Mr. Olympia 1984: Shirley Haney, Lee Haney, Joe Weider
The 1984 Mr. Olympia captured bodybuilding at a crossroads. It was a clash of its past and its future. The past was best represented by the legendary Sergio Oliva, one of three previous Mr. Olympias in the lineup. But the past was also the venue. Bodybuilding’s ultimate contest was back, after 10 years away, in New York City, where the first six Mr. Olympias were staged, and back in the Felt Forum of Madison Square Garden, its home in 1974. The future was clear from the moment he appeared at center stage. It was 24-year-old Lee Haney, who won his first of a record-breaking eight Olympia titles on November 3, 1984.
Let’s journey now to the year of “Purple Rain,” Valley girls, and The Terminator, and relive the 1984 Mr. Olympia, one of the greatest bodybuilding contests of all time.
MR. OLYMPIA 1984 LINEUP
There were 20 competitors in the 1984 Mr. Olympia.
We breakdown the 10 that mattered most on that November day in the order they appeared onstage.
The audience of 5000 wouldn’t have to wait to see “The Myth” in person. When competitors drew numbers at the Doral Inn, Sergio Oliva drew #1. It was the first-time Oliva, winner of three straight Mr. Olympias (1966-69) had appeared at an Olympia since the 1972 contest, when he controversially lost to Arnold Schwarzenegger even though The Myth was at his lifetime best then. Twelve years. For twelve long years, while he quarreled with the IFBB, Oliva dominated lesser contests in lesser federations and worked as a Chicago policeman. His legend grew even as his prime slipped away. In his absence, Olympia standards had changed. The fuller, smoother look of the late ’60s and early ’70s was out; the drier, leaner look was in.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the greatest-ever Mr. Olympia. Our first contestant is the one and only Sergio Oliva!” promoter and emcee Wayne DeMilia bellowed at prejudging. The Myth at 43, not as mythical as before, sauntered to the Felt Forum’s center stage. As he struck poses, the crowd roared its approval as if it was ’72 all over again, but by modern standards Oliva was smooth-ish and his middle-aged wheels were somewhat deflated. Still, when competitor #1 hit his trademark, arms-over-head victory pose, it wowed all lucky enough to witness it. And that’s what the New York audience had come to experience. They’d come to see The Myth, of those black-and-white magazine photos, in person, in 3-D and Technicolor, and they roared ever louder.
The 5’7″ Samir Bannout was 4 days shy of 29. Largely on the basis of his crisp conditioning and stupendous back, “The Lebanese Lion” had won the Mr. Olympia, his first pro victory, the year before, defeating rookie Lee Haney. That was then. This time his recurring problems with water retention again blurred him. Bannout wasn’t sharp enough to defend his title, and Haney neutralized his strength and eclipsed him in the back poses.
Tom Platz caused a sensation at the 1981 Mr. Olympia when his already-stupendous legs exploded to mind-blowingly colossal and zippered dimensions and his upper body was transformed, as well. After a controversial third that year, he was the early favorite in 1982, but a severe biceps tear and delayed surgery effectively ended his career. Sixth at the 1982 Mr. Olympia and off stages in 1983, Platz was making something of a comeback in ’84.
But, as much as he tried to hide it in poses, you couldn’t overlook his depleted right arm, and his conditioning was hazy. He competed three more times the next three years, but by the 1984 Mr. Olympia, Tom Platz, once heralded as the Mr. O heir apparent and still only 29, was washed.
Like Albert Beckles himself, the emcee claimed the ageless Barbadian-Brit was “54 years old.” In fact, he was 46, which still made him the oldest competitor. And he was still one of the best, finishing fourth. Beckles won two pro shows in 1984. And the next year he won another, and, at 47, placed second in the Mr. Olympia. Beckles did it all on the strength of his superb conditioning. In the rear double biceps, his back was a relief map of peaks and valleys, and his pointy biceps sported two of bodybuilding’s all-time highest peaks.
After dominating amateur bodybuilding the year before, winning both the NPC Nationals and the heavyweight World title, Bob Paris was making his much-anticipated pro debut. And, like Lee Haney, he was only 24. Was he the future? Coming into the Olympia, it seemed very possible that the aesthetically flawless Paris would be contending for bodybuilding’s ultimate prize for years to come. The 5’11” and 235-pound Paris had all an ideal structure and all the right muscle in all the right places, but he lacked the high-def look of competitors like Beckles. He competed in four more Mr. Olympias in his eight-year career, but his seventh this year was Paris’ highest Olympia placing.
After winning the 1982 Mr. Olympia, Chris Dickerson stayed off stages for two years before making this ill-advised comeback at 45. Frequently out-sized, Dickerson was significantly smaller than before and suffered a humbling placing out of the top 10—far and away the lowest of his storied career.
