There’s no one like Ronnie Coleman.
Bodybuilding, just like many other sports, is well-known for the rare and consistent winning streaks achieved by a select-few athletes that have graced the competitive stages – dominating the competition and leaving a legacy that will be forever unrivaled. In basketball it was Michael Jordan, in baseball it was Babe Ruth, and Bodybuilding has Ronnie Coleman. There is no denying that Arnold Schwarzenegger made a huge impact on the sport as he basically helped build it, but Ronnie Coleman transformed it into something completely different.
Ronnie Dean Coleman, nicknamed “The Greatest of All Time” by fans, won the prestigious Mr. Olympia contest for eight consecutive years, dominating the field from 1998 to 2005. Each Bodybuilding era is special for its own reasons, Larry Scott popularized the sport/ movement in the 60’s, Arnold Schwarzenegger made it go mainstream, Dorian Yates gave bodybuilding a unique aura of dominance and Ronnie Coleman completely changed the game after he shocked the world in 1998.
A Rocky Start
Ronnie Coleman, standing at 5’11 and weighing in at approximately 280lbs, dominated the Mr. Olympia contest for almost an entire decade, beating the likes of Flex Wheeler, Kevin Levrone, Jay Cutler and Shawn Ray for a whole era, surprisingly enough, it wasn’t always like that. Coleman, before having the big dream of winning the Olympia just like any other amateur bodybuilder, enjoyed working out, a hobby that is shared with thousands of people around the world; little did Ronnie know that he would one day be a legend among men.
Coleman didn’t always dominate the sport and even though he had a short but successful amateur career, which ended with his win at the 1991 IFBB World Amateur Championships, he previously got bested at the NPC Nationals by Kevin Levrone and Flex Wheeler, competitors that he would later move on to defeat at the Olympia stage. From the beginning of his career and once he decided to give Bodybuilding his all, it was clear that his potential was unheard-of but he was simply overshadowed by other competitors who “showed more promise”. Ronnie Coleman wasn’t always the invincible champion that we know now with millions of fans supporting his every move, he was once an underdog who dreamt of greatness.
As a professional his career got off to a rocky start, Ronnie wasn’t placing bad but he wasn’t winning all of the shows he entered either, it’s highly likely that 90’s fans (and judges) favored other athletes as possible candidates to take over the Olympia throne once Dorian “The Shadow” Yates retired – but surprisingly enough the unexpected happened. After placing 15th at the 1994 Mr. Olympia and 11th at the 1995 event, Ronnie Coleman went on to consistently place top-six in all of the shows he entered in 1996, including the Mr. Olympia.
Coleman’s streak slowed down in 1997 after a disappointing 9th place at the Olympia, a 7th place at the Spanish Grand Prix and a 4th place at that year’s Arnold Classic. Just one year later, in 1998, Coleman completely changed the sport and won the 1998 Mr. Olympia, leaving the Bodybuilding world in complete and utter shock. The physique that Coleman presented on stage at the Madison Square Garden in New York City was unlike anything the fans or judges had ever seen before, his size and conditioning along with the symmetry and proportions were breathtaking. October 10th 1998 marked the day in which Ronnie Coleman left a permanent mark on Bodybuilding that will probably never be seen again, he truly did the unbelievable.
Head on over to page two as we entertain the ultimate question – can anyone today hold up to the greatness that is Ronnie Coleman? Find out by clicking page 2!