Larry Scott- First Ever Mr. Olympia
by David Gentle
Larry Scott won the first Mr. Olympia back in 1965 probably before most of our readers were born and yet most will have heard of this great champion, who has retained both his fame and shape and is still an inspiration to all bodybuilders.
Born of Mormon faith, Larry Scott was raised in Blackfoot near Pocatll, Idaho, USA. Back in 1938, his Mormon background, paved by the early pioneers who trekked to Salt Lake City back in 1847, gave him both religious beliefs and pride and self-confidence. Good health, long life and happiness are the ideals that makes up the Mormon way of life and encouragement to use common sense. His early childhood almost resembled that of the fictional hero, Huckleberry Finn in it’s more carefree and adventurous times.
He took up, and was also very good at, gymnastics, then progressed to training with weights when he was around 15 years old. His first workouts were taken at the YMCA in Idaho, inspired by the awesome physique of Steve Reeves.
In 1958 Larry, moved to California where he joined former Mr. America Bert Goodrich’s gym and his first training partner was muscle and movie star, Lou Degni. Later he switched to the fabled gym of the Iron Guru aka, the late Vince Gironda, and hung out with movie stars, training 6 times a week for several hours at a time.
Larry was then training to be an electronics engineer, so he would usually do his workouts after his normal days work. As well as weight training he also kept active with golf and surfing. Around this period, he went back briefly to Idaho, winning the Mr. Idaho title in 1959 and also the Most Muscular at a bodyweight of 171 lbs. Back in California, Larry recalls being cast with a gang of bodybuilders in the film, Muscle Beach Party and thinking to himself just how easy it seemed to be to make money. It was certainly a lot easier than his engineering job but his Mormon sense kept him level headed and he continued both his studies and training unabated.
Training hard, his move through the muscle ranks was meteoric, both because of his good looks and also because of his popularity with the fans. He came second to Hugo Labra in the Mr. LA contest in 1960. Three months later, far heavier muscles, he captured the Mr. California crown plus Most Muscular and in May 1961, he won the Mr. Pacific Coast. His fine physique and stunning looks had now graced the covers of nearly all of the contemporary muscle magazines with his first cover shot appearing on a copy of Tomorrow’s Man magazine.
In 1962 Scott won the IFBB Mr. American title, and just two years later, after a lot of hard work in the gym, he took the IFBB Mr. Universe crown in 1964. By now his physique had become almost out of this world with shoulders and arms beyond belief in comparison to his competitors. Larry had always been quoted as saying “Success in bodybuilding is 80% nutrition,” and from that era, bodybuilders did pay far more attention to their diets than ever before with Larry’s main association being with Rheo Blair’s food supplements, covered to exhaustion in Iron Man magazine adverts. Blair, his real name being Irvin Johnson, advised eggs, milk and cream, plus predigested amino acids. Scott consumed 2 cups of Blair’s protein supplement in cream, plus 4 quarts of milk daily, along with his normal meals, “You need maximum nutrition to achieve maximum results.“
Larry Scott - The Very First Mr. Olympia
In 1965 a new title was devised by the IFBB, exclusively for the established so that only champions could compete, i.e. former winners of Mr. American, Mr. Universe and other similar top titles. Thus the Mr. Olympia title was created to end all of the controversy once and for all, as to who, from all the previous and current awards in bodybuilding, really did have the best physique. History had begun in the world of muscle competitions.
On Saturday September 19th 1965 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the IFBB extravaganza took place, supported by over 2,500 fans. Contests were for Mr. America, Mr. Universe (IFBB) and the band new accolade Mr. Olympia. Over 40 entrants fought for the Mr. American title, it was eventually taken by Dave Draper. Then a further 30 contestants tried for the Mr. Universe, which was finally won by a British bodybuilder Earl Maynard, and then, finally, it was time to the main event, Mr. Olympia. After all the normal judging and elimination, it was down to just three people, Harold Poole, Earl Maynard and, greeted by almost mass hysteria, displaying arms of near 21 inches, deltoids to delight and all round muscle mass, Larry Scott.
