The History & Winners of the Masters Olympia Bodybuilding Competition

This bodybuilding contest has featured some legendary champions.

Back in the golden days of baseball, there was a “legends game” that featured many of the superstars of the past. This event was a treat for old fans, and it introduced icons of the sport to a younger generation. Bodybuilding once had something similar when they used to hold the Masters Olympia competition.

Muscle is hard to grow but, thankfully, if you train hard and smart, it is relatively easy to hold onto. Pro competitors that were over 40 years of age may have felt that they could no longer share the stage with their younger counterparts, but this contest gave them one more opportunity to stand in the spotlight and be crowned a champion.

There has been speculation that this contest may make a comeback in 2023, but that hasn’t been confirmed as of this writing. Before we look ahead to its potential return, let’s take a glance back at the history of the Masters Olympia and the athletes who’ve won it.

Winners of the Masters Olympia by Year

  • 1994Robby Robinson
  • 1995Sonny Schmidt
  • 1996Vince Taylor
  • 1997Vince Taylor
  • 1999Vince Taylor
  • 2000Vince Taylor
  • 2001Vince Taylor 
  • 2002Don Youngblood
  • 2003Claude Groulx
  • 2012Dexter Jackson

Note: Many of these statistics and dates were pulled from Muscle Memory.

1994 — Robby Robinson

The inaugural Masters Olympia was held in Atlanta, GA on Sept. 10, 1994, the same city and date that hosted the Mr. Olympia contest that year. The early favorite going into the show was Lou Ferrigno, who had placed 10th at the Mr. Olympia in 1993. However, Robby Robinson spoiled The Incredible Hulk’s party, and took the overall title. Chris Dickerson and Ed Corney were recognized as the over-50 and over-60 winners, respectively, based on them being the highest finishers in their age groups in the lineup.


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A post shared by Robby Robinson (@robbyrobinsonofficial)

Final Placings

  1. Robby Robinson
  2. Lou Ferrigno
  3. Boyer Coe
  4. Chris Dickerson
  5. Olev Annus
  6. Bernard Sealy
  7. Danny Padilla
  8. Bill Grant
  9. Hubert Metz
  10. Ed Corney
  11. Scott Wilson
  12. Herman Hoffend

Over-50 Winner: Chris Dickerson 

Over-60 Winner: Ed Corney

1995 — Sonny Schmidt

Once again, Atlanta hosted the Masters Olympia on Sept. 10, 1995, but this time a different champion was crowned. Robinson had hoped to repeat, but Sonny Schmidt of Australia would leave with the title, relegating Robinson to second place. Renowned trainer Charles Glass entered this lineup as a competitor himself, and he finished in fourth place. Corney was once again honored as the Over-60 winner. There was no Over-50 winner announced at the 1995 competition.

It’s also worth noting that all nine of the winners of the Mr. Olympia contest joined Joe Weider on stage in an honorary display of the competition’s 30th anniversary. 

Final Placings

  1. Sonny Schmidt
  2. Robby Robinson
  3. Patrick Nicholls
  4. Charles Glass
  5. Daniel Coussieu
  6. James Roberts
  7. Olev Annus
  8. Katsumi Ishimura
  9. Cesar Pemental
  10. Boyer Coe
  11. Ed Corney
  12. Rod Koontz
  13. Casey Viator (tie for 12th)

Over-60 Winner: Ed Corney

1996 — Vince Taylor

The Masters Olympia was moved to Chicago, IL on Sept. 20, 1996. For the third straight year, a new champion was crowned. 1983 Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout may have hoped that it would be him taking center stage at the end of the evening, but he would ultimately place sixth in the lineup. 


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A post shared by Vince Taylor (@vincetaylor50)

Vince Taylor was a regular Open competitor, but he jumped into the Masters contest instead of the original Mr. Olympia show, and it paid off when he was crowned the champion. Schmidt finished the show as the runner-up. Jim Morris also claimed the Over-60 title for himself, placing higher than former winner Corney. Once again, the contest did not end up recognizing an Over-50 winner. 

