His muscle separation, abs, his balance—everything about Rhoden’s physique is world-class, and the conversation in Las Vegas and online were rightfully focused on that. So no, to be clear, his victory isn’t a fluke. This isn’t a case of Heath “losing” the crown; Rhoden won it, because he took the time, did the work, and was the right choice on the right night.
When you consider all that, Rhoden’s win should not have been considered a major upset. His nickname is “Flexatron,” but I have always referred to him as the modern-day Flex Wheeler because of his marvelous lines, set off by what must be a 28 or 29-inch waist.
“My coach, Chris Aceto, told me to just concentrate on my training, not worry about what others were saying or doing,” Rhoden said after his victory. “Just stay in your lane. If you show up at your best, nobody will beat you.”
Only one Mr. Olympia, Frank Zane, had a BMI that was close to that of an average American man. Ronnie Coleman, on the other hand, was winning Mr. Olympia competitions in the late 1990s through mid-2000s with a BMI that technically classified as “obese.” We charted the average American male overtime to reflect the changes in their BMI relatively to the years.
It wasn’t said with arrogance, just simple confidence. “Everyone talks about Phil Heath’s back double biceps shot, but that’s only one pose,” Rhoden said. “I’m wider, with a much smaller waist, and I will be dry.”
Fast forward four days. I needed to return to Gold’s on Thursday to add to the video. After finishing, I was walking out of the gym when Chris Lewis, who is part of Rhoden’s training team, came up to me and said, “I want you to take a look at Shawn. You’ve got the eye, and I respect your opinion.”
From 1974 until 1979, a dual weight division system was used, splitting competitors into two categories: “Heavyweights” (over 200lbs) and “Lightweights” (under 200lbs). The winners of each division would then compete against each other to decide an overall champion.
Ronnie Coleman won the Mr. Olympia competition eight consecutive times, tying the record set by Lee Haney. Coleman returned in 2006 to defend his title but instead placed second to Jay Cutler, who won his first title after four consecutive years of finishing second to Coleman. Cutler successfully defended his title again in 2007. Coleman came in fourth place and announced his retirement from competition. In 2008, Dexter Jackson defeated Jay Cutler and became Mr. Olympia. In 2009, Jay Cutler became the third Mr. Olympia in history (the others being Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu) to reclaim the title and the only Mr. Olympia in history to reclaim the title after having lost it, by returning on stage and defeating the reigning champion Dexter Jackson who placed third in 2009.
It was a typical sunny, energy-filled Sunday afternoon at Gold’s Gym, Venice. I had made the 28-mile excursion from Pasadena to the Mecca to meet up with Bill Comstock, the noted photographer and videographer, to record “The Swami’s” 2018 Olympia predictions.
I had already turned in my Olympia predictions to Bodybuilding.com, and the video was also completed, so no changes were made. I had him in the top six, but not beating Heath, and probably coming in behind Big Ramy and possibly Dexter Jackson as well. And I knew right at that moment that I very well might be wrong.
Frank Zane won the 1977, 1978, and 1979 competitions. While not as physically massive as previous competitors such as Schwarzenegger, Oliva, or Ferrigno, Zane developed his physique to highlight symmetry aesthetics and definition. As such, Zane was able to defeat opponents who exceeded his own muscle-mass but lacked his level of muscular definition. 1977 was the first year the Sandow trophy was awarded.