The world of bodybuilding is one of the most competitive sports out there, so it’s tough for anyone but the greatest of talent to stand out.
Ronnie Coleman is that great talent. Eight-time winner of Mr Olympia, Coleman is widely considered one of the greatest body builders of all time. He had a long and illustrious career in the sport and won countless competitions over the years.
Born in Louisiana in 1964, the seeds of his later talent can be seen in his college years, where he played as a middle line-backer for his college football team. He later joined the police force, where a fellow officer suggested he attend a gym owned by Brian Dobson, an amateur body builder. Dobson saw huge potential in Coleman, and offered him a lifetime membership of the gym if Coleman entered the upcoming Mr Texas competition that year. Coleman agreed, and placed first overall and in the heavyweight category for Mr Texas 1990. This was the start of his bodybuilding success.
He enjoyed slow but steady success throughout the early 1990s. He placed first in the heavyweight category in the World Amateur Championships in 1990, and didn’t win a major competition until 1995. He first participated in Mr Olympia in 1992, at which time he wasn’t ranked. He came 15th in ’94, and slowly climbed up the ranks over the mid to late 1990s.
In 1995 and the following year, he placed first in the Canada Pro Cup, and soon after that his winnings would become unstoppable. He claimed first place in Grand Prix Russia in 1997, and took home his first Mr Olympia trophy in 1998. That year, Kenneth Wheeler had been favoured to win the competition since the retirement of Dorian Yates, six-time winner of the Mr Olympia title. A vacuum had to be filled after he was gone, and most assumed that would be by Wheeler. However, Coleman had taken home the win at the Night of Champions earlier that year, and his reputation in the world of professional bodybuilding was given a huge boost.
|1990||Mr. Texas (Heavyweight & Overall)|
|1991||World Amateur Championships (Heavyweight)|
|1995||Canada Pro Cup|
|1996||Canada Pro Cup|
|1997||Grand Prix Russia|
|1998||Mr. Olympia, Night of Champions, Toronto Pro Invitational, Grand Prix Finland, Grand Prix Germany|
|1999||Mr. Olympia, World Pro Championships, Pride Grand Prix England|
|2000||Mr. Olympia, World Pro Championships, Mr. Brody Langley, Grand Prix England|
|2001||Mr. Olympia, Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, New Zealand Grand Prix|
|2002||Mr. Olympia, Grand Prix Holland|
|2003||Mr. Olympia, Grand Prix Russia|
|2004||Mr. Olympia, Grand Prix England, Grand Prix Holland, Grand Prix Russia|
|2006||Mr. Olympia 2nd, Grand Prix Austria, Grand Prix Holland, Grand Prix Romania|
|2007||Mr. Olympia 4th|
At the 1998 Mr Olympia, Coleman brought enormous improvements to his game, and beat Wheeler by three points. That same year, he also took home trophies in the Toronto Pro Invitational, the Grand Prix Finland and the Grand Prix Germany. Aside from his consecutive Mr Olympia wins which I’ll get into, following his string of wins in 1998, in 1999 he won his first World Pro Championships title, as well as the Pride Grand Prix England, which he would also win the following year.
After there, he seemed almost unstoppable; he would defend his Mr Olympia title until 2005, tying with only one other bodybuilder, Lee Haney, for most consecutive victories at the competition. In 2001, he took home the Mr Olympia title as well as the Arnold Classic—a feat unheard of at the time and only repeated by Dexter Jackson in 2008. No other bodybuilders have ever managed this. He also took home first place in the New Zealand Grand Prix in that year.
Alongside his Mr Olympia wins in 2002-3, he was also the winner of Grand Prix Holland and Grand Prix Russia in the respective years. He took home three Grand Prix titles in 2004, showing no signs of slowing down: England, as well as Holland and Russia again.
In 2006, Coleman had won Mr Olympia for the last eight years, and for the last three of those, his runner up had been Jay Cutler. Cutler finally managed to claim his first victory in 2006, unseating Coleman as Mr Olympia after a long reign. Coleman still managed to win the Grand Prix for Austria, Holland and Romania that year. He made his final Mr Olympia appearance the following year in 2007, where he placed fourth.
