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1981 Mr Olympia - The Greatest Booing Contest of All Time By Rick Wayne Edited by: Strength Oldschool * The following is from the book "Muscle Wars" by Rick Wayne. * NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Before proceeding to read this article by Rick Wayne, please watch the video below which graphically shows Franco Columbu at the 1977 World's Strongest Man contest competing in an event where his leg simply snaps! For Franco to be able to compete again, let alone just be able to walk again was simply an amazing feat. Tough as nails was Franco. On to the article... Arnold Schwarzenegger was keeping strictly to business. Which is to say, he avoided the Mr. Olympia contenders as much as possible, for fear any overt friendliness on his part might be misconstrued. When I tried to engage him in conversation, he replied in German. My questions about Franco Columbu’s chances in the contest fell on determinedly deaf ears. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Watch this video on Franco Columbu preparing for and competing at the '81 Olympia... Oscar State brought the contenders out of hiding for the competition preliminaries. “Will the contestants in the Mr. Olympia event please line up onstage. We’re about to begin.” You got the feeling that when the Englishman wasn’t using his voice he kept it stored in his deep freeze. Just then Oscar’s voice hadn’t quite defrosted. The Veterans Memorial Auditorium had never seen a more high-powered Olympia lineup. The champions marched onstage, each clearly bent on proving that all men are not created equal: Johnny Fuller (England); Steve Davis, Danny Padilla, Ken Waller, Ed Corney, Franco Columbu, Tom Platz, Mike Katz, Dennis Tinerino (the United States); Roy Callender (Barbados-Canada); Roger Walker (Australia); Samir Bannout (Lebanon-U.S.A.); Jorma Raty (Finland); Hubert Metz, Jusup Wilkosz (Germany). The audience was quick to pay its respects with an ovation loud enough to be heard at the Sheraton, a mile away. (Perhaps they were also congratulating themselves for having ignored the dark prognostications that preceded the event.) From the very outset the onstage action sizzled. Whoever had been so reckless as to place Callender and Columbu side by side soon had cause to rethink the decision. Even before the contest got underway it was clear that the former was determined to force humble pie down the other man’s throat. Pointing to his massive left thigh, Callender, nostrils flaring and eyes ablaze, turned to Columbu and shouted loud enough to be heard at the back of the theater, “Look, man! Look! ” An excited roar rose from the belly of the thrill-thirsty auditorium. Nine thousand dilated eyeballs zoomed in on the finely carved chunk of ebony that Callender slid alongside Columbu’s much publicized bedeviled leg, the one obvious chink in the one-time Mr. Olympia’s armor. But the ex-Sardinian sheepherder was a veteran of these wars. “No, no, Roy,” he shot back. “You look! ” And with that he brought both arms overhead and down again into a dazzling most-muscular pose. He’d always been especially famous for his spectacular pectorals and deltoids, and no other pose showed them off better. Columbu went on. “Yeah! Take that and that and that! ” – three housebreaking back shots! Oscar State restored things to order and was roundly booed for his trouble. He was about to introduce the bodymen in the lineup when Callender again challenged Columbu, this time to compare abdominals. Then Danny Padilla stepped forward, intent on making his contribution to the onstage anomie. State barked; Padilla froze… and resumed his place at the left end of the lineup. The audience exploded in another round of boos. It was difficult to tell from the audience reaction who among the seventeen contenders was most popular. Initially Padilla, Columbu, Dickerson, Platz, and Callender seemed highly favored. But gradually the Dickerson and Columbu fans lost their voices. I’d received advance warning from my spies in Santa Monica to watch out for a new Tom Platz, but I’d dismissed that as the usual bodybuilding hyperbole. Imagine my surprise when Tom showed up with not only extraordinary thighs and calves, but also with arms, chest, and shoulders that brought the house down every time he displayed them. In previous competitions his biceps and triceps had been especially weak. Somehow, for this contest Tom Platz had acquired precisely the look Olympia fans live for. Of course, the Olympia had never been a showcase for ballerinas. It was a contest that only such marvels as Scott, Oliva, and Arnold could win. Franco Columbu had managed the feat once, but by then the gargantuas had disappeared. Frank Zane? Well yes, he’d won three times, that’s true – but always while Arnold slept. In the absence of cats, mice will rule. If Tom Platz wasn’t the most beautiful hunk you ever saw, he was – yes, count on it – freaky! There was no other word for it. But where Olympia fans were concerned, that was the winning look! Callender’s flaws originated in the mold. His calves both began and ended somewhere behind his knees, which gave an appearance