GREATEST ARNOLD CLASSIC CHAMPIONS
Classic winner would be, two names and physiques immediately spring to mind. Flex Wheeler in 1993 and Ronnie Coleman in 2001. Both won the show in dominant fashion and both were symbolic for different reasons.
In the 1993 rendition, Flex was a newcomer on the scene, a rookie pro, up against some of the most established names in the game in Lee Labrada and Vince Taylor. While he had beaten both those gentleman just one week prior in the Ironman Pro, it was thought that they were all holding back to peak for the big one in Columbus. But it turned out to be Flex who nailed his peak to perfection, appearing in what could be considered lifetime-best condition. He instantly catapulted himself into Olympia contender status and ushered in an era many consider the best in bodybuilding where shape and proportion would battle the mass monsters and most often win.
Roimies victory was a surprise because never before had a reigning Mr. Olympia challenged for the Arnold Classic title. He won the show easily in a tough field with many considering it to be his best ever showing to that date. Conditioning, size, freaky body parts and unbeatable poses were now synonymous with the Coleman physique: he appeared set to dominate bodybuilding for years to come.
If forced between the two, I lean towards Flex Wheeler, he brought an excitement to bodybuilding, a physique of unparalleled roundness, shapes and aesthetic appeal the likes of which had never been seen before, Flex broke into the professional ranks like few before him and even fewer since. It was an exciting lime for bodybuilding and in many ways he led the way.
MILOS SARCEV: Well, as I belong to what is considered to be a golden era in bodybuilding the 90s I might he biased but, truth be told, if you look at the list of winners, every Arnold Classic champion winning that title in the 90s was simply spectacular. From Mike .Ashley, Shawn Ray, Vince Taylor,
Flex Wheeler, Kevin Levrone, Mike Francois and Nasser El Sonbaty each and every winner could have easily won the Olympia title the same year as well. However, tw o bodybuilders were standouts: Flex Wheeler and Kevin levrone. To me, the 1993 version of Flex Wheeler was
2008 Arnold champion Dexdter Jackson
Ronnie Coleman at the 2001 Arnold.
Milos Sarcev placed fifth at the 1999 Arnold.
absolutely sensational and that was without a doubt the best condition Flex ever presented on an IFBB pro stage. He was spectacular and much bigger winning that title again in 97. ’98 and 2000 but to me the 1993 version of Flex was just unbeatable.
Kevin Levrone, on another hand, was always an underdog competing against the ‘Sultan of Symmetry
(Flex Wheeler) but he deservingly managed to beat him on that stage not just once, but twice (1994 and 1996). So they are very, very close in my opinion.
Finally, I must consider great eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, entering and winning In spectacular fashion in 2001, possibly being in his all time best condition (apart from his first Olympia in 1998).
But, to me, 1993 Arnold Classic Champion Flex Wheeler Is and probably will be for a long time the greatest Arnold Classic Champion ever.
DANIEL HEDGER: I’ve noticed a few of my colleagues have gone for Flex Wheeler as their top pick, which is a fine choice its hard to argue against his overall shape as perhaps the best ever on an Arnold stage. Ilowever, for me, it’s hard to look past Dexter lackson, winner in 2005,2006,2008 and 2013. equalling Flex’s record four wins. He has incredible conditioning and, defying conventional wisdom, his physique seems to improve the older he gets. Dexter placed fifth in his first time out at the Arnold, back in 2000. A staggering 13 years later, he was still a major contender, accepting his fourth Arnold Classic trophy. At 45 years old, you can never discount the Blade to be a threat and nowhere has he proved this more than in his outings at the Arnold Classic.
Dexter is the epitome of what happens when you just work hard to do your best and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.
This incredible work ethic saw him take the 2008 Arnold Classic title and then back it up six months later to wrest the Olympia away from lay Cutler. (That year also saw him win the Australian Pro Grand Prix VIII, New Zealand Grand Prix and Russian Grand Prix between those tent-pole wins.) Beyond all that, he just plain looks good on stage, even up against the mass monsters, which is what I think of when I think of bodybuilding greatness. In terms of the Arnold Classic, Dexters shredded and aesthetic physique overcoming bigger humans recalls Rich Gasparis
In 25 years, 15 men have won the Arnold Classic. Just six men have won it more than once.
The men who have won multiple times are Flex Wheeler, Kevin Levrone, Jay Cutler, Dexter Jackson, Kai Greene and Branch Warren.
Flex Wheeler’s first win was at his debut Arnold. It was only his second ever show as a professional, after his win at the Iron Man Invitational.
Chris Cormier was the runner-up in six consecutive Arnolds.
Dexter Jackson and Flex Wheeler hold the record for the most wins at four each. The most consecutive is Jay Cutler with three. Wheeler, Cutler, Jackson, Kai Greene and Branch Warren have all won the title in consecutive years.
Adela Garcia has won the most Fitness International titles with five.
Iris Kyle has won the most Ms. International titles with seven.
In the Figure International, Nicole Wilkins and Jenny Lynn each have three each. If Candice Keene can repeat her 2014 performance to win in 2015, she will join their ranks.
In 2001, Ronnie Coleman won both the Arnold Classic and his fourth consecutive Olympia title.
In 2008, Dexter Jackson won both the Arnold Classic and his first and only Olympia.
1996 Arnold Classic champ Kevin Levrone.
2004 Fitness International champion Adela Carcia
First ever Arnold Classic champion Rich Gaspari in 1989.