James “Flex” Lewis, the winner of seven 212 Olympia titles, is retiring from competitive bodybuilding. Lewis announced the news on the debut episode of his podcast, Straight Outta the Lair, on May 13, 2022. President of the Olympia, Dan Solomon, confirmed the news in an Instagram post of his own (embedded below).
It’s time for me to hang up my posing trunks.
You can listen to Lewis’ announcement starting at the 22:10 mark in the video below:
“[Bodybuilding] is something I’ve been doing since I’m 19,” Lewis says on the podcast. “It’s time for me to hang up my posing trunks. It’s been an amazing road. I’m blessed to say I’ve accomplished more things than I’ve ever imagined.”
Flex Lewis — King of the “Lightweights”
According to Muscle Memory, Lewis arrived on the bodybuilding scene with a first-place finish at the 2003 Junior British Championships. He was seen as a teen sensation and considered the future of bodybuilding in his part of the world. By 2007, Lewis turned pro by winning the overall British title.
Lewis made his pro debut in 2008 Europa Pro, where he won the 202 division title (note: 202 pounds preceded the 212 division) and placed seventh in the Open. He made his Olympia debut that same year and placed third in the 202 contest to champion David Henry.
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From 2009 until 2018, his final year of competition, Lewis was a mainstay in the lightweight division(s), meaning the non-Open bodybuilding class, which changed from 202 to 210 to 212. After a start that included fifth and second place Olympia finishes (2009 and 2011, respectively), the Wales native reached peak Flex Lewis in 2012. He won the British Grand Prix, Prague Pro, and the Olympia — and then went on to win six more consecutive Olympia titles.
Flex Lewis’s Major Wins
- 212 Olympia: 2012-2018
- Prague Pro: 2012-2014
- Arnold Classic 212: 2014
- San Marino Pro: 2014
The Move to the Open
After winning his seventh Olympia 212 title in 2018, Lewis announced his retirement from 212 and his intention to compete in the Open division. He took the 2019 season off to add the size he felt he would need to compete against larger athletes. In 2020, he was granted a special invite to the Olympia but withdrew due to injury. He hoped to compete in the 2021 contest, but he backed out again because he focused on having another child with his wife, Ali.
There was speculation that Lewis would be granted a special invite to compete in the 2022 Olympia. It hasn’t been formally offered because the Olympia is scheduled to be held on Dec. 16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV, where Lewis currently resides.
Lewis won 20 shows in bodybuilding’s non-heavyweight division, and he is considered one of the greatest of his generation, if not all time. The 38-year-old expressed he will focus on business ventures and his growing family, which now includes a daughter and newborn son, in the future.
Featured Image: @flex_lewis