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Located in the western Peloponnese, Olympia was an ancient Greek sanctuary site dedicated to the worship of Zeus, in whose honour the Pan-Hellenic Olympic Games were held every four years from 776 BCE to 393 CE. Olympia is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
First inhabited in the second millennium BCE, the first archaeological record of dwellings dates from 1900 to 1600 BCE. The Kronion hill at the site was perhaps the first place of worship, dedicated to Kronos. However, other sacred buildings at the foot of the hill in the sacred grove of wild olive trees, or Altis, indicate other deities were worshipped such as Gaia, Themis, Aphrodite, and Pelops. With the descent of western Greek tribes into the Peloponnese, though, it was Zeus, father of the Olympian gods, who would become the dominant cult figure at Olympia.
The first large building on the site was the Heraion, a temple dedicated to Hera built around 650-600 BCE. In the 5th century BCE the sanctuary reached its peak of prosperity, and a massive Doric 6 x 13 column temple was completed in 457 BCE in order to house a hug e cult statue of Zeus. Designed by Libon of Elis, the temple was the biggest in Greece at that time and measured 64.12 m x 27.68 m with columns 10.53 m in height. The pediments of the temple displayed magnificent sculpture: on the east side the mythical chariot race between Pelops and Oinomaos, and on the western pediment a Centauromachy with the majestic central figure of Apollo. Metopes from the temple represented the labours of Hercules. The statue of Zeus within the temple was by Phidias (who had worked on the Parthenon and its statue of Athena) and was a 12 m high gold and ivory representation of Zeus seated on a throne and regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Other important building projects over the centuries included baths and a swimming pool (5th century BCE), the new stadium with embankments for spectators (mid-4th century BCE), a palaistra (3rd century BCE), a gymnasion (2nd century BCE), hippodrome (780 m long), the large Leonidaion or guest houses (330 BCE), and the Theikoloi (priest's residence).
The first Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE at the first full moon after the summer solstice.
Sporting events were originally associated with funeral rituals, for example the funeral games instigated by Achilles in honour of Patroklos in Homer's Iliad. Some mythological accounts credit Zeus with beginning the Games to celebrate his victory over Kronos; other accounts state Pelops began them in honour of Oinomaos. In any case, sport, a healthy body and the competitive spirit were a large part of Greek education, and so it is hardly surprising that organised athletic competitions would at some point be created.
The first Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE at the first full moon after the summer solstice. The winner of the first and only event, the stadion foot-race (one length of the stadium track, 600 feet or 192 m), was Koroibos of Elis, and from then on every victor was recorded and each Olympiad named after them, thus giving us the first accurate chronology of the Greek world. During a three month Pan-Hellenic truce, athletes and as many as 40,000 spectators came from all over Greece to participate in the Games. Individuals and city-states brought offerings to Zeus which included money, statues (including the magnificent Nike of Paionios, c. 424 BCE, and the Hermes of Praxiteles, late 4th century BCE), bronze tripods, shields, helmets, and weapons resulting in Olympia becoming a living museum of Greek art and culture. Many cities also built treasuries - small but impressive buildings to house their offerings and raise the prestige of their city.
Over time other events were added to the Games such as longer foot-races, wrestling, boxing, chariot racing, discus, javelin, jumping, and the pentathlon. At its peak there were 18 events spread over five days. However, it was always the original stadion which remained the most important event. Victors won crowns of olive leaves and an olive branch cut from the scared grove, but much more importantly they won glory, fame, and in a very real sense historical immortality.
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A second important event held at Olympia was the Heraia Games for women, held every four years in honour of the goddess, Hera. Children, adolescents, and young women ran in separate foot-races over 500 feet of the stadium track (160 m). Prizes for victors included olive crowns and the right to set up a portrait of themselves on the site. The responsibility for the organisation of both Games and for maintenance of the site when not in use lay with the Eleans.
The Games continued through the Hellenistic period with the notable architectural addition of the Philippeion, a circular colonnaded building erected by Philip II of Macedonia which contained gold statues of the royal family (c. 338 BCE). The Romans, whilst giving little importance to the religious significance of the Games, continued to hold them in high regard and despite the attempt by Sulla in 80 BCE to permanently move the Games to Rome, continued to embellish Olympia with new buildings, heated baths, fountains (notably the Nymphaion of Herodes Atticus, 150 CE), and statues. Most famously, emperor Nero strove to win the glory of Olympic victory in 67 CE, competing in, and unsurprisingly winning, every event he entered.
With Emperor Theodosios' decree to prohibit all cult practices, the Games came to an end in 393 CE after a run of 293 Olympics over more than a millennium. The site gradually fell into decline, was partially destroyed under the decree of emperor Theodosios II in 426 CE, and was taken over by a Christian community who built a basilica on the site in the early Byzantine period. Earthquakes in 522 and 551 CE destroyed much of the remaining ruins, and silt from the nearby rivers Alpheios and Kladeos eventually covered the site until its rediscovery in 1829 CE by the French Archaeological Mission and systematic excavation by the German Archaeological Institute from 1875 CE.
Mr. Olympia is the title awarded to the winner of the professional men's bodybuilding contest at Joe Weider's Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend—an international bodybuilding competition that is held annually by the International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness (IFBB).  Joe Weider created the contest to enable the Mr. Universe winners to continue competing and to earn money. The first Mr. Olympia was held on September 18, 1965, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City, with Larry Scott winning his first of two straight titles.
The record number of wins is eight each by Lee Haney (1984–1991) and Ronnie Coleman (1998–2005). Big Ramy currently holds the title.
The film Pumping Iron (1977) featured the buildup to the 1975 Mr. Olympia in Pretoria, South Africa and helped launch the acting careers of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.
There is also a female bodybuilder crowned, Ms. Olympia, as well as winners of Fitness Olympia and Figure Olympia for fitness and figure competitors. All four contests occur during the same weekend. From 1994 to 2003, and again in 2012, a Masters Olympia was also crowned.
Starting in 2016, a new division called Classic Physique was introduced. Danny Hester was the inaugural champion in Classic Physique division.
Starting in 2019, a new division called Wheelchair Olympia was added.
Olympia - History
The Olympic Games in Antiquity
The Sports Events
As a sacred place used regularly in religious ceremonies, as well as playing host to the Ancient Games, Olympia was at the centre of Greek civilisation. Renowned expert Paul Christesen gives Olympic.org a unique insight into Olympia and how the site changed as the Games grew.
&ldquoAt its heart the Ancient Olympic Games was a religious festival held in a religious sanctuary,&rdquo Paul Christesen, professor of Ancient Greek History at Dartmouth College, USA, explained.
As Christesen went on to say, &ldquoit was not just a matter of playing sports&rdquo. And central to this concept was the site itself. Olympia lay on the north-western corner of the Peloponnese (currently in the Western Greece Region).
Zeus, King of the Greek Gods, was said to have taken up residence in Olympia around 1200BC when the Eleans conquered the surrounding area. The fearsome deity marked his ascension by hurling a thunderbolt into the sacred grove from his home atop Mount Olympus.
The city state of Elis, the administrative centre of which was about a day&rsquos walk north from Olympia, ran the Games throughout the vast majority of its life cycle, with the Eleans seizing full control from their local rivals the Pisatans in 572BC. Despite the stadium accommodating more than 40,000 people during the height of the Games&rsquo popularity in the second century AD, it always remained a deeply rural setting.
&ldquoWe know that they actually planted the stadium with wheat,&rdquo Christesen said. &ldquoIt was a big empty space that wasn&rsquot being used most of the time, so except in the run-up to the Games, when they got it all cleaned up, it was just a wheat field.&rdquo
From the first edition in 776BC until 550BC, the Games took place among the sanctuary itself. The sacred olive tree of Zeus, from which the victory wreaths were cut, marked the finishing line for all races. The first stadium, a simple affair using the natural embankments of the surrounding hills, remained within the deified area too. The discovery of more than 150 wells dating to this time indicates that even this early in the life of the Olympic Games, they attracted considerable attention.
By the mid fourth century BC the third incarnation of the stadium was built. Spacious and with the look and feel of a more modern venue, spectator attendance grew by around 50%. The position of the stadium had been shifted, with events no longer finishing at the altar of Zeus.
However, the site lost none of its religious potency during the vast majority of the 1000-plus years of the Ancient Games, its diversity being key to its survival.
&ldquoThe Greeks were aggressively polytheistic,&rdquo said Christesen. &ldquoSo while Olympia is a sanctuary to Zeus we know that he wasn&rsquot the only deity worshipped at the site. There were over 70 different altars, you could sacrifice to pretty much anyone you wanted to.&rdquo
While the Eleans maintained a permanent presence at Olympia, conducting monthly sacrifices, the site turned, for one week per year, from an essentially peaceful idyll into the mad, riotous centre of Greece.
