You and most everyone else still refer to Arnold Schwarzenegger as the “GOAT” (greatest of all time), but at what point do you enter that discussion? You’ve been as dominant on the Olympia stage as anyone in history. What do you need to do to be considered the GOAT in bodybuilding? Will it take nine Olympia wins and passing Haney and Coleman? Or 10 maybe?
I think I’m in it. But the timing of when Arnold was the champion was important. A lot of new things emerged— not just with the magazines, but supplements were just starting to take form. He was illuminated in the magazines so heavily that it made him look like a god. That’s why people remember him, because of how he was portrayed. And he beat a lot of amazing athletes. He was a very strong-willed, confident-slash-cocky guy. He was very focused and very driven. I think people look at champions by their attitudes and how they approach things, and how they make people feel. They’ll say that more about Arnold in his era, that he was the baddest dude. The guy had ridiculous arms and chest, and his back was ridiculous, too—that made no sense. And he knew how to pose for it. In his era, he killed those guys.
The only way I’ll be the GOAT is by winning nine Olympias, but it’s also going to be about how I do it in the next two or three years. I’m the Social Media Mr. Olympia. I’m the first. And I was the only bodybuilder who people would scrutinize over a body part, or even my frame with clavicle structure or whatever, and I still overcame all of those critiques. No one else in the history of our sport has done that. Name one glaring weakness on any other bodybuilder and tell me that they improved on it in the middle of their career while winning the Olympia. You can’t. Not one guy. Whenever a judge or critic has said, “Phil doesn’t have this or that,” I’ve come back in the next 12 months with it. That’s called bodybuilding.
They said, “Hey, Phil, we need your upper chest to be bigger.” OK, got that. “You have narrow clavicles, you need to get wider in the back.” Got that. “How did you do that?” With more shoulders, trimmed down the arms a little bit. “You need more legs because guys like Ramy have big legs.” OK, got that. “Hey, Phil, you need to trim down your waistline.” Got that. I’m able to do it. If I’m ever considered the GOAT, it will be because if you break down what bodybuilding is and how a person’s body evolves, I did it best.
So, going into 2018, will you take McGough’s advice and go into hiding and see us all next September? Or is that impossible these days?
I’ll do a combination. I plan on doing some type of YouTube channel, because I feel the fans need to start seeing more of me in more of a casual setting. A lot of people want to see me train, and they will, but that won’t be the catalyst of why people follow me. I still want to keep things quiet. I won’t talk as much trash. I’ll be playing it safe with that and showing my ability to be positive. I’m going to take Peter’s advice, but I’m sure once a quarter I’ll throw some verbal jab just to remind everybody who they’re dealing with. [Laughs]
I’m going to choose to take the high road, just like I did this year. I enjoy watching the guys run their mouths. And anytime a guy like me feels any disrespect, I get better, and I look to destroy anyone who tries to come after me. And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to destroy them, and I’m going to destroy them all. And I’m going to do so with a smile on my face and hard work, with the experience that I’ve acquired. And that’s where bodybuilding is going to prevail. That’s what I am: I’m a bodybuilder. I’m a better bodybuilder than the next guy. I’m going to make this very exciting next year, based on my work, not my mouth.