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.
From a bygone era before excessive drug use, corporate greed, chain gyms and “personal trainers” (give them a wiiide berth) ruined the sport. Yeah, “the good old days”, I said it! Nobody has even come close to Tom Platz in quad development. Nobody ever will. Major inspiration. Was then. Is now. Always will be.
Even though there always has been a little bit of doping in the sport, at least since the mid-sixties, it was still a genuine sport and culture of body perfection. Lee Haney was the last “real” Mr Olympia. Everything since has been chemical freakoids more suited for a zoo exhibition or a horror movie than a gym or a bodybuilding podium.
The good old days. Picture credit: Google image search.
Joe Weider died yesterday of heart failure at the age of 93. Although he never knew, he played an integral part in my life. For those of you who don’t know who he was, he, along with his late brother Ben, popularized the sport of bodybuilding. Without him there would be no Arnold Schwarzenegger, no IFBB and no Mr Olympia. Regarding Arnold, that might have been a good thing depending on where you stand.
In my opinion bodybuilding has been ruined in the later decades as the Champions became like freakish chemical monsters. Back in the day, while there may have been some steroids, it was more a true culture of fitness and physique perfection. Today it’s a carnival sideshow.
Joe was in some ways a controversial figure, and many considered him to be a ruthless business man. When all is said and done, at the end of the day, I think the world is a better place because of him. I do not hold him responsible for the status of bodybuilding today.
I’m too lazy to write a proper eulogy for Joe, so I’ll just link to his Wikipedia page and post a picture of him.
Joe Weider, “The Master Blaster”, passes away at the age of 93
Just took a quick peek at the photo galleries on Bodybuilding.com from the event on Sept. 30th in Las Vegas. It used to be I looked forward to this show for months and I couldn’t wait for the muscle mags to reach the news stands to find out the results and look at the pics. This year (and the past few) with instant streaming coverage on the Internet I didn’t even remember until it was long over.
From looking at the pics I think pro bodybuilding has taken a step back from the beastly era of Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates. Good thing/bad thing? Dunno, don’t care, they’re all doped to the hilt anyway, but the top 3 this year wouldn’t have made the finals in 2000.
And who the fuck is Shawn Rhoden? It used to be you had to win a Mr Universe competition before being eligible to compete in Mr Olympia. So now they’re handing out pro cards to every Tom, Dick and Harry? WTF?