The premiere event in the world of professional bodybuilding kicks off this weekend (September 17-20) as the Mr. Olympia competition invades Las Vegas, Nevada.
The annual competition pits the best of the best in the world of professional bodybuilding, all striving for the title of Mr. Olympia and, of course, the $275k+ prize. Legendary competitor Phil Heath will look to win his fifth straight putting him in the upper echelon with legends of the sport like eight-time champions Lee Haney (1984-1991) and Ronnie Coleman (1998-2005).
The first Mr. Olympia competition was held September 18, 1965 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City. Founder Joe Weider created the contest to enable Mr. Universe winners to continue competition and earn money, effectively stretching out the professional bodybuilding season.
Larry Scott was the inaugural winner, the first of his two straight titles. Scott took home $50,000 for his victory and while that may not seem like a lot compared to the $275k the 2015 Mr. Olympia will take home, that $50k adjusted for inflation is roughly $378,279 in 2015 money. That’s a nice chunk of change!
The competition came to its greatest fame after the landmark bodybuilding film Pumping Iron. The film featured the buildup to the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition in Pretoria, South Africa and is famous for launching the acting careers of Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger. While Ferrigno enjoyed success on the small screen playing the role of the Incredible Hulk, Schwarzenegger became a legend of the big screen, parlaying his success in Hollywood to a notable political career, highlighted by his run as Governor of California.
While Ferrigno never did take the Mr. Olympia crown, Schwarzenegger is a seven-time winner including five consecutive titles from 1970-1975 and victories in both 1979 and 1980.
In 2000, the Ms. Olympia competition was added to Olympia Weekend giving female bodybuilders the big stage to ply their craft. Unfortunately for the rest of the competition, there hasn’t been much for the taking as America’s Iris Kyle has won an unprecedented nine straight competitions dating back to 2006. She also held the 2004 crown giving her 10 total. Thankfully for the rest of the field, Kyle announced her retirement following last year’s victory.
You can follow the action all weekend at the official Mr. Olympia website: http://mrolympia.com/2015-static/.