Sergio Oliva: The Myth

  • Name: Sergio Oliva
  • Date of Birth: July 4, 1941
  • Height: 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
  • Off-season Weight: 235 lb (107 kg)
  • Competition Weight: 225 lb (102 kg)
  • Arm size: 22.5″ (57.15cm)
  • Leg size: In Inches – 28, In Meters - 0.7112, In Centimeters - 71.12
  • Waist size: 27″ (68.58cm)
  • Calf size: In Inches – 22, In Meters - 0.5588, In Centimeters - 55.88
  • Chest size: 59″ (149.86cm)
  • Hip size: In Inches – 38, In Meters - 0.9652, In Centimeters - 96.52
  • Championships: 6x Mr. Olympia

Biography of Sergio Oliva: The Myth

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; Sergio Oliva

The world of bodybuilding is very fascinating. There are large, strong males who oil them up to show off the results of their years of hardship. Standing on top of the podium, Arnold Schwarzene, Frank Zane, Ronnie Coleman, and others presented the prestigious award. But Sergio Oliva had a body unlike anyone else, according to quinquagenarians. He was one of the select few to defeat Schwarzenegger in the Mr. Olympia competition in 1969.

“Sergio Oliva” the three-time Mr. Olympia champion topped the competition and flawlessly displayed his muscular fibers.

He was among the 20th century's best bodybuilders. He raised the bar for bodybuilding fan expectations, contributed to Mr. Olympia being the biggest sporting event, and was widely regarded as having the first mythological physique.

Early Life

On July 4, 1941, Sergio Oliva was born in Cuba. His hometown is Chicago, Illinois. He is the three-time Mr. Olympia champion Sergio Oliva's (often referred to as "the Myth") son.

Oliva's father didn't take him under his wing when he was a child to try and carry on the bodybuilding tradition. He was urged not to put lifting before his schoolwork. His mother, who also participated in bodybuilding competitions and spent more time in the gym with him than anybody else, was more encouraging in later years,. When he was younger, Sergio Oliva competed in track and field and did fairly well, finishing second in his state. But soon he lost interest in track.

Then, right after high school, he just started doing weights on his own and observed how quickly he was seeing results. Still not having it, his father even called local gyms to forbid him from entering.

Sergio Oliva relocated to Destin, Florida, where he started his bodybuilding career, to escape this.

He claimed that he began as a middleweight weighing 176 lbs. in an interview with bodybuilding superstar Shawn Ray. So he won a few shows and rose to the top there, but he ultimately recognized he was no longer developing.

He subsequently relocated back to Chicago and obtained his Pro card as a result.

"There have been many instances where my mother has kept me inspired and persevering. I really wouldn't be here if it weren't for her.

From Weightlifting to Bodybuilding

The Cuban émigré community in the United States has grown from 79,000 people in 1960 to 439,000 in 1970. Like many of his countrymen and women, Oliva first arrived in Miami, where he worked for a short period as a TV repairman. In between work, he continued to train as a weightlifter. 

Sergio Oliva picked up work in a local steel mill in Chicago before joining the police force (where he stayed for 25 years). In Chicago, Oliva became a member of the Duncan YMCA — better known by bodybuilding aficionados as the “The Midwest Mecca of Muscle.” It was a hotspot for bodybuilders and weightlifters. 

Its alumni include Sergio Oliva, Bob Gadja, and, briefly, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The workouts were legendary, as was the camaraderie between trainees. As bodybuilding trainer Randy Roach previously explained, Duncan was well known in the strength community. It came to have a profound impact on Oliva’s own career and the sport of bodybuilding.

In 1963 Oliva entered and won his first bodybuilding show, the Mr. Chicagoland. The next year, he won a Mr. Illinois contest and finished seventh in the Mr. America contest (Vern Weaver won that year). 


Sergio Oliva created a strong basis for himself through weightlifting and construction work. However, it was his DNA that would ultimately allow him to respond so well to his instruction.

He was best renowned for his excellent arm development as a result of his lengthy, full muscle bellies, and we've included one of the workouts he used to obtain his big arms from 1965.

He was claimed to have been inspired by the training methods of Golden-Era giants like Dave Draper, Larry Scott, and Harry Poole.

Sergio Olivia's training was a little odd for a bodybuilder who didn't understand the term "overtraining." Sergio's early days of weightlifting had taken a toll on his joints. Sergio adjusted his strategy after a fellow bodybuilder commented, "After a while, he couldn't lock out lifts because his elbows would dislocate or his knees would bend backward."

He could use much heavier weights if he only used partial movements, as there is less risk of injury. Sergio would likewise work hard, with a typical session lasting 2-3 hours after a full day of strenuous labor in a foundry. Sergio would often do 20-30 sets, keeping his form somewhat flexible and tension on the target area while avoiding his connective tissues.

Sergio often trained a muscle utilizing several movements to ensure he hit the entire muscle. He was also recognized for his antagonistic supersets, which involved training opposing muscle groups.

"You had to work really hard all day."  It was so intense that from the first to the last contest in 1984, I barely dieted three weeks before the competition. I didn't need to diet because I ate everything."

Sergio Olivia's Legacy

Sergio, nicknamed The Myth because of the prodigious bodybuilding legacy he built in such a short period, in winning Mr. Olympia from 1967 to 1969 and ushering in a new, previously unattainable look, and the sheer degree of perfection he achieved as a bodybuilder, actually began his landmark career back in his native Cuba as a 17-year-old strong, but far from massive weightlifter.

