Winner – Sergio Oliva
Sergio was 5ft 10 and weighed between 225-235lbs – a heavy, and well built bodybuilder during that era. Sergio was known for his huge arms, wide chest and his amazing v-taper body shape (wide back, and narrow waist). Alongside his impressive shape, he was also well proportioned and symmetrical giving him a huge advantage over other competitors.
1968 Was Uncontested…
Sergio Oliva won the 1968 Mr Olympia uncontested because other expected competitors like Harold Poole, Dave Draper and Chuck Sipes failed to show due to other work commitments.
Harold Poole got a job promotion, Dave Draper was doing film making, and Chuck Sipes took advice from Joe Weider and removed himself from the competition – instead watching from the crowd.
The Mr Olympia in its infancy wasn’t like it is today, where the winner wins $400,000, instead the winners won $1,000 (and the prize money didn’t increase until 1975 – when it jumped up to $2,500).
Also, unlike modern bodybuilders you couldn’t make a living from the sport of bodybuilding. Instead, you had to work another job. It wasn’t like today where bodybuilders get paid if they win, received lucrative sponsorships; or could sell online coaching programmes/ebooks on social media/websites to make extra money.
Instead bodybuilding was very obscure, thus it didn’t have the same appeal to the world – unlike today.
1968 Mr Olympia Anticlimax
Everyone expected a battle between Sergio, Draper, Sipes, Schwarzenegger, and Poole, and other great bodybuilders, but as it transpired Sergio went on alone and won the Olympia title by default. Fans were extremely disappointed, however…
Whilst fellow expected competitors didn’t compete, Sergio had incredible size over his competition. Thus despite their admired aesthetics, they still probably wouldn’t have stood a chance anyway.
Sergio took center stage and dazzled the crowd with his incredible posing routine.
Whilst the quality in the video below isn’t very clear, you can appreciate Sergio’s physique, and posing. This video was him posing in the NABBA Universe in 1971…
Sergio also won the Mr Olympia in 1969 – beating the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger (his only ever Olympia loss) – Although Arnold was at the beginning of his career and hadn’t quite blossomed into the machine he later became.
From 1970 onwards Arnold won the Mr Olympia 6x in a row – dominating the sport and taking it to a new level of popularity.
Growing in popularity…
It wasn’t really until the 1970s that the Mr Olympia competition started to take off. It was largely thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger – who made bodybuilding more appealing to the general public – this was thanks to the documentary Pumping Iron (released in 1977).
It’s good to go back to the sports routes, and see how early winners like Larry Scott, and Sergio Oliva positively influenced the contest of Mr Olympia during it’s infancy. Over the years bodybuilding has continued to grow, and can be a very lucrative way of living, especially for the top IFFB pros.