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History of the IFBB Professional League, Part 9

Submitted by IFBB Pro League Staff


By Rick Wayne

Big Arnold barely won by the skin of his teeth but his tremendous symmetry and muscle density once again prevailed.

The champs call it the big one.  The one that separates the men from the boys.  As far as the fans are concerned, "it’s the only one which really matters these days."  And you’d better believe they’re all talking about the Mr. Olympia contest, the greatest bodybuilding show on earth.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took the big title in Germany for the third consecutive time last year, sums it up this way:  "With so many different organizations staging the Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe contest all over the place, you don’t know where you are.  The fans find themselves in a maze of confusion trying to sort out their champions and I know it is an exercise they do not enjoy.  If only these promoters would realize the harm they are doing the game.  Awards which once meant so much to the competitor are now fast losing their luster.

"But one thing for sure, the fans know the Mr. Olympia contest settles the question of who really is the greatest bodybuilder each year.  All the various Mr. Americas, Mr. Worlds and Mr. Universes, regardless of their affiliations, are free to do their thing on the Mr. Olympia platform.  It’s a matter of show up or shut up.  The Big O lays it straight on the line.  If  you’re as good as you think you are, come blow your horn against those IFBB guys on Mr. Olympia day.  You gotta admit it, yes sir, that contest turns out to be one helluva confusion repellent!"

Arnold has a point.  Although the Mr. Olympia contest is a full seven years old, only three men have held the coveted title.  First, there was the great Larry Scott, not surprisingly since Larry was also the first of the really great superstars of bodybuilding.  A Weider man all the way, the blond dynamo had already collected every important bodybuilding award by 1965 and was set to hang up his posing trunks when the IFBB [actually Joe Weider] devised the Mr. Olympia contest as an added incentive for the champs.  It was a great loss to bodybuilding when, having taken the Mr. Olympia title two consecutive times, Larry stepped up to the microphone at the Brooklyn Academy to announce his retirement from competitive bodybuilding, "because I want to devote more time to my family."  At the time of this writing, the two-time Mr. Olympia continues to hit the weights but expresses no desire to return to the posing platform, much to the chagrin of Scott fans the world over.

The unbelievable massiveness of Sergio Oliva
leaves the audience breathless every time
he appears on stage.

The man who took over where Larry left off has been dubbed "The Myth" by magazine writers, not without just cause, I might add.  Thousands consider him the most perfectly developed superstar of the game.  Even today, many hold him responsible for Larry Scott’s sudden retirement.  As if you didn’t know, his name is Sergio Oliva.  Sergio threw in his lot with the IFBB soon after losing the AAU Mr. America title to Bob Gadja because, as he put it at the time:  "The people who run that contest do not like the color of chocolate."

Unlike Larry Scott, Sergio did not quit, not even when he lost to Arnold Schwarzenegger while attempting to take the Mr. Olympia title for the fourth time.  He had reigned supreme for three years (one year he merely had to show his amazing physique to a New York audience since no man in the land dared appear against him) and no one would have questioned his position.  But Sergio is made of stern stuff; even after a very tough battle against Schwarzenegger in 1969, he did not quit.  Not even defeat on three occasions has stopped him.  In fact, Arnold has said that the Cuban is now better than ever.

New York fans know the excitement generated by the Mr. Olympia contest.  Who can ever forget that battle for primacy between Larry Scott and Harold Poole in 1965?  No doubt, the night Arnold appeared against Oliva for the first time will be remembered for a long time as perhaps the most exciting physique contest ever.  But wait, reports from Germany indicate that last year’s Mr. Olympia contest was the greatest.  Certainly competition was at its highest  with such stars as Franco Columbu, Frank Zane, the new sensation from Paris, Serge Nubret, and an out-of-this world Sergio Oliva bearing down on Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Many still contend Sergio should have been awarded the title.  The pictures tell an interesting story; that’s the truth.  Even Arnold has said he might have given the award to Sergio had he been a judge.  It was that close!

Will Sergio in fact emerge as this year’s Mr. Olympia?  We’ll know the answer in six months.  Come September, Tom Minichello, owner of the very successful Mid City gym in New York City, will stage the 1973 Mr. Olympia contest.  The event will be held at the Brooklyn Academy, where Sergio experienced his biggest victories.  Already Nubret, Zane, Columbu and the Cuban have announced that they will definitely be competing.

For a while it was touch and go whether or not the current kingpin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, would defend his title, what with having suffered a knee injury while on tour in South Africa.  But all’s well, the Austrian has confirmed that he will be in there to take on all comers.  Will Bill Pearl and Reg Park try their luck?  Who can say?  One thing for sure, the fans are in for a treat.  Imagine a "posedown" involving not two superstars but five, each competitor the holder of a top national title.  How will Zane’s not too massive but miraculously symmetrical physique stand up to the massiveness of Sergio Oliva?  Will Franco Columbu be the man to upset his best friend’s applecart?  And Serge Nubret, will his prediction that Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t win this year prove true?  Most important, are we to see a new Mr. Olympia record?  Will Sergio be the first to regain the big title, having lost it in 1969?  Will Arnold establish his superiority once and for all by being the first man to win the Big O four consecutive times?  Will his knee hold up to the torture sessions for which Arnold’s Mr. Olympia training is famous?  We’ll have the answers a few months from now . . . on Saturday, September 8, to be precise.  Make a note of that date, and be sure to be at the biggest Mr. Olympia of them all.


Three of the most massive-muscular backs of all time spread across the stage at the
‘72 Mr. Olympia in Essen, Germany – a majestic panorama of deltoids, trapezius
and latissimus dorsi. It looks like Sergio has the edge here … what do you think?

As an added treat, Tom has booked former Mr. Universe, George Eiferman, to MC the show.  On the same night, the country’s top stars will compete for the Mr. Universe title.  The Mr. World event is also on the cards, with such stars as Roy Callender coming, the Caribbean, Baldo Lois flying in from Spain, and two unnamed Frenchmen who will accompany Serge Nubret on his trip to New York just for the chance of competing.  It all adds up to a great night.  Be there, and celebrate yet another anniversary with the IFBB, the home of the stars.  It’s also a great opportunity to talk with your bodybuilding favorites who will be only too happy to answer your training queries.  Miss this great show and hate yourself for life!


The greatest lineup in the history of bodybuilding … (from left) Franco Columbu,
Serge Nubret, Sergio Oliva, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Frank Zane … everyone a true champion
and each in his own way the greatest specimen in the world for his body type.

Tom reports, not altogether surprisingly, that tickets are going like hot buns.  Better place your order now if you haven’t already done so.  You can call Tom at 212-565-9318 or write to him c/o Mid City Gym, 210 West 42nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10036.  You’ve been warned!

In this group shot, Arnold clearly demonstrates why he has the world’s greatest chest development …
his massive rib cage is beautifully framed with huge, clean cut pectorals.

[left] Sergio and Arnold in a straight front shot. Arnold has the edge in cuts and his biceps
overshadow Sergio’s huge but smooth arms. [right] Arnold looks a bit smooth compared to
Serge Nubret but the Oak’s overall symmetry saved him from an embarrassing upset.

Sergio appears to have the edge in this front spread … he has greater width than Arnold
and a smaller waist. Serge Nubret is impressive but his lats don’t compare with Sergio’s and Arnold’s.

Sergio’s mass against Arnold’s cuts … Arnold appears to get the best of this pose
only because Oliva was just a bit on the bulky side.


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