&ldquoAnyone who wanted to get a big audience from all over the Greek world showed up in Olympia. Painters, artists, orators all went there to put their wares on display,&rdquo Christesen said.
&ldquoWe know there was total chaos for a week because anyone who wanted to raise their profile, this was the place and time to do it.&rdquo
The fourth incarnation of the stadium came in the first century as, fuelled by the return of chariot racing to the programme in AD17, the popularity of the Games soared. Interest reached a pinnacle in the following century and the fifth and final renovation took place.
Throughout these reincarnations the length of the track in the stadium remained constant. Stories abound as to why it always measured 600ft/192.2m, with the most enchanting being that this was the distance the hero Hercules could run on a single breath.
As well as competition, training took place at Olympia. At first this happened outdoors but during the Hellenistic period (323BC-31BC) the palestra and the gymnasium were built. Home to practitioners of wrestling, boxing, pankration and the long jump, the palestra&rsquos main feature was a large, square inner-courtyard. It was flanked by colonnades and had an extensive bathing system in the adjoining rooms. The gymnasium was an elongated rectangle with space for both the javelin and discus throwers to do their thing. Both buildings were centres of intellectual debate and learning, with philosophers and teachers taking advantage of the shade and abundance of young minds.
By the Roman period these training facilities, along with the rest of the site, had, quite apart from the religious aspect, become a year-round tourist attraction.
&ldquoPeople put up big fancy artworks and dedications, so it became a famous site to go see Greek art,&rdquo Christesen said. &ldquoCertainly by the Roman period there were people making a living as guides to the site.&rdquo
Olympia - History
Olympia is one of the most famous paintings of renowned painter Édouard Manet. The masterpiece is an oil painting done on canvas. The dimensions of the paintings are 51 by 74.8 inches. The Olympia was painted in 1863 and was obtained by France in 1890. It is currently displayed in Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
Manet and Controversies
Manet’s works became synonymous with being controversial. His previous work The Luncheon on the Grass had created uproar. His new painting called Olympia was first displayed in 1865. It created a much bigger furor, since conformist and conservatives of the then society were aghast at the brazen nudity depicted in the painting. It was promptly labeled as being obscenely vulgar.
The work of art was first exhibited in Paris Salon. The administration there had to take extra safety measures to keep the hardliners from destroying it. However, not everyone was against Manet’s work. He had supporters too who appreciated his painting of the nude woman as a form of the artist’s representation of the real world.
Reason for Disdain
The audience of that time could not digest the unabashed exposé that Manet had painted. It was not so much the nudity that appalled people. The viewers were scandalized by the brazen look the artist gave the woman. It bears more of a challenging stare, that of a courtesan’s, which people could not want to relate to. The entire depiction was bold, and a little too much to accept by the conservative society of the 19th century.
Olympia is as everyone knows a nude painting. The artist had not made any attempt to cover up the nakedness. He perhaps wanted to dramatize the effect because right next to the naked woman stands a fully dressed maid. The artist has in fact created a stark contrast which is glaring and makes the nudity more apparent. A number of details in the painting point that the model chosen by Manet was a courtesan.
The woman who is fully undressed is shown lying on an oriental stole on a couch. A maid stands next to her with a big bouquet of flowers. The look on the maids face is interestingly normal. There is no sense of discomfort to be standing next to a naked woman who is obviously posing for the painting in the nude. This is of interest as the society back then was not as liberated as we find it today.
The model wears an orchid in her hair. There is a black cord around her neck, which highlights her pale skin. A bracelet and pearl earrings are her other adornments. She wears a blue strapped slipper on one foot as the other lies carelessly removed.
The subject’s hand covers her private parts even though her breasts are exposed. There is not a hint of awkwardness as she poses in the nude. It seems obvious she feels her supremacy over everyone around. The black cat is symbolic of the woman’s profession which is prostitution.
In its style Manet’s Olympia digresses from the theoretical standard. He used wide brushstrokes instead of soft color tones used by his contemporaries for painting nudes. Olympia is still appreciated as a fine work of art.
The History Behind The Sandow Trophy
Eugene Sandow, The first famous bodybuilder, transformed his music-hall performance into a career as a professional strongman. Back in the day, Sandow had what is now termed "good genetics" for the sport of bodybuilding. Sandow invented equipment, such as spring-grip dumbbells. It was with Sandow that bodybuilding was actually born.
He began demonstrating his strength to audiences as well as posing as a Greek statue to attract attention to himself. In 1898, Sandow was considered the most famous man alive when he started publishing the magazine Physical Culture which later became Sandow's Magazine of Physical Culture.
Sandow showed off his physique on postcards only wearing a fig leaf to cover up. By the time of his death in 1925, Sandow had made bodybuilding a profitable enterprise.
Number of Sandows being held by previous winners of the O (as of 2006):
|7||Arnold Schwarzenegger||1970-1975, 1980|
|2||Franco Columbu||1976, 1981|
Larry Scott ///
It all began on September 18, 1965, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This was the night of the first ever Mr. Olympia contest. Larry Scott was the man the crowd was waiting to see. Larry had already won the Mr. America, the Mr. World, and the Mr. Universe titles.
Joe Weider realized he needed Larry Scott to continue in the sport of bodybuilding in order for the sport to grow. Joe created the Mr. Olympia contest to try to keep all the Mr. Universe champions in the sport and to give them the opportunity to earn money from competing, similar to other professional athletes in other sports.
Larry Scott won the first Mr. Olympia contest in 1965 and repeated his title again in 1966. After the contest Larry announced his retirement from the sport.
Sergio Oliva & Arnold Schwarzenegger ///
In 1967, Sergio Oliva came into the contest big and ripped and ended up winning the third Mr. Olympia contest. He trained hard after his first Olympia title, and looked so much better than the year before that he won the 1968 Mr. Olympia easily.
The 1969 Mr. Olympia began the greatest rivalry in the history of bodybuilding. A young Austrian named Arnold Schwarzenegger came into the bodybuilding scene and challenged Oliva for the title. The two battled back and forth with Sergio coming out on top. Oliva had collected his third Mr. Olympia title in a row.
Both Arnold and Sergio hit the gym hard for the following year and in 1970, Arnold edged out Sergio to become the third bodybuilder to hold the Mr. Olympia title.
Arnold won The Olympia again in 1971. This was the first year the show was held outside of New York. The contest was held in Paris, which happened to be the same day the NABBA Universe was being held. Arnold competed in the Mr. Olympia while others decided to avoid Arnold and compete in the NABBA competition.
In 1972, Arnold and Sergio went at it again when the Olympia moved to Essen, Germany. To this day people still argue over who should have won the contest. It ended on a 4-3 vote with the decision going to Arnold.
In 1973, the contest returned to New York, and the Big Apple saw Arnold take the title for the fourth consecutive year. This seemed to be an easy win for Arnold, but a huge challenger by the name of Lou Ferrigno was up and coming on the pro scene.
Lou was the largest bodybuilder that Arnold had ever seen, standing a giant 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 270 pounds. The show was held in New York at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden. Arnold once again in 1974 won the title for a fifth time, but there were rumors that Arnold was thinking about retirement. This was the first year that there was a two-tier weight class which lasted until 1979.
In 1975 the Mr. Olympia moved to South Africa (as seen in the movie Pumping Iron). Arnold won the Olympia for the sixth time and immediately announced his retirement.
Franco Columbu, Frank Zane & Arnold Again ///
In 1976, the contest moved to Columbus, Ohio where Franco Columbu finally won the Mr. Olympia title after competing in the contest for more than five years. After his victory, Columbu announced his retirement from bodybuilding.
1977 turned out to be a great year for Frank Zane. He came to Columbus ripped and ready to win his first Mr. Olympia title, which he did.
Again in 1978 Frank Zane took the title. Frank proved to the people that the Mr. Olympia winner did not necessarily have to be the biggest competitor on stage.
In 1979, Zane won the Olympia to make it three in a row. This win made people wonder if Arnold's record could be broken. The following year would burst that bubble.
In 1980, the Olympia was held in Australia. There were 16 bodybuilders competing in that year's Olympia, which would be the largest to date. Many people in the sport had seen Arnold training in the gym for weeks before the 1980 Olympia, but most believed it was for an upcoming movie that he would be appearing in.
The competitors were confused when Arnold boarded the plane for Australia. They all thought he was going to do the TV commentary for the event. All the way up to and even at the contestants' meeting, they thought he was as an IFBB promoter and official. The tone of the competitors changed when Arnold's name was announced to compete and he chose a competitor number.
Arnold won the Mr. Olympia title for a seventh time in 1980, but no one understood the true reason why he came back to compete in 1980.