Discovered by a professional weightlifting manager while the muscular Sergio was sunning himself on a Cuban beach, the youth was quickly identified as having all of the attributes necessary to become one of the best Olympic weightlifters in the world after being put through his paces the following day at a nearby gymnasium, the Roger Gonzalez Gym in Guanabacoa.

He easily pushed 200 pounds overhead with his first lift. His coach was overjoyed. He was even more thrilled when Sergio broke the Cuban press record three months later before breaking his own record at the same competition.

Sergio, who was quickly gaining a reputation as Cuba's strongest man, was chosen to represent his country at the 1961 Pan American Games in Kingston, Jamaica. Sergio and a group of Cuban lifters traveled to Moscow, Russia, to train with the finest weightlifters in the world for three months in preparation for this event. Sergio improved his skills in Russia and was on track to win numerous gold medals at the Pan American Games.

Sergio, a self-sufficient guy both then and now, yearned to leave Communist Cuba. "Nobody made me except my Lord," the individual himself says. "I constructed everything and assembled it myself." Naturally, the fascist regime posed a threat to his independence. As the Pan American Games neared, Sergio, who was to compete in the 198-pound weight class, devised a strategy that would result in a long-held desire of his: freedom.

Marital Life

Sergio has been a Patrol Officer in Chicago's Rogers Park District for years, having previously worked as a professional bodybuilder in the 1970s. He was married to Arleen Garrett.

Sergio was 45 years old when he was shot in the lower stomach by his bodybuilder wife, and he was no longer competing.

He sustained 5 bullet wounds to his abdomen from a '.38' special. He was shot by his wife during a disagreement; the investigators thought it was an unusual circumstance when Sergio arrived at the hospital with his wife holding his hand. The three-time Mr. Universe champion had struck his wife, who had shot him in self-defense.


Sergio Oliva: “I’m Starting To Feel Posing is Officially Dead in Open Bodybuilding”

Sergio Oliva a professional bodybuilder expresses his dissatisfaction with the art of posing in the Open class.

He recently took to social media to express his dissatisfaction with the amount of attention paid to the posing aspect of competitive Open bodybuilding.

This comes immediately after the 2021 Arnold Classic Ohio, in which Oliva Jr. competed and finished sixth. He also earned the "Best Poser Award" for the second year in a row.

Sergio Oliva has carried on the legacy of his great father, three-time Mr. Olympia Sergio "The Myth" Oliva. Not to add that his mother was a successful competitor as well. Perhaps this contributes to his interest in the subject.

"I'm starting to feel that posing in open bodybuilding is officially dead," he remarked on Instagram.

He went on to say that, aside from him, it appears that only a few other males in his division put any effort into their posing routines. Worse, Sergio has the impression that the judges and sports in general no longer care.

Was Arnold Schwarzenegger tricking him?

They were close friends despite being the greatest competitors of all time. In 1969, Oliva trained to perfection and destroyed Schwarzenegger. The following year, though, the tables were turned. Oliva and Arnold posed during the moment of the pose-down. Oliva accepted permission and walked away after they posed for a while. Arnold instructed him to "go ahead" and continued posing as Oliva exited the stage. He knew something had happened when he heard the wild cheers from the crowd. It was contentious, and many believed Arnold had duped Sergio with the help of Joe Weider. Regardless, Oliva was aware of how close they were.

"No, Arnold and I were competitors, but we were friends; he came to Chicago one time with Franco Columbo, and I took them under my wing, and they stayed with me." "We had dinner at my house and exercised together," Oliva explained. Arnold had the benefit of training with the best. His training partners recognized his effort to improve himself while working out.

My training was rigorous. Even today, 40 years later, everyone believes I have hidden some kind of secret. It wasn't a secret. It was a difficult effort that was blessed by the Lord. "There was no other option," Oliva explained. The competition then took place.

Sergio Oliva was banned after the 1969 Olympia for competing in a non-IFBB contest prior to the pose-down scandal. Despite this, Oliva competed despite the absence of communication. As a result of the confusion, he was ruled out of the 1971 Olympia competition.

Despite his issues, fans regarded Sergio Oliva as one of the finest bodybuilders of all time. He is known as the Myth for a reason.


Sergio Oliva, a Cuban native, defeated Arnold on stage and won the Mr. Olympia three times, but his success was not without struggle.

  • He was IFBB Mr. Olympia 1967-1969, three consecutive times
  • 1968 uncontested and unchallenged



Gratitude Opens the Door To The Faith And Faith Opens The Door To Our Relationship With God

Sergio Oliva was born in Guanabacoa, Havana, Cuba on July 4, 1941.

Sergio Oliva was one of his generation's most muscular men. On stage, he exuded charisma and seemed to grow physically larger with each posture. Opponents both revered and feared him. He was a three-time Mr. Olympia and one of the first undeniable legends to walk the red carpet. That is why he was known as "The Myth."

He was known for his roles in Los temibles (1977), Black Power (1975), and O Capito Bandeira Contra o Dr. Moura Brasil (1971). Previously, he was married to Arleen Garrett. On November 12, 2012, he died in Evanston, Illinois, USA.

Sergio Oliva passed away in 2012 due to kidney problems. Rest in peace Champ.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger learned of his death, he wrote, 

"Sergio Oliva was one of the finest bodybuilders of all time & a loyal friend." A tough opponent with a large personality – unique..."

Now his son Sergio Oliva Jr., who has finished second in important shows such as the Tampa Pro and the Chicago Pro (2018), is now following in his father's competitive footsteps.