The Michael Jordan of Bodybuilding

8-Time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney – Simply the Best

By Joe Pietaro, MuscleSport Mag

When people think of bodybuilders, the first name that comes to mind is Arnold Schwarzennager. The ‘Terminator’ definitely did put bodybuilding on the map in the 1970’s and is still a great ambassador for the sport, but the fact of the matter is that Arnold does not hold the record for overall Mr. Olympia titles or even consecutive championships on the big stage.

That would be Lee Haney, who stood by himself holding the Sandow Trophy from 1984 to 1991, when he retired from competitive bodybuilding. Governor Schwarzennager won six straight Mr. O titles (1970-75), and his last in 1980. Ronnie Coleman matched Haney’s record from 1998 to 2005.

The humble Haney still marvels to this day how he was able to stay on top for so long. “Who would have thought that I would have won eight?” he said. “To accomplish one is a feat in itself. Words couldn’t express [what it means] to win eight.

Since walking away from the competition, Haney has been a personal trainer for many different athletes from all different sports, such as; Evander Holyfield, Shannon Sharpe, Gary Sheffield, Fred Stokes and Kevin Willis.

Because of his involvement with these types of athletes, Haney scoffs at the notion that bodybuilding is not a sport. “It can be nothing but a sport,” Haney said. “All of the athletes I have trained, the sport of bodybuilding has enhanced their abilities. You have to strive to be the best. When you’re sleeping, another guy is getting the edge.

“There is no on and off season,” continued Haney. “You need the discipline of diet, supplementation and applying that training. It’s actually a sport/science.”

Haney sees the difference in the size of the competitors today – such as current Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler – as opposed to when he competed. “We had smaller waistlines and were more sleek with our physiques,” he said. “Now they’re so much bigger, more massive now. I’m not saying it’s bad. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Haney’s career has come full circle since he won the first NPC World Amateur Heavyweight Championship in 1982 in New York City’s Town Hall. Last year, he was once again involved promoting the organization’s 25th Anniversary at the 2007 BodyWell NPC National Bodybuilding and Fitness Championship, which was held November 16 and 17 in Dallas. “I am very happy to be a part of it and [it’s] celebration of 25 years,” said Haney.