May 25

OPINION: Will There Ever be Anyone as Legendary as Ronnie Coleman Again?


Ronnie Coleman is a true legend of bodybuilding.

Legendary status. Sometimes the term can be thrown around with little to no care. We call people legends because of what they’ve accomplished in a specific endeavor, the time they put in to hone their craft and become a figure that garners respect. But there are legends and then there are Legends.

Some individuals in a given sport or endeavor just have that certain “It” factor that makes them tower above the rest. For bodybuilding in particular, champions like Arnold Schwarzenegger are revered for what they’ve accomplished in and out of the sport. Other champions like Dorian Yates have reached legendary status based on their ability to change the game and bring things to a whole new level.

Certain legends leave you with feeling of awe, that you’re gazing upon something truly special that will only come about once in a lifetime. A certain individual that can be easily pointed to as the one who made the shift or influenced an entire industry.

The last legend to have that kind of effect in bodybuilding is Ronnie Coleman.

After Dorian Yates ushered in the era of the mass monsters, Ronnie Coleman had come forth from the bottom of the pack to eventually take his place as one of the greatest bodybuilding champions of all time. His sheer size and ability to present himself like a living work of art was one of Ronnie Coleman’s biggest attributes.

There’s a reason why people continue to call Ronnie Coleman “The King”. To this day, fellow bodybuilders and fans still acknowledge just how massive and otherworldly Coleman looked when he prepared himself for the Olympia. This wasn’t your average bodybuilder with some impressive musculature and definition. Coleman was a man legendary for his preparation, the kind of intense training that would make mush of even the most talented bodybuilders in the game.

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While Ronnie Coleman pays the price now for that intense training, he has also built the kind of legend that will live on well into the future. But since his retirement, it’s been hard to replicate that same legendary status.

While Phil Heath is the reigning Mr. Olympia champion, it seems that reverence for his considerable abilities are somewhat downplayed by the fans. It’s an unfair assessment, especially considering how accomplished Heath is. Yet despite that, there could be more than a few reasons behind this.

Ronnie Coleman at the height of his powers had to contend with the likes of Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone, Flex Wheeler, Dexter Jackson and Jay Cutler just to name a few. Each of those bodybuilders have gained their own legendary status on par with Coleman and he was able to overcome all of them. There’s no doubting that the level of competition in Ronnie Coleman’s day were some of the most impressive competitors to ever grace a posing stage.

So that leaves one question. Will there ever be a legendary champion like Ronnie Coleman again?

Wisdom would say that Phil Heath will be held in high regard when he eventually decides to call it a career. We tend to have blinders on during the present, but then look back on the past with reverence. It’s likely the case with the current reigning Olympia champion.

Still, it can’t be denied that Ronnie Coleman had something special and has garnered a massive following through his presence as an unbeatable champion.

Ronnie Coleman has always been a man willing to put everything on the line to accomplish his ultimate goal. In a day and age where so many people want instant gratification, Coleman had to struggle from the bottom in order to get to the top. It wasn’t given to him and you never felt that he came off as a man who thought he deserved greatness. Ronnie Coleman has always been the kind of man that was willing to sacrifice in order to become the best.

For those looking to get a deeper dive into the legendary history of Ronnie Coleman can check out our documentary Ronnie Coleman: The King. The film delves deep into the life of one of the most influential champions bodybuilding has ever seen. With his will to win and his mental fortitude to push past perceived limits, it’s truly hard to think of any other bodybuilder that will be able to reach the kind of lofty status that Ronnie Coleman has attained.

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Time will tell if there will be another bodybuilder given the same reverence and respect that Ronnie Coleman has garnered. For now all we can do is appreciate the legend for the hard work, grit, and inspiring story he has left behind.

For more news and updates, follow Generation Iron on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Managing Editor at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his InstagramTwitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.

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