1981 Mr. Olympia - Winner Franco Columbu

The 1981 Mr. Olympia was the aftermath of the 1980 contest which shook a lot of things in the bodybuilding world and positioned Arnold Schwarzenegger as a seventh-time title holder. All eyes were on Columbus, Ohio in October of 1981, as the event came back to its original place.

At the time, there were many speculations that Schwarzenegger's win in 1980 was fixed and a lot of arguments in the bodybuilding magazines. This made it difficult for both the bodybuilders and the media to focus on the upcoming 1981 Mr. Olympia instead of dwelling on the past. People said that "Arnold won on his name" and that "it was an obvious fix", and even some bodybuilders (Mike Mentzer, Boyer Coe and Frank Zane) joined the farce.

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It was exactly these bodybuilders who decided to sit out the 1981 Mr. Olympia contest in protest to the 1980 decision, strongly encouraging every one of the bodybuilders to follow their lead. This made the 1981 Mr. Olympia less interesting with three big names left out of it. Even though Franco Columbu was in the focus that time (trained by Arnold himself), he knew that he was going to win if it wasn't for Zane, Coe and Mentzer that year.

However, an incident happened to Franco Columbu and injured him. The doctors told him that his bodybuilding career was over and if he was lucky, he might be able to walk again after years of therapy. Franco laughed at the doctors and entered his own therapy program, but later on again re-injured his bad knee (an injury he had since 1977).

Still, Franco Columbu was determined to succeed and hold the 1981 Mr. Olympia title. His biggest rival was Chris Dickerson, and Chris was also training hard for the event. When they appeared on stage that October, Franco Columbu got the title and the $50,000 cash prize.

The 1981 Mr. Olympia will be remembered by Franco Columbu's determination to success and his achievement. However, this win is shadowed by the fact that three big names such as Mike Mentzer, Boyer Coe and Frank Zane decided to boycott the event and not show up and compete just because of the controversy the previous year.


1981 Mr. Olympia Results
Placing Competitor Prize
 1  Franco Columbu  $25,000
 2  Chris Dickerson  
 3  Tom Platz  
 4  Roy Callender  
 5  Danny Padilla  
 6  Jusup Wilkosz  
 7  Dennis Tinerino  
 8  Jonny Fuller  
 9  Samir Bannout  
 10  Roger Walker  
 11  Hubert Metz  
 12  Carlos Rodriguez  
 13  Ed Corney  
 14  Steve Davis  
 15  Mike Katz  
 16  Ken Waller  
 17  Jorma Raty  
Previous article 10 Top 1980s Bodybuilders - Then and Now


Jennifer Mitchell - January 11, 2019

Franco all the way

jeff gray - January 11, 2019

was this the one that they said he shouldn’t have won, and was a gift to him

Jose Mendoza - January 11, 2019

Danny got 5th place, a short monster!

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