Sergio Oliva was an IFBB Pro bodybuilder known as The Myth. He won three consecutive Mr. Olympia titles among many other bodybuilding titles.
Sergio Oliva Biography
Sergio Oliva is a bodybuilder known as “The Myth”. This nickname was given to him by bodybuilder/writer Rick Wayne. Wayne had begun calling Oliva “The Myth” because everyone who saw him at the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair said he was “JUST UNBELIEVABLE”.
Oliva was born in Cuba on July 4, 1941. At the age of twelve he worked with his father in the sugar cane fields of Guambaco. When Oliva was 16, his father suggested that he enlist in Fulgencio Batista’s army. In the absence of a birth certificate, the recruiting officer took the senior Oliva’s word that his son was old enough to enlist in the fight against communism.
After losing the war to Fidel Castro, Oliva stayed local and took to hanging out at the beach. There he met a fellow sun worshipper who invited him to the local weightlifting club. After just six months of training Oliva was doing clean & jerks with over 300 pounds. Totaling 1000 pounds in the three Olympic lifts at a bodyweight of 195lbs, considered a middle-heavyweight. Because of an injury of the top weightlifter, Alberto R. Games, he was chosen to represent Cuba at the 1962 Central America Games hosted in Kingston, Jamaica. In 1962 the National Weightlifting Championship for Cuba was won by Alberto Rey Games Hernandez; Sergio Oliva took second place. Alberto Games was unable to attend the Central American Games because of an injury.
During his stay in Jamaica, Oliva snuck out of his quarters while the guards were distracted. He ran at top speed until he was safely inside the American consulate. Arriving breathlessly he demanded and received political asylum. Soon, sixty-five other Cuban nationals followed him, including Castro’s entire weightlifting team. Soon afterward, Oliva was living in Miami, Florida working as a TV repairman.
Life In The United States
In 1963 Oliva moved to Chicago, Illinois. There he worked at a local steel mill and began working out at the Duncan YMCA. Working 10-12 hour days at the steel mill and putting in another 2.5-3 hours at the gym gave Oliva very little time for anything else. Soon the bodybuilding grapevine was abuzz with gossip about a Cuban powerhouse who lifted more than any of the local Olympic champs. Oliva won his first bodybuilding competition the Mr. Chicagoland contest in 1963. Then he was successful again at the Mr. Illinois in 1964 but he lost in 1965 at the AAU Jr. Mr. America winning 2nd place even though he won the trophy for “Most Muscular”. In 1966, he won the AAU Jr. Mr. America and again he claimed the trophy for “Most Muscular”. He then joined the International Federation of BodyBuilders IFBB in which he won both the professional Mr. World and Mr. Universe Contests. In 1967 he won the prestigious Mr. Olympia contest, making him the undisputed world champion of bodybuilding.
Oliva then went on to win the Mr. Olympia title three years in a row. At 5 feet 11 inches and at a contest weight that varied between 240-255 lbs, Oliva displayed an unprecedented level of muscle mass,muscular density and definition – including a “V” shape to his large, well-formed upper-body that tapered down to a narrow waist – unlike anything seen in prior competitions. Sergio had the largest arms in contest shape of any Mr. Olympia champion in history. His upper arms measured over 22 1/2 inches unflexed, his massive forearms were 20 1/2 inches cold. His forearms measured as large as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s flexed upper arms, Arthur Jones “of Nautilus fame” measured Arnold’s flexed & pumped upper arms at 19 1/2 inches in 1972 when he was at his most massive weighing around 245. Sergio’s chest measured over 58 inches, his torso tapered down to a tiny 28 inch waist and two huge well-muscled legs measuring 32 inches, followed by huge 22 inch calves. He had a 2 1/2 foot differential between his chest and his waist measurement, which still to this day has not been equaled by any Mr. Olympia champion . Oliva would go on to win the Mr. Olympia competition in 1967, 1968, and 1969. In 1968 he made history by being the only uncontested Mr. Olympia champion. None of the other world champions would face him, none of the bodybuilding legends could challenge him, they all feared the legend of “the Myth.” Arnold Schwarzenegger was a Mr. Universe, Bill Pearl was another Mr. Universe, Frank Zane was Mr. America, Chuck Sipes was Mr. World, Albert Beckles, Dave Draper, Larry Scott, Boyer Coe, Serge Nubret, Reg Park the list goes on and on, where he would defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger 4 to 3, marking it Schwarzenegger’s first and only loss in a Mr. Olympia competition. Schwarzenegger said in his biography the Education of a Bodybuilder that he thought Sergio was so good that he should have won 7 to zero.
1963 Mr Chicago 1st
1964 Mr Illinois 1st
1964 Mr America – AAU 7th
1965 Junior Mr America – AAU 2nd
1965 Junior Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular 1st
1965 Mr America – AAU 4th
1965 Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 1st
1966 Junior Mr America – AAU 1st
1966 Junior Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular 1st
1966 Mr America – AAU, 2nd 2nd
1966 Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 1st
1966 Mr World – IFBB 1st
1966 Mr World – IFBB, Tall 1st
1966 Mr Universe – IFBB 1st
1966 Olympia – IFBB 4th
1967 Olympia – IFBB 1st
1967 Universe – IFBB 1st
1968 Olympia – IFBB 1st
1969 Olympia – IFBB 1st
1970 Mr World – AAU 2nd
1970 Olympia – IFBB 2nd
1971 Universe – Pro – NABBA 2nd
1972 Olympia – IFBB 2nd
1973 Mr International – IFBB, Professional 1st
1974 Mr International, Professional 1st
1975 Olympus – WBBG 1st
1976 Olympus – WBBG 1st
1977 World Championships – WABBA, Professional 1st
1978 Olympus – WBBG 1st
1980 World Championships – WABBA, Professional 1st
1981 Pro World Cup – WABBA 1st
1984 Olympia – IFBB 8th
1984 Pro States Championships – WABBA 1st
1985 Olympia – IFBB 8th