Final Placings

  1. Vince Taylor
  2. Sonny Schmidt
  3. Yohnnie Shambourger
  4. Robby Robinson
  5. Quincy Roberts
  6. Samir Bannout
  7. James Roberts
  8. Emeric Delczeg
  9. Katsumi Ishimura
  10. Jim Morris
  11. Ed Corney
  12. Rod Koontz

Over-60 Winner: Jim Morris

1997 — Vince Taylor

The 1997 contest was held in Long Beach, CA on Sep. 20, 1997. 10 men stepped on stage to face the crowd and judges at this contest. One of them was Taylor, the defending champion, who would go on to become the first two-time winner in the contest’s history — marking an indication of things to come.

The second place finisher was Sonny Schmidt, and taking the bronze position was Swedish bodybuilder James Roberts. There were both Over-50 and Over-60 winners crowned at the 1997 show as well. Robby Robinson took the Over-50 title, and Honore Cironte of Spain would claim the Over-60 honor.

Final Placings

  1. Vince Taylor
  2. Sonny Schmidt
  3. James Roberts
  4. Quincy Roberts
  5. Yohnnie Shambourger
  6. Daniel Coussieu
  7. Emeric Delczeg
  8. Ali Malla
  9. Steve Davis
  10. Nicholas Fotulu

Over-50 Winner: Robby Robinson

Over-60 Winner: Honore Cironte

1999 — Vince Taylor

The Masters Olympia wasn’t held in 1998, but it did make its return in 1999 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV. The location may have been different, but for Vince Taylor, the result was the same. He was crowned the best Masters bodybuilder in the world for the third consecutive time. Finishing in second was Flavio Baccianini. Third place went to Sonny Schmidt, who made the Vegas exhibition his final competitive appearance. No Over-50 or Over-60 winners were announced.

Final Placings

  1. Vince Taylor
  2. Flavio Baccianini
  3. Sonny Schmidt
  4. J.J. Marsh
  5. Yohnnie Shambourger
  6. Robby Robinson
  7. Quincy Roberts
  8. James Roberts
  9. Lee Apperson
  10. Scott Wilson
  11. Juhani Hokkanen
  12. Emeric Delczeg
  13. Edouard Kawak
  14. Katsumi Ishimura
  15. Stan Frydrych
  16. Steve Davis
  17. Jocelyn Cadieux
  18. Honore Cironte

2000 — Vince Taylor

The Masters Olympia was held in Roanoke, VA in 2000, as a standalone contest for the first time in its history. Vince Taylor made it four-for-four by winning the contest yet again. Flavio Baccianini also repeated as the second-place finisher. Robby Robinson finished in third place, narrowly missing out on a silver-medal finish.

That said, he would ultimately be named the Over-50 winner. Katsumi Ishimura took home the Over-60 title. 

Final Placings

  1. Vince Taylor
  2. Flavio Baccianini
  3. Robby Robinson
  4. Hans Hopstaken
  5. Jim Quinn
  6. Nicholae Giurgi
  7. Aivars Vicoskis
  8. Scott Wilson
  9. Emeric Delczeg
  10. Danny Padilla
  11. Lee Apperson
  12. Renato Somenzi
  13. Guido Conrad
  14. Stan Frydrych
  15. Katsumi Ishimura
  16. Honore Cironte

Over-50 Winner: Robby Robinson

Over-60 Winner: Katsumi Ishimura

2001 — Vince Taylor

Spectators in Roanoke, VA may have watched Vince Taylor win his fifth Masters title in a row, but it wasn’t without controversy. Don Youngblood pushed the champion to make it a very close contest. Rounding out the top three was a new name to the Masters lineup — John Hnatyschak.

Robby Robinson would add another Over-50 title to his mantle while Cironte claimed the Over-60 bragging rights. 

