Arnold, frank & sydney
ARNOLD, FRANK & SYDNEY
Two friends collide at the 1980 Mr. Olympia.
Last week?s story, Mentzer vs. Arnie, centered on the confrontation between Mike Mentzer and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the 1980 Mr. Olympia contest staged at the Sydney Opera House, Australia.
The contest was one of the most controversial ever with Arnold returning to competition at the eleventh hour after a five-year absence to ? wrongly in many pundits view -- take his seventh Olympia title. From the reaction of many MD followers there is a wish to know more about this fabled contest. In this narrative, the interplay between Arnold and Frank Zane before and during the contest, which took place on October 4th, 1980 is documented.
frank-1Eight weeks prior to the 1980 Mr. Olympia contest, after three years of typical Hollywood ?tell your peeps to call my peeps? negotiations, production for the movie Conan The Barbarian, with Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first lead role, had been given the green light. Shooting would begin in late October of that year and the muscular demands of the role compelled the 33 year old to launch into an intensive workout blitz at World?s Gym, Venice, with the aim of returning his streamlined dimensions somewhat toward his previous Olympia winning physique.
With muscle memory kicking in, allied with Arnold?s ferocious commitment to grow, word soon spread around Venice Beach that Arnold?s sudden gym activity meant he was Olympia bound. When asked, he scoffed at such suggestions, affirming that each rep was in pursuit of a Conan type physique while at the same time stating he would be at the Olympia, but only in the role of doing color commentary for CBS who had covered the event in recent years.
It was early August 1980 when Frank Zane having just finished a workout thought to himself, ?Oh shit! Another eight weeks of this.? The then 38 year old had won the previous three Mr. Olympias and in doing so launched the Zane Era in which he symbolized a classical look that attracted praise from the mainstream and bodybuilding?s core audience alike. Even today Zane?s physique is Exhibit A for lobbyists calling for a return to aesthetic and healthy bodybuilding.
That fateful August afternoon he went to the pool at his Palm Springs home for his daily tan. He recalls what happened next: ?I sat in this lightweight chair by the pool and as I did it slid on the wet Astroturf by the side and I fell onto the lip of the pool which hit me right between the legs and smashed my bulbous urethra. Blood was gushing from my penis. I was rushed to hospital and was in for four days with a catheter attachment ? it was horrible.? It was also, for a short time, a life-threatening situation.
frank-3A few days after leaving hospital the bleeding started again and more treatment was required. By the time his condition stabilized two weeks had passed and Zane had lost 15 pounds of muscle. The scuttlebutt around Venice was, forget a fourth title, the odds are he wouldn?t even be able to compete in Sydney. Contemplating what to do Zane did what most of the top guys of that period did ? he consulted with Arnold.
He explains why: ?Since his competitive retirement Arnold was the go-to guy before contests. Everyone went to him for advice. They?d do their posing routine and he?d point out every little thing that was wrong. I called him and he said, ?Yeah, the word is out at Gold?s that you took so many steroids your dick started to bleed.? I asked him what he thought I should do. He told me, ?You should go to Australia and defend your title.??
Arnold?s ?advices? sort of confirmed what the triple Mr. O had been thinking: He had the tickets, he had six weeks left to whip myself in shape, why not?
In that same conversation Zane asked Arnold if he was entering the Mr. Olympia. Back came Arnold?s standard Getting in shape for Conan/CBS commentary answer. At the time the questioner had no reason to doubt what the man he considered a friend told him.
Whatever Arnold?s thought process was at the time, one can speculate that it may have crossed his mind that a sub par Frank Zane showing up in Sydney would be to the advantage of the comeback aspirant. He may have mused that once he (Arnold) stepped onstage he would be the focus of attention, but that would be followed closely by how he compared to the defending champ Zane; who had defined the post-Schwarzenegger era. That?s the way it works: the man who wears the crown is the target. That?s who the judges compare everyone else to. Those who had seen the stricken Zane at six weeks out were amazed at the shape he valiantly attained by contest time. But at 180 or so pounds, ten pounds lighter than his 1979 form, he was not the force he would have been at his best. Zane?s accident was really strike one for Arnold.
frank-2The dispute and contention that marked the competitor?s meeting, when it suddenly emerged that Arnold had entered, was covered in last week?s story. This week we jump forward to the prejudging.
When Zane eventually saw a betrunked Schwarzenegger he thought the former champ would be, ?Sixth. He looked puffy early on, like he was holding water. Then he sweat so much during the prejudging that he did look better by the night show. But he still wasn?t Arnold. It?s like you?re out of it for five years and you train eight weeks ?. C?mon??
Estimates of what the late entrant weighed varied between 217 and 225 pounds. In winning the 1975 Olympia Arnold had been around 230 pounds. In 1974, which many cite as Arnold?s best year, he was 240 pounds.
Arnold?s performance during the contest was unorthodox to say the least. Call it arrogance, call it unsporting, but maybe finally call it generalship. When asked to hit certain compulsories ? side triceps for instance ? he would instead do one of his trademark poses: like front double biceps, side chest, single arm biceps, and three-quarter back shots. Despite the streamlining elsewhere he was still impressive in those shots and, true to the template of his life, played to his strengths and ignored his weaknesses.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's catch phrase may be "I'll be back", but his true anthem is, "Don't look back." Describing his bodybuilding contest strategy he once told me, "I was basically operating on instinct. My instinct at that time was to win; eliminate anyone who is in competition, destroy your enemy, and move on without any kind of hesitation at all."
Bodybuilding's showcase muscles are the biceps and chest. Arnold had arguably the best biceps and chest the sport has seen, even to this day. Coincidence? Gimme a break! Arnold has street and gym smarts. His bodybuilding master plan was uncomplicated. Go for the jugular with the best showcase muscles around; exploit your strengths, ignore weaknesses, let the charisma ooze out. Never change a winning formula; modify, improve, but don't abandon. Never, ever, give any indication other than that the rest of the guys are only there for second place. Inspired by the opulent surroundings of the Sydney Opera House he executed his lifelong strategy and parlayed those show-stopping biceps and pecs into a winning position. How else to explain how a less than stellar Arnold returned to the Olympia in 1980 to take the most controversial win in the contest's history? The contest was not fixed. What critics discount is the all-enveloping Arnold "I'm first, who cares who's second?" aura that just becomes irresistible.
As George Butler, producer of Pumping Iron, aptly phrased it: ?If you want to beat Muhammad Ali on points, you?ve got to beat him by ten points. Likewise if you want to beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in the grandeur of the Sydney Opera House, you have got to beat him by a distance. You can't just be a little better.?
Next week: Why Arnold entered the 1980 Mr. Olympia event, his reflections on what happened, and his eye-opening post contest conversation with Frank Zane.
the legend is looking good among all the three .. as he seems more natural body builder as i do not to what the extent the the same say is right
Well legend always looks great in any shape.. And you can see here in this pic Arnold looks cool fresh and pretty active..
I am a big Arnold fan.. And following the Arnold instruction for body building related..
The contest was a set up...all to coincide with, and promote, the release of Conan. We heard about it almost 8 weeks out. Just the way he was allowed to behave at the prejudging aroused people's suspicions as to what was going on.
Arnold's "victory" was a travesty, as he couldn't have won a (legitimate) state meet.
I've seen better legs in a bucket of chicken.