In 1981, Franco Columbu staged a comeback similar to Arnold and won the title for his second time. This was an extremely close Olympia with five different judges choosing five different competitors for the number one spot.
Chris Dickerson & Samir Bannout ///
In London in 1982, Chris Dickerson won the title after finishing second the two previous years. While onstage after his win, Dickerson announced his retirement from bodybuilding.
In 1983, the Olympia returned to Germany. This year Samir Bannout won the title.
Lee Haney ///
In 1984, the Olympia returned once again to New York City, where it had the highest attendance for the finals (5,000 people), the highest attendance for prejudging (4,000 people) and the largest amount of total prize money ($100,000) for any of the Olympia's up to that date. Lee Haney, the largest Mr. Olympia winner yet, won weighing in at 247 pounds. Not only was Haney big and massive, but he was also ripped to shreds.
In 1985, the contest made its way to Belgium where Haney came out on top again to take his second straight Olympia.
Lee took his third straight crown in 1986 in Columbus and began setting his sights on Arnold's record.
In 1987, the Olympia arrived in Sweden, where Haney dominated anything and everything that stepped on stage. Haney had now racked up four consecutive titles.
The 1988 Olympia was held at The Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. Before prejudging, all of the bodybuilders wore the same boxing robes when they were officially being weighed. Haney again won, this time taking the highest paying title at $150,000 and making it five consecutive titles.
1989 was Italy's turn at hosting the Olympia. Haney won his sixth consecutive Olympia title and tied Arnold's record. This title didn't come easily though: Haney had to fight off an impressive Lee Labrada and Vince Taylor.
In 1990, everyone packed into Chicago's Arie Crown Theater where the prize money hit $200,000. After two rounds of the Olympia, Haney was behind by two points, but in the posing round and posedown he pushed ahead to best Lee Labrada and Shawn Ray. This victory gave Haney seven consecutive Mr. Olympia titles and tied Arnold's record.
The 1991 Mr. Olympia was held in Orlando, Florida. For the first time Haney was up against someone the same size as him. Dorian Yates came into the contest at 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 245 pounds. Only four points separated Yates and Haney after two rounds, but Haney pulled ahead in rounds three and four to take his eighth consecutive Mr. Olympia championship. After his record-setting eighth victory, Haney decided to hang it up and retire.
Dorian Yates ///
In 1992, the Mr. Olympia contest moved overseas to Helsinki, Finland. Yates and Kevin Levrone battled the whole contest with Yates taking the crown in the end.
Yates came into the 1993 Atlanta Olympia weighing 257 pounds. No one could touch him as he blew the competition away with a physique that no one could even come close to. However, his luck would change in 1994.
In March of 1994, Yates severely injured his left rotator cuff, and then later on that month he tore his left quad. Things didn't get much better after that either. Yates then tore his left biceps less than nine weeks out from the contest. However, Yates was determined to compete and showed up in Atlanta to take his third trophy.
Then in 1995, Yates showed up in Atlanta in his best condition to take yet another trophy. At the end of the contest, all nine of the men who won the past Olympia's came onstage to pay tribute to Joe Weider.
In 1996, the Olympia moved to Chicago. Yates breezed through the contest (no pun intended with Chicago being the windy city) taking his fifth title. Shawn Ray and Kevin Levrone also looked good in the Olympia and people were starting to talk about their chances of taking out Yates in the upcoming years. Nasser El Sonbaty was disqualified during the event after failing a diuretics drug test (he would have placed third).
In 1997, the Mr. Olympia was held in Long Beach. Yates was pushing for his sixth consecutive Olympia title. The contest was a great show of incredible physiques with Nasser El Sonbaty coming in with his best condition to date. He pushed Yates hard but in the end Yates again took home the trophy and the $110,000 paycheck.
An interesting fact which most people did not know is that Dorian had suffered a torn triceps a few months before the contest, but said nothing about it to anyone and still competed. After the show and thinking about the upcoming year, Yates had surgery on his torn triceps and decided he was not going to compete in the '98 Olympia and that he was going to retire.
Ronnie Coleman ///
New York held the 1998 Olympia and with Yates out of the picture, the title was up for grabs. This year a new face showed up at the show, that face being Ronnie Coleman. Ronnie came out of nowhere with a huge back and freaky physique to beat Flex Wheeler for his first title.
The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas held the 1999 Mr. Olympia contest. The venue was completely sold out. Again this year Coleman and Wheeler battled in yet another close contest. Ronnie came in to the contest bigger than the previous year, again with great conditioning.
Ronnie took home the title for the second consecutive year. Once Flex heard the result, he turned his back on the judges and showed them his middle finger. Markus Ruhl was disqualified from the contest after testing positive for diuretics.
2000 came rolling along and Coleman once again came into the contest bigger than the year before, with freaky conditioning that no one could touch. Yet again Flex and Kevin Levrone had to stand there and watch Ronnie take home his third consecutive trophy.
2001 was a scary Olympia for King Ronnie. Out of nowhere came Jay Cutler who won the first two rounds of the Mr. Olympia. This was by far the most exciting Olympia to date. Ronnie for the first time wondered if his physique would hold up to fend off Jay. During the evening show, Coleman won both rounds, and beat Jay Cutler by six points to take home the title. The final result had some fans asking how Jay lost and swearing that Jay deserved to win.
2002 came and Ronnie Coleman won yet again, but not without some more controversy. Kevin Levrone and Gunter Schlierkamp came into the contest looking massive and in great condition, yet fell short.
In 2003, Ronnie (39 years old) won the title with ease. Neither Jay nor Gunter could touch him. His stage presence was untouchable and no one even came close to the conditioning that Ronnie came in with. Chris Cormier pulled out of the contest at the last minute due to sickness.
In 2004, there were some changes made to the original format of the Olympia. AMI took over the Olympia and a new "Challenge" round was introduced rather than having the normal fourth posedown round. Ronnie Coleman dominated again and took home the trophy with Jay taking second place. Jay swore things would change for 2005 and that he would be holding the trophy at the 2005 Olympia.
Orleans Hotel held the 2005 Olympia where once again Coleman won. At 41 years old, this gave Ronnie seven consecutive Mr. Olympia titles. Once again, second place went to a disappointed Jay Cutler.
Modern-day visitors to Olympia’s capitol campus are justly impressed by the main Legislative Building’s 287-foot-high dome and the equally broad-shouldered edifices that surround that central structure. Architecture critics have called the arrangement a watershed in American capitol construction. Yet building the Washington state capitol was in no way an easy task. Not only were there daunting costs and delays involved, but even upon its completion in 1928, critics derided it as a waste of tax dollars.
A "Monument to Extravagance"
Cuspidors costing $47.50 apiece? Outrageous. Or so it seemed in 1928 when silk handkerchiefs sold for a mere 65 cents and women’s girdles could be had for $1.25. Yet Washington had agreed to pay that inflated price for the ornate spittoons to be strategically located around its new state capitol building. No one objected to the spittoons themselves -- every well-equipped office had them at a time when many men, including state legislators, chewed tobacco. It was the price that was shocking.
To Governor Roland E. Hartley (1864-1952) those hefty cuspidors symbolized the improvidence he saw in the whole capitol project, which was begun before he was elected in 1924. He derided it as a "monument to extravagance in architectural design and waste and profligacy in furnishings."
Even on March 27, 1928, the day before state executives were to move into the $7 million Legislative Building, an occasion on which another governor might have pontificated at length about the grandiose new legislative center symbolizing the maturity and prosperity of his state, Hartley couldn’t resist launching a few final barbs at Washington’s spendthrift lawmakers.
"Today is an epochal day," he told reporters, "but it brings no joy to the heart of the taxpayer." Hartley worked up quickly into a bluster, the newspaper drudges scribbling wildly. "May the new building be a deterrent, rather than an incentive, to future extravagance on the part of those in whose hands the business affairs of the state are entrusted."
Taking the Criticism Statewide
Hartley’s attack was expected. A short, slender man with thinning hair who styled himself as "Colonel" after he helped settle a shooting incident involving Chippewa Indians in 1898, Republican Hartley had made a political career of slashing government budgets. His single term as mayor of Everett saw him take the ax to that city’s budget after his constituents, heady with self-righteousness, voted to rid their town of saloons and whorehouses which, at the time, happened to be Everett’s principal source of municipal revenues. When he ran for governor in 1924, Hartley promised to cut waste and reduce taxes, a platform that gained him a press thumping but widespread public support. It would have been out of character for Hartley not to damn the new capitol as an exorbitant expenditure of public funds for arguable public good.
