Kenneth Flex Wheeler remains entrenched in the sport of bodybuilding despite retiring many years ago. During the 35th annual Arnold Sports Festival, Wheeler was honored with the Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award.
In a tenure that lasted over 20 years, Wheeler proved himself against some of the best talents in the IFBB Pro League. While he never laid claim to a Mr. Olympia title, Wheeler pushed several champions on stage including eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, six-time winner Dorian Yates, Jay Cutler, and Dexter Jackson. Before calling it a career, Wheeler was the Mr. Olympia runner-up three times and won the Arnold Classic on four occasions.
Following a career filled with highlights, Wheeler struggled with a series of injuries and health problems. Eventually, complications led to Wheeler having his right leg amputated. In addition, Wheeler revealed that his kidneys were starting to show signs of failure late last year.
Flex Wheeler Receives Lifetime Achievement Award at 2023 Arnold Classic: “What More Could You Ask For”
At the 2023 Arnold Classic, the organizers revealed a video detailing Wheeler’s career’s trajectory within the IFBB Pro League. With flashbacks to his flexibility, stage presence, and aesthetics, Wheeler left behind a decorated legacy and presented one of the most eye-catching physiques of all-time.
“I told you many times, you won four Arnold Classics, I always considered you one of the greatest champions of all time. You had the symmetry, the size,” Arnold Schwarzenegger told Flex Wheeler. “Thank you very much for your great service.”
Wheeler thanked Schwarzenegger, the late Jim Lorimer, Jim Manion, and Joe Weider.
“I just want to get some business done before all the snot and tears come out of my eyes too much. First, I want to give honor to God without him we wouldn’t be here. Next, I want to give honor to Joe Weider, without him, none of us would be here and exist without this sport. Jim Manion when I turned pro in 1992, I had the honor of Joe and Jim walking me out on stage, and Joe told him, ‘You better give this kid a contract,’ well, he did. Thank you so much,” says Flex Wheeler.
“If it wasn’t for the NPC there would not be an IFBB, and we would not be standing here right now. Jim Lorimer — it’s bittersweet to accept this without this you here,” continued Wheeler.
“I never won the Olympia, but I had the honor of this man [Arnold Schwarzenegger] here calling me one of the greatest of all time, and that’s better to have than that recognition. The gratitude of fellow colleagues, what more could you ask for,” says Wheeler. “There’s so much I want to say but I’ll leave it at this, in the words of the great Jackie Robinson, ‘I was built for this.’ God truly built me to last. ”
Flex Wheeler Lifetime Achievement AwardRonnie Coleman was honored with the Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021. And today, Wheeler was the latest bodybuilding legend to accept the honor in commemoration of his storied career and contributions to bodybuilding.
In the weeks leading up to the 35th annual Arnold Classic, Wheeler found out he would be accepting the award after attending the 2022 Arnold Classic UK competition. During the show, which was won by Andrew Jacked, the organizers crafted an emotional tribute video in honor of Wheeler’s accomplishments.
In a recent DigitalMuscleTV intervi