Muscle Builder, Vol 11, No 3, Page 25, April 1970
WEBSTER'S dictionary defines the word event as ". . a happening, an occurrence, especially, an important occurrence". It is therefore quite nauseating to find that word so often recklessly abused by inconsiderate journalists who will indulge their penchant for outrageous superlatives, regardless of the mediocrity of the function featured in their reports!
One might be excused a deja vu attitude in respect to muscle shows generally, having participated in a large number of physique contests and exhibitions in various parts of the world; but I confess, without the slightest hesitation, that the annual IFBB extravaganza, the Mr. America/Mr. Universe/Mr. Olympia event, never fails to amaze, thrill, even inspire me. Here, indeed, is a notable bodybuilding occurrence that never ceases to attract competitors AND spectators from at least three dozen different countries.
But the 1969 show promised the greatest treat of all. Sergio Oliva, the myth that breathes, that muscle phenomenon of the Weider generation who had already accounted for the demise of Poole, Sipes, and yes, some say even Larry Scott, would be facing the greatest threat to his bodybuilding supremacy. The fans had not forgotten the fact that no one dared show up against the Cuban emigre in 1968; and just when Muscledom was beginning to accept Sergio Oliva as its undisputed king, a comparatively unknown upstart had decided to challenge "The Myth's' right to his coveted position.
If Sergio had been deluded, after the 1968 'non-event', into thinking he could collect the thousand dollar Mr. Olympia cash prize 'no-sweat' style for a few more years, he must have come down to earth with a liver-exploding jolt. "The Myth' is no fool. In spite of the talk, the pre-contest leg-pulling, the wild rumors that "Arnold is fatter than ever", he must have known he'd have a real fight on his hands FOR A CHANGE! Suddenly, Arnold Schwarzenegger had descended from the hills -- and he was making rude noises at the champ. Someone was in need of a lesson and the fans could hardly wait to find out who would be on the receiving end!
Last month, I wrote about the proceedings that preceded the Mr. America and Mr. Universe contests. I took you backstage for an exclusive look-in on Oliva and Schwarzenegger and you had a preview of the greatest battle ever fought on a posing platform. You heard the giants tease the sweat out of each other, in a number of leg-pulling sessions which I described as psychological warfare. But now there is no time for jocularities. With just three poses in the Mr. Universe contest, Arnold Schwarzenegger had served the excitement crazed audience a helping of the pill he planned to force down Oliva's throat. And there were many who didn't like the taste of it!
One wonders, if three poses can so disturb this blase New York crowd, how will they react when Arnold really turns on the heat? More important, how will Sergio react? Candidly, how good is Sergio this year? How good does he have to be to meet this amazing youngster from Austria? Conjecture and more conjecture The truth would soon be known!
Backstage, Sergio Oliva is conspicuous by his absence. He performed a disappearing act that would do justice to Houdini. His butcher's overall 'dressing gown' hanging on a nail in the dressing room is the only clue in the mystery. We guess Sergio is preparing for the big battle in a secret hideaway, somewhere in the building. Bud Parker says a prayer, in the hope Mr. Oliva will know when he is due on stage. Earlier, the monarch of Muscledom had refused -just as Scott had before him --to be the first to pose in the Mr. Olympia contest. And while everyone else was rushing around desperately trying to keep things 'organized', Arnold Schwarzenegger was sitting quietly in the wings, covered from neck to knee in a gold silk wrap, completely in control of his 'cool'. The sound of slow hand-clapping catches our ears. The impatient audience is expressing the urgent expectation that grips every man in the theatre. Bud Parker's voice restores some semblance of order. "Arnold Schwarzenegger will now pose for the title of Mr. Olympia 1969!"
The Arnold who now stands on the podium appears eyen more formidable than the Mr. Universe competitor. He is motionless for a second or two; he smiles, and wham! He hits an incredible double biceps pose that stills every voice in the auditorium. You could have heard a pin drop, to coin a phrase. He moves his hip to the left side and with the slightest of leg movements gets into the now famous Schwarzenegger side chest pose. Pectorals, deltoids, biceps jump at his command. How could a man so massive possess a waist that small? And the definition! The effect is stupefying. His left arm goes up, the forearm moves towards his head, activating the most incredible biceps on earth. But still the audience is quiet. Arnold turns, displays a back that you wouldn't believe and strikes stark, teeth-chattering terror into the hearts of those Oliva supporters who were foolhardy enough to turn up in their 'Sergio Is King' T-shirts. And there's more punishment in store!
Slowly, with sadistic deliberation, Schwarzenegger raises his six foot four frame until his 240 lbs. are balanced on his toes. He appears even more prodigious. Those calves that once inspired so many tactless jokes, that only twelve months before did not rate a second look, now demanded, and received, undivided attention. As if of a mind all their own, they jumped, twitched, stretched and bunched up until the audience could contain itself no longer. Judging by their stunned reaction to Schwarzenegger's display, it seemed like everyone in the theatre was an Oliva fan who had come to watch the hero wipe out yet another adversary. But suddenly, Schwarzenegger's message had been received loud and clear: "I am Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva has met a MAN at last!" The shouting, the vociferous cheers and pleading for more threatened to destroy my hearing and I put my hands protectively over my ears. It had not been easy but now Arnold had convinced the fans he meant to push Sergio to the limit. A smile creased his handsome face as he hit the 'most muscular' pose that tore the house up. Then he bowed, and, ignoring the shouts for more, walked off into the near-darkness of the wings.
