Take a look at the men who make up the most exclusive club in bodybuilding.
The Mr. Olympia contest has served as a gold standard, determining who in the bodybuilding universe can rightly call themselves the best in the world — for the next 364 days, at least.
Since Joe Weider endeavored the inaugural event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music back in 1965, 16 men have won the title of Mr. Olympia, starting with Larry “the Legend” Scott and most recently, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay. Each of these men has represented the pinnacle of his sport, and a number have gone up against one another in classic showdowns that are the stuff of legend. However, due to the span of time between the first and most recent editions, we’ll never get to witness all 16 champs duking it out onstage together.
Instead, we’re bringing you this gallery of champions, starting with Scott and finishing with your 2021 Sandow winner, Big Ramy.
Larry Scott was the first man to win Mr. Olympia in 1965, and went on to become the first man to defend the title in 1966. “The Legend” decided to retire after his victory in 1966 and remains the only undefeated Mr. Olympia champion.
Sergio “The Myth” Oliva went on a memorable run at Mr. Olympia, winning three consecutive titles between 1967, 1968 and 1969.
Arnold Schwarzenegger won six Mr. Olympia titles from 1970-1975 and after a hiatus from the sport, “The Oak” returned in 1980 to win his seventh Sandow.
Franco Columbu won the Sandow Trophy twice, first in 1976 and again in 1981. Renowned for the deep striation of his pecs, he was one of Arnold’s closest friends and training partners and of the biggest starts of the bodybuilding boom times of the 1970s.
Frank Zane’s three Mr. Olympia wins (1977, 1978, and 1979) mark him down as one of the legends in the sport. He also had one of the most envied physiques of all time. As our own Joe Wuebben writes: “his clean lines, efficiency of size, and near-perfect symmetry, was the pinnacle of physical beauty—at least the masculine form of it.”
Samir Bannout, also known as “the Lion of Lebanon,” was also a one-time winners, taking the top spot on the podium in 1983.
Lee Haney’s training motto was “stimulate, don’t annihilate,” and it certainly worked for him. He holds the record for most Mr. Olympia titles with eight, and he dominated the sport from 1984 through 1991
Ronnie Coleman won the Sandow Trophy a record-equaling eight times from 1998 through 2005. Known as the man with the best arms in the sport of bodybuilding, Coleman was simply untouchable during this period.
Jay Cutler is a four-time winner of the Sandow Trophy (2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010).
Dexter Jackson carved his name into bodybuilding immortality when he won Mr. Olympia in 2008.
Phil Heath had a seven-Olympia win streak from 2011-2017, tying none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger in total Mr. Olympia titles. “The Gift” has been a dominant name in the sport since his first win, and he remains one of the top competitors. He narrowly missed hitting Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney’s Olympia records when he was dethroned by Shawn Rhoden at the 2018 Olympia.
Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden pulled off an incredible upset at the 2018 Olympia, dethroning seven-time champion Phil Heath to become the 14th man to ever win a Sandow. The veteran competitor placed fifth at the 2017 Olympia, but he showed up perfectly conditioned and proportionate to snag the title from Heath just one year later. His more aesthetics-focused look is markedly different than the mass-focused look that’s been trending over the past few years.
With the Sandow being wide open for anyone to take, Brandon Curry brought the best conditioning and size to the stage to become the 15th person to be awarded Mr. Olympia.
Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay
After a whirlwind year spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay broke all expectations and became the 16th person to be crowned Mr. Olympia and hold the massive Sandow trophy.
2021 Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay
After the sudden and unexpected passing of bodybuilding great George Peterson III, the show went on with Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay winning and holding on to the Mr. Olympia, defeating former Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry and third-place finisher Hadi Choopin.