The Top 10 Best Bodies of The Arnold Classic
We rank the best physiques to ever step on the Columbus, Ohio stage over the 25-year history of the biggest event in bodybuilding
By Jerry Kindela
When it comes to inspiring and influencing muscle warriors the world over, promoters Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Lorimer are without peer. Validation of their gold-standard reputation resides in the simple fact that 2014 marks the start of the second quarter century of their baby, the Arnold Sports Festival, formerly the Arnold Classic. The foundational linchpin of this multisport expo event (which features dozens of sports and some 18,000 competitors) is the bodybuilding throwdown that delivers a spectacle of surprise and awe onstage. Who knows which pro bodybuilder will turn heads, cause consternation or change the trajectory of physique development at this year’s competition? Perhaps some clues can be gleaned through our unapologetically subjective rating of the 10 best bodies in the contest’s history.
10. LEE LABRADA
NICKNAME: Mass With Class
COMPETITION WEIGHT: 184 pounds
YEARS ACTIVE AS A PRO: 1985–1995
BEST PLACING AT THE ARNOLD CLASSIC: Second, 1993
Six total first-place finishes in IFBB competitions
1986: First, Night of Champions
1989: Second, Mr. Olympia
1990: Second, Mr. Olympia
BEST KNOWN FOR: World-class condition and great proportions abetted by savvy, graceful posing
A legend, with nearly two-dozen pro and amateur titles to his credit, Lee Labrada competed twice in the Arnold Classic, in 1993 and 1995, which marked his final competition. Labrada’s strengths were his perfectly proportioned muscle, graceful symmetry, superb flowing lines (with one muscle group moving aesthetically into the next), well-separated muscle sections coupled with full-muscle bellies, and healthy-looking skin and complexion. He was a bodybuilder nonbodybuilders wished to emulate. He was also the consummate athlete-businessman who would launch the successful Labrada Nutrition company and eventually be named fitness czar by the mayor of Houston.
Labrada’s posing routine was majestic and powerful, with smooth transitions and movement designed to play to his vast number of strengths; his performances invariably received rousing cheers. His 1993 second-place Arnold finish was nothing to scoff at, as he held off some of the sport’s strongest and physically bigger stars, like Vince Taylor, Paul Dillett, Mike Matarazzo, Andreas Münzer and Alq Gurley — making Labrada more than worthy of inclusion on our list of Arnold Classic immortals.