We’ve been busy the past week, and one sad incident missed our attention. Though we read about the news, we were so busy that we couldn’t post here. All bodybuilders of this world, all those fitness junkies, and all those eager beavers who want to hit the gym for the first time, and people looking for role models on how to diet and be fit will miss this man very much.
Sergio Olivia, one of the biggest legends of the bodybuilding world, passed away recently on Nov 12th, from kidney disease. He was 71. He was not only a bodybuilding legend, his personal life too is so interesting that it can be made into a movie.
Sergio Olivia was born on July 4, 1941, in Cuba. He grew up helping out his father in the sugar cane fields. At 16, he joined Batista’s army to fight against Fidel Castor’s revolutionary forces. After Castro won, he took to weightlifting on a friend’s insistence, and that changed his life for the first time. At 16, for a boy who did not know how to train or how to diet, Sergio took to weightlifting like a fish to water.
Soon enough he qualified for the Cuban national team for the 1962 Pan American Games in Jamaica, and that was when life took a dramatic turn for him. He fled from the heavy security Cuban team camp, and ran 60 meters to the American consulate nearby and sought political asylum. 65 other Cuban athletes followed him, and this incident received worldwide attention at that time.
In the USA, Sergio had to move from place to place fearing threats to his life. He finally moved to Chicago from Miami where he continued to train. His unbelievable progress, size and muscularity gained the attention of all, and he won the IFBB title pretty soon. His exploits in the bodybuilding arena soon earned him the nickname “El Mito” (The Myth).
Sergio won the 1966 Mr. World, but he lost to Larry Scott in the Mr. Olympia competition held the same year. However, he returned with a bang the next year and won the Mr. Olympia title for 3 consecutive years. He is the only man in the bodybuilding word to have beaten another legend, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who showed the modern world how to diet and train effectively. These two legends met again in 1970 and 1972, but both times Arnold emerged the winner. He returned to the Mr. Olympia championship at the age of 43 in 1984 and finished at a respectable 8th position.
The legend’s life was marked with both great events as well as unfortunate ones. He starred in two Mexican movies , and was shot by his then wife Arleen Garret in 1986 when he suffered and survived 5 bullet wounds.
To sum up what Sergio meant to the bodybuilding world and for people looking for information on how to diet, we borrow Arnold’s quote: “Sergio Oliva was one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time & a true friend. A fierce competitor with a big personality – one of a kind.”
May his soul rest in peace.