On the other hand, German, 36-year-old Jusup Wilkosz never looked better. His 6′ and 230-pound physique was Herculean, with especially thick pecs, delts, and abs; and his grainy conditioning was on-point. Wilcosz displayed it all with appropriately classical poses, and was justly rewarded with a bronze medal finish, his highest Olympia placing. Wilcosz competed only once more.
Roy Callender or Tom Platz should’ve won the 1981 Mr. Olympia. But Callender was too low (fourth) then and too high (fifth) this time. 1984 was something of a comeback, but Father Time finally caught the 44-year-old Canadian from Barbados, as he had lost much of the thickness that won him pro shows a few years prior. Callender retired afterwards, only to comeback again, briefly and unsuccessfully, in 1987.
Lee Haney had been a rookie sensation the year before at only 23, winning his pro debut and finishing third in his first Mr. Olympia. But competing seven times, he was always dieting in 1983, and, at 5’11 and 228 pounds, he felt deflated at the 1983 Mr. Olympia, finishing behind 205-pound Samir Bannout and 160-pound Mohammed Makkawy. So, he stayed off stages in 1984 until the Olympia, training with skyrocketing, 21-year-old Rich Gaspari (who won his class at the Nationals and World Championships that year), growing, maturing, transforming.
In one of the most dramatic one-year transformations in bodybuilding history, 24-year-old Lee Haney showed up at the Mr. Olympia with a new physique: 243 lean pounds on an X-frame and an unbeatable combination of size and aesthetics. Mass with class. Haney easily won his first of a record-setting eight Mr. Olympias.
It’s remarkable that Mohamed Makkawy was runner-up in two consecutive Mr. Olympias when you consider he was only 5’2″ and 160 pounds. But that’s why he was nicknamed “The Magic Egyptian.” Through his masterful posing, Makkawy displayed his symmetrical physique so as to cast a spell, making spectators forget his small stature. He was second in the 1983 Mr. Olympia, just ahead of rookie Lee Haney, and second again this year, just behind Haney. Though only 31, Makkawy then retired, at very near the top of bodybuilding, though he did make a comeback in the late ’90s.
MR. OLYMPIA 1984 EYEWITNESS REPORTS
Rick Wayne, then the editor-in-chief of Flex magazine, attended the 1984 Mr. Olympia and wrote about it in his book Muscle Wars. These are excerpts from that book:
At the sound of [Sergio’s] name, the house exploded. New York had given birth to the Olympia. The city had also made Oliva. The rousing cheer inevitably had a tone of self-satisfaction, the crowd honoring what it smugly deemed its own creations. Sergio got his first standing ovation before he’d even made it to the stage.
So right now you’re probably asking yourself, “Was the ’84 Olympia truly the greatest ever?” After all, it boasted three former Mr. Olympia winners: Oliva, Dickerson, and Bannout. Alas, none was in the shape that had previously won him special distinction.
Sergio may have underestimated the competition. But then, who could have anticipated a transformed Lee Haney? Never before had a physique contestant so easily outclassed his opposition. Not only were Lee’s best bodyparts—back, chest, waist, thighs—better than ever, but previously weak areas were now in harmony with the rest of his incredible development. From the moment Haney stepped onstage you knew that Dickerson’s ambition—and Samir Bannout’s—to win the Big O more than once would remain a pipe dream, in 1984, at any rate.
Lee thanked the audience for its support. “It’s been a wonderful night for Shirley [his wife] and me,” he said. “I have achieved my dream. But I also want to say that meeting Sergio Oliva will always be one of the highlights of my life.” Attaboy. Throughout the contest Lee had treated Oliva with reverence. Sergio was hardly a threat on this occasion, and Lee saw no reason to parade over him, unlike some who ended up losers anyway.
The late Shawn Perine also attended the 1984 Mr. Olympia, when only a young fan, and he summed it up in Flex magazine in 2007:
Precontest, Sergio Oliva’s return to the Olympia stage was all the talk; postcontest, the name Lee Haney was on everyone’s lips. Oliva’s “comeback” into the IFBB fray had been magazine fodder for much of the year leading up to the 20th installation of the Olympia. Certainly, the legend, even at 43, had size aplenty left, but whether he could achieve the level of definition necessary to compete in the ’80s was open to speculation. Oliva did a respectable job of matching the conditioning requirements of the era, but it didn’t matter much in the end. Nor did the efforts of the other 18 competitors not named Haney. At 243 pounds, with the greatest back ever seen atop such a miniscule hip structure, Haney simply blew his competition out of the arena and onto Eight Avenue. The moment the 24-year-old took the Madison Square Garden stage, it was game over. Immediately, fans began to wonder aloud whether this was the man who could break Schwarzenegger’s record of seven O victories—Haney would eventually win eight.