His bodybuilding career led to a lot of endorsements and opportunities during his career. He was a favourite for attending gym openings in the 1990s and early 2000s, being one of the most current and well-known competitors in the sport at that time. He also made a number of training videos during this time, including three main titles: The Cost of Redemption which tracked his training regime for the 2003 Mr Olympia, The Unbelievable in 2004, and On the Road the following year,
He has also supported the Inner City Games organisation, a non-profit dedicated to bringing sports and games like bodybuilding to youths in economically deprived inner city areas. He was a great champion for this kind of work over his career, and in 2001 he received the Admiral in the Texas Navy Certificate Award from governor Rick Perry. This was both for his contributions to the world of bodybuilding and his promotion of health programs and physical fitness.
Coleman’s wins over his career mark him out as one of the most successful bodybuilders of all time. Very few can boast the quantity of wins that he has when it comes to Mr Olympia specifically, not to mention the enormous wealth of Grand Prix titles he managed to claim. The only competitor who holds more titles than Coleman is the very person who unseated him in 2006, Dexter Jackson. Until then, with 26 titles, Jackson held the record for the most wins as an IFBB professional. It’s really difficult to overstate how exceptional Coleman was in his field. He is certainly regarded as one of the greatest alongside Schwarzenegger.
Betting on bodybuilding might be less common than on other competitions, but there is plenty of winnings to be made in the industry. Knowing how bodybuilding works before going in is really important, so let’s just clear that up first.
Bodybuilding is about sculpting the perfect, most aesthetically pleasing physique. It’s all about the appearance of the muscles, and each competitor is scored by judges based on a number of criteria. So, it’s very different from something like a world’s strongest man competition; strength is not taken into account.
From a betting perspective, then, before you start you should understand that it’s not like betting on a team sport, like football. The winner isn’t decided by a score they can achieve, but simply by how they can impress the judges. Obviously, there are criteria which the judges are expected to follow, but a system of judges always allows a little of the judge’s personal preferences to come through. This can make betting on the sport a lot more difficult than other events, but there is nonetheless a thriving and activity community of bodybuilding betting.
Mr Olympia is by far the biggest and most prestigious event in world bodybuilding, and so naturally the most active community of bettors tend to favour betting on this competition. Betting on the event is a really great way to enjoy it, and when there are people like Coleman who dominate the competition for so many years in a row, it can be easier than you might think to pick a winner.
Many of the top betting platforms offer options for betting on bodybuilding. There are several criteria to determine which will be best for you, and different platforms rank higher or lower on different criteria.
We would recommend getting yourself set up on a few different platforms right out of the gate. Not too many, as you could easily become confused and overwhelmed. But you’re likely to find that different platforms have very different odds or prices on the same competitors. Setting up multiple accounts, or at least hunting for the best odds first, will always mean you have the best possible chance of making a good winning.
There are several bets you can make on the event. The most popular is to bet on the winner—absolutely one of the simplest bets you can make. You pick a competitor at the start of the event that you think will win, and the platform through which you’re betting will offer you odds on that competitor. Depending on where you are betting from, the event may be more or less popular—it is not tremendously popular as a betting event in the UK, for example. For that reason, you’re unlikely to find much ante-post betting, so if you check regularly in the week or two leading up to the event, you’ll be able to see when the official odds are released.
You can also bet what’s called ‘each way’ or on the competitors that take the top three spots. An Each Way bet means you’re essentially betting on two things. One, you’re choosing a competitor to win, and betting that they will. However, you’re also betting that they will finish anywhere in, say, the top 5 (this may change depending on the betting sites). This is a great bet to make if you’re confident your competitor can claim a high spot, but not necessarily the top spot.
Betting on the top three involves a bit more chance, since there are more variables to get right. That said, you’ll usually be able to make a winning if any of those you bet on come in the top three, rather than having to correctly predict all three. Odds are really important here, since you’ll need to think about how you can make back potential losses from picks you don’t get right. That said, picking a top three is usually more likely to get you a win than picking a first place.
