Lee Haney discusses the futility of comparing bodybuilding eras and uses his own comparison to Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman as proof.
It’s unavoidable in sports to compare legends from different eras in sports. Michael Jordan vs Lebrone James. Muhammad Ali vs Mike Tyson. The list can go on. The same holds true for bodybuilding. In fact, quite the controversy was stirred up when Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman both criticized current Olympia champion Brandon Curry. They both believed Brandon couldn’t hold up to their era were he to compete back then. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Lee Haney explains why comparing eras is a waste of time by comparing himself to Ronnie Coleman as an example.
Lee Haney thinks that comparing eras is a waste of time. There’s never a right answer. There’s never a way to truly have legendary competitors face off across decades (unless you have a time machine). At the end of the day, it’s just fun debating back and forth. There’s nothing wrong with that – but Lee Haney doesn’t find those kinds of conversations useful.
Lee Haney believes that each era had its own place in time. A wide variety of factors determine what each top athlete looks like in their own day and age. We have no way of knowing what a bodybuilder would look like if he had lived in a different era. There’s different science, different culture, and different expectations from judges.
Case in point, Lee Haney uses himself in comparison to other legends – Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates. Haney, of course, is a world record Mr. Olympia winner. He has eight Olympia wins – which is the most any athlete has ever achieved. He is tied in this distinction with one other athlete – Ronnie Coleman. Of course, Ronnie and Haney are two totally different looking competitors. Haney holds a more classic physique, Ronnie holds a mass monster physique unrivaled ever since.
Who would win if Ronnie Coleman faced off against Lee Haney? It doesn’t really matter. Haney admits that he couldn’t even try to build himself up to that level of muscle mass. His body just wouldn’t be able to handle it.
“It wouldn’t be wise to debase any particular era in comparison with what’s… from yesterday to today. Everybody had its own thing,” Lee Haney states in our interview. He continues:
“Like Dorian and Ronnie. My physique, I don’t think, would have ever held up with that type of mass at a 31 inch waist. I think I would have been injured. You know from bodies like that – the bone structure is a lot thicker than mine.”
Lee Haney seems to fully admit that he wouldn’t have been able to keep up with Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman. But does that take away his eight Mr. Olympia victories? Does that make him any less of a legend? Some may argue back and forth about this. But in Haney’s mind – it’s just different. Not better. Not worse. Just different.
You can watch Lee Haney’s full comments in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!