The governor wasn’t the first to criticize Olympia’s capitol scheme. Rufus Woods (1878-1950), the feisty editor of the Wenatchee Daily World, had done a memorable job of it three years before. "If the voters of this state could get an opportunity to express themselves regarding this extravagance," Woods editorialized, "they would knock it higher than Halley’s Comet. Yea, more. They would come so near removing the state capitol from the city of Olympia that the people of that city would wonder where the lightning struck." Others had questioned the appropriateness of building a classical-style capitol in a state so associated with frontier aesthetics.
But Hartley took expressions of his disapproval to colorful extremes. He even loaded some of the new capitol’s "sumptuous furnishings"-- including one of those pricey cuspidors -- into an automobile and paraded them about the state as proof that others in Olympia recognized no restraint in spending the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. That the posturing governor had made sure his own office in the Legislative Building would be the most elegantly appointed of all was not a subject touched on in his speeches.
More Modest Original Plans
All of this bombast subordinated the rather remarkable fact that Washington, a state for 39 years and a territory for 36 before that, had finally been able to build a permanent statehouse. It had been talked about since 1892. One reason for the delay was the difficulty Olympia had in continuing to be the capital city. In 1853 it seemed the best place to seat Washington’s nascent government, because it was the area’s largest town, it had a newspaper and a hotel and, as a member of the first legislature phrased it, Olympia was "the greatest and about the only place north of Portland." Efforts to relocate the capital to Vancouver or someplace else (both Ellensburg and North Yakima were in the running, and Seattle tried on more than one occasion to become the state’s legislative seat) proved unsuccessful.
Then there was the problem of money. In 1893, a Washington State Capitol Commission announced that $500,000 had been appropriated for a legislative building at Olympia, and that a nationwide competition would be held to select an architect. From 186 submissions, the commission chose Ernest Flagg of New York City. Flagg was related to shipping and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. An 1888 graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he had been in business for only two years, and recognized the competition as an excellent way to make himself known.
Flagg planned a compact single structure, heavily horizontal in orientation and dripping with ornamentation. It had a short dome and Corinthian columns running the length of its entry façade. The building was sheathed in Tenino stone and, presumably so that sunlight could play along its entry portico, faced directly south with its back to the vista of Puget Sound.
Income from government land grants was supposed to pay for Flagg’s vision, but by the mid 1890s, the legislature was wrestling with the dire economic fallout from the nationwide Panic of 1893. A foundation for the capitol was laid, but then work just stopped. Roadblocks were laid over the muddy paths leading to the foundations, and the state in 1901 approved purchase of the Thurston County Courthouse, in downtown Olympia, a castle of stone designed by W. A. Ritchie and completed in 1892, as temporary residence for Washington state government. Forces didn’t gear up to launch another capitol design competition until 1911. By that time, the state’s requirements and ideas about statehouse architecture had changed dramatically.
Expectations Become Grander
Until the Civil War, the majority of U.S. state capitols looked like overgrown county courthouses at the best they were derivative of Greek temples. The classically designed Capitol in Washington, D.C., mired for years in construction delays and in disagreements among architects and federal authorities, and not completed until 1867, did not immediately inspire imitators. In fact, for decades it was considered inappropriate for architects to model statehouses after the U.S. Capitol. That didn’t change until after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, when national pride swelled in the wake of national distress. Illinois, Texas, and California slavishly imitated the Capitol in D.C.
Washington state's capitol building was instead influenced by the ideas of New York architect and bon vivant Stanford White (1853-1906). White, setting about in the early 1890s to create a statehouse for tiny Rhode Island, designed a structure with important differences from the national capitol building. He was a principal designer with the highly successful firm of McKim, Mead & White, and had trained under Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886). He tended to work from concepts sketched on napkins over dinner, but was a stickler for precise detail in his structures -- from the Boston Public Library to the Shingle Style residences he plopped all over New England -- and achieved grandeur in design without verging too far toward the grotesque. Until he was shot in 1906 by a jealous husband, White was the most prominent architect of his era.
Most entries in the Rhode Island competition were of some European Renaissance style, with one Richardsonian Romanesque concept thrown in, and another steeped in gingerbready Victorianism. "McKim, Mead & White’s . was the only design with any clear commitment to the new," wrote architecture historians Henry-Russell Hitchcock and William Seale in their seminal work, Temples of Democracy: The State Capitols of the U.S.A. White’s design for a Roman marble palace in Providence emulated the national Capitol in some obvious ways, but it was hardly an amateur rip-off. A great white cynosure on a hill, the building is surrounded by expansive terraces and capped by a dome and lantern based on Christopher Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Ernest Flagg returned to Olympia at the height of debate over what was proper in capitol architecture. He was told that the legislature had finally decided to pony up funds for a Washington statehouse. This time the building was expected to offer more space, yet the Capitol Commission insisted that Flagg’s earlier foundations be used. The architect’s solution: "To provide a group of buildings the principal one would be placed upon the existing foundations. This building would afford accommodations for the legislature and principal executive officers. . The other buildings of the group could be added from time to time as they were needed."
Flagg naturally assumed that his commission to design the Olympia building was still in effect. In the years since 1893, his practice had expanded substantially. He had created St. Luke’s Hospital in New York, as well as the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D.C. Most importantly, he’d designed Manhattan’s Singer Building, a 600-foot thrust of brick and terra cotta that more resembled a tall clock tower than an honest skyscraper, but which gave Flagg confidence when approaching the Capitol Commission a second time.
The commission agreed with Flagg that the best way to satisfy the state’s demands was to develop a capitol complex, rather than construct a single, all-purpose building: This plan was ultimately followed. However, the commission did not agree that Flagg was the proper designer for the job. Instead, the assignment went to a pair of virtual unknowns, Walter Wilder and Harry White. Both New York architects had worked in Stanford White's firm.
Governor Lister Seals the Deal
Wilder was a stiff-collared dandy from Topeka, Kansas, who had received his architectural training at Cornell University and in Europe. Vermont-born Harry White had taken his architectural training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both had labored for a time with McKim, Mead & White. The two struck up a partnership in 1909, and the Olympia job was their first major commission.
The building scheme that Wilder and White submitted showed clearly the debt they owed to Stanford White and his Rhode Island statehouse. They also depicted a rather different Legislative Building than we see today. Wilder and White wanted a taller dome, sculptures balanced off on either side of the north entrance stairs, a tangle of Grecian figures carved into the entry pediment, and another huge sculpture above that (perhaps of a horse-drawn chariot). The young architects planned to surround the Legislative Building with five office structures, demolishing the 1907 Governor’s Mansion to make room. They proposed an arrangement of stairs and landings descending from the Temple of Justice to what’s now Capitol Lake, as well as a grand promenade stretching into town, anchored at the capitol campus end by an imitation Arc de Triomphe and downtown by a new railroad station. Budget limitations eventually eliminated the promenade and much interior decoration, while the legislature objected to moving the governor’s residence.
The Wilder and White plan won approval over 37 other entries (Flagg’s drawings didn’t even make it into the runner-up pile the second time around), but many people in and out of government couldn’t see the sense of spending millions of dollars on a new state capitol when the Thurston County Courthouse was still serviceable. What pushed matters forward was the support of Governor Ernest Lister (1870-1919) for the new building, something the Democrat hoped would immortalize his administration. So enthusiastic was Lister that, when large sums of money were finally appropriated in 1917 to begin work on the Wilder and White campus, he threw a party during which he ceremoniously burned every previous administration’s plans for a state capitol.
Renaissance and Restraint
Stage one called for construction of the Temple of Justice, with the more businesslike Insurance Building rising next. After it was agreed that Flagg’s foundations could be expanded, the Legislative Building was begun. Completing this third phase was especially challenging. Consider the immensity of the capitol’s self-supporting masonry dome alone. At the time of its building, it was the fourth-tallest dome in the world -- rising 287 feet above the ground. The dome weighed 30.8 million pounds. Spreading that extraordinary weight out equally over the building’s frame and ensuring that ground settling in the years after its construction wouldn’t leave the building somehow lopsided were tasks that required precise calculations and a great deal of testing.
The results were well worth the effort. Better than the national Capitol, the Olympia legislative complex fulfills Thomas Jefferson’s early dreams of a government center on a hill. In Olympia, Hitchcock and Seale enthuse in Temples of Democracy, "the American renaissance in state capitol building reached its climax."
For a structure conceived in the beaux-arts period, Wilder and White’s capitol is remarkably restrained, its decoration intended to add style to strength, not just frosting to a monumental cake. Stairs leading to the north-side main entrance offer an imposing approach but pass beneath a largely unadorned pediment. The building presents colonnades on all four elevations, but most of the columns used are the same unfluted sort found on other buildings in the capitol group, the exceptions being those that encircle the dome and at the north and south entrances, which sport Corinthian capitals. Wilder and White concentrated much of their decoration along the roofline, giving that an anthemion cresting, and at the east and west ends of the building where gables are fringed with dentiled cornices. The site’s original landscaping plan, developed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, and mostly in place by 1930, added the delights of trees and gardens to the dignity of the capitol and its attendant edifices.
