Ronnie Coleman is an absolute beast, plain and simple. In a world where bodybuilders continue to grow bigger and bigger, Coleman has set a new standard – the Louisiana-born bodybuilder has a contest weight of about 300 pounds, something that not many bodybuilders achieve. Coleman got his start as a football player, initially working out so he could be more impressive on the field. He continued playing football while he attended Grambling State University, and actually planned to become an accountant. You heard it – this giant muscle man was planning to spend all his days at a desk. However, his plans changed when he moved to Texas for some new job opportunities. While doing everything possible to stay afloat in a hard job market, Coleman saw an advertisement for the police force and started a career there. Coleman’s fellow officers convinced him to check out a particularly impressive gym in their neighborhood, whose clientele consisted of powerlifters and competitive builders. The rest, as they say, is history. Coleman immediately impressed at his first competition in 1990 and soon began dominating the bodybuilding world, earning his IFBB Pro card as well as countless titles. In fact, Coleman holds the record for the most wins by an IFBB professional – a staggering 26, including eight coveted Mr. Olympia titles.
Though he’s an American, muscle man, Dennis James was born in Heidelberg, Germany, as his father, a military man, was stationed there. Perhaps it’s that German bodybuilding blood, but James began lifting at 18 and immediately started to impress everyone. James hasn’t had as many impressive finishes as some of the big bodybuilders – though he’s competed in the Mr. Olympia seven times, his best finish is fourth place. However, he’s consistently maintained his physique over the years, proving that you don’t always need titles to keep up your motivation.
Even if you know absolutely nothing about bodybuilding, chances are you know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is. The Austrian-born bodybuilder set records in the fitness world, becoming the youngest person to win the Mr. Universe title when he was 20. He racked up countless titles over the years, including four more Mr. Universe titles and seven coveted Mr. Olympia titles. After an illustrious career in bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger (who had become a U.S. citizen after emigrating to the U.S. in 1968) started conquering another industry – Hollywood. He had roles in several movies, including Hercules, Stay Hungry (for which he won a Golden Globe), and Conan the Barbarian. The film that absolutely made his career, however, was Terminator. With three simple words – “I’ll be back” – Schwarzenegger cemented his place as a pop culture icon.
American bodybuilder Kai Greene turned to weights as a way to cope with a difficult childhood, and his seventh grade English teacher helped introduce him to the world of competitive bodybuilding. He started out on the teen circuit, flexing his growing muscles, before taking a hiatus to really transform his physique. He turned pro before his 19th birthday, earning him the honor of being the youngest natural professional bodybuilder at the time. He continually improved himself, moving on to the NPC to qualify for recognition with the IFBB. Kai’s admirable determination paid off almost 16 years after he first entered the bodybuilding circuit when he became one of the buff athletes in the IFBB Professional ranks.
Phillip Heath – who many know by his nickname, “The Gift” – grew up in Seattle, Washington, and was a typical high school jock. He played varsity basketball and excelled enough that he earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Denver. He played as the point/shooting guard at the University’s Div 1-A basketball team. While he loved basketball, he was looking for his next challenge, and it was only after university that he found the world of bodybuilding in 2002. He pushed his body from 185 pounds to 215 pounds of pure muscle, before cutting down to 192 pounds for his first competition, The Rocky Mountain NPC USA Championship “Northern.” Heath won – quite the way to start out his career. He trained harder, got even bigger, and eventually racked up a whole slew of other titles, including his IFBB Pro card and four Mr. Olympia wins.