of extraordinary length to his ankles. He was bowlegged. In those areas of his physique responsive to torturous exercise, however, the Barbados native was unbeatable. It was a toss-up between Callender and Platz as to who had the more impressive back. Callender imagined no contest. The fires of self-confidence raged in his dark eyes, hot enough to fry Olympia chickens. Then there was Franco Columbu. Save for his thighs, he was as stunning as he’d been-more so, perhaps-when he beat Frank Zane for bodybuilding’s premier title five years earlier. Danny Padilla’s face reminded you of a rabbit at the end of a long winter’s hibernation. His sunken cheeks and deep-set eyes bespoke torture in the months preceding the Olympia. At 150 pounds he was some thirty pounds under his regular competition bodyweight. But for once Danny was ripped to the bone, almost totally fat-free. And his symmetry was, as usual, perfect. Johnny Fuller had been a lot sharper for other contests. Mike Katz, too. And Jorma Raty had tried desperately to focus attention on the one thing he had going for him, enormous biceps. Hubert Metz had developed nipples that brought to mind nubile maidens at puberty’s front door. Every time Oscar State called him out to pose, the audience chorused, “Bitch tits! Bitch tits! ” - the price some modern bodybuilders pay for their chemically enhanced muscularity. Chris Dickerson was remarkable. He had not participated in the onstage shenanigans that started with Callender and Columbu. Rather, he comported himself as if he truly believed dignity counted in this war of Neanderthals. Ken Waller had entered the contest fully cognizant of the fact that he stood little chance of profiting from the ordeal. He and Arnold had been friends ever since Arnold first came to California. He’d been given a part in Stay Hungry largely because Arnold so ordered. Ever grateful, Waller was taking this occasion to let the world know exactly where he stood in the Schwarzenegger- Mentzer-Coe fracas. The first three men to be called out for comparisons were, Padilla, Callender, and Columbu. They strutted striations in their pecs and abs, in their quads and in their delts. They hoisted their scanty posing briefs to expose more thigh - to the squealing delight of susceptible parties in the audience - and smiled, smiled, smiled. Someone hollered, “Stand up, Danny. Stand tall! ” - a ridiculous demand to make of someone standing only five-foot-three. (Or was it another competitor’s fan adding his own dig at Danny’s lack of stature?) Of course there’s always more to an Olympia than the mere display of big muscles. The way a man behaves onstage and his public image for example, whether he was on the cover of the latest Muscle & Fitness - are deciding factors, too. There’s always an eager curiosity about who will lose his cool in front of the audience, and the audience isn’t above making its own contribution to the game. At one point in the proceedings a voice yelled out, “Hey, Waller, when you gonna give Katz his shirt back? ” - which was a house-breaker. (In the movie Pumping Iron, Waller had been made to seem something of a villain, in accordance with the script. While Mike Katz, competing in the South Africa-sponsored 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe, was onstage posing, George Butler had filmed Waller disposing of Mikes shirt. The fans were convinced Waller had maliciously played a trick on “the nice schoolteacher who never did anyone harm.) By the middle of Round Two, it seemed Platz was having his way, judging only by the applause. But Columbu, Callender, and Padilla were not about to be intimidated. If they went down to defeat, at least they had put up a helluva fight. Traditionally, it was during the free posing round that Chris Dickerson separated himself from the rest of the herd. His practiced posing ability had more than once pulled the judges’ eyes off others who boasted the kind of development that characterized a title winner. This time, however, it was too obvious Platz had better legs and a superior back-never mind that his symmetry left much to be desired. It seemed that the judges would have to choose between one man who had more than his share of muscle (Platz) and another who, though not gargantuan, displayed lines that were a joy to behold (Dickerson). That didn’t mean Callender wasn’t still dangerous as a cornered jungle cat. A consistent favorite, he struck poses reminiscent of the pre-Schwarzenegger Sergio Oliva. And then, despite shaky underpinnings, there was still a formidable Franco Columbu to consider. The judges’ evaluations would be followed with close attention. Well, most of the judges’ evaluations. During the earlier Mr. International warmup Oscar State had found reason to privately declare Mrs. Matuyama (pictured above) less than competent. However, in deference to her high IFBB position in her native Japan-not to forget her status as a purveyor of Weider products-she was permitted to retain her place on the judges’ panel. The old lady was allowed to go through the motions of judging both the Mr. International and Mr. Olympia contests, altogether oblivious to the fact that she’d