That said, there is often one very clear and simple strategy for picking a winner: last year’s winner. The winner from the previous year almost always is the favourite to win, and often begins at odds on. Competitors do tend to win many competitions in consecutive years, so this is always something to consider.
Study up on the competitor’s history and career—how old they are, and how many competitions they’ve won to date. Check other bodybuilding titles, too, not just Mr Olympia. Competitors will usually compete in as many competitions as they can in a given year, so your pick should have a good record of wins. Of course, you’ll have to decide whether you think they could be at the end of their reign, too; this can be very hard to predict except by the standard of the competition. Do as much research as you can into the competitors to judge their chances of unseating a reigning champion.
There are a few other body building events around Mr Olympia that you may be able to bet on—such as Ms Olympia, Classic Physique and Wheelchair Olympia. Currently, mainstream betting platforms don’t offer much choice to bet on these events, but it’s always worth keeping an eye out.
Equally, there typically aren’t a lot of bonuses and promotions even for the main event. Betting on bodybuilding, worldwide, is certainly a reasonably large industry, but locally, it’s quite small. That said, you can usually use sign up and first-time customer promotions for betting on Mr Olympia, such as free bets.
So, which site or platform is best for betting on bodybuilding? Well, as I mentioned, that will depend on what you’re looking for. Different platforms will offer different advantages. As I said, Mr Olympia and bodybuilding in general are not huge industries in the UK and many places, so there won’t necessarily be a huge amount of choice. That said, many platforms do offer some great bonuses.
William Hill offers the most markets for Mr Olympia. This means that you’ll have access to a wider range of odds and betting choices, making William Hill one of the best overall for betting on Mr Olympia. Their bodybuilding betting doesn’t extend much beyond Mr Olympia, though. But the wide array of markets they offer gives you confidence that you’re getting good odds.
Paddy Power offer a similarly strong range of markets for betting on Mr Olympia, and have in the past even been known to offer dedicated promotions. These can be uncommon, as I said, but they are far from unheard of. We would recommend you check Paddy Power regularly in the run-up to the event for any promotions. Paddy Power also tends to offer the top odds for the competition, so signing up for this platform to bet on bodybuilding is a no brainer.
For general welcome bonuses, your best choice is Betfair. Their welcome bonuses, both the sportsbook welcome bonuses and offers for new players, are the highest of any of the betting platforms. These welcome bonuses are not specific to any event, and can be used for betting on bodybuilding and Mr Olympia competitions. If you aren’t already signed up with Betfair, definitely do so. Just for signing up, you’ll get £20 in free bets if you qualify.
These sites are all very good, but they may be a bit limited in the types of bet you can make. Again, these events are not very big in many places, and so if there are options offered, often they are only for choosing the winner. Ladbrokes is the best platform in a couple of categories: first of all, it comes with many useful extra features which can make your bets more interesting and profitable even on these events.
Ladbrokes also offers the best and most diverse types of bets—meaning, that you don’t just have to bet on a winner. As I mentioned earlier, this can be great if you aren’t sure your pick can win, or if you’re confident that you can pick the top three. Having a better range of choices to make can be really advantageous.
So, all in all, which platform is best will depend on how you want to bet. What we would say is that none of the platforms are the best, and as mentioned, it’s best to have multiple accounts across platforms to compare and contrast odds and betting opportunities in general. For an overall winner, we would say Paddy Power is your best choice; they offer a range of dedicated promotions as well as the best odds. William Hill offers you the widest selection of markets, so a good strategy would be to check the opportunities at both of these platforms.
Armed with all of this knowledge, you’ll be able to have a blast betting on bodybuilding and make good winnings while doing it. Remember, though, what I said at the beginning: bodybuilding is about how the judges appreciate the physique of the competitors. Don’t think too much about who you think looks best, if you aren’t particularly knowledgeable about the competition. Like I said, do as much research as you can on the top competitors.
If you don’t know the sport, spend some time learning it. It’s certainly an unusual event compared to more traditional betting and sports events, so not only the competitors but also you will be playing by very different rules. Keep that in mind, and you’re in with a great chance of winning big betting on bodybuilding.
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