Not until the 1980s did the capitol’s rotunda take on architectural complication consistent with the building’s exterior. A facelift, completed in 1986, saw plaster upper-level columns colored in imitation of the Alaska marble found elsewhere in the rotunda, and a Dutch metal that looks like gold was applied to their capitals. One hundred forty-eight rosettes decorating the dome space were colored to give them definition, and the five-ton Tiffany chandelier dangling from the ceiling received a good shine. A second extensive renovation, begun in 2002 and expected to last two years, will replace the capitol’s heating and cooling system, remove asbestos, modernize electrical systems, and repair damage caused by the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually Earthquake of February 2001.
Harry White and Walter Wilder will never see the result of these restoration efforts. After severing their partnership during the Depression years, Wilder grew increasingly unhappy following a split with his wife, and was compelled by a neurotic condition to retire in 1932 at the age of 57. Eighteen months later he was found dead, a .22-caliber rifle beside his body. The local coroner labeled the case a suicide. White joined a New York firm for a time, and died a relatively obscure widower in a small town.
It may be a good thing that Roland Hartley is no longer around to see what’s become of the Olympia capitol he so ridiculed. With all that fuss he made over the $47.50 spittoons, image how he’d react to news that the latest renovations to the Legislative Building are expected to cost about $100 million.
State Capitol (Willis Ritchie, 1891), Olympia, 1916
Photo by Asahel Curtis, Courtesy UW Special Collections (Curtis 25609)
State Capitol (Willis Ritchie, 1891), Olympia, 1910s
Washington State Capitol (Walter Wilder and Harry White, 1928) during construction, ca. 1928
Courtesy Washington State Department of General Administration
Washington State Capitol (Walter Wilder and Harry White, 1928), 1934
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The Complete Mr. Olympia Winners Gallery
The Mr. Olympia contest has served as a gold standard, determining who in the bodybuilding universe can rightly call themselves the best in the world—for the next 364 days, at least.
Since Joe Weider endeavored the inaugural event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music back in 1965, 15 men have won the title of Mr. Olympia, starting with Larry “the Legend” Scott and most recently, Brandon Curry. Each of these men has represented the pinnacle of his sport, and a number have gone up against one another in classic showdowns that are the stuff of legend. However, due to the span of time between the first and most recent editions, we’ll never get to witness all 15 champs duking it out onstage together.
Instead, we’re bringing you this gallery of champions, starting with Scott and finishing with the 2019 Sandow winner, Curry.
Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness
Mr. Olympia – The history of bodybuilding’s biggest contest
Evolutionofbodybuilding.net’s analysis the famous Mr. Olympia contest. From its beginnings in 1965, we take a look at each year and all the events that happened on that special evening.
In 1963, Joe Weider surveyed the available bodybuilding titles, and felt that none of them quite matched the vision he harbored of where the sport was headed. The Master Blaster instinctively realized that the current generation of bodybuilders was taking the sport to uncharted heights, and that they required a contest worthy of their talents. Joe came up with the ultimate contest, the ultimate prize for the ultimate physique, the Mr. Olympia, which materialized in 1965. Needless to say, the posing platform was forever transformed
1965 It all started on September 18, 1965. The crowd at the Brooklyn Academy of Music waited at the edge of their seats, screaming in anticipation. They clapped their hands, stomped their feet and yelled as loud as their lungs would allow for the blond superstar from California with arms too big to believe. The man they were waiting for was the legendary Larry Scott, and the reason why they were waiting was because this was the night of Joe Weider’s greatest creation. This was the night of the first ever Mr. Olympia contest.
Larry Scott was the bodybuilding superstar of his day, but by 1963 there were no more world to conquer. Scott had already won the Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles there was little left for him to prove. Besides proving anything, Scott already had a houseful of trophies and plaques and felt it was time to move on from bodybuilding and make some money.
Joe Weider recognized the need to keep Larry Scott in bodybuilding and the necessity to force the sport to grow. He created the Mr. Olympia contest to keep all the great Mr. Universe champions active in the sport and to give them the opportunity to earn money from competing. Joe could see that for the sport to succeed in the future, the champions would have to be able to make a living from competing in the sport just like other professional athletes.
1966 Larry Scott indeed won the first Mr. Olympia contest that hot September night in 1965 and repeated as Mr. Olympia again in 1966. He then announced his retirement and the 1967 crown was up for grabs.
1967, 1968 In 1967, Sergio Oliva (commonly known as “The Myth”) won the third Mr. Olympia contest in overpowering fashion. People wondered how much better Sergio could get. But better he was! In fact, he was so much better that he won the 1968 Mr. Olympia unopposed. You know true greatness when no one dares to challenge.
1969 Nevertheless, the greatest challenge to Sergio was waiting in the wings and 1969 commenced the greatest rivalry in the history of bodybuilding. Oliva was challenged by a young Austrian named Arnold Schwarzenegger. In a close battle, Sergio came out on top in 1969. He was now Mr. Olympia three years in a row, but Arnold promised that Sergio would never defeat him again.
1970 Both men trained hard for the following year and in September of 1970, Arnold edged out Sergio to become the third man to hold the Mr. Olympia title. He’d said he would hold the title until he retired and that he would never be beaten again.
1971 Arnold took the title unopposed in 1971. For the first time, the show was held outside of New York . The Mr. Olympia contest was held in Paris the same day the NABBA Universe was being held in London. Arnold, with his loyalty 100% behind the IFBB, competed in the Mr. Olympia while other great champions of that year chose to avoid Arnold and compete in the NABBA competition.
1972 , the Olympia moved to Essen, Germany, where it hosted another epic battle between Sergio and Arnold. Even today, more than 20 years later, people still argue over who should have won. The decision was made by seven judges and, by a four-to-three vote, Arnold held on to his Mr. Olympia title.
1973, the contest moved back to New York, and the Big Apple saw Arnold take the title for the fourth consecutive year with a victory over Franco Columbu and Serge Nubret. Most people felt it was an easy win for Arnold, but a huge challenge awaited him for the following year – the emergence of Lou Ferrigno on the pro scene.
1974 Standing 6″ and weighing 270 pounds, Lou was the largest competitor that Arnold had ever faced. The show was held in New York at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden. Arnold again showed his dominance and won the title for a fifth time, but rumors started to circulate that he was thinking of retiring.
1975 The Mr. Olympia moved to South Africa in 1975, forever preserved on film in “Pumping Iron”. Most people close to Arnold feel the only reason he competed in 1975 was because the contest was being filmed and it could possibly aid in kicking off his film career. Arnold won the contest easily and immediately announced his retirement.
1976, the contest moved to Columbus, Ohio, with Arnold serving as promoter along with Jim Lorimer. Franco Columbu finally won the Mr. Olympia title after trying for more than five years. It was not an easy victor, for he won by only an eyelash over Frank Zane. After the contest, Columbu announced his retirement while Zane immediately started training for the next year.
1977 The next year, 1977, turned out to be the year of Zane. Frank has promoted himself that way for the 12 months leading up to the contest. He came to Columbus ripped and ready. He felt that no one could match his muscle density and he was right.
1978 Almost like an instant replay, the 1978 show was again held in Columbus and Frank Zane walked away with the title. Frank proved that the Mr. Olympia winner did not necessarily have to be big, as what wins is quality.
1979, Zane made it three in a row. Could he go on forever? Would he challenge Arnold ‘s record of six Olympias in a row? Zane seemed unbeatable, but 1980 would prove to be the most controversial Olympia in history.
1980, the contest was held in Australia . The field of competitors was the largest to date (16), but it was the comeback of one that made the story. Many in the sport had seen Arnold training for weeks before the 1980 Mr. Olympia, but most felt in was for a movie. When Arnold boarded the plane for Australia with the other competitors, they thought he was going to do the TV commentary. Even at the contestants meeting, they though he was there because he was an IFBB promoter and official. It dawned on them that he was there to compete when his name was called and he selected a competitor number. Arnold won the Mr. Olympia title for a seventh time in 1980, but to this day, many people still wonder why he came back. Some observers at the time said the judging, as well as the location, was “down under”.
1981, Arnold switched back to being a promoter with Jim Lorimer and the contest was again held in Columbus. Not to be outdone by his famous friend, Franco Columbu staged a comeback himself and won the 1981 title in a tight contest of 16 contestants.
1982, London, England, hosted the show for the first time. Chris Dickerson won the title after finishing second the two previous years. After winning, Dickerson announced his retirement while onstage.
