One of the most discussed topics in the early portion of the bodybuilding season has been the potential return of the Masters Olympia competition. Ever since Olympia owner Jake Wood teased the return of the contest back, fans have been buzzing about seeing some of their favorite competitors return to the stage for a posedown. Athletes have also been talking about putting the trunks on one more time for a shot at bodybuilding glory.
To be absolutely clear, nothing official has been decided at this point regarding the return of this contest. There has only been conjecture and discussion, but since the topic is being widely discussed, the question has come up about who could potentially compete if the contest returns in 2023.
Two names that fans would want to compete are former Mr. Olympia winners Jay Cutler and Dexter Jackson, the last man to win the Masters Olympia title. However, both men have made it perfectly clear that they don’t plan on returning to the stage. There are, however, several champions over the age of 40 that would set the sport on fire if they opted to come back to face the judges. If fans were to fantasy book the return of the Masters Olympia, these 10 men would likely be on the list.
The last time bodybuilding fans saw Phil Heath on stage, was at the 2020 Mr Olympia contest where he placed third to Champion Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay and runner-up Brandon Curry. Prior to that, “The Gift” was the most dominant bodybuilder of the 2010s, having won the Olympia seven times in a row and placing second twice.
If Heath was to come back for the Masters Olympia, he would have to be considered the early favorite leading into the contest. However, would that be something that he would even consider?
Heath addressed the possibility of competing in the contest should it happen on a recent YouTube Live Q&A. His answer starts at the 5:57 mark in the video below.
“Probably not. I think that would be a cakewalk,” Heath says. “I think more people would be, to be quite honest, disappointed then because they would see me dominate that thing, and wish that I did the Open.”
Heath went on to say that he would need to be sure he is even qualified to compete and what the prize money is.
Since Heath is on the list, it makes sense to include his greatest rival. Kai Greene hasn’t been onstage as a competitor since he won the Arnold South America contest in 2016. He has three Arnold Classic USA trophies, and he finished second to Heath at the Mr. Olympia three years in a row (2012-2014).
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“Mr. Getting It Done” has a lot on his plate, in and out of bodybuilding, including a working gig as an actor. Greene’s return would surely light the world of bodybuilding ablaze with excitement.
Another former Arnold Classic Champion that many fans would like to see compete again is Texas native Branch Warren. He won the Arnold Classic in both 2011 and 2012, and finished as the Olympia runner-up to Jay Cutler in 2009.
Warren has been retired for five years now, but he is still training hard and looks as if he could get back on stage within a few months. If he was able to return one more time, he would be considered a top threat to take the newly reformed Master Olympia title.
Johnnie Jackson had been Warren’s training partner for many years, and the “World’s Strongest Bodybuilder” isn’t a stranger to comebacks. After an extended absence, he returned to the Men’s Open stage in 2020, placing 13th at the Arnold Classic, and 14th in the Chicago Pro that same year.
In his prime, Jackson has won six shows in his career, including the Arnold Africa and Toronto Pro. Jackson is 50 years old, but his physique still looks very impressive in person. He would represent himself well if he decided that he had one more round in him.
“The Dominican Dominator” Victor Martinez was a mainstay in the bodybuilding scene for almost 20 years. The 2007 Arnold Classic champion and 2007 Mr. Olympia runner-up was always a top contender whenever he graced the stage. Martinez recently retired from the sport, but the Masters Olympia wasn’t around.
The native of New York could certainly return to the stage one last time to put on a show for the fans. His return wouldn’t be pageantry, either. Martinez would undoubtedly be vying for the top spot.
Based on recent photos shared by Lee Priest, the 49 year old has rededicated himself to training hard. The 90’s and early 2000’s star from Australia is still popular on social media today. So, his entry in a contest like the Masters Olympia would definitely get fans interested. The former IronMan Pro winner hasn’t been on stage since he won the NABBA Mr. Universe in 2013. Coming back and winning the Masters Olympia would only add to his legendary status.
David Henry has already made bodybuilding history in his career as the first Olympia 202 Champion in 2008, before the weight was increased to 212 pounds. He’s already started competing in Masters shows, having won the Legion Sports Fest Pro Masters contest in 2021.
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The U.S. Veteran has recent competitive experience, and he’s won on big stages in his career. So, being a part of this lineup would be an interesting sight. Furthermore, he wouldn’t have to worry about a weight limit. A bigger David Henry may be a better David Henry.
The 2019 212 Olympia champ is approaching his 50th birthday at the time this article was published. In addition to his winning the big O, he finished in third place at the 2021 Olympia 212 contest, won by Derek Lunsford.
The quality of his physique combined with his recent contest experience could be big factors in where Elgargni places. He also wouldn’t need to be concerned with a weight limit, either. The prospect of being the only man to win Olympia 212 and Masters Olympia titles may be enough for him to throw his hat in the ring.
Fred “Biggie” Smalls was one of the most entertaining posers in the IFBB Pro League when he competed from 2011 to 2018. The only contest he won as a pro was the 2015 Europa Dallas show, but he’s been awarded numerous “Best Poser” awards, and he’s been invited to guest pose on many, many occasions.
After the 2018 season, he took time off to focus on businesses, including a supplement company, but he wouldn’t rule out a return to the stage if the Masters Olympia was set in stone.
Fans may know this man as “Vinny G” from his time as an Animal Pak athlete. A former 212 and Open competitor, Galanti is among the most successful Masters competitors on the circuit today. He won the Over 40 and Over 50 categories at the 2021 Baltimore Classic Masters Pro. He won both of those titles at the prestigious Pittsburgh Pro in 2019 as well. Thanks to his success in the Masters ranks, he would have to be considered a contender if there was an Olympia contest added to the division.
Featured Images: @davidhenry_ifbbpro, @kaigreene on Instagram