MR. OLYMPIA 1984 RESULTS
November 3, 1984 / Madison Square Garden, New York City
1. Lee Haney ($50,000)
2. Mohamed Makkawy ($25,000)
3. Jusup Wilkcosz ($10,000)
4. Albert Beckles ($6000)
5. Roy Callender ($4000)
6. Samir Bannout ($2500)
7. Bob Paris ($2000)
8.Sergio Oliva ($2000)
9. Tom Platz ($1000)
10.Bob Birdsong ($1000)
13. Boyer Coe
15. Bill Grant
17. Robby Robinson
18. Hubert Metz
19. James Gaubert
20. Appie Steenbeek
Who won the 1984 Mr. Olympia? ›
Ronnie Coleman won the Mr. Olympia competition eight consecutive times, tying the record set by Lee Haney.Who is the highest Mr. Olympia winner? ›
The most Mr Olympia wins is held by both Lee Haney (1984–1991) and Ronnie Coleman (1998–2005) with 8 titles each. We can say for certain, we'll be in for a treat for 2020!Who is the 7 time Mr. Olympia? ›
Phillip Jerrod Heath (born December 18, 1979) is an American IFBB professional bodybuilder. He is a seven-time Mr. Olympia winner, having won the competition every year from 2011 to 2017.Who is the youngest Mr. Olympia winner? ›
Schwarzenegger's 1970 victory made him the youngest winner ever (23 years, 2 months). Chris Dickerson became the oldest (43 years, 1 month) when he took home top honors in 1982.Did Arnold ever lose Mr. Olympia? ›
Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback
Having lost the Mr. Olympia title to Sergio Oliva in 1969, Schwarzenegger returned stronger to win his maiden title in 1970. Oliva finished second. Following this, the Twins actor began his epic run of six consecutive titles.
The regulatory body that oversee the Mr. Olympia competition – the International Federation of Bodybuilding – adopted the World Anti-Doping Code in 2003 and have continued working to keep the sport free of steroids and other banned substances.Who won Mr. Olympia 3 times in a row? ›
Frank Zane is an enigma in the world of bodybuilding. During his career, Frank Zane actually competed in the lighter-weight division (<200lbs). However, even at this smaller weight, Frank still managed to win 3 consecutive Mr. Olympia titles.Who is the 3 time Mr. Olympia? ›
16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV, three-time reigning Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead will attempt to continue his legacy with a fourth consecutive Olympia title.Who is the strongest bodybuilder of all time? ›
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
Who is the goat of Mr. Olympia? ›
|Weight||Contest: 300 lb (136 kg) Off season: 315 lb (143 kg)|
|Pro-debut||IFBB World Amateur Championships 1992|
|Best win||IFBB Mr. Olympia 1998–2005|
To put it lightly, Ronnie Coleman is regarded as the strongest and biggest bodybuilder of all time. This would arguably make him the greatest and most compelling athlete to ever step on the big stage.Who is the 4x Mr. Olympia? ›
Cutler is a four-time Mr. Olympia winner, having won in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010; and a six-time runner-up.Why is Mr. Olympia so tan? ›
It defines the appearance of muscles.
Layering up self-tanner on the skin is a bodybuilder's last-ditch attempt to accentuate his/her muscles for competitions and contests. Many bodybuilding champions opt for an extra dark tan to highlight the chest, torso, arm and leg muscles to the maximum.
testing is random, but is not conducted during the Mr. Olympia contest itself. Fans of Mr. Olympia do not seem caught up in the issue, perhaps because the sport is entirely about aesthetics, not strength or performance.Who was the smallest Mr. Olympia? ›
Flavio Baccanini from San Francisco, California, USA, competed in the 1993 Mr Olympia contest held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Baccanini, originally from Italy, was 1.47 m (4 ft 10 in) tall and weighed 72.57 kg (11 st 6 lb).Who is the oldest bodybuilder? ›
Jim Arrington is 90-years young and stripped down to prove Every Body Is Perfect.Did Lou Ferrigno ever win? ›
(/fəˈrɪɡnoʊ/; born November 9, 1951) is an American actor and retired professional bodybuilder. As a bodybuilder, Ferrigno won an IFBB Mr. America title and two consecutive IFBB Mr. Universe titles; and appeared in the documentary film Pumping Iron.Who won Mr. Olympia in 1983? ›
Known as "the Lion of Lebanon", Samir Bannout won the Mr. Olympia title in 1983.
Who won Mr. Olympia 1983? ›
Lou Ferrigno has never won 1st place in the Mr. Olympia competition. He did however come in 2nd place.