1983 The contest returned to Germany in 1983, but this time to Munich, where it was won by the Lion of Lebanon, Samir Bannout. He fought off tough challenges from Mohammed Makkawy from Egypt and newcomer Lee Haney from the USA . Samir had what it took to be a dominant champion, but no one foresaw the determination of Haney.
1984, the even moved back to New York City’s Felt Forum, where it has the highest attendance for the finals (5,000), the highest attendance for prejudging (4,000) and the largest amount of total prize money ($100,000) for any Olympia up to that time. It also featured the largest Mr. Olympia winner, Lee Haney. Haney won weighing 247 pounds at a height of 5”. He was big, he was massive and he was cut. Also, he was unbeatable.
1985, the show was held in Belgium for the first time. Haney was dominant again, fishing off the challenges of Albert Beckles and Rich Gaspari. It was now two and counting for Lee. Many people feel that the Lee Haney onstage in 1986 rendition in Columbus may have been the greatest Mr. Olympia ever. Lee took his third straight crown and began setting his sights on Arnold ‘s record.
1987, the Mr. Olympia contest moved to Sweden, but the first place result was the same. Haney was head and shoulders above all the others. He had now won four in a row and Arnold ‘s record was definitely within his reach.
1988 In 1988, Los Angeles was the host city of the Olympia . The Universal Amphitheater was jammed by 6,000 people who came to see if Lee Haney could continue in his quest of becoming the greatest Mr. Olympia ever. With prize money at its highest level, $150,000, Haney again won easily, making it five straight times. For the third year in a row, Rich Gaspari placed second.
1989 The next year brought the Mr. Olympia to Rimini, Italy, on the beautiful Adriatic coast. This would prove to be Haney’s toughest defense as he has to fight of the challenges of Lee Labrada and Vince Taylor. For the first time, people doubted Haney’s dominance and many people said that he was lucky to win, but win he did, and in doing so he tied Arnold ‘s record of six consecutive Mr. Olympia victories.
1990, 4,400 people packed Chicago ‘s Arie Crown Theater. Prize money hit $200,000 for the first time as Haney tried to make in seven in a row. If 1989 was tough for Haney, 1990 was the year he almost lost. After two rounds, he was behind by two points, but he rallied in the posing round and posedown to best Lee Labrada and Shawn Ray. Haney now had seven consecutive Mr. Olympia titles.
1991 Orlando, Florida, was the site of the 1991 Mr. Olympia . Haney was going for eight in a row, but for the first time he was up against a man who was the same height (5”) and weight (245 pounds) in Dorian Yates, the Beast from Britain . Four points separated them after two rounds, but Haney pulled away in rounds three and four to seize his eighth championship in a row.
1992, the Mr. Olympia contest moved to Helsinki, Finland. A new Mr. Olympia would be crowned that year because Lee Haney had decided to retire after a record setting eight consecutive victories. The contest was close after the first round between U.S. National Champion of 1991, Kevin Levrone, and the 1991 Mr. Olympia runner up, Dorian Yates. But after the first round, Yates started pulling away and won in convincing fashion.
A new Mr. Olympia was crowned, but did a new era begin?
1993 Nothing could stop the amazing Yates in 1993 as he rocketed the scales at a record 257 pounds in Atlanta. Even runner-up Flex Wheeler called him “untouchable”. Yates certainly seemed set for a long reign in the manner of other great Mr. Olympias.
1994 However, the Brit endured a horrendous year in 1994. In early March, he severely damaged his left rotator cuff, and then later on the month, he tore his left quad. He battled his way through, but with the Olympia less then nine weeks away, he tore his left biceps. Displaying true blood and guys, even that injury could not end Yates’ Olympia dream. He duly arrived in Atlanta to take his third Sandow statuette, but questions were raised as to what was previously thought to be his invincibility.
1995 If doubts were raised about Yates’s reign he didn’t hear, or head, them. He returned to Atlanta in 1995 to score a straight firsts victory in what many rate his best ever form. Kevin Levrone hulked into second place a new threat emerged in his spot in the 270 pound shape of Nasser El Sonbaty. Not that Yates was the only Mr. O onstage that night, as in a unique ceremony, for the first time ever, all nine men who have so far won the Olympia crown assembled onstage to pay homage to the contest’s creator, Joe Weider.
1996, after a three-year tenure, the Olympia left Atlanta and moved to Chicago . In the Windy City, Yates, more streamlined that we’ve ever seen him, cruised to victory, closely followed by Shawn Ray and Kevin Levrone. It was the Brit’s fifth victory, and, as in 1994, doubts about his invincibility began to surface.
1997, the Mr. Olympia road show arrived in Long Beach to celebrate the 33rd rendition of bodybuilding’s ultimate contest. Total prize money was $285,000, first place was worth $110,000, and the bodybuilders are recognized as professional athletes in the truest sense of the world. Dorian Yates was now going for six Olympia titles in a row. Could he make it six in a row? Would he make a run at Haney’s record of eight in a row? It was a hard fought contest. Nasser El Sonbaty came in at his best condition to date and pushed Dorian hard, but in the end, once again, in a very close race, Dorian succeeded for the sixth time as Mr. Olympia. Some felt that Nasser was better, and had been cheated out of a victory! With Dorian announcing moments after winning the contest that he would be back to get a seventh title in 1998, it set up an interesting confrontation. What most people did not know is that Dorian had suffered a torn triceps a few months before the show, and had said nothing about it and competed.
1998 now arrived, and Dorian had decided, after he had surgery to repair the torn triceps, that, due to lingering injuries, not to compete in this year’s Mr. Olympia in New York and to retire. With the great Yates done, that meant a new Mr. Olympia would be crowned in New York on October 10, 1998 . This would be one exciting show, with a guaranteed new winner! The Mr. Olympia contest, which only Joe Weider had the imagination to create, is now firmly established as bodybuilding’s show of shows. From intense competition, Ronnie Coleman came from out of nowhere for a dramatic win. With Flex Wheeler and Ronnie Coleman competing for the top prize, a new king was elected. Ronnie Coleman, with his massive back and freaky posture, became the latest Mr. Olympia. His fellow competitors sportingly congratulated the cop from Texas on his narrow victory, but privately they knew they had blown an opportunity to go down in history. Afterward, debate raged whether Coleman’s victory was a one time affair, or the beginning of a new Mr. O dynasty. Not since Samir Bannout in 1983 had there been a one year Mr. Olympia. Haney has won eight in a row, Yates six. Would Coleman flash and fizzle or solidify his grip on power?
1999 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA: The answer came in Las Vegas, at the ornate Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas strip on October 23, 1999 . The venue itself was completely sold out! There, 17 warriors took the stage, with Coleman and Flex Wheeler locked in a close battle. Wheeler had done his homework, but the reigning Mr. Olympia would leave no doubters this night. Chris Cormier placed 3rd, with his best physique ever at this show, and when Ronnie was called the winner Flex turned his back on the judges, and lifted his finger saying he was #1. But Ronnie proved to the world that he is the Mr. Olympia king! Ronnie Coleman was even bigger than he had been the previous year, and his sparkling condition held throughout. He won his second consecutive title.
2000 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA: On October 21, 2000, the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino again played host as Coleman took another step toward placing his name among the greatest of them all by winning his 3rd consecutive Mr. Olympia. Challenges came from Flex Wheeler and Kevin Levrone, but incredibly, Ronnie was even bigger then he was in the past Mr. Olympia. Ronnie was untouchable.
2001 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA: On October 27, 2001, Jay Cutler came from out of nowhere to capture the first two rounds of the Mr. Olympia, and gave Ronnie Coleman one of his biggest scares of his life, and one of the most exciting Olympia ‘s ever! During the evening show, Ronnie Coleman won both rounds, and beat Jay Cutler by an extremely close score, by six points. With some fans swearing that Jay should have won the show, and a press conference two days before that was one of the most exciting in years, it was an incredible year!
2002 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA: On October 19, 2002, Ronnie Coleman won the show, but controversy erupted again as Kevin Levrone won both the evening rounds, while Gunter Schlierkamp came from out of nowhere to become one of the crowd favorites of the night. Another exciting contest. Ronnie prevailed … but just barely.
What set this Olympia apart from most others in recent history was the spectator response to German gentle-giant Gunter Schlierkamp. Gunter had captured the hearts and minds of the Mr. Olympia audience and seemed on the verge of capturing the title itself as the Champ appeared vulnerable against a much bigger and harder competitor. Gunter had never looked better and he seemed to have unlocked the secret to finally realizing his incredible potential. Rarely has a competitor received so much love from an audience as Gunter did the evening of October 2002, with an unprecedented standing ovation from an incredibly appreciative audience.
