Chris Cormier shares behind-the-scenes stories of a young Ronnie Coleman struggling through low placings at Mr. Olympia before he became The King.

While it’s exciting to focus on the grand victories and high points of legendary athletes, it’s almost more interesting to get an inside look at their earlier years. The time before a legend knows that he will become a legend. Nothing’s guaranteed. Did the person consider giving up? How close were they to leaving it all behind and not becoming the legend we know today? There’s no denying that Ronnie Coleman is a bonafide legend in bodybuilding. But his early years did not signal such greatness with low placings at the Olympia. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Chris Cormier shares inside stories of Ronnie Coleman’s mindset during his early year struggles before becoming a true legend.

Fans of bodybuilding know Ronnie Coleman is one of, if not the singular, best bodybuilder in history. It’s also somewhat common knowledge that his success came suddenly and shocked athletes and fans of the time alike. Ronnie’s early years were filled with struggle on the stage. He could barely place at the Mr. Olympia landing in the 15th spot way behind his peers. All of that changed in 1998 – which started the beginning of his legendary reign.

Many people already know this story. But it’s one thing to see it from the outside and another thing entirely to see it from the inside. During the filming of Ronnie Coleman: The King, we interviewed a wide variety of his bodybuilding peers to get an inside look into who the man behind the muscle really is. Unfortunately, not everything could fit into the movie. That’s why we are now unearthing cut footage from our GI Vault series.

In this extended clip, Chris Cormier recalls the early years of Ronnie Coleman. He knew him well throughout his career and shared a lot of moments with him backstage. He describes a quit and even somewhat shy man that took some time to come out of his shell.

We asked Chris Cormier to share some stories from those early years. What was Ronnie Coleman like backstage when he placed so low in his first few Mr. Olympia competitions? How did he deal with the loss and struggle?

Chris Cormier recalls that Ronnie never seemed outwardly frustrated. But that might have been part of his quiet and composed personality. Ronnie Coleman admitted during our interview for the film that he was actually close to giving up. Cormier didn’t see that from his time spent with Ronnie. But what he did recognize, is that Ronnie didn’t seem to believe he could actually win the Mr. Olympia. At least, not during those early years. It’s almost as if he was resigned to mediocrity.

Of course, as we all know that all changed. Ronnie Coleman may have been close to quitting, but he never did. He carried on and eventually became a legend. The King in many people’s eyes. But Chris Cormier provides us an exciting look into a man before the glory. To get a first hand account from one of his peers just helps humanize the man behind the legend. It’s a worthwhile watch indeed.

You can watch Chris Cormier detailing Ronnie Coleman’s early years in our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview segment above. You can also watch Ronnie Coleman: The King on digital today. Click here or the banner below to stream or download!

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Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.