effectively been bounced. At the end of the day, without one word to Mrs. Matuyama herself, her scorecards would be trashed. Although the prejudging engendered its own excitement, the real show came with the Olympia finals. And some effort had gone into making it a real show indeed. Dick Cooper had been a Member of the Olympia production team for nearly six years. A stage designer who’d worked in vaudeville for twenty-five years, he’d attended his first bodybuilding event in 1970 - Jim Lorimer’s Pro Mr. World, in which Arnold defeated Sergio Oliva for the first time - and come away disappointed by the show’s lack of window dressing. A man after Bud Parker’s heart, Cooper saw bodybuilding as “theater.” As far as he was concerned, Lorimer’s Pro World suggested a potentially great play murdered by actors appearing without makeup on a stage without decent lighting or sets. When Lorimer hired him as technical designer for the 1976 Olympia, the former vaudevillian saw a wonderful opportunity to dress up bodybuilding, to present the sport in its true light, as it were – ”as an exciting spectacle.” In 1981 Cooper outdid himself, with special backlighting and ingenious use of the stage curtains. The evening show opened with the Mr. International contenders blacked out and standing on strategically positioned steps, each man holding the pose for which he was best known, a Mount Rushmore of muscle in silhouette. Backed by the rousing theme from 2001, Cooper’s intro was enough to raise goosebumps on the most seasoned first-nighter. Not surprising that the audience rewarded the stage designer with a standing ovation. “I officially welcome you to the Mr. International and Mr. Olympia contests, ” intoned Ben Weider, beginning his ritualistic opening address. “My brother Joe created the Olympia as the biggest and best professional event on the IFBB calendar. The IFBB has set a criterion for the competition that’s very high indeed. To be eligible, a competitor must -” “Where’s Mike Mentzer? ” shouted a backseat spoilsport. “Yeah! ” another hollered. “And Coe? ” Other dissident voices joined in. “Where’s Albert Beckles? And Frank Zane? Who kept them out? ” Weider persevered. “To compete in the Olympia a bodybuilder must have been a Mr. Universe winner or have placed first or second or third in the IFBB’s grand prix events. It is my opinion that tonight’s will be the greatest of all Olympia contests …… “It had better be! ” said a voice to the left of me. “Especially after Sydney.” “This will be the sixth Olympia staged in Columbus,” Weider continued. “Columbus has seen more Olympias than any other city in the world. And with good reason.” The politician in Ben Weider was about to make his appearance. “In Columbus,” he said, “we have the great organizational ability of the best promotional team in bodybuilding history. I’m speaking of Jim Lorimer and Arnold Schwarzenegger." Equal measures of cheers and boos. “We live in a democracy,” Weider went on. “Everyone is free to express his personal opinion. But I’d like to remind you of one thing: Arnold Schwarzenegger has played a key, a critical role in the development of the sport we all love." He must have sensed touching the collective bodybuilding soul. The theater had suddenly gone quiet. “We love Jim, and we love Arnold,” affirmed the IFBB president to a now converted audience. “Yes, we all do. And we’re going to continue working with this wonderful team. Together with the IFBB, Jim and Arnold will go on presenting the best contests in this great city of Columbus.” What could possibly go wrong after that? Clearly the fans had been waiting for even the smallest indication that in Arnold there was much more saint than devil. After all, they had worshipped him for over a decade. They were not about to admit that in all that time they’d foolishly been cheering on a bodybuilder Beelzebub. They were eager to forget past misdemeanors. Now all that mattered was the future, the immediate future in particular. Ben Weider quit while he was ahead, making room at the lectern for emcee Len Boslin. For the next hour or so the action concentrated on the Mr. International. There was some disagreement in the audience over a tie between two California heavyweights, Rod Koontz and Larry Jackson, but peace was restored with the announcement that the overall winner was the popular Scott Wilson, also from California. And then it was time for the folks who brought you such great classics as 'Gone with the Wind' and 'King Kong' to show off their latest epic, 'Conan the Barbarian'. No, not the actual movie, but color slides of Arnold Schwarzenegger in what were evidently considered some of his best scenes. In a voice raised on hyperbole a Hollywood flack informed the audience that Arnold’s current movie adventure was scheduled for general release that November, with “all indications pointing to a major box office smash.” That may have puzzled those who’d read a New York magazine report entitled “Studio Brass Said to Cringe at Barbarian Movie,” in which Universal Studio’s advertising and publicity vice-president, David Weitzner, was cited as confirming that a decision had been made at the screening