In the last few years, it has become ever more apparent just how spectacular Ronnie Coleman's collection of Mr. Olympia titles actually is.
With eight Sandow trophies to his credit, he's tied with all-time great Lee Haney and one ahead of Arnold Schwarzenegger, rarified air to be sure.
To be named the very best in the ultra-competitive iron game eight times, Coleman had to successfully peak for that one autumn day each year when he would stand onstage to be judged against his peers, including some who have carved out their own place among bodybuilding's immortals -- think Jay Cutler, Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone, Flex Wheeler, Lee Priest and Victor Martinez, among numerous others he left in his wake.
It's not just impressive, it's daunting territory for anyone who dares to dream of one day treading the same hallowed territory as Coleman. Like DiMaggio's hit streak and the Miami Dolphin's perfect NFL season, eight Mr. Olympia titles is a feat that grows in stature with each passing year.
Doubt that? In the years since Coleman's last title in 2005, there have been no less than three champions. The aforementioned Cutler, with four titles now to his credit, would have to muscle out reigning titleholder Phil Heath and win the show four more times just to tie Coleman and Haney. At 39 years old, it would appear that time has run out for Jay, who may be eying retirement. As for Heath, predictions abound as to his potential, but seven more is a long road to travel, and far from assured in a physical sport that demands perfection and a talent for avoiding injury.
These days, his place in history secure, Coleman may have stepped away from the Olympia stage, but he's not resting on his mighty laurels. Big Ron has never strayed too far from the sport he loves, with numerous irons in the fire, among them a high-level NPC show bearing his name and a new line of supplements to help those aspiring to fill his shoes, or at least give it their best shot.
Before embarking on a two-month "world tour," the titanic Texan recently took time to speak to ProSource about his latest adventures, and what we can expect next from him (hint: we may see him flexing competitively again soon). Here are highlights of that conversation.
ProSource: On March 31, the 16th annual NPC Ronnie Coleman Classic was held in Mesquite, Texas. What were your impressions?
Ronnie Coleman: Outside of the national-level events, it's pretty much the biggest NPC amateur show in the U.S. We had over 400 competitors this year. With my name behind it, we've worked hard behind the scenes to make it what it is. We plan to keep building it up, continuing to make it a great place to compete and a fun show to watch for the fans who come out and support us.
The overall winner was Kevin Ofurum. What do you think of his physique? Is he a future Olympia contender in your opinion?
Ronnie Coleman: He'll be Mr. Olympia one day! Kevin won my show, and I don't expect anything less from him. This is a really difficult show, which draws some of the best bodybuilders in the world to compete, so yes, I'm expecting big things from him. He looked awesome.
Outside of the Ronnie Coleman Classic, we still know you have your own bodybuilding ambitions. You recently had spinal surgery to alleviate neck and back pain. Have you completed rehab? Are you back in the gym?
Ronnie Coleman: Yes, I've been back in the gym now for two months and training hard. All is going great! I'm back up to 290 now, heading towards 300 hard, well-conditioned pounds.
We hear you're also keeping busy with a new supplement line. Can you tell us more about that endeavor?
Ronnie Coleman: We've launched the 'Ronnie Coleman Signature Series' in Europe, where it has been a big hit. I know you'd expect me to say this, but I really do love these products -- the formulations are fantastic. We currently have MyoBlitz, which is a preworkout product; Testogen-XR, which is a nitric oxide/testosterone booster; Resurrect P.M., which is a sleep and recovery aid; and Pro-Antium, a protein supplement with 29 grams of protein per scoop. (Note: Coleman's products will soon be available at ProSource.net.)
Speaking of supplements, you've been a well-documented fan of ProSource for just about our entire 16-year history. What's most important about a supplement retailer for you?
Ronnie Coleman: ProSource is all about a commitment to excellence. They always have been. When you're out there, trying to attain the highest physique and performance goals, you want to deal with companies that have the same serious approach to getting the job done right that you have. With ProSource, you know their customer service, their business practices, their coverage of the industry on their website, are all top-notch. ProSource has delivered to me on time, all the time, and carry the best products in the world. I highly recommend the website to all serious people on the hunt for quality supplements who are looking for a great experience, customer appreciation, and some of the lowest prices around.
Of course, we can't let you go without getting your opinion on the man who now holds the Mr. Olympia title, Phil Heath. What impresses you about Heath's physique? Do you foresee multiple titles for him? Do you think we'll ever see another eight-year reign of the sort that you and Haney enjoyed?
Ronnie Coleman: Phil is one of the greatest bodybuilders I've seen compete since Arnold, Lee and myself. I see multiple titles for him. But I have to admit, winning eight in a row in this day and age with the competition level he's facing, only God can predict that.
To this day, I look back and I don't know how I did it, only God knows that too. But I do know that I am blessed beyond belief, and it is nothing short of amazing to me.
So more titles, but maybe not eight?
Ronnie Coleman: Oh, I'd love to see Phil run off eight in a row. That would be so exciting for me to see as a fan, since I didn't see Lee Haney do it, having only got into the sport of bodybuilding in 1990.
Last question: It sounds like there may indeed be a Masters Olympia in December in Prague. Will we see you on that stage?
Ronnie Coleman: Yes, I am shooting to be in that Master's Olympia show. Of course, I'm still recovering and rebuilding, but I'll be doing a ton of praying in the following months. It will take that much praying for me to get healthy enough and in shape enough to get on that stage, but that's my intent.