2003 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA: On October 25, 2003, there was no doubt that Ronnie Coleman was the clear-cut winner. He looked inhuman. He looked awesome. Three months before the Olympia, the talk was that this Olympia would be the greatest ever, with Gunter Schlierkamp, Chris Cormier and Jay Cutler having a good chance of taking away the title from Ronnie. It didn’t happen. A few days before the big show, Chris Cormier pulled out and Gunter faded into 5th place. The night was Ronnie’s. Whatever doubt people had was dispelled as soon as Ronnie hit the stage. He was in his best shape ever, at 39 years old.
2004 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA: The headlines read “King Ronnie crowned by the Governator!” On October 30, 2004, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger walked onto the Olympia stage holding the Sandow trophy and presented it to Ronnie Coleman for tying his record of 7 wins. Ronnie Coleman looked dominant and inspiring a solid 1st-place across the board. Like last year, he was unbeatable. Second went to Jay Cutler, and third went to Gustavo Badell.
This would be the year that American Media Inc, Weider Publications and the IFBB teamed up to promote the Olympia Weekend, raising the total prize money to $540,000. This would also be the year of the controversial “Challenge Round”, which many opined the most entertaining addition to the Mr. Olympia contest in years albeit, not without some flaws that will need correcting if it resurfaces in 2005.
2005 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA : For the first time since Ronnie Coleman won the Sandow in 1998, a competitor caught him from behind. That man was Jay Cutler, and whenever the two went mano-a-mano in a back pose, it was evident how far Cutler had come in his development. In a feat many thought would never happen, Coleman, he of the freaky mass and stunning detail in his lats, mid-back and traps, was far from a shoo-in on this pose.
However, in the end, even that wasn’t enough to stop the reign of Coleman, who, on October 15, 2005, made it eight in a row, tying him with Lee Haney for the Olympia record. And, in a repeat of last year, second went to Jay Cutler and third went to Gustavo Badell. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped onstage with Joe and Ben Weider and received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd onhand to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Mr. Olympia.
2006 September 30, 2006 is a day that will live in bodybuilding lore forever. A capacity crowd at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas bore witness to history, but it was not the history many had expected. Ronnie Coleman, going for his record-breaking ninth Sandow trophy, instead lost to four-time runner-up Jay Cutler, and by a convincing margin by bodybuilding standards, 22 to 38 (lowest score wins). In fact, Cutler won all four rounds of the show.
Although Coleman was losing after the prejudging, the champ did not go down without a fight. In arguably the best posing routine ever seen on an Olympia stage, Coleman had world-famous boxing announcer Bruce Buffer step out on stage to announce him – Ronnie then came down through the crowd to a raucous ovation. After ducking backstage, a few moments later he reappeared in a Moses costume, long white beard and all.
But in the end, a slightly better physique beat the better showman on this night, as Cutler’s extra 10 pounds of size and sharp improvements finally put him over the top.
For the first time in nearly a decade, we head into the 2007 Mr. Olympia with a new defending champion. Jay Cutler overcame the odds in defeating the already legendary Ronnie Coleman, who returns for another attempt at record breaking number nine. “Jay didn’t beat me. He’s just holding the Sandow for me until I take it back, which I will come September,” promises Ronnie. But Jay’s not looking to relinquish his crown anytime soon. “I worked too long and too hard for this, it’s mine and I’m keeping it,” says a determined Cutler. This year, he’ll have to fight off not only a rejuvenated Ronnie Coleman, but a very hungry Victor Martinez, finally realizing his true potential as a premier bodybuilder. Ronnie, Victor, Gustavo Badell, and Melvin Anthony, all of whom know that the first title defense will surely be the hardest will bring their best game to overthrow Jay’s hopes of starting his own dynasty.
2007 Mr. Olympia was viewed by many as a “less-than-stellar performance” by Jay Cutler who, after the prejudging, admitted he was “a little off”. At the end of rounds 1 and 2 [symmetry and muscularity], the official scorecard had Jay ahead of Victor Martinez by only one point (although many had Jay as low as fourth or fifth, there being no doubt in their minds that Jay was as smooth as Victor was sharp). A day later at the finals, Martinez took round 3 [posing routines] by a point over Jay and the two were now tied going into round 4 [mandatory poses and posedown].
Jay won this final round [and the contest] by 3 points over Victor and became a multi-Olympia winner on the same night as 8-time Olympia champion, Ronnie Coleman, made his final bow on the Mr. O stage, finishing fourth and getting several standing ovations from the sold-out Orleans Arena crowd.
In third place was Dexter Jackson, a validation for “The Blade” that he is still a force to be reckoned with, as he beat out Coleman, a hard-charging Dennis Wolf in fifth, and Marvelous Melvin Anthony in sixth. Perhaps no one made a bigger stride in this contest than Wolf. The German was a huge crowd favorite, and showed every ounce of his future Mr. Olympia potential.
2008 Late on Saturday evening, September 27, at the Orlean Arena, Las Vegas, and with the placings of the 17 other competitors participating in the 2008 Mr. Olympia already decided, the two men still awaiting their fate walked to center stage. One who had been there many times before, and one who until this year never imagined he would. And in the end, after 10 years and 47 contests, Dexter Jackson finally rose to the top of the sport by toppling two-time and reigning champion Jay Cutler on the way to the biggest win of his career.
Although the 235-pound Jackson gave up roughly 30 pounds to Cutler at the Friday prejudging, Jackson’s superior conditioning and aesthetics were rewarded over Cutler’s sheer size. On the final scorecards, the two were separated by seven points.
Although the Jackson-Cutler matchup grabbed the headlines, it was not the only story line that developed over the two-day contest. Nearly each of the top eight hit the mark, making it one of the most competitive Olympias in recent memory. And, standing at the forefront of that pack was Olympia rookie Phil Heath. Heath established himself – for now – as the best of the new breed. The 28-year-old finished third – the highest finish for an Olympia rookie since Flex Wheeler placed second to Dorian Yates in 1993.
Dennis Wolf, who entered the contest being mentioned by some as the main threat to Cutler’s three-peat, did not make the impact he was expected to. Despite finishing fourth, the German lacked both the conditioning and – incredibly – the overwhelming size he displayed when bursting onto the scene with his fifth-place finish a year ago. Toney Freeman’s fifth-place finish was greeted with the loudest boos from the audience. Freeman managed to at least match his conditioning and size from the 2007 Ironman, widely regarded as his best-ever showing. Melvin Anthony made the final posedown for the third consecutive year, placing sixth for the second straight Olympia.
2009 He wanted this one – bad. Last year, when Jay Cutler lost the Sandow to Dexter Jackson, it seemed that the rumors of his inability to dial it in for the big show – Cutler barely eked out a victory over Victor Martinez in 2007 – might be true after all. Twice now, he had failed to peak on the one night when a champion is expected to bring no less than his best. Increasing the odds of Cutler never regaining the top spot was the long list of former Mr. Olympia’s who lost the Sandow and failed to win it back. Until now.
Maybe it took losing what he already had to push Cutler further than even he thought possible, because on Saturday, September 26 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Cutler beat the odds – again – to become Joe Weider’s 2009 Mr. Olympia, the first man in the history of the sport to reclaim the title.
Big, hard and dry with the sickest front quads in the show, Cutler brought his best physique since winning the Olympia in 2006 (maybe even surpassing his 2001 Olympia form, where he finished runner-up to Ronnie Coleman) with superior size and crisp detail from every angle. They say shows are won from the back and it was certainly the case here as he sported striated glutes and a tight lower back, that, coupled with his width and thickness, shut the lights on the competition. Now tying Sergio Oliva and Frank Zane as a three-time Mr. Olympia, Cutler has succeeded where so many others have failed.
The biggest surprise of the show was fan favorite Branch Warren in second. Warren was bigger than ever with the same level of grainy hardness he displayed earlier in the year at the Arnold Classic.
2010 In a dramatic decision that had the capacity crowd at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas rocking and roaring, Jay Cutler was announced the winner of the 2010 Mr. Olympia. The win marked Iron Jay’s fourth in five years.
Throughout the weekend speculation abounded that the contest would come down to Cutler and Phil Heath, with experts and fans alike being nearly equally divided as to who would prevail. In the end it was Jay’s mass that trumped Phil’s classical lines.
Taking third was a highly impressive Branch Warren, who slipped a notch from his runner-up placing of last year. The Texas Tornado squeaked by a near-peak form Dexter Jackson, who also fell one placing from his third place spot of last year.
In what has to be considered a victory of sorts, Dennis Wolf rose from a DNP last year to fifth place this, and rounding out the top six was the contest’s dark horse, Ronny Rockel.
