Stars of the Olympia – Porter Cottrell

Porter Cottrell: For the decades between 1965 and 2008 (when a separate contest for lighter competitors was created), bodybuilding had four decades of a phenomena known as “the giant killer”- lightweight bodybuilders whose aesthetics and shape managed to topple far bigger lifters from the top spots.  The sport had bodybuilders like Freddy Ortiz, Tom Platz, Danny Padilla, and Lee Priest who all battled bodybuilders who outweighed them by up to a hundred pounds, often just on the basis of their ridiculous arms.  They captured the hearts and minds of the crowd just as certainly as if they’d won, simply because of their heroic battles in the face of overwhelming competition.

Porter Cottrell was a bit different than most of the aforementioned smaller competitors.  Unlike them, the 5’7” 215 pound athlete had no one outstanding bodypart- his was a symphony of aesthetic muscle, definition, and incredible proportions.  In his Olympia debut, Cottrell only outsized one other bodybuilder onstage- Lee Labrada.  Labrada’s presentation, poise, and competition history put him in third place against the larger rookie’s eighth, but with Cottrell’s appearance in the top ten it seemed the days of the sub-200 pound competitor were numbered.

By 1994, Porter Cottrell and Shawn Ray were the two most popular little men of the sport.  Where Shawn Ray had an X-frame and full, round muscle bellies, Cottrell presented a package that was the mini-Dorian Yates to Shawn Ray’s mini-Flex Wheeler.  The two vied for the top spot among the smaller men, forever consigned to second and third by far larger men with similar proportions, density, and dryness.


Thus, although he might have always “been a bridesmaid and never the bride,” Cottrell was the champion of the little guy.  The guy with kinda crap genetics but the will to succeed and the desire to reach the top of the mountain even if he’ll never stand at its peak.  And in that, Porter is a reason for any lifter to drag his carcass off the couch and go hit the weights every day.


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