to postpone release of the movie until spring, because Conan “simply needs a lot of work.” And then Cine-fantastique magazine had devoted its September issue to the movie, noting along the way that it was tentatively set for release around Christmas but might not be seen until early 1982. (The movie was actually released in May of 1982 and earned a respectable $100 million worldwide.) * 1981 - Cinefantastique magazine - Vol. 11 / No 3: Conan The Barbarian. Vintage original cover art painting accomplished in acrylic and airbrush on 11 x 14.5 in. artists' board of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman, created for the cover of Cinefantastique magazine. The Columbus slide preview ended with a recorded introduction: “Ladies and gentlemen, the star of Conan, five times Mr. Universe, seven times Mr. Olympia -” Arnold! Arnold! Arnold! The spotlight picked him out at Len Boslin’s mike, smiling boyishly, a pampered, manicured, civilized Conan basking in the comfortable warmth of his welcome. If earlier the fans had seemed less than happy about his reported conduct in Australia, they were ready now to pretend the ‘80 Olympia had gone off as smoothly as a Buckingham Palace tea party. Arnold shared his experiences in making Conan the Barbarian, crowed about the new arts he’d mastered in the process-swordplay, horseback riding-then introduced his newest pal, movie director John Milius. He dished out bouquets, one or two of them booby-trapped. He praised Jim Lorimer for his contributions to their partnership; thanked Joe Weider “for all the publicity, some good, some not so good! ” (a veiled reference to Weider’s coverage of the Sydney controversy in Muscle & Fitness); and eulogized IFBB president Ben Weider. To those who wondered why the Olympia promoters had accepted sponsorship by Diet 7-Up, a drink with no known muscle- building properties, Arnold quipped, “Perhaps it contains a secret formula or something that’ll help your body to grow. Who knows what bodybuilders are popping into their mouths these days. I hear they’ll eat anything! ” But then Diet 7-Up had invested thousands in TV and radio ads starring Arnold and Loni Anderson, a project Arnold mentioned finding “most enjoyable.” And then the Reverend Schwarzenegger stepped into his pulpit. “We started out with high ambitions,” he said. “Thanks to your support we’ve been successful to a point. The Olympia is today one of the world’s most exciting sports activities. We’ve rescued bodybuilding from the basements and the comic books, put it on primetime TV. But there’s still a long way to go before we can command the popular respect given baseball and boxing.” Applause! Applause! Applause! If the sport was to advance further, bodybuilders would first have to learn to pull together like brothers, to work hard toward common goals, to stick together. “We must quit the backbiting and the senseless public attacks on each other,” enjoined the Reverend Schwarzenegger. “Our sport can leap forward, or it can die. It’s up to you and me! ” It was a time for unifying the House of Bodybuilding, for settling differences - but amicably. It was a time for celebrating the Brotherhood of Iron! The deacons of the Brotherhood followed the sermon. They came out one by one to offer a minute of free posing. Those who had been popular at the earlier preliminaries maintained their popularity. But some had clearly lost their nerve. Danny Padilla floated in on the strains of “The Theme from Exodus,” but he was clearly a canary among hawks. Johnny Fuller, maybe because he carried more weight than he was used to, walked like a somnambulist, as if unconscious of his surroundings. Samir Bannout seemed unsure of himself at first, but the crowd’s reaction to him restored his normal self-confidence. The heavy artillery cannonade began with Roy Callender’s display. The opera house decorum that had greeted the likes of Steve Davis, Hubert Metz, and Jorma Raty broke upon Callender’s appearance into thunderous awriiights and glass-shattering whistles- until his sixth pose, when suddenly the music stopped. For a second or two you could’ve heard a bedbug snore. Then the threats started coming, followed closely by shocking expletives. Meanwhile, Callender maintained a heroic pose, hands on hips, dark, glistening features lit up by a knowing smile. Ten seconds limped by before the music came on again, only to die a second time right in the middle of Callender’s next pose. This time he threw up his arms and rolled his eyes heavenward, as if to say, “Lord, what have I done to deserve this crucifixion? ” The audience also wanted to know. They started to boo. Suddenly it seemed a nasty odor had invaded the atmosphere, the smell associated with a particular strain of Australian rat. A dozen angry fans rushed the stage shouting, “Sabotaaage! Sabotaaage! Sabotaaage! ” Callender signaled the fans to cool it. Low-rent backstage behavior notwithstanding, he decided to pose without his specially recorded musical accompaniment. Wild cheers greeted the heroic decision. At the end of his presentation, dozens of overexcited supporters rushed the stage to acclaim him Mr. Olympia 1981. What an act