Sergio Oliva: “The Myth” Of Ages

olivaConsidered as the most genetically gifted bodybuilder of all time, Sergio "The Myth" Oliva, was the first ever African-American athlete to win the Mr. Olympia title.

He was widely known for being the only bodybuilder to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Mr. Olympia title in 1969. 

Of Cuban descent, Oliva was born on July 4, 1941. He fought in the Cuban Revolution as part of Batista's army, who eventually lost to Fidel Castro. After the revolution, he spent his time on the beaches of Cuba where he met someone who invited him to join the local weightlifting club.


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In just 6 months, he was making a name for himself and was soon joining competitions. He was a member of the weightlifting team of Cuba at the 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games in Kingston, Jamaica. 

One night, he snuck out of the quarters, sprinted at top speed to the American consulate and demanded and asked for a political asylum, which he got.

He settled in Chicago, Illinois, and never returned to his home country again.

While there, he started lifting weights at the Duncan YMCA, and pretty soon the local bodybuilding community were buzzing about this Cuban powerhouse who could lift more weights than most Olympic athletes in his weight class.

Sergio Oliva

By 1963, Oliva had won his first bodybuilding competition for Mr. Chicago. This began his 22-year bodybuilding career that saw him won a total of 20 1st place titles, appearances in many movies, and his stamp as a worldwide bodybuilding icon. 

Oliva got the nickname "The Myth," after bodybuilder and writer Rick Wayne called him so at the Montreal World's Fair in 1967. People who saw Oliva were said to be in awe at the sight of his unbelievable physique. 

All this time, Oliva served as a Chicago police officer in a 25-year career. He got married and fathered Sergio Oliva, Jr. who is following his father's footsteps in competitive bodybuilding.

Sergio Oliva died on November 12, 2012 due to kidney failure at the age of 71.

He will forever be remembered as a bodybuilding legend, champion, and icon.

Sergio Oliva

Bodybuilding Titles

  • 1963 Mr Chicago 
  • 1964 Mr Illinois 
  • 1965 Junior Mr America – AAU (2nd Place)
  • 1965 Junior Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular
  • 1965 Mr America – AAU (4th Place)
  • 1965 Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular,
  • 1966 Junior Mr America 
  • 1966 Junior Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular
  • 1966 Mr America – AAU (2nd Place)
  • 1966 Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular,
  • 1966 Mr World – IFBB
  • 1966 Mr Universe – IFBB
  • 1966 Mr. Olympia – IFBB (2nd Place)
  • 1967 Mr. Olympia – IFBB
  • 1967 Mr. Universe – IFBB
  • 1968 Mr. Olympia – IFBB
  • 1969 Mr. Olympia – IFBB
  • 1970 Mr World – AAU (Tall Class, 2nd Place)
  • 1970 Mr. Olympia – IFBB (2nd Place)
  • 1971 Universe NABBA (Tall Class, 2nd Place)
  • 1972 Mr. Olympia – IFBB (2nd Place)
  • 1972 Mr Galaxy – WBBG
  • 1973 Mr International/ Mr Azteca – IFBB
  • 1973 Mr Galaxy – WBBG
  • 1974 Mr International – WBBG
  • 1975 Mr Olympus – WBBG
  • 1976 Mr Olympus – WBBG
  • 1977 Pro World Championships – WABBA
  • 1978 Mr Olympus – WBBG
  • 1980 Pro World Championships – WABBA
  • 1980 Professional World cup – WABBA
  • 1981 Professional World Cup – WABBA
  • 1984 Professional Mid-States Championships – WABBA