It hardly seems that it was 18 years ago when I staged my first Ms. Olympia. For that matter, it's even more amazing to me that it was 33 years ago when I staged the first Mr. Olympia contest! It was my idea to provide the bodybuilding world with an undisputed champion, sort of like boxing's heavyweight champion of the world,and to provide our sport's best with an opportunity to make a living from bodybuilding. By now, of course, the reality of a bodybuilding circuit that annually has its climax in the Mr. Olympia contest is considered unremarkable, but at the time the concept was completely unheard of.
In the beginning, it was tough sledding. Publicity had to be generated to ensure that the event got off the ground during its inaugural year of 1965. Considerable sums had to be invested in organizing the even in such a manner that it was immediately seen as an international event of consequence, and not as just another regional contest that pretended to be a world class competition. No, I insisted that our 'World Series; was going to be a real World Series right from the beginning. With this in mind, I created the Mr. Olympia contest, as well as the Ms. Olympia 15 years later, and limited the field of entrants to the winners of the most prestigious bodybuilding contests staged earlier in the competitive season.
How well did I succeed? The level of physique competition is so high in these two supreme events that only nine men have won the Mr. Olympia title and only five women have won the Ms. Olympia. Just as impressive to me are the names of some of those great bodybuilders who have never won one of these titles, people like Lou Ferrigno, Bev Francis and Mike Mentzer. This really tells you something about the quality of the winners!
When the champions of yesterday started bodybuilding a generation ago, little did we realize that their physiques would be even better today; yet here they are, and the fire still burns inside them. In honor of their undiminished spirit, I added yet another crown in 1994, the Masters Olympia, which gave us another chance to see some of the greatest names in bodybuilding history.
This year I am also staging the Fitness Olympia contest, now in its fourth year, so that female competitors from the flourishing world of fitness contests can also vie for their own "Olympia" title.
From its inception, the philosophy behind the Olympia contest was that it was an rena in which 'the best of the best' would be crowned. Now 33 year later, and with four Olympia titles to be decided, the standard must be upgraded to 'the best of the very best'.
For me, the Olympia weekend represents the staging of the most spectacular dramatic and enjoyable contests of the year. I hope you think the same.