Your View on the 1980 Mr. Olympia?

Hi Dr Darden,

Apologies if you’ve been asked this before, but I’d be interested in knowing your view of the results of that controversial 1980 Mr O is, especially given you worked along side several of the competitors. Who in your opinion should have been the top 3 that day.

Many thx

PS, could others hold fire with theyre views until Dr D has given he’s response…thanks guys.

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I would have voted for Mentzer to win. After that it was too close to call.


Then you have to look at who was running the show. It was in the bag for Arnold no matter how good Mike looked.


I guess it makes a big difference seeing the guys live rather than in a clip , lots of times you’ll hear this. Most of us can only comment on what we see on the clips and I read it’s a lot different seeing these guys in person. But at least in this Olympia, not many had Arnold winning, live or on film. Love the comments from the competitors in this clip especially Boyer’s . Anytime I’ve seen or listen to interviews with him , he was always a gentleman and a class act.

When it comes to picking first, second and third in Mr. Olympia, I have a hard time placing them. Back in those days it came down to what type of physique the you prefer as then there were different type of physiques . Today they pretty much look alike and the difference comes down to who was looking better the last couple hours when being placed.

Now at this level it’s so precise on crazy things you hear the commentators saying things like

" … that’s too bad, he looks great but he’s got that little film of water on his lower back , "

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Thanks for your response Dr D. Id be the same myself

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I wonder whether this spectacle damaged bodybuilding as a sport - or if the Arnold effect made bodybuilding benefit from it? After all, they did a similar thing in 1981… Talk about eating your own shoes.

The general public was just becoming aware of bodybuilding.
Many saw Pumping Iron. They knew Arnold. Mike who?

Probably not. I think a lot more people knew of Arnold, the bodybuilder turned actor, than followed bodybuilding itself. I’m pretty sure that I became aware of Arnold first as an actor (via the Conan movies), and only later read some of the stories of his bodybuilding days.

In any case, the American public probably would not have been totally surprised by bias and politics in the judging of sports or competitions that involve subjective elements. I recall frequent controversies in the judging during the Olympics in Figure Skating and Gymnastics. That was back in the days when those contests were seen as proxies for the greater conflict between Communism and the Western Democracies.

I do wonder if winning would have altered the trajectory of Mentzer’s life. Would he have been less likely to spiral into drugs and mental illness?

And then Columbo won Olympia. Not much that can be said after that.

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If it wasn’t for acting, no one outside of the bodybuilding world would know who Arnold is

Just like Louie was known for the incredible hulk, if it wasn’t for that no one would know who he was…general public I mean

If it wasn’t for acting, no one would know who Chuck Norris is other than the martial arts world

Everyone focuses on the 1980 as being rigged because Mentzer never stopped crying about it for 20 years. But the bigger travesty was the 1981 and the only reason no one discusses it is because Platz and Dickerson didn’t whine about the loss every chance they got. And Dickerson did exactly what Mike should have if he felt he deserved to win. He came back even better in 1982 and won.

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Yes Mentzer was a big baby! I don’t recall Boyer Coe or Serge Nubret crying about losing. I often wonder if he was self destructing physically and mentally about that time anyway and that was a good excuse as any for him to quit?

Mike lost many times before and didnt have an issue with those decisions, but it was clear to him and most of the other competitors that particular contest was rigged for Arnold to win. Indeed though, it wasnt healthy that Mike was still holding on to it decades after.

Personally i think Ben Weider was angered by Mike and Boyer standing up to Arnold backstage and they thought they’d teach them a lesson of sorts. For them to place 4th and 5th was a joke.


Coe and Zane boycotted the 81 Olympia.

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I don’t remember . There was and is so much shenanigans going on with Weider contests that it’s really all a joke.

They held all the cards. Unfortunately for the competitors there was no reveal organisations they could have moved to. I believe the same happened with Lee Priest years later, he didnt hold back his opinions and they give him the boot.

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If I remember correctly one Olympia Arnold won by default as Oliva was banned because he competed in some other contest?

It’s really disgusting how when you run through youtube and other places you see all this hype how Weider was a trainer of champions! He was no more a trainer for Arnold or anyone else than Don King trained Ali. Pure promoter and probably drug supplier above all else.

Great book Muscle Smoke and Mirrors Volume 3. Covers the 1980 Olympia. I don’t think its rigged like you think it was. Arnold did do some things for his own favour and some judges favoured Arnold. But with so many quality competitors the votes got split. Some had Mentzer winning, some Zane, some Dickerson etc. But many had Arnold in high positions and overall he had a higher score. Basically something like all 6 judges having a different winner and Arnold second results in Arnold winning.

Yeah I think there was multiple things that just didn’t pass the smell test. For Mentzer to come 5th some judges must have marked him very unfairly. Plus the fact that most of the competitors in the video I posted in my OP seen Mike and Boyer as the real winners says it all.

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