Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans



CUTLER VS. COLEMAN   Those one-two Gaspari/Labrada finishes were among the most evenly matched clashes of all-time, but they lacked the high drama of the Olympia crown up for grabs. For that, we look to the eight O battles between Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman from 1999 and 2006. Over that span, the pair finished one-two an incredible 11 consecutive times, including at four Olympias. The first of those two are a pair of nearly forgotten Euro Tour shows after the 2000 Olympia. Then, at the 2001 Mr. O, Cutler pushed a smallerthan- typical Coleman to the brink and had a commanding lead after prejudging before falling just short. It leads us to wonder what their scoreboard tally and Sandow collections would look like had Cutler both denied Coleman his fourth such trophy and snagged his first on that fateful day in 2001.           As it was, the perpetual bridesmaid to wait his turn for another five frustrating years. But in 2006, Cutler finally caught  Coleman, taking the Olympia crown from him and adding three additional one-two wins on the Euro Tour. With eight, Coleman has twice as many Sandows as Cutler, and he has twice as many wins on our scoreboard, but Cutler has a plum consolation prize: 10 top-two Olympia finishes, one more than his chief rival. That record, which includes six top-two finishes against Coleman, is a testament to the crushing defeats and ecstatic victories of bodybuilding’s second-greatest rivalry.


OLIVA VS. SCHWARZENEGGER   The 1972 Mr. Olympia—the fourth and final clash between Sergio Oliva and Arnold Schwarzenegger—was the ultimate mano a mano battle. The two legends had won the previous five Olympias, and most observers regarded them then as the two best bodybuilders ever. It was a contrast in styles between the sometimes tempestuous black Cuban immigrant and the usually charming white Austrian immigrant. Mostly, though, it was about the muscle—and lots of it.

   They first clashed at the 1969 Mr. Olympia, literally a two-man show. The Austrian Oak was 22 and the most talked about bodybuilder in the world, and the Myth was 28 and already a two-time Olympia winner. Oliva won his third O title that day, but it was clear each man had met his match. The following year, Schwarzenegger defeated the less-polished Oliva at both the Mr. World (where Schwarzenegger was a surprise entrant) and, two weeks later, the Mr. Olympia. At the latter, the legend is that Schwarzenegger tricked Oliva into leaving the stage by indicating they both would go together, but then he stayed, posing while it appeared his rival fled.

   With each mass monster having defeated the other in one Olympia, and after Oliva had to sit out the ’71 Mr. O (which Schwarzenegger won), the ’72 Olympia was to be the deciding arbiter of who was the best bodybuilder of the era. Both men were at their peak. Oliva appeared fuller, but Schwarzenegger got the nod again. The result continues to be debated. In 1973, the Myth tried to get the Oak onstage at a contest, and both men appeared on a national TV talk show wherein Oliva claimed his title was “stolen,” and he challenged Schwarzenegger again. As the future Conan, Terminator, and California governor went on to rack up seven Olympia titles, Oliva won in non-IFBB organizations and continuously claimed his superiority. The scoreboard and title count say one thing, but the Myth says another, and bodybuilding’s greatest rivalry has persisted for 40 years—and counting.



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