2001 Olympia Winner: With three wins firmly under his belt, the last being the most decisive yet, Ronnie Coleman appeared unbeatable. The largest Mr. Olympia was also one of the strongest human beings on the planet, and after three wins, it looked as though Coleman was here to stay. Unseating him would take a freak accident, a fresh face, or seriously drastic improvements by the rest of the field.
Enter future Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler, 2001 Olympia Winner. Cutler had made his IFBB debut in 1998, taking 11th place in the Night of Champions. Making rapid improvements, Cutler took 3rd at the Ironman Pro in 1999, then won the Night of Champions in 2000. Though he’d only placed eighth at that year’s Olympia, Cutler’s rapid rise to the upper echelon of the IFBB’s pros had not gone unnoticed, and he was making serious waves behind the scenes.
Though he’d won a major show, the top ranked pros remained unconcerned- they’d paid their dues and knew what it took to remain atop the pack, if not to win the Mr. O. As such, heads were really turning when Cutler appeared at the 2001 Mr. Olympia press conference. While the rest of the field bickered over unfair placings and their general dislike for each other, Cutler sat huge, smiling and confident, as if he had an idea of the number of people he was about to upset and was highly amused at the prospect.
At the same time, bodybuilders like future murderer Craig Titus and pint-sized bodybuilder Shawn Ray railed at length at the judges for their alleged inconsistencies and for playing favorites with certain bodybuilders (like Coleman). Coleman, meanwhile, was insistent that his wins were his own, citing his insanely hard and heavy training as evidence, and the judges fought everyone on every point. In short, the 2001 Olympia was shaping up to be a mess.
Regardless of the mess at the press conference, even Coleman was surprised at the package Cutler brought to the stage. The first person to truly challenge Coleman on the cards, Cutler finished a mere four points behind Coleman, a closer finish than the Olympia had seen in years. The third place finisher, Kevin Levrone, finished an astonishing forty-four points behind Cutler, which essentially said to the field that the contest was between two men and two men only. In fourth was Shawn Ray, who doubtless blamed his brutal beating in the points to his endless whining during the press conference. In fifth was Cormier, recovered from the previous year’s injury, but not enough to challenge for a top spot. In sixth was a relatively new pro, Orville Burke, who would sadly suffer from heart failure the following year during elbow surgery and would never compete again. Read about 2001 Olympia Winner.