If you’re reading this article right now, then there’s a good chance you’re at least somewhat familiar with bodybuilding. You likely also know that the top title in the world of bodybuilding is Mr. Olympia. The 16 men that have held that title since 1965 have done more than won a bodybuilding contest — they became the number one representative of the sport. As such, there is a responsibility to promote the sport and living a fitness-based lifestyle to the masses.
The first major example of this that people can refer to is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Aside from winning the titles and training in Gold’s Gym, the Austrian Oak promoted the sport in prisons, public gatherings, and guest posed at contests with the goal of inspiring anyone and everyone that was in his presence.
A more recent example is Jay Cutler. His pursuit and eventual capture of the top championship in the sport inspired a generation of fans to become athletes and competitors. Among them is the 2021 Arnold Classic champion, Nick Walker. Other stars that have praised the example of Cutler include Regan Grimes and Sergio Oliva Jr.
While Schwarzenegger and Cutler had roots in the United States, bodybuilding is certainly an international sport. British superstar Dorian Yates was the most dominant competitor of the 1990’s. The six-time Mr. Olympia stayed to himself, but the example he set inspired a full crop of stars to emerge from the United Kingdom, including current pros James Hollingshead, Nathan De Asha, and Samson Dauda. The fact that many contests nowadays include at least one British competitor can be directly connected to the impact that The Shadow had on the sport.
Our Current Champion
The role of Mr. Olympia may have a greater magnifying glass on it than ever before. Fans are able to see and connect with their favorite athletes more than ever thanks to social media, YouTube, and other outlets that are used for promotion. That also means that the expectations and desire to see them is greater as well. So, fans want to see our current Mr. Olympia, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, post content, engage with fans online, and travel more to represent the sport, especially since he isn’t based in the United States like the last few champions.
Clearly, the pandemic has caused a major issue with traveling, so Elssbiay has no control over that. However, he has been very active in representing bodybuilding and fitness in Egypt. Look no further for evidence than the moment he arrived back home with the Sandow Trophy in his possession. He’s greeted like the hero he should be, with crowds, escorts, and even government officials expressing their praise and support for the accomplishment of winning the