Ronnie Coleman — Bodybuilding Career, Competition History, and Biography

If you consider the bodybuilding panorama within the late ‘90s and early 2000s, one title rises above all the remainder: Ronnie Coleman. For practically a decade, “The King” laid waste to his competitors, securing a file eight Mr. Olympia titles (tied with Lee Haney) and 26 professional wins throughout a profession that revolutionized your entire sport. 

Past his performances on the stage, Coleman can also be remembered amongst pure energy athletes as one of many strongest bodybuilders ever, due to feats like his iconic 800-pound squat, which has more than 60 million views on YouTube.

You possibly can be taught extra concerning the life and profession of this bodybuilding icon under.

Ronnie Coleman
Credit score: B.Stefanov / Shutterstock

[Related: 10 Facts About the Mr. Olympia Bodybuilding Competition]

Early Life and Police Profession

Ronnie Coleman was born in Bastrop, Louisiana, on Could 13, 1964, and later performed faculty football as a center linebacker for legendary coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling State College.

He graduated with a level in accounting and appeared to place his training to good use with a profession crunching numbers. However after relocating to Texas, Coleman couldn’t land a job within the subject, so he answered an advert for a police officer place whereas working at a Domino’s Pizza

He graduated from the police academy quickly after and joined the Arlington Police Division. Amazingly, he’d stay on the drive till 2004, at the same time as he later racked up Mr. Olympia wins on the high of the game. 

Turning Professional

Alongside the way in which, Coleman began coaching on the famed Metroflex Gymnasium in Arlington. It was right here the place proprietor Brian Dobson noticed the 24-year-old’s potential in bodybuilding and satisfied him to compete in a contest in exchange for a free health club membership.

Coleman finally started coming into native bodybuilding exhibits and gained the title of Mr. Texas in 1990. He turned professional the following yr with a victory on the Worldwide Federation of Bodybuilding & Health (IFBB) World Newbie Championships. That victory earned him an invitation to compete within the 1992 Mr. Olympia, the place he completed outdoors of the highest 15 in his debut.

[Related: 10 Bodybuilders With the Most Impressive Olympia Debuts in History]

He returned to the Olympia stage in 1994, ending in fifteenth. His first professional win got here one yr later on the Canada Professional Cup, which earned him one other journey to the Olympia, the place he moved as much as eleventh. He repeated as Canada Professional Cup champion in 1996 and rose as much as sixth on the Olympia that yr.

Although Coleman’s trajectory was pointing up, a third-place end on the 1997 Ironman contest had him briefly contemplating retirement. On the present, he positioned behind runner-up finisher Lee Priest, who was six inches shorter and virtually 60 kilos lighter. Although he later called the loss probably the most “painful” of his profession, Coleman determined to hold on, and he wound up ending ninth at that yr’s Mr. Olympia.

Coleman’s greatest victory at this level in his profession got here after the Olympia on a world tour with the IFBB, the place he defeated Kevin Levrone on the Grand Prix in Russia. This served because the kickoff for his run to the highest of the game.

Ronnie Coleman’s First Mr. Olympia

Coleman gained two exhibits in 1998 and positioned second in one other earlier than coming into Madison Sq. Backyard in New York Metropolis for that yr’s Mr. Olympia.

This was the primary Olympia following Dorian Yates’ retirement, so followers had been assured to see a brand new champion for the primary time in six years. Flex Wheeler, Kevin Levrone, Shawn Ray, and Nasser El Sonbaty ranked among the many favorites, whereas Coleman was, at greatest, an afterthought.

However one thing had modified within the yr since Coleman’s final Olympia look: He started working with new coach Chad Nicholls. The duo immediately gelled, and Coleman walked onto the stage that yr looking bigger and extra conditioned than ever. 

In an enormous assertion to your entire business, Coleman gained that yr’s high prize in an upset for the ages — however he was removed from completed. 

“The King” gained a string of exhibits afterward, together with two extra Olympia titles in 1999 and 2000. He was a preventing champion, showing in contests world wide and repeatedly besting the likes of Wheeler, Levrone, Ray, and Chris Cormier. However he started going through stiffer competitors as his burgeoning dynasty marched on.

A Dynasty Put to the Take a look at 

Coleman began 2001 by successful the Arnold Classic, marking the one time a reigning Mr. Olympia had gained the present. However he bumped into some surprising bother later that yr when he went to defend his Olympia crown.  

On the present that yr in Vegas, a younger Jay Cutler pushed the champ to his limits — and even at the moment, many suppose “The King” deserved the runner-up spot that evening, particularly after he misplaced on factors to Cutler after the prejudging spherical. Although Coleman finally eeked by in a controversial determination, it was the primary time he appeared susceptible since 1998.

[Related: The Story Behind the Chaotic Drug-Tested 1990 Mr. Olympia]

The 2002 Olympia noticed Coleman once more beat out Levrone and Cormier for the title, and it appeared like he was absolutely again on monitor to proceed his run. However he and the remainder of the bodybuilding world had been in for a shock a couple of weeks later on the GNC Present of Energy contest. 

Coleman confirmed as much as the competitors in New Orleans off the mark; Germany’s Günter Schlierkamp, alternatively, was extra spectacular than ever. By evening’s finish, the 300-pound Schlierkamp scored a titanic upset, leaving Coleman as the primary reigning Mr. Olympia to lose a non-Olympia contest since Sergio Oliva misplaced to Arnold Schwarzenegger on the 1970 Mr. World.

Redemption Track

Trying to reclaim his spot as the game’s unmatched juggernaut, Coleman went to work and educated heavier and tougher than ever, chronicling his grueling prep within the exercise video The Price of Redemption

He returned to the Olympia in 2003 at an astonishing 287 kilos and made fast work of Cutler and Schierkamp en path to his sixth Sandow trophy. It was the identical story in 2004, however he had placed on much more weight to fill out his already huge physique. 