for Franco Columbu to follow. The old warrior’s reception was lukewarm, but he plunged into his routine regardless, determined not to be put off by the crowd’s hostility or indifference, presumably counting on the judges to do their work without prejudice. When his turn came, Tom Platz turned on his own heat and soon had the fans scrambling over each other like zoo monkeys. There was no discernible drop in temperature when Chris Dickerson came on. His display climaxed the free-posing round. The officials wasted no time announcing the finalists: Padilla, Wilkosz, Callender, Columbu, Platz, Dickerson. No surprises here. The audience congratulated the judges. And now the high point of the contest, the last lap-the posedown! And mass hysteria! At last Len Boslin was ready with the final result: “In sixth place, Jusup Wilkosz of Germany…. In fifth place, Danny Padilla of the U.S.A. . . . In fourth place, Roy Callender! ” A full second elapsed before the penny dropped. When It did, the theater exploded in a barrage of boos. And worse! The fallout rained right through the further announcements that Platz and Dickerson had placed second and third respectively. “Oh no! Oh no! That sonofabitch Arnold’s done it to us again! ” Amidst the booing and hissing and cursing, it’s likely no one in the audience actually heard Len Boslin declare Franco Columbu winner of the 1981 Olympia. Certainly Joe Weider didn’t. Right after the announcement that Callender placed fourth, Weider rose from his front row seat, saying as he headed out of the theater, “I want no part of this…. No one’s getting me up on that stage.” So it was Ben Weider who finally did the honors, presenting the new Mr. Olympia his $25,000 and Sandow trophy while angry boos bounced off the auditorium walls. From his position at the right of the posing platform, Franco Columbu surveyed the bedlam, noted with concern that his wife, Anita, sat rigid in her seat, hands over her eyes, saw Joe Welder get up and walk into the churning sea of protesters. Backstage, bodybuilding’s new king talked with reporters. He said he’d underestimated the competition and was relieved that it was all over now. Then he flashed his famous mischievous grin and added, “What you sink? Maybe I try again next year? ” The saucy little devil. You couldn’t help admiring his chutzpah. * 1981 Mr Olympia Judges Scorecards... Arnold laughed and laughed and laughed. He called the ‘81 Olympia “the greatest booing contest of all time,” greater by far than that in Sydney the year before. But all he would say about the controversial judges’ decision was, “I am very happy for Franco.” Diplomacy had never been Chris Dickerson’s strongest point. When a reporter asked how Chris felt about the result of the contest, he replied, “Let the IFBB keep their damn title. I sure as hell can live without it.” A Dickerson victory, he said, might have relegitimized the Olympia after its loss of face in Australia. In his heart, Dickerson had never been an IFBB man. He had strongly resisted all attempts by the AAU’s National Physique Committee some years before to affiliate with the Montreal-based organization. By then it was clear the AAU had become the also-ran in bodybuilding promotion. At a 1977 meeting to discuss the prospect of affiliation, Dickerson had expressed the opinion that “we are being bluffed to go in and be taken over by the IFBB.” The AAU committee subsequently voted sixteen to thirteen not to affiliate. A whole year passed before that position was reversed. But that’s another story … Oscar State’s view of the Olympia outcome varied. At first he said outright that he didn’t like it. Later he said he wanted to “offer my congratulations to Columbu on a terrific comeback. ” And still later Oscar wanted to go on record as having said the judges’ decision should be accepted in good faith “for the sake of bodybuilding.” Roy Callender said the contest left him feeling like a lost sheep. “Right now,” he remarked wryly, “Mike Mentzer and Boyer Coe must be laughing their heads off.” He’d always held the view that he couldn’t be fooled twice, he said, but the 1981 Olympia had proved him wrong. Danny Padilla was furious and wanted everyone to know it. He said, “I wouldn’t have minded so much if they had fixed the contest but still given me a reasonable place. But fifth! ” The winner had but one leg, commented Padilla. Tom Platz had poor symmetry and Chris Dickerson had no muscles. Platz retained his cool. He told reporters he couldn’t wait to get to bed. He’d already made up his mind to win the Olympia “or die trying.” There wasn’t much else to be said; what was done was done. He felt no bitterness toward the winner nor, for that matter, toward Arnold. Two weeks after the event Padilla underwent a change of heart, singing a more reverent tune. “Franco was as impressive at the ‘81 Olympia as he’d always been. It was an honor just being onstage with the guy. He’s been my hero for years.” Of course, Arnold hadn’t stopped laughing. Between puffs on a cigar he informed me his personal favorite at the Olympia was Tom Platz. When I asked why, he replied, “Well, did you get a look at his thighs? All I thought about during