us …

It wasn’t the $1,000.00 first prize that made an overjoyed Arnold Schwarzenegger almost pick up 200-pound moustachioed impresario, Joe Weider, and toss him up and down with grateful exuberance!  It wasn’t the silver tray, which is worth almost as much again.  Nor was it even the fact that Mr. Schwarzenegger was so warmly received by a roof-lifting, foot-stamping New York bodybuilding crowd at the plush Town Hall.

Sure, he was pleased with all this!  But his real thrill came from his final annexation of that ebony Colossus (now the second best-built man in the world) Sergio Oliva!

The simple statement from M.C. Bud Parker at the conclusion of the fabulous IFBB show … "The new Mr. Olympia for 1970 – Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Eight words which Arnold’s ears had burned to hear for so long – now reality!  Only a month before, I had visited Arnold in Gold’s gym, California, to see how the Schwarzenegger physique was shaping up.  I had seen Arnold every year since his first Universe appearance in 1966.  But this time, I was astounded.  At the conclusion of his morning workout, he asked me to appraise his posing routine.  Appraise it?  I was open mouthed!  "Arnold," I said as I watched him slide from pose to pose, "if Sergio turns up in New York, the both of you posing together side by side will lift the roof right off of the theatre."  Arnold smiled, "I want Sergio so bad," he said. "I’ve waited a whole year since last fall when Sergio took the decision in the 1969 Olympia.  He ain’t going to do that again!"  I nodded dumfounded agreement.


Just when Joe Weider, IFBB Chief, was getting used to the idea of giving Sergio Oliva
$1,000 each year, along comes a new worthy cause … Arnold Schwarzenegger, the new Mr. Olympia!

Arnold flexed a front biceps pose and watched my eyes boggle.  "I believe you Arnold," I mumbled, "you’re gonna take Sergio …"

"Ladies and gentlemen," said the genial Bud Parker, as he presented the final and most celebrated contest of the evening [earlier in the evening, the IFBB Mr. America and IFBB Mr. World contests had taken place], "Here in New York tonight, we have three top contestants for the Olympia crown.  Firstly, from California, the one and only Reg Lewis!"

Reg strolled on – the famous warm smile – the deep tan.  He has a really proportionate body with no outstanding or detracting body parts.  Although not built on the massive lines of Schwarzenegger or Oliva, he nevertheless has a most pleasing posing presentation and was not without his admirers in the audience.  He has the sort of body that I have always wanted to possess.  He looked great!

"Next," said Parker, gesturing towards the wings … "Is Arnold Schwarzenegger."

The crowd went mad.  I thought the Town Hall would crumble to the ground.  Arnold thundered through his routine quickly as though it were just a formality and then parted leaving the rostrum bare and the audience spellbound.

"Now we present the current Mr. Olympia, Sergio Oliva," announced Bud.

At the mere sound of his name, the New York crowd went mad.  Long seconds passed until finally Sergio appeared.  Incredibly, bigger than ever.  He threw all the old favourites and we all cheered his fabulous presentation …

But we all knew what we wanted most!  We had tasted the excitement last year.  Our appetites had been duly whetted.  Now we were ready for the full three course meal.  We await the famed "OLYMPIA POSEDOWN."


Reg Lewis (left) came out of retirement to do battle against
Arnold Schwarzenegger (center) and Sergio Oliva (right)

Lewis and Schwarzenegger mount the specially arranged long rostrum together and there’s a little pause until Sergio appears to complete the trio.

All three contestants are as psyched up as much as any field and track athlete before his event.  More so, Arnold is so ‘ready to go’ that he signals Sergio to shoot into any pose.  "Try what you like," he seems to say, "I’ll duplicate any pose you do Sergio … and I’ll shoot you down in flames."

Sergio does a front pose and Arnold goes into a front most muscular.  Both look fantastic.  The crowd roars approval.  Oliva goes into a three quarter back ’shot’ and Arnold twists quickly to follow suit.  We now realize that Arnold is a little denser and the more defined of the two.  Gone are the underpar legs that may have contributed to his defeat a year earlier.  Now he is flawless.  Sergio is shot down.  Arnold realises the fact and takes quick advantage.  He races into every pose that Sergio does and betters it.  Oliva kneels, twists his back with his arms above his head, his favorite.  Arnold can’t follow that!

But he quickly counters with a fabulous chest pose that upstages Sergio’s kneeling masterpiece.  Both men turn their backs on the audience so that we can compare ‘V’ shapes.  Sergio has the greatest taper. But Arnold has the most bulk and muscular massiveness.  They turn together and Arnold throws his arms out to the side proudly as though he is standing astride the world.  We know what he feels like.  This is his moment.  He has worked out on the Weider "Double-Split" System twice a day since Olvia beat him in last year’s Olympia.  Every drop of sweat he shed since that day is suddenly all worth while.  As he poses now, the words he spoke in Gold’s gym come to mind. "I want Sergio so bad. I’m going to beat him."

He shoots a double biceps and the New York crowd starts to chant … "Arnold – Arnold – Arnold."  Oliva leaves the rostrum and Schwarzenegger waves him back, challenging his sportsmanship … Sergio climbs back.  He won’t be accused of "chickening out" in any competition.

The posedown begins all over again – Lewis, Schwarzenegger, and Oliva.  But the fact that it’s Arnold’s day is now clearer than ever.  Reg Lewis is almost forgotten in this Olympia Posedown.  In a country like France, in Europe, he would undoubtedly be awarded any physical excellence title over these two goliaths.  But the city is New York.  And in New York, it is the massive, defined, herculean, animalistic MUSCLE which wins contests, and that is what Arnold and Sergio are giving us – we in the audience are not ungrateful!

Gritting teeth, straining muscle, swelling veins, stretching, twisting, flexing, "Arnold – Arnold – Arnold," the crowd continues and we all know it officially when at the completion of the posedown, Bud Parker announces the winner, "Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Time to breathe again, hands almost bleeding, throats dry and hoarse, we relax dripping wet in our seats.  On stage, Joe Weider strides across to the smiling Austrian and presents the $1,000.00 first prize.  It is Arnold’s day.  Well fought for and well deserved!


Joe Weider, IFBB Chief, congratulates Mike Katz (far left, IFBB Mr. America),
Dave Draper (left, IFBB Mr. World), and Arnold Schwarzenegger (right, MR. OLYMPIA)

 

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