Dennis Newman is a name most new jacks haven’t heard because Newman’s rise to fame and fall into obscurity was an incredibly quick process. Billed to be the next big thing in bodybuilding by the Weider empire, Newman had the look to be a 10-time Olympia winner on paper. With jet black hair, baby blue eyes, and a 5’10” 250lb physique, Dennis Newman was believed to be the man who would usher in a second golden age of bodybuilding.
By the time Dennis Newman earned his pro card in 1994, he’d been featured on the cover of nearly every major bodybuilding magazine on the planet. Literally everyone wanted to feature him, because his insane good looks and ultra-aesthetic yet thick physique meant that bodybuilding would finally have another mainstream breakout star like Arnold. Additionally, it meant that the Weiders might bring bodybuilding further into the mainstream world, and possibly realize their dream of bodybuilding becoming an Olympic sport.
Before any of that could happen, however, tragedy struck. Newman was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after winning his pro card, and underwent eighteen months of chemotherapy and radiation to overcome the disease. With that in his rearview, Newman resumed training and dieting, only to find that the sport had changed considerably as he’d recuperated, and he wasn’t interested in undergoing the pharmacological insanity necessary to dominate the sport since the proliferation of Synthol, GH, and insulin.
As such, Dennis Newman stands as a fascinating “What If?” because if he had not gotten sick, the sport of bodybuilding might have become something altogether different than it is now. Classic Physique might have become the main event, with some sort of no-holds-barred-because-it’s-a-literal-freak-show division as the sidebar event, rather than the other way around, and we might have had the first Superman who genuinely looked like one without CGI or fake muscles as well.