Tom’s stage routine was how I’d have given anything for legs like he’s got! ” He didn’t want to talk about Platz’s symmetry, but he was happy to discuss the booing that had greeted the Olympia results. “In the sixties,” said Arnold, “Joe Weider promoted two stars at a time, maybe three. You had someone like Larry Scott, who was always featured in Weider’s magazines as a regular Mr. Nice fellow, and on the other hand there was Harold Poole, the Villain. At Olympia time you had the good guy versus the bad, the perfect gimmick for selling box office tickets." “Later we saw the emergence of Sergio Oliva as the great Big Bad Wolf, so Weider invented Schwarzenegger, the Great White Hope of bodybuilding. Oliva and I always had great admiration for each other, but the Weider magazines told a different story.” When he quit in 1975, said Arnold, bodybuilding took a dive. Weider no longer had a superstar, so he set out to create a replacement. After years of effort, however, all he had to show for his trouble was a group of “ministers,” each with his own fan club. Fans turned up at contests to root for their respective heroes. You ended up with a lot of booing and bitterness. “Then again", observed bodybuilding’s former Great White Hope, “you also hear a lot of booing at football matches, at boxing tournaments-even at rock concerts.” In Arnold’s opinion, bodybuilding had changed considerably since his Mr. Olympia days. He thought money was at the root of it. The stars depended on the contests for their livelihood. They did no other work. Day in and day out it was work out, lie in the Venice Beach sun, work out, sleep, work out … The rent, car payments, everything depended on the Olympia first prize or some grand Prix purse. All of which, by Arnold’s measure, accounted for the bitterness among the leading contenders. Much of the anger about Australia was rooted in that sad state of affairs. Bodybuilding was no longer pure sport. For too many, bodybuilding was now a matter of life or death. Winning was everything. It was Arnold’s considered opinion that Joe Weider had deliberately set him up as the target of the collective animosity of bodybuilding audiences. As a consequence of the way in which Weider had promoted him over the years, millions of fans the world over had come to see Arnold Schwarzenegger as the incarnated soul of bodybuilding, as nothing less than the spokesman for the bodybuilding establishment. He was the sport’s most visible representative, so when there was dissatisfaction, he was the one who had to pay. Joe Weider was “a clever manipulator”. When the 1980 Olympia blew up into a major controversy, Weider had nimbly sidestepped the issue, publishing article after article that subtly suggested Arnold had received help from friends on the judging panel. “He did a great job of directing the hostility in my direction,” Arnold told me. “In Columbus, Weider refused to show up onstage to present the winner’s check. He put on a great act, pretending he was disappointed by the judges’ decision. But only a few days earlier he’d expressed to me the view that Franco could win the contest. That’s why I call Weider the ultimate actor. Hollywood could use him." There had been talk that Arnold had persuaded Frank Zane to stay out of the ‘81 Olympia so as to make things easier on Columbu. Arnold denied the allegation. Things had cooled between him and Zane after The Sydney Affair, he said. However, when he’d returned from filming Conan in Spain, he’d invited Zane to compete in the upcoming Olympia. When Zane refused, he’d offered him a Guest shot on the show. Zane declined – he needed a break, he said. Zane later confirmed Arnold’s story, but he refused to go along with the suggestion that he and Arnold were once again “very good friends.” Said Zane, “Let’s just say we’re communicating again.” Ben Weider never imagined for one minute that his judges had been less than honest. But that didn’t mean the IFBB president wanted to go on record as having agreed with their verdict – or as disagreeing! On the question of Sven-Ole Thorsen’s (pictured above) reinstatement as an Olympia judge, Weider said that following Thorsen’s suspension the Danish federation had pleaded with the IFBB’s executive committee to reconsider. So the IFBB had decided to give Thorsen another try. He was allowed to judge the ‘81 European Championships in London and had “redeemed himself.” (Thorsen, the president of the IFBB’s Danish affiliate, insisted he’d never been suspended, and Oscar State confirmed that – someone, he said, was putting someone on.) Joe Weider wasn’t surprised at Arnold’s attempt to make him the scapegoat. He said he was flattered to find that Arnold considered him clever enough to be capable of fooling all the people all the time. “If the bodybuilding world has developed ill feelings toward Arnold,” said Weider, “that’s a consequence of Arnold’s own behavior. His derisive comments after the ‘80 Olympia made him unpopular with fans and contenders. Anyway, Arnold has always regarded me with ambivalence. I am his farther figure. He once told a mutual friend that the man he most admires is the man he also hates most: Joe Weider! " To buy the book 'Muscle Wars' by Rick Wayne, click here.