His eighth and remaining Olympia win got here in 2005, when he tied Lee Haney’s mark for probably the most titles ever. He appeared to safe sole possession of the file in 2006, however a dialed-in Cutler lastly managed to dethrone his longtime rival as soon as and for all after a five-year pursuit. 

Coleman tried a comeback in 2007, however he tumbled down the standings to fourth place. It was his remaining present as an expert bodybuilder.

Ronnie Coleman’s Competitors Historical past

Coleman’s bodybuilding profession ended with 26 professional wins and eight Mr. Olympia titles to his credit score. Right here’s his full contest historical past, courtesy of Muscle Memory:

  • 1990 NPC Nationals, third (Heavyweight)
  • 1991 NPC Nationals, 4th (Heavyweight)
  • 1991 NPC USA Championships, 14th (Heavyweight)
  • 1991 IFBB World Newbie Championships, 1st (Heavyweight)
  • 1992 Chicago Professional Championships, eleventh
  • 1992 Night time of Champions, 14th
  • 1992 Mr. Olympia, Didn’t place
  • 1993 Chicago Professional Championships, sixth
  • 1993 IFBB Grand Prix France, 4th
  • 1993 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, sixth
  • 1993 Niagara Falls Professional, sixth
  • 1994 IFBB Grand Prix France, third
  • 1994 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, third
  • 1994 Mr. Olympia, fifteenth
  • 1994 San Jose Professional Invitational, 4th
  • 1995 Canada Professional Cup, 1st
  • 1995 IFBB Grand Prix France, 4th
  • 1995 IFBB Grand Prix Russia, sixth
  • 1995 IFBB Grand Prix Ukraine, third
  • 1995 Houston Professional Championships, sixth
  • 1995 Night time of Champions, third
  • 1995 Mr. Olympia, eleventh
  • 1996 Canada Professional Cup, 1st
  • 1996 Florida Professional Invitational, 2nd
  • 1996 IFBB Grand Prix England, fifth
  • 1996 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, fifth
  • 1996 IFBB Grand Prix Spain, fifth
  • 1996 Night time of Champions, 2nd
  • 1996 Mr. Olympia, sixth
  • 1997 Arnold Traditional, 4th
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Czech Republic, 4th
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix England, fifth
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Finland, third
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, fifth
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Hungary, sixth
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Russia, 1st
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Spain, seventh
  • 1997 Ironman Professional Invitational, third
  • 1997 Mr. Olympia, ninth
  • 1997 San Jose Professional Invitational, sixth
  • 1998 IFBB Grand Prix Finland, 1st
  • 1998 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, 1st
  • 1998 San Francisco Professional, 2nd
  • 1998 Night time of Champions, 1st
  • 1998 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1998 Toronto Professional, 1st
  • 1999 IFBB Grand Prix England, 1st
  • 1999 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1999 World Professional Championships, 1st
  • 2000 IFBB Grand Prix England, 1st
  • 2000 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 2000 World Professional Championships, 1st
  • 2001 Arnold Traditional, 1st
  • 2001 IFBB Grand Prix New Zealand, 1st
  • 2001 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 2002 IFBB Grand Prix Holland, 1st
  • 2002 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 2002 Present of Energy Professional Championships, 2nd
  • 2003 IFBB Grand Prix Russia, 1st
  • 2003 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 2004 IFBB Grand Prix England, 1st
  • 2004 IFBB Grand Prix Holland, 1st
  • 2004 IFBB Grand Prix Russia, 1st
  • 2004 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 2005 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 2006 IFBB Grand Prix Austria, 2nd
  • 2006 IFBB Grand Prix Holland, 2nd
  • 2006 IFBB Grand Prix Romania, 2nd
  • 2006 Mr. Olympia, 2nd
  • 2007 Mr. Olympia, 4th

“The King’s” Coaching Model 

Given his sheer measurement and energy, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Coleman briefly dabbled on the planet of powerlifting early in his profession. He even gained a handful of deadlift-only meets in Texas in his 20s, and he continued to make use of heavy compound lifts all through his Olympia run.

Although he’s nonetheless identified for feats like an 800-pound deadlift and 495-pound bench press (for reps!), he additionally carried out extra conventional bodybuilding workouts, like this again routine that mixes free weights and machines:

Ronnie Coleman’s Accidents and Surgical procedures

The years of heavy lifting and continuous coaching finally caught as much as Coleman, and he was pressured to bear over a dozen surgical procedures within the mid-2010s to restore numerous hip and back issues. These operations left him utilizing crutches and a wheelchair to maneuver round extra comfortably. 

These struggles had been chronicled within the 2018 documentary Ronnie Coleman: The King, which focuses on his life in retirement. However regardless of the setbacks, Coleman nonetheless goes to the health club repeatedly and is invested in passing his knowledge down to the following era of bodybuilders.

“The King” Receives His Accolades

Even in retirement, Coleman stays a well-liked determine within the bodybuilding world due to the launch of a complement line, appearances at conventions and on podcasts, and a strong social media presence that has earned him practically 7 million followers on Instagram.

[Related: Best Pre-Workout Supplements of 2023]

In 2016, Coleman was inducted into the Worldwide Sports activities Corridor of Fame, due to his monumental physique of labor and long-lasting affect on bodybuilding. Then in 2021, he was honored with the Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award

The venerable Coleman remains to be revered by athletes and followers internationally, and he has vowed to remain concerned with the game that he credit for the success he enjoys at the moment.

Featured Picture: B.Stefanov / Shutterstock

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