Sergio Oliva


My favourite bodybuilder was Sergio Oliva. Sergio Oliva was born in Cuba in on the 4th of July 1939. In 1961 he fled to USA to escape the Cuban Revolution. Sergio initially lived in Miami, however he eventually moved to Chicago, where he remained up until his death on November 12th, 2012. Sergio knew he had to leave Cuba, he was just not sure how. He tried various sports such as baseball and tennis knowing that if he was able to join the national team he would get the opportunity to travel abroad. Eventually Sergio Oliva discovered Olympic Weightlifting when he approached a group of weightlifters on a Cuban beach. He was invited to the gym they were training at. One of the men told him that he was built to be a champion and if he cleaned the gym he could train with them. If he proved himself, he could join the team. At the age of eighteen Sergio Oliva had a total of 1000 pounds over the then three lifts. Sergio trained with his older brother with the hope of being selected for the Pan American Cuban team. They were successful, and he went to Jamaica in 1961 for a competition. The day before the competition was due to take place Sergio Oliva, the entire Cuban Weightlifting team and even the Cuban secret Police escaped to America.
It was in America that Sergio Oliva discovered bodybuilding and he was a natural at it. In my opinion and many others, Sergio Oliva was the most genetically gifted bodybuilder ever. He had everything you could want as a bodybuilder. Naturally wide shoulders, a tiny waste, long full muscle bellies with no one muscle overpowering the other. At five feet, eleven and a half inches tall Sergio Oliva had a competition weight of 255 pounds/ 18 stone 4 pounds. His chest measured 58 inches, waist measured 27 inches the smallest waist of any professional bodybuilder, 22 ½ inch arms, (cold), 20-inch forearms, 33-inch thighs and 19 ¼ inch calves. He would dominate the bodybuilding scene across various bodybuilding organisations in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Sergio Oliva is one of only three men to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bodybuilding contest. The others two being Frank Zane and Chet Yourton.
As well as being a professional bodybuilder Sergio Oliva was also a Police Officer with the Chicago Police Department, up until 2003 and had a role in the movie Black Power. He was also on the cover of fifteen bodybuilding magazines between 1968 and 2000. Below you will find Sergio Oliva’s bodybuilding competition history:
1963 Mr Young Chicagoland. (1st)
1964 Mr Illinois. (1st)
1964 AAU Mr America. (7th) + (Most Muscular)
1965 AAU Jr Mr America. (2nd) + (Most Muscular)
1965 AAU Mr America. (4th) + (Most Muscular)
1966 AAU Jr Mr America. (1st) + (Most Muscular)
1966 AAU Mr America. (2nd) + (Most Muscular)
1966 IFBB Mr Olympia. (2nd)
1966 IFBB Mr Universe. (1st)
1967 IFBB Mr Olympia. (1st)
1968 IFBB Mr Olympia. (1st)
1969 IFBB Mr Olympia. (1st)
1970 IFBB Mr Olympia. (2nd)
1971 NABBA Mr Universe. (2nd)
1972 IFBB Mr Olympia. (2nd)
1972 WBBG Mr Galaxy. (1st)
1973 WBBG Mr Galaxy. (1st)
1973 IFBB Pro Mr International. (1st)
1974 WBBG Mr Azteca International. (1st)
1975 WBBG Mr Olympus. (1st)
1976 WBBG Mr Olympus. (1st)
1977 WABBA Pro World Championships. (1st)
1978 WBBG Mr Olympus. (1st)
1980 WABBA Pro World Championships. (1st)
1980 WABBA Pro World Cup. (1st)
1981 WABBA Pro World Cup. (1st)
1984 WABBA Pro Mid-State. (1st)
1984 IFBB Mr Olympia. (8th)
1985 IFBB Mr Olympia. (8th)
Although he is no longer alive, Sergio Oliva’s legacy lives on through his daughter and his son Sergio Oliva Junior. Sergio Oliva Junior is currently an IFBB professional bodybuilder. His first taste of bodybuilding was at the 1984 Mr Olympia where he shared the stage with his father. After his 8th place finish was announced Sergio Oliva brought his new born son onstage and showed him to the world. At the 2018 Mr Olympia Sergio Oliva Junior became the first legacy competitor, as the first son of any bodybuilder, let alone the second Mr Olympia champion to compete in the same competition.

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