Final Placings

  1. Vince Taylor
  2. Don Youngblood
  3. John Hnatyschak
  4. Robby Robinson
  5. Hans Hopstaken
  6. Stan Frydrych
  7. Giuseppe Mammoliti
  8. Lee Apperson
  9. Nicolai Giurgi
  10. Emeric Delczeg
  11. Aivars Visockis
  12. Renato Somenzi
  13. Honore Cironte
  14. Luciano Andreose
  15. Katsumi Ishimura
  16. Nicholas Sinclair

Over-50 Winner: Robby Robinson

Over-60 Winner: Honore Cironte

2002 — Don Youngblood

The 2002 Masters Olympia was moved from Roanoke, VA over to Lynchburg, and a new champion was finally crowned. Vince Taylor’s five-year dominance was derailed by Don Youngblood, who took home his only Masters Olympia victory that year. Taylor finished in second place at his final Masters Olympia appearance. Youngblood went on to compete in the primary Mr. Olympia event later that year, but he finished in 25th place. 

Final Placings

  1. Don Youngblood 
  2. Vince Taylor 
  3. Geir Borgan Paulsen 
  4. David Hawk 
  5. Chris Duffy 
  6. John Hnatyschak 
  7. Flavio Baccianini 
  8. Pascal T’Hooft 
  9. Joseph Palumbo 
  10. Anders Graneheim 
  11. John Simmons 
  12. Guido Conrad 
  13. Charles Kemp 
  14. Lee Apperson 
  15.  Vlastimil Krivanek 
  16.  Nicolae Giurgi 
  17.  Emeric Delczeg 
  18.  Jim Pedone 
  19.  Sean Bullman 
  20.  Steve Davis 
  21.  Stan Frydrych (tie for 20th) 
  22.  Aivars Visockis 
  23.  Juan Barreto-Leoesma 
  24.  Honore Cironte 
  25.  Behanam Samimy 
  26.  Leon Brown 

2003 — Claude Groulx 

Charlotte, NC would host the 2003 Masters Olympia, and with Don Youngblood absent from the lineup, a new champion was guaranteed. That new champion would end up being Claude Groulx, who was a journeyman athlete of the 1990s.

He made the most of his Masters Olympia debut by storming the contest and taking the win. Johnny Stewart was second, and Daryl Stafford took third place. The best poser award was presented for the first time, and the recipient was Flavio Baccianini, who placed tenth overall. No other titles were offered at this contest.

Final Placings

  1. Claude Groulx
  2. Johnny Stewart
  3. Darryl Stafford
  4. David Hawk
  5. George Turman
  6. Juan Marquez
  7. Alberto Bistocchi
  8. Roy Menig
  9. Joe Palumbo
  10. Flavio Baccianini
  11. Dayo Audi
  12. Greg Dwyer
  13. Lawrence Marshall
  14. Nicolae Giurgi
  15. Lee Apperson
  16. Behnam Samimy
  17. Leon Brown

2012 — Dexter Jackson

The Masters Olympia took an eight-year hiatus after 2003. Various Masters contests were held over the years, but the Olympia event wouldn’t make its return until 2012 when it took place in Miami, FL.

2008 Mr. Olympia winner Dexter Jackson dominated the contest, making him the first man in bodybuilding history to win both the Mr. Olympia and Masters Olympia titles. “X-Man” Toney Freeman came in second place, and Dennis “The Menace” James took third. 


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A post shared by Dexter “The Blade” Jackson (@mrolympia08)

Final Placings

  1. Dexter Jackson
  2. Toney Freeman
  3. Dennis James
  4. Ed Nunn
  5. Ronny Rockel
  6. Michalis Kefsliianos
  7. Darrem Charles
  8. Bill Wilmore
  9. Troy Alves
  10. Andrew Jemmott
  11. Richard Jackson
  12. Lee Banks
  13. Nathaniel Wonsley
  14. Jerome Ferguson
  15. Sean Allen

Who Will Compete if the Masters Olympia Returns?

The woes of aging affect all athletes, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t still give it your all in the gym and make solid progress accordingly. For career bodybuilders, the Masters Olympia provided them a means to continue working hard on their bodies and the opportunity to present their seasoned, time-honed physiques to the world. 

There are plenty of athletes who would undeniably put on a show should the Masters Olympia make its return in 2023 or beyond. However, until that time, it is nothing but a waiting game. If the contests of ages past have shown anything, it’s that bodybuilding greats aren’t stymied by age. Some of them are even propelled to newer heights

Featured Image: @mrolympia08 on Instagram