I was browsing the Internet today and started comparing champs of yesteryear to the freakish monsters of today. Looking at the pictures it’s quite obvious that Arnold Schwarzenegger probably wouldn’t even qualify for the nationals today, and lining him up next to the alien monster freaks that currently grace the pro podiums, he looks like a ballet dancer. But he has something today’s champs don’t have: a waist that that doesn’t look like he’s eight months pregnant and shape and elegance; not just a massive chunk of veiny beef hooked up 24/7 to a Human Growth Hormone drip.
Here’s a pic of Arnold mid-to-late 70s.
Here’s Ronnie Coleman ca 2005(?).
Who would you rather look like? In my not-so-humble opinion the sport has been ruined by excessive (I mean REALLY excessive) drug use, corporate exploitation and greed and going for grotesque size for the sake of grotesque size. The sport has taken a turn from being a sub-culture of physique perfection to a barely-human freak show. As much as I can’t help being blown away by the top names in the game today, it’s nothing I would ever pursue myself (not that I would have a chance anyway). The last Mr. Olympia that would qualify as a physique perfectionist and not a beef monster is Lee Haney.
Lee Haney, the last humanoid champ of a dead sport.
So there you have it. Like many things in life, the best of the best came out of the 70s. I know, I know; I can almost here you going “another old man yammering ‘everything was better when I was young'”. Well, it just so happens that sometimes it’s true. Personally (and it is my blog, so I can say whatever I want) I doubt I would include any pro after Lee Haney in my own private top-ten pantheon of all-time greats (although I admit to having irrational soft-spots for Dorian Yates and Markus Ruhl, perhaps because they’re so darn cute). It used to be that you had to win Mr Universe (World Championships today) to qualify for the Big O, but these days they seem to be handing out pro cards left and right. Without a steady flow of freaks, the business isn’t profitable.