I shook his hand, expressing my pleasure at his success. And for the first time in the four years I have known Arnold, it occurred to me that under that incredible mass of muscle he was but a mere youth playing a man's game-AND winning!
I wish to state, at this time, that I was present at the very first Mr. Olympia contest, when Larry Scott walked all over Earl Maynard and Harold Poole. I wrote of that occasion in glowing superlatives. Scott was "the eighth wonder of the world" and the control he exercised over the emotions of his numerous fans was nothing if not magical. His physique was astounding, and I said so with unbridled enthusiasm. On that memorable night, it seemed to me that Larry Scott was the epitome of physical perfection and that there could never be a physique star who possessed his charisma or muscular development. I exhausted my vocabulary enthusing to the world about Scott. Little did I imagine the day would come when even my superlatives would not adequately describe a star. But then who could have imagined Sergio Oliva?
The audience had been chanting his name a full five minutes before 'The Myth' actually materialized. I remembered his oft-repeated declaration: "You gonna see somethin' but you ain't gonna believe it". Land sakes! I rubbed my eyes, desperately trying to focus on that which just couldn't be -- but was. Sergio Oliva was greater than ever. He jigged around the posing platform as if to some hot tune that only he could hear, blew a kiss to his loyal subjects and threw up those arms in that oh-so-typically Sergio fashion. Too much! Forget it! Lay it on me, babe! Sergio Oliva was actually enjoying the contest. In his own wordless, inimitable style, he was reassuring his audience that "I ain't gonna let you down, babe". Fantastic pose followed mindblowing pose. How can I describe that which my mind still cannot fully accept. The faculties simply do not function when one is under the mesmerising effect of Sergio's presence. How many poses did he strike? How should I know? Suffice to say the fans were crawling all over the stage in their attempt to be near their hero in his hour of need. Then Sergio was gone, leaving those poor judges "bewitched, very bothered and utterly bewildered".
Backstage, Sergio was treating one and all to his big act. "Heck, why didn't they let me pump up? Ah coulda pumped up a whole lot more!" he screamed.
Out front, the New York police were earning their bread the hard way. The fans wanted Oliva and wouldn't wait for the result of the contest. The chanting was at full volume: "Sergio! Sergio! Sergio!" It did not seem to matter how good or bad Arnold was. Sergio was king and the joint was crawling with his loyal subjects. Someone remarked that if Arnold took the title, the judges' lives wouldn't be worth a nickel. And throughout the screaming, the raving and riotous behavior the jovial Arnold maintained his cool, as ever. His opinion of Sergio? "He's incredible," he told me.
The two super-champs were then called back to pose on stage; it seems the judges could not make up their minds! And that's when the fun really started. "Pose!" someone shouted. But neither Arnold nor Sergio would flex a muscle. Both wanted the other to make the first move. Eventually, Arnold hit the housebreaking double-biceps shot. Sergio retaliated with his arms-above-head pose. Pandemonium! "Sergio! Sergio!" screamed the fans with undisguised bias. A chest pose by Arnold, an attempt at the same shot by Sergio, a last minute change of mind and into his version of the 'most muscular' shot. More screams for Sergio. And Arnold just continued smiling. In the end Sergio retained his Mr. Olympia crown.
My own opinion of the judges' decision is irrelevant. Both men are my friends and I would hate to cause them embarrassment. They possess the most fantastic physiques the world has ever known. Sergio is convinced Arnold will become the greatest ever. Some say Arnold IS already the greatest. At twenty-two, he can afford to wait until the WHOLE world accepts him as KING!
Three minutes after the decision had been announced and Sergio had collected his one thousand dollar cash prize, the great man told me that had been his last contest; he would settle with his lovely wife in Chicago and devote time to running his gymnasium. However, by ten o'clock the following morning, he had decided to have "one more go". Who can tell with Sergio?
I firmly believe my friend will be back. He needs to know that there is no one around who could take his crown. He will not be forced into retirement. Sergio could not bear the thought of anyone saying he had packed it all up on account of Schwarzenegger. He has heard the rumors that Scott gave up because of him and only a really convincing victory in next year's Olympia will restore his peace of mind. Only then will Sergio Oliva, the acclaimed greatest in Muscledom, retire-at peace with himself. SERGIO OLIV A WILL BE BACK!
I look forward to the battle of the giants in 1970. I know you'll be there too!
- "Sergio! Sergio" screamed the fans. And the King raises his arms in victory. Will Sergio compete this year or will Arnold win the Mr. Olympia title because no one dared to challenge him? We'll see come September.
- The fantastic Schwarzenegger hits the house-breaking most muscular pose and Sergio is about to treat the capacity house to his variation. It's the battle of the giants with the two greatest bodybuilders on earth matching each other pose for pose.
- The Mr. Olympia contest is a serious business and Sergio knows it! Here he is in one of thoe poses which never fail to bring the house down.
- After just twelve months under Joe Weider's tutelage Arnold Schwarzenegger emerged -- the greatest threat to Sergio's pre-eminent position. How will he look this September?
- A picture speaks a millions words! Arnold congratulates Sergio Austrian-style and treats the fans to the true meaning of sportsmanship!
- This shot by Caruso shows the fantastic improvement in Franco Columbu since he came to California. Watch him this September.
- Mrs. and Mr. Olympia have no need of words to express the way they feel about the 1969 Mr. Olympia. That's $1000 in Mrs. Oliva's care!!
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