“The Myth” Sergio Oliva Dead at 71


Three-time Mr. Olympia leaves behind storied bodybuilding career

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.

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  • fivepercnt

    He will be missed,, I’m so glad that I got to meet him at the 2011 Mr. Olympia Expo.

  • MMI

    That’s awesome fivepercent! He will be missed indeed. A true legend!

  • Gary Miller

    In bodybuilding, he was the equivalent of Babe Ruth in baseball. He redefined what the human body could look like. Too bad the Weider boys banned him from IFBB competition after Arnold barely beat him in 1970. He will always be “the Myth.”

  • Frank Molina

    Sergio was a great friend and inspiration to me. The World Gym in Chicago was fortunate to have the myth who provided us with motivation and world class training tips. A champion on and off the stage. Sergio my friend you will be missed worldwide!!!

  • Lazaro Alcazar

    My friend Sergio I miss your good sense of humor and the many good time we had in the summer days at the Logan Square McDonalds.

  • Leif Anderson

    I worked out at the Aurora YMCA in the mid – late 70′s and often trained with Sergio. (With is really a stretch. let’s say I was one of 4 or 5 guys who would help spot him!) A great guy. Super focused and absolutely killer exhausting workouts. His shoulder routine was insane. Good sense of humor and didn’t take himself too seriously. If any of us had half the drive he had we’d go a looonng way. To see him up close, in person was jaw-dropping. I can’t imagine what getting arrested by him was like! He and former shot put world record holder Brian Oldfield were the two most impressive physical specimens I ever met. Both local guys – Chicago and Elgin IL.

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