Danny Padilla - The Road to the 1981 Mr Olympia By David Robson Edited by: Strength Oldschool * This interview is from 1998. To train for the prestigious Mr Olympia bodybuilding competition must surely be one of the most heroic of undertakings; six months of blood, sweat and tears, culminating in a contest-ready physique, poised to take on the worlds best. The Mr. Olympia journey is a remarkable feat, given it is, in addition to the pinnacle of mental and physical sacrifice, an all consuming task, surmountable only by the fittest of the fittest. Professional bodybuilding veteran Danny Padilla has made it his aim on a number of occasions to win the Mr Olympia. However, this particular title has eluded him. This is not to say Danny hasn’t worked, in earnest, to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world. He has. Following amazing back-to-back Mr. America and Mr. Universe title wins in 1977, Danny was poised to become the next big thing. Indeed, by the early 1980’s Danny had developed his body to perfection – he had procured a much sought after package of balanced mass, complete with a ripped to shreds appearance that wins the big contests. Danny was so impressed with his physical achievements he decided to display his unprecedented defined physique at the 1981 Mr. Olympia. When Danny revealed to those in attendance, the improvements he had made, many tipped him to win. Danny arguably presented the most balanced, and mind-bogglingly ripped, physique of any competitor on stage – precisely what he was told he would need to do to win. Alas, he did not win but came a disappointing fifth, trailing behind competitors who were considered by many to be completely out of the running. 1981 Mr. Olympia Standings Following this result, or insult, Danny became disillusioned with competitive bodybuilding and opted to focus on other areas of his life rather than make the sacrifices necessary to fight what was, apparent to him, a losing battle. He thought if a massive, symmetrical, and ripped to shreds physique, could not even make the top three, what was the point in continuing to compete. Danny, however, continued to train and progressed to the point where he decided to again compete. In 1990 Danny came third in the Night of the Champions and knew he was well and truly back. In recent years Danny has focused his energies on securing the Masters Olympia crown. In this exclusive interview, Danny shares his 1981 Olympia experiences. Learn of the progress he made in the weeks leading up to this competition – and what really happened. David Robson: Hi Danny. Good to talk to you again. Lets discuss your 1981 Olympia preparation. How long did it take you to prepare for the 81′ Olympia? Danny Padilla: I prepared for the 1981 Olympia for a full year. DR: How did you qualify to compete at this Olympia and what inspired you to get into such great shape? DP: I came second in my weight class at a previous Olympia to qualify for the 81′ Olympia. While in CA someone told me I never won a show because I was never cut enough and this motivated me to compete. DR: How old were you when you competed at the 1981 Olympia? DP: I was 30 years old. DR: What did you weigh and what was your body-fat percentage? DP: One week prior to this contest I weighed 157 pounds. On the night of the show I weighed 176. There was no fat to be found anywhere on my body. DR: In the off-season, prior to this Olympia, what was your bodyweight, and body-fat percentage, if you can recall this? DP: Body-fat percentage was 16% in the off-season at 178 lbs. I never really get grossly out of shape. DR: Did you bring any muscle-groups up for this contest? Which ones, and by how much? DP: I improved my back muscles and abdominals while bringing my waistline down to 28-inches. DR: Overall, what improvements did you make for the 81′ Olympia? DP: Basically, the overall improvement was a complete package. Every muscle and muscle group could be seen. DR: What training methods did you use at the time? Also, describe your pre-contest diet at this time? DP: Each body part was trained twice a week. The push-pull system was used the last 10-weeks before the show, three times a week. I went against rules of low carbs and stayed on 80-grams of protein and consumed all the carbs that I needed (mostly fruits, veggies, brown rice and yogurt). At this point I did not worry about calories. I also jogged three days a week, 5-miles per jog. In the last two weeks prior to the show I counted calories: On the 1st week I took in 1500 calories and on the last week, 1000. Mind you, during the last ten days prior to the show I was too weak to lift weights or do aerobics. I basically worked in the store with my dad and rested as much as I could. The Monday before the contest I weighed exactly 157. On Wednesday I began to double my calories and double my carbs until Saturday. DR: How did you feel mentally during the weeks leading up to this competition? Were you excited, confident of doing well? DP: I visualize what I wanted to look like before the show and came up with a plan to follow through with. I was excited and confident