Your View on the 1980 Mr. Olympia?

It is interesting to google Olympia Rigged Judging and see the diverse range of opinions that come up. Arnold’s win in 1980 is the most famous controversy, probably because he is known outside of bodybuilding. But there are numerous other alleged miscarriages of judging that people point to: Franco Columbo’s win in 81, Dorian Yates win in 97, Jay Cutler losing to Ronnie Coleman in 2001, Kai Greene losing to Phil Heath in 2012.

Part of the issue seems to be that judges give the benefit of the doubt to the reining champion, resulting in the same guy winning for several years running. Several theories as to why that might be. Weider, of course, died in 2013, so he can no longer influence the outcomes, and the ownership is now different.

It seems like the relationship between Joe Weider and the Olympia was a little bit like the relationship between Vince McMahon and WWE. Professional wrestling is a staged exhibition designed to create dramatic story lines that draw in an audience who enjoy the spectacle. Body building isn’t nearly as staged as professional wrestling, but I think elements do creep in… especially picking winners who can maximize the audience for the contests. Having one guy own the contest and have influence over judge selection and judging criteria isn’t a path to objectivity.

If the sport was more widespread and popular, you probably would have seen a proliferation of federations, with different world titles, much like what happened in boxing.

And don’t forget Lee Haney vs Lee Labrada or Rich Gaspari

See the score sheet, there is some high scores for many people. And even when someone gives more points to someone else like Dennis they are still favouring Arnold in second etc.

So I don’t think it was mostly rigged, the votes were spread thinly over several top quality competitors and too many points went to Arnold.

Giving Arnold 20s on any of the rounds in the subpar condition he was in is exactley why it was rigged and i believe it was done to promote bodybuilding thru the Conan the Barbarian movie


Judging by the points system is far inferior to judging by placement. The NPC (AAU) was ahead of the IFBB to making the change.

I have to agree that “rigging”, to the extent that it might have occurred, would have involved the judges being less than objective in their scoring. Did Arnold got all those high scores because the judges truly thought those scores were deserved, or did they give him high scores because they knew that Weider, the Godfather of Body Building, wanted Arnold to win, for the good of the sport and for the good of Weider business interests. Unless you knew the judges personally, knew what their relationship to the Weider empire was, and knew how they got appointed as judges, it would be very difficult to judge their objectivity.

The problem I always see is that people wind up comparing Arnold in 1980 to Arnold in 74-75. He was off his own best, but not so far off where everyone else that day the win is too sketchy. They all looked bad in 1980 and the contest should have just been called off because no one deserved to win (Mentzer was flat and had no chest). In a close contest the champ always gets the win and Arnold was the champ (sorry Zane).

I love Franco, but he was further from his best shape than Arnold was in '80!!

== oh heavens , a judge who was less than objective?? That would never happen and it could have been for the good of the sport? Oh brother times two!


I always love the people that say 1980 was the chance bodybuilding would break out of being a cult sport and enter the mainstream if only the true winner Mentzer had been crowned. They also in the same breath say that Arnold hurt the rising popularity by entering. The public had no idea who anyone was in that lineup besides Arnold. If anything Arnold was the best winner if you wanted to make bodybuilding more acceptable to the public.

== Scott==
I’m not saying that in any way. This has nothing to do with bodybuilding entering into the main stream, it’s just about fairness. And by the way , bodybuilding is not a sport, it’s an exhibition, a beauty contest.

I never compared Arnold of 1980 to his earlier days…I compare his physique to the others of that contest and still think he is subpar

If I ever thought about competing in bodybuilding (which I did, back in the 90ties) this is one of the reasons I never did. I mean, if you are to hold a beauty contest, at least be fair to the competitors. Arnold may seem to have the benefit of having a larger posture (aside of being the supported favorite), but he did not deserve to win. The Olympia in 1981 just proves the point - DON’T compete in bodybuilding. Even more true today when every competitor looks the same, carrying an unhealthy mass which surely will shorten their lives. Simply not worth it, in my opinion. Where are the role models?

I agree that the event is not a sport, but achievement of a good physique requires athletic abilities.

As to it being an exhibition, I never perceived it as such. For me it was a comparative contest with what are supposed to be impartial judges with a (rather) clear understanding of a “standard.” Personally, I didn’t care if anyone was in the audience.

Bodybuilding as a sport was never going to go mainstream. As I believe the vast majority of the public wants to see big guys with big muscles doing much more than standing on a stage and flexing. Hence, the popularity of professional wrestling. How many people know who Hulk Hogan or the Ultimate Warrior are(were)? Arnold wasn’t famous till he did movies.

I was at the Mr. Olympia in Orlando and I had more fun and respect for the arm wrestling competition and strongman competition than I did for the bodybuilding and fitness shows

Good article describing who was who on the judge’s panel.

Don’t agree with dbol504 that Mentzer “was flat and had no chest”: the pictures give a different perspective.
Looking at some photos in the article and elsewhere (and having a DVD with Mr. Olympia, including lost footage) I see that Arnold was subpar in front and back semi-relaxed poses and was much worse than any of the competitors placed ## 2-5. Legs were very poor aside from calves, but some people argue, quite reasonably, that had calf implants. Since bodybuilding judging is a very subjective issue, I would not be surprised if any of Coe, Dickerson, Mentzer, Zane (in no particular order) won the contest in 1980, but definitely Arnold should not have been given the title.

The contest was without a doubt set up for Arnold to win by his close friend and promoter Paul Graham.
Two of the regular judges, Park and Busek were good friends with Arnold. Then when Pearl and Schwab relinquished judging responsibilities due to them helping Dickerson and Mentzer respectfully with their contest prep, it gave Graham the opportunity to put in 2 more (under qualified) judges who would favour Arnold , namely Ryan and Kawashima .
Playing devil’s advocate here are the totals without the replacement judges scores.
Arnold 179
Dickerson 179
Zane 177
Coe 174
Mentzer 173
Walker 172
Callender 171
Tinerino 170

Much closer than the full scorecard.
But what if Pearl and Schwab had judged ?
Well Pearl has stated that he would have placed Arnold 5th , and having personally discussed the contest with Roger Schwab, he would not have put Arnold in the top 3.
So my educated guess is that with a regular judging line up , Dickerson would have finished above Arnold , and both Mentzer and Coe would have picked up more points , and that the difference between first and eighth would have been far less , which is a better reflection on what most observers saw as a very open contest with no one being a standout.



There was no way that Mentzer, who espoused a training ideology that was at complete odds with Weider’s training philosophy was going to win. To Ben Weider’s credit, none of those judges ever judged another Mr. O.