Culture

"The Myth" Sergio Oliva Dead at 71

Three-time Mr. Olympia winner leaves behind storied bodybuilding career

November 13, 2012

By Alex Zakrzewski, Online Editor The bodybuilding community is saddened by the death of the legendary Sergio “The Myth” Oliva who passed away on November 12 at the age of 71. The exact cause of death is still unknown although liver failure has strongly been suspected. Oliva is best remembered for his three consecutive Mr. Olympia titles from 1967 to 1969 and remains to date the only bodybuilder ever to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Olympia stage. Born in Cuba, Oliva defected to the United States while competing as a weightlifter at the 1962 Pan America Games in Jamaica. At great personal risk, including being shot, he managed to sneak out of his quarters and escape to the U.S. consulate where he was given political asylum. After a number of amateur wins that included the 1963 Mr. Chicago and 1964 Mr. Illinois titles, Oliva joined the IFBB in 1966. In his first year as a pro, he took home both the Mr. World and Mr. Universe titles and placed 4th at the Mr. Olympia. After finishing 2nd to Arnold at the 1970 Olympia in New York, Oliva continued to compete internationally, winning several prestigious events before finally retiring in 1985 at the age of 43.