One fitness myth that is anything but…

B: John Platero


Sergio Oliva, “the Myth” was a Cuban refugee who defected while competing on the Cuban National weightlifting team in Jamaica. He eventually moved to Chicago and began working out at the YMCA. Oliva won the Mr. Olympia three times (1967-1969) and is the only bodybuilder to have beaten Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Mr. Olympia. He’s not as well-known as other bodybuilders because in 1973 he turned his back on Joe Weider and the IFBB. I don’t blame him. After a controversial second place to Arnold in the 1970 Mr. Olympia, he was banned from competing in the 1971 Mr. Olympia because he had competed in the NABBA Mr. Universe which was a competitive organization to the IFBB. Interestingly enough, Arnold had competed in that same contest the year before, but was allowed to compete and without the Myth to contest him, won the 1971 Mr. Olympia. This along with rumors that Weider rigged the 1970 and the 1972 Mr. Olympia contests by swapping out judges at the last minute caused Oliva to sever all ties with Weider and his organizations for 12 years!

I always admired this man’s physique. His waist was super small, in fact the smallest waist of any Mr. Olympia; 28 inches (at bodyweight of 235 lbs). The only Mr. Olympia to have larger thighs than his waist (32 inches to 28 inches) and a 30 inch difference between his chest and his waist (58 inches to 28 inches) plus his arms were massive! Many people claimed to have 20+inch arms but Arthur Jones (the inventor of Nautilus) who had measured many, many bodybuilders was to have reputedly said Oliva was the only bodybuilder whose biceps measured 20.5 inches cold and 22.5 inches pumped! Nobody else had that.

The Myth recently passed in November of 2012 and shouldn’t be forgotten. He spent his life as a police officer serving the constituents of Chicago and for many people had the greatest physique of all time!

Look how many titles he had:

  • 1963 Mr Chicago – 1st
  • 1964 Mr Illinois – 1st
  • 1964 Mr America – AAU, 7th
  • 1965 Junior Mr America – AAU, 2nd
  • 1965 Junior Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular
  • 1965 Mr America – AAU, 4th
  • 1965 Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular,
  • 1966 Junior Mr America – AAU, Winner
  • 1966 Junior Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular
  • 1966 Mr America – AAU, 2nd
  • 1966 Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular,
  • 1966 Mr World – IFBB, Overall Winner
  • 1966 Mr World – IFBB, Tall, 1st Overall
  • 1966 Mr Universe – IFBB Winner
  • 1966 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 2nd
  • 1967 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, Winner
  • 1967 Universe – IFBB, Overall Winner
  • 1968 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, Winner Uncontested
  • 1969 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, Winner
  • 1970 Mr World – AAU, Pro Tall, 2nd
  • 1970 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 2nd
  • 1971 Universe – Pro – NABBA, Tall, 2nd
  • 1972 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 2nd
  • 1972 Mr Galaxy – WBBG, 1st
  • 1973 Mr International/ Mr Azteca – IFBB, Professional, 1st
  • 1973 Mr Galaxy – WBBG, 1st
  • 1974 Mr International – WBBG, Professional, 1st
  • 1975 Mr Olympus – WBBG, Winner
  • 1976 Mr Olympus – WBBG, Winner
  • 1977 Pro World Championships – WABBA, 1st
  • 1978 Mr Olympus – WBBG, Winner
  • 1980 Pro World Championships – WABBA, 1st
  • 1980 Professional World cup – WABBA, Winner
  • 1981 Professional World Cup – WABBA, Winner
  • 1984 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 8th
  • 1984 Professional Mid-States Championships – WABBA 1st
  • 1985 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 8th [12]