because Arnold had retired and I figured I had a chance. DR: Physically, how did you feel? Did you feel strong and energetic, or depleted and weak? DP: I felt very strong in the beginning of my program, and in the last two weeks I was depleted. DR: Do you think you achieved the best shape of your life for this contest? What did you do differently to achieve this effect? DP: I was in the best shape of my life for the 1981 Olympia, even though the IFBB said I looked too depleted because they had to save face for choosing the wrong winner. If Tom Platz, or Roy Calender, won, I could have accepted it. Although I would have liked it better if I had won. The other show I looked great for was the 1990 Night of the Champions. I was beat by Dorian Yates and Momo Benaziza. I thought that I had the most complete physique at a body weight of 225-pounds, and cut to shreds. DR: As an athlete, what did you gain from doing well in this Olympia? DP: Well, the only thing I gained was I became world famous. Also, I made the Padilla name famous and it’s in the history books of bodybuilding. There were some financial benefits but, unfortunately, when you’re five foot two and your eyes ain’t blue you don’t make the same amount of money as a man over six feet because with the Olympia it’s the tallest and biggest man that makes the show. DR: Who did you train with (if anyone) during the pre-contest phase building up to the 1981 Olympia? What other support did you have? DP: I trained with my best friend Larry Baker, an attorney who loved to lift weights. The only other support I had was me, myself and I. Of course my parents supported me. I received no support from Weider or the magazine (Muscle Builder). DR: Where did you train (which town and what gym)? DP: I trained at the Rockelle Fitness centre in Rochester, NY. DR: Going into the '81 Olympia, did you know who your main competition would be? DP: I had an idea Roy Calender would be tough. Also, I knew that Tom Platz would be tough. And at the time I knew that Arnold had two friends that were in the contest. That was Franco Columbo, (who had won the Olympia one time already) and another protege’ from Germany. His name was Jusup Wilcosz. DR: Who did you see as your biggest threat to winning the Olympia? DP: The biggest threat was Franco, Arnold’s training partner. DR: During the contest, what were some of the moments you remember as being interesting? What was the atmosphere like backstage? DP: I remember Arnold talking to Franco, basically stating that it was going to be tough for him to win the show because of Tom Platz, and myself. I personally think Arnold wanted Franco to drop out, but he stayed anyway and somehow he won the show, the atmosphere was incredible. I remember distinctly, Arnold, Franco and Bill drake pumping up getting Franco ready for the show. I was very confident. I knew I looked incredible, and my friend Larry Baker thought for sure that I won the show. We heard people calling on a pay phone in the back saying they didn’t think Danny could lose this show. DR: After the '81 Olympia, were you back in the gym training, or did you take some time off? DP: After the '81 Olympia because working out was my first love even though I was humiliated, I still trained. But I lost my drive for competition. DR: What were your thoughts on the outcome of the '81 Olympia? Do you think you deserved better, and why? DP: I definitely thought that if I didn’t win, I could have at least been second. The crowd was with me. When I was called fifth, half the audience booed and left the auditorium. Also, the fans followed me all the way to my hotel. But the worst part of this show was the network that was filming stopped because of the audiences reaction. Also the mysterious thing about this show is that there is hardly any photos and there is absolutely no film. Who has ever heard of a Mr. Olympia not being filmed? And if anyone has film or photos, please contact me – email@example.com. The only photos I know of are owned by Joe Weider and Flex magazine and John Balik, the owner of Ironman. DR: Well, you are obviously very committed to bodybuilding as evidenced by your return to the Masters stage. What are your thoughts on the cancellation of the Masters Olympia this year? DP: I was disappointed that it was cancelled. I was in training and in great shape. DR: Thank you very much for your time Danny. One last question. Are you determined to compete at the Masters Olympia if it is held again? DP: Hopefully, if my health holds out and they don’t cancel the show again. It’s obvious I have to compete for ego only because the prize money is so bad I can make more money selling news papers. It is very sad that when a body builder hits his forties or fifties, it’s not like the golf masters. They just want you to go in a corner and die somewhere. Bodybuilding Legend Danny Padilla and former IFBB judge and gym owner Jim Rockell join John Hansen to talk about the 1981 Mr. Olympia contest... * To read an Interview with Danny Padilla from 1991 which includes Danny's 'Training Program', click here. * To read more on the 1981 Mr Olympia (the greatest booing contest of all time!) click here.