Top Bodybuilders of the 90s: Charles Clairmonte

At 6’ and 240 ultra-defined and aesthetic pounds, Charles Clairmonte was a throwback to the times of Arnold and Zane- a time when the look of one’s overall physique mattered as much or more than one’s individual hardness, definition, and size.  Though outsized onstage by the monsters of the 90s, Clairmonte was never outclassed, either in physique or his demeanor.


Charles Clairmonte began his adult life differently than just about every bodybuilder ever- he was a hard-bitten member of the British Army’s Para Regiment (one of their Special Forces units).  He didn’t actually take up bodybuilding until his early 30s, and after a few short years of training won the 1986 NABBA Mr. Universe title, which is the same title his idol Arnold had earned 21 years prior.  He went on to win the Pro Universe title in that federation in 1988, 1989, and 1990, then set his sights on the IFBB and the Mr. O.

Though the Olympia in the late 80’s was competitive, it didn’t really heat up until the 90s, when the big names of the 90s all started sharing the same NPC stages in 1991.  In 1992, Charles Clairmonte made his IFBB debut with only 12 weeks of prep under his belt and finished dead last- he was under the impression that he’d signed up for the ‘93 rather than the ‘92 event.  Though he rebounded with his best IFBB form in 1993 and defeated both Kevin Levrone and Flex Wheeler in the IFBB Euro tour, he came to the realization that being the best built man in the world was less less important than he’d originally believed, and people began commenting that Clairmonte had peaked in ‘89 in the IFBB’s rival’s clutches, rather than on the Olympia stage.

Seeing his placings in the Olympia consistently slip from then on, Charles Clairmonte lost his taste for competing and retired to run a gym in Britain in 1997.  Though he likely didn’t get the gifts from the judges his American counterparts (and darlings of the Weider mags) seemed to, Clairmonte remained laid back throughout.  In his retirement, he’s been similarly chill, quietly running his gym in what is reportedly phenomenal looking 2010 at the age of 56 with absolutely zero social media presence to remind the new breed of the Golden God he was.


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