It was unanimous victory, Scott, later described by famous writer and top bodybuilder Ricky Wayne as being, “The eighth wonder of the world,” had become the world’s very first Mr. Olympia.
After a whole year of triumph, Larry, on September 9th at the same venues defended his prestigious title. Just about a who’s who of muscle stars attended or competed; Harold Poole, Chuck Sipes, Dave Draper, Chet Yorton and Sergio Oliva. Larry was victorious once again and then, amid the euphoria and before the cheering had died down, dropped what was probably one of the biggest bombshells in bodybuilding history, stunning everyone in attendance and announced his immediate retirement.
Larry insisted he wished to quit for one reason alone. He wanted to finish at the top. He admired deeply the former World boxing champion Rocky Marciano for his decision to retire undefeated and so on that September day in 1966 he followed Marciano’s example and retired from competition. Larry was also becoming more than just a little perturbed at the way bodybuilding was getting more and more competitive and almost brutal with many bodybuilding champions having less thought for their fans than their followers deserved. Larry once said, “Humility, not arrogance is the true mark of a champion.’
In the Years that Followed
So retire he did, taking time off for his family with his beautiful wife Rachel and his children and for a while he deliberately kept away form bodybuilding. Losing much of his muscle mass, but never his fine shape of fitness. During the late 1970’s he regained his interest in bodybuilding and wrote for Joe Weider’s magazines, also marketing very successful personal one-to-one training courses with always a great interest in supplements, diets and training experiments. He still markets bodybuilding products and offers training today. He did a guest spot in 1977 at the World Cup, 1978 at exhibitions in New York and later that year he went back to Japan, the birthplace of his wife. He was guest poser at the Mr. Atlantic Coast USA contest and did further shows and seminars including visits to Ontario.
On Friday, March 20th, in a muscle Mardi Gras arranged to celebrate 50 years of bodybuilding, Larry Scott was honoured at the first Mr. Olympia. He also became involved in the Masters at the Olympia. As MC Joe Weider said of Larry Scott, “He is the most loved and idolized of all the champions.” With Scott winning for years running, the postal vote via Joe’s Magazines for, “The greatest bodybuilder of all time.”
However, as we all now, life is never all roses. In 1978, Larry’s Mormon faith was tested beyond belief with the loss of two of his sons in tragic circumstances and yet with time the man found peace of mind regained some happiness and a renewal of his beliefs.
Larry was invited over to London in 1997 to receive the top ward of the Oscar Heidenstam Foundation and his visit was a great success. Great charisma and unbelievably approachable, his speech was uplifting and loved by the audience. He was so friendly in fact, that it was difficult to get him to talk about his training and how he built up such a fabled physique. The real secret if there was one, he revealed to those listening was simply hard work!
Scott believed in experimenting with all manner of training systems and would soon discard a routine or exercise if it didn’t appear to be working for him, or show results within a six week period. He would use a tape measure regularly to record his progress and through the use of tough training and supplements of egg, milk and cream, managed to put on an amazing 100 lbs. of muscle. Larry once said, “Every rep is a set, and every set is a series, “ and always used maximum intensity and awesome concentration on each and every rep. Larry did not go to the gym to socialize but to train and build muscle and the late Vince Gironda, who has trained more muscle champions than most declared “Larry never missed a workout.”
Larry usually trained six days a week on split routines for about 2 hours a day. Perhaps making best progress at Vince Gironda’s gym.
Over 33 years ago, Larry Scott was literally crowned, when taking the Mr. Olympia title, with a real crown and even today he remains a king amongst iron pumpers. Still working just as hard for bodybuilders, Larry Scott is an enduring and endearing champion.
Larry Scott - The First Ever Mr. Olympia Copyright by David Gentle All Rights Reserved