During the Golden Era of bodybuilding, Sergio Oliva cemented himself as one of the best with three consecutive Mr. Olympia titles (1967, 1968, 1969). His son, Sergio Oliva Jr. discussed his late father’s legacy and shared how Oliva pushed back against Olympia organizers.
Oliva Jr. is a Men’s Open competitor sporting mass with shape and balance. He is a past New York Pro winner (2017) and has competed against high-level talent. Oliva Jr. finished 16th at his first Mr. Olympia competition in 2018 in addition to taking fifth at the 2020 Arnold Classic.
At the Legion Sports Fest Pro in 2021, he earned third after he was unable to stop the conditioning and fullness of Shaun Clarida. Canadian bodybuilder Regan Grimes also passed him on the scorecards in second.
Months before claiming sixth at the 2021 Arnold Classic, he argued that posing was ‘officially dead’ in the Men’s Open division. And while he hasn’t been actively competing, Sergio’s goal of being the best bodybuilder in the world hasn’t changed.
In an up close and personal podcast with retired seven-time 212 Olympia Flex Lewis, Oliva Jr. explained how the odds were stacked against his father in the 70s. He also touched on his aspirations to one day become a Mr. Olympia.
Sergio Oliva Jr. On His Dad’s Grudge With Olympia Organizers: ‘Whatever Happened, It Was Bad’
Sergio Oliva Jr. explained that his father held a grudge against the Olympia organizers until the day he died.
“My dad, look no one can tell any of us what my dad went through back then. I can’t imagine being the only colored person to win the Olympia. I can’t imagine being colored and not being able to speak English during those times but whatever happened, it was bad. And he kept that grudge for a long time – till the day he died. And he didn’t want to go.”
At the time, Sergio was worried his father’s actions might affect his career as a bodybuilder.
“He was very bitter. Yeah, I’ll never forget, it ended up being where Manion went up to my dad, and again, we don’t know what’s happened back then. I’m not going to speak about it, I have no idea. But whatever it was, Manion was trying to drop that grudge. He went up to my dad, stuck his hand out [at Olympia] and he’s like, ‘hey,’ my dad just left his hand out there. He almost did one of those [things with his hands] I’m watching this like, and I’m competing now, ‘fu**,’ when Jim walked away, it was so awkward, and Jim Manion just walked away.”
Oliva Jr.: ‘My Dad and Lee Priest’ Were The Only Bodybuilders Ever Banned from Competing at Olympia
According to Oliva, Lee Priest was banned from IFBB Pro League competitions after the rule was initially created to penalize his dad.
“I whispered in my dad’s ear, like, ‘I can’t tell you what happened back then, but this is going to hurt me.’ Jim and them were good people, they would never take anything out on my dad out on me. No matter what, it was just automatic. If Lee Priest had a son, and he started competing, I only use Lee as an example because Lee and my dad are the only people suspended from bodybuilding. He’s the reason that rule was invented.
The rule that they used for Lee to suspend him for going to the other federation was invented for my dad. A little history lesson. They used to be okay to compete in both federations. My dad too – he definitely went out of his way to try and disrespect Arnold and Joe Weider.
Oliva believes his father was suspended so that Arnold Schwarzenegger would win the Olympia title in 1971.
“He did some guest posing in Mexico, he jumps off stage and he starts posing in Arnold and Joe’s face, right in their face in the crowd and right then, Joe makes a rule that you can’t compete in another federation and now my dad is suspended for just the Olympia, like suspended for two weeks.
This shows you how smart Joe is. Joe allowed my dad to guest pose at Olympia I think in ’71, so he still gets people to buy tickets to come see my dad but now you can never have Arnold and my dad go against each other. It was very smart. Arnold won that Olympia and my dad was suspended, that’s the rule they ended up using to suspend Lee Priest,” Oliva Jr. said.
Before wrapping up the discussion, Oliva Jr. mentioned that he hasn’t given up on training to become a Mr. Olympia.
“A lot of people who have come and gone that if they nail it, they’d win Mr. Olympia,” says Oliva Jr. “I feel like if I nail it, I can win the Olympia – I can win any show I want. But that makes it worse if you don’t.”
Bodybuilding veteran Lee Priest also shared his thoughts on being banned from the IFBB Pro League. He mentioned that most of his problems arose after he competed in a different league for promoter Wayne DeMilia.
You can watch the full video below:
Fans would love to see Sergio back in action. While he made no mention of an immediate comeback, he appears motivated to get back on the Olympia stage soon.
Note: The content of this article has been revised to ensure that it accurately reflects the information provided by the athlete in the video, without the inclusion of the author’s personal opinions.