Seventh place went to Kai Greene, who was noticeably off from his best condition. Victor Martinez came back from a knee injury to take eighth (accompanied by the loudest boos of the evening). Toney Freeman finished in ninth and Hidetada Yamagishi took tenth.
In addition to the competitive history made in Vegas tonight, 11 of the 12 Mr. Olympia winners (Arnold Schwarzenegger being the exception) took the stage along with Mr. Olympia founder Joe Weider in celebration of the contest’s 45th anniversary.
2011 “Your best is good enough!” a voice bellows from the audience at the Mr. Olympia press conference after Phil Heath speaks. Cut to 34 hours later, and Heath is standing at center stage shoulder to shoulder with Jay Cutler – his close friend, his mentor, the four-time and reigning Mr. O – and before their final pose, Heath claps his hands, savoring the moment he dreamt about for a decade, and grins that Gift grin as he winds up his most muscular, and any lingering doubts evaporate as he shows everyone – judges, journalists, fans and critics – in Orleans Arena and the bodybuilding world outside that this is his time, this is his stage, this will soon be his title. His best is good enough. He will be number 13.
As the first 8 awards are handed out, Heath and Cutler, side by side, talk, expressing sentiments that only they hear but which you can now know. Heath: “Thanks for never letting our friendship get messed up with this whole industry.” Smiling, Cutler nods. “You’re gonna be the king now. Are you ready?” Heath: “Yeah, I’m ready, because you showed me how to do this.” Cutler: “Wait for it, because it’s coming. You’re going to be king of the bodybuilding world.” Ever present of image and wary of cliches, the champ in the final minutes of his reign, adds, “And don’t fall to your knees.” Heath laughs.
Andy then they wait, the king for the past two years and four of the last five, and the king for the next year and perhaps beyond. They wait as emcee Cicherillo milks the tension. And when, finally, at 10:05 pm PST, September 17, 2011, he hears his name, Heath’s knees buckle and he shields his eyes and doubles over, but he does not fall to the stage.
2012 Phil Heath earned his second Sandow Olympia trophy in a row, continuing the tradition of consecutive Mr. Olympia title earners. Phil Health had to fight of a inform Kai Greene, but Heath’s perfect symmetry won him the title.
Branch Warren returned following last year’s quad injury. Evan Centopani made his debut on the Olympia stage following last year’s decision to skip the event. There had been pre-contest speculation that Abbaspour and Smalls might not compete, but both showed up only to land at the bottom of the pack. Jay Cutler vows to return at the 2013 Mr Olympia.
2013 Phil Heath went on to win his third Mr. Olympia convincingly . Jay Cutler made his comeback to place sixth. Kai Greene placed second while Dennis Wolf’s hard work paid off as he placed third.
In 2014 Phil Heath defended his title for the fourth time. Kai Greene placed second while Shawn Rhoden finished third.
From 2015-2017, Phil Heath continued to dominate the sport, edging past the likes of Dexter Jackson, Shawn Rhoden and Big Ramy.
Phil Heath would go on to win seven consecutive Mr. Olympia titles, the same about that Arnold Schwarzenegger won and one short from Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney’s record.
In 2018, Shawn Rhoden did what nobody could do for the past seven years, defeat Phil Heath.
Phil Heath was suffering from some abdominal issues since the 2017 Mr. Olympia. Phil had to have an operation to correct an injury, but he still arrived to defend his title.
Regardless of how all the other athletes arrived, Shawn Rhoden was the best man in the stage as he presented a fantastic physique.
The 2019 Mr. Olympia was a very strange contest. It was being organized under new management, Dan Solomon put together a new team to organize the Olympia Weekend.
Controversy hit the event hard when 2018 Mr. Olympia Shawn Rhoden was charged with rape. The case is still ongoing. The owner of the event, AMI decided that they would not let Shawn Rhoden defend his title.
7X Mr. Olympia Phil Heath and Big Ramy were also absent from the event.
This left the contest wide open with top athletes such as William Bonac, Dexter Jackson, Hadi Choopan and Brandon Curry fighting for the vacant title.
Brandon Curry would be the last man standing at the end of the show to become only the 15th man to win the Sandow Trophy. William Bonac placed second while Hadi Choopan took third and Dexter Jackson had to settle for fourth.
OLYMPIA BREWERIANA - Pre-Prohibition
Leopold Schmidt died in 1914, just before prohibition forces triumphed in Washington and Oregon. The Olympia brewery group was then lead by Leopold's eldest son Peter. Prohibition came to Washington in Jan. 1916 - four years prior to national prohibition, yet the Schmidt family still had the two Acme plants in San Francisco where they continued to produce beer, but not Olympia Beer.
Brewing basically ceased in Washington in 1915, allowing brewers one year to deplete their inventory and dismantle their operations. However, the Schmidt family chose to carry on with a near beers called "German Brew" (at right), "Lact Dark," an Olympia Malt Extract, and an Olympia Artesian Water. They also produced a slightly sparkling apple drink called "Applju" (see ad below). It's slogan was "Drink an Apple" and they later made a heavily sparkling version they referred to as an "apple champagne." A loganberry product called "Loju" was produced in their branch brewery in Salem. Unfortunately, all fruit juice production was terminated in 1921 due to a sugar shortage caused by World War I in Europe.
With the advent of National Prohibition in 1920 the Schmidt family undertook many other business ventures, the most significant of which was their hotels. As a normal business practice many brewers had acquired saloons and hotels as exclusive outlets for their product. By the early 20's the Schmidt family controlled a large number of luxury hotels, with a presence in all of the major northwestern cities. So they decided to sell off all their inactive breweries and beverage operations (including the 1906 Tumwater Brewhouse), and concentrate on their Western Hotels chain. This would become the nucleus of the present day Westin Hotels.
They also started a bus transport business that would later become part of the Greyhound Bus Lines.
With Repeal of Prohibition in April of 1933, Peter Schmidt had only the Tumwater property and no brewery. He was faced with prospect of reacquiring the Old Brewhouse and undertaking a costly restoration and remodel. He decided instead to build a new, modern plant up on the hill above the original site. See painting below.
With Repeal also came new legislation that forbad brewers from owning "tied houses" or any business that sold beer. Consequently they had to divest themselves of the hotels and concentrate on a single brewery in Tumwater. The plant was completed, and on January 14, 1934 "Olympia Beer" was back.
They reprised their 1914 label (above left) and it remained relatively unchanged (middle). While imitation may be the highest form of flattery, I don't imagine that Olympia was flattered with the blatant copy of their label by the Utah Brewing Company of Salt Lake City, with its Olympus Beer label (right). They also had a trademark assult from the Northwest Brewing Co. and had to request an injunction preventing them from using the brand name "Olympic Club" and the slogan "It's the Beer." The injunction was granted on 31 Jan. 1933 and the subsequent appeal by Northwest failed.
In December of 1935, Olympia introduced a short-necked, 11 oz. bottle called the "stubby." It had the same capacity as the long neck but took up less room in the home refrigerator, and six-packs stacked nicely in grocery displays. Olympia was the first west coast brewery to adopt this style, and with the added advantage of being a "no return" bottle there was no deposit required. This new bottle was quickly adopted by the majority of the breweries.
Note: This isn't a "steinie." The Steinie was also an 11 oz. squat bottle, but it has a longer neck which is slightly bulbous.
Olympia Brewery painting ca.1938
Sales were strong, and the brand was soon available in all of the western states, and by 1940, Olympia had surpassed its pre-prohibition production. The company stayed solely with draft and bottled beer until 1950. In August of that year they introduced their first canned beer (shown below). The can's graphics remained unchanged until the '60s when the zip-tab was introduced - and can openers became a thing of the past.
After WWII the old brewhouse was being used by Western Metal Craft for cabinet manufacturing but were gone in the early '50s and it remained vacant. In 1964 the family repurchased the the old brewhouse and the other buildings on the water, and used them for storage.
Olympia Brewery ca.1989
Olympia Breweriana - Post Prohibition
Warning : Unscrupulous people will take images of signs use them to produce fake collectibles. The embossed sign above was used to make this fake Olympia ashtray.
Olympia produced a great number of display items and signs through the '60s & '70s, which have become popular with collectors. They did three wild life series of wall plagues (below), the first and second of which was just the heads, and the third was of full figures. They also did a wildlife series of beer mugs which surprisingly didn't have "Olympia Beer" prominently displayed on them.
Brew House today - K. Williams Collection
Today, the Old Brewhouse remains Tumwater’s best known landmark as part of Tumwater’s New Market Historic District, and is listed on the National and Washington Registers of Historic Places. After the 2016 donation of the brick tower to the City of Tumwater, tours of the complex have been restricted in the interest of safety during renovation stages. The City of Tumwater has made preservation of the historic structure and revitalization of the brewing district a priority.