When Dexter Jackson won his fifth Arnold Classic on March 7, he broke a record he’d shared with his idol, Flex Wheeler. Though Dex is only four years younger than Flex, theirs is a tortoise-versus-hare race. Wheeler burst into the big league in 1993 with an Arnold Classic victory and runner-up finish at the Olympia, while Jackson, who made his pro debut in 1999, won his first Arnold in 2005 and the Olympia in 2008. Their careers overlapped—Wheeler beat Jackson seven times between ’99 and ’00, before the latter flipped the script in 2002—however, Flex peaked in the ’90s, while Dex did so in the ’00s.
Sporting cartoonish curves with perfect proportions, Wheeler at his best had what many regard as the greatest physique of all time. But did he have a better career than Jackson? He was more dominant, winning half of the pro contests he entered, but, unlike “the Blade,” he was never crowned Mr. O (he was second three times), and now Jackson has more Arnold victories, too. In the tally of the two shows that matter most, tortoise beats hare. And the turtle, who turned 46 in November, is still going.