James “Flex” Lewis, the man who is considered by many to be the greatest non-Open bodybuilder ever, is making his move up to the Open division and is now officially added to the 2020 Mr. Olympia lineup. The announcement was made early on February 6th by Chief Olympia Officer Dan Solomon on social media.
“After months of speculation, one of the year’s most exciting storylines has been confirmed. Flex Lewis will return to the Olympia stage this year in pursuit of bodybuilding’s most coveted title. After winning a record 7 consecutive titles in the under 212lb division, followed by a year away from competition, Flex is now focused on becoming just the 16th winner in the 56 year history of the Mr. Olympia.”
Lewis won the 212 Olympia Showdown title for seven consecutive years from 2012-2018. After the 2018 contest, he announced his retirement from that division but left the door open to move up to the heavier class. While he is an Olympia champion and is allowed to enter any contest he wishes in the 212 division, it was previously believed that he would have to qualify for the Mr. Olympia since he was changing divisions. He also shared a statement about his return in the announcement.
“I spent a year away from the stage. The year off has given me the chance to prepare myself for the most intense contest prep of my life. It’s every bodybuilder’s dream to become Mr. Olympia. This process started the moment I walked off the stage at the 2018 Olympia. I am laser focused on competing against the best of the best this September in Vegas.”
This news has already added a lot of excitement for the 2020 contest. The 2019 contest was considered by some to be a disappointment due to the number of big name champions not being in the lineup like Phil Heath, Shawn Rhoden, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, and Josh Lenartowicz.
Lewis joins a lineup that already includes current Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry, 2008 winner Dexter Jackson, William Bonac, and Roelly Winklaar, among others. While he is best known for competing in the 212, he had stated in the past that he struggled to get down to that weight and he could compete at over 220 pounds if the opportunity presented itself. He actually wouldn’t be the first non-heavyweight to win the Olympia should he be victorious in Las Vegas.
Franco Columbu, Frank Zane, Samir Bannout, and Chris Dickerson were all Mr. Olympia winners that had previously competed in non-heavyweight divisions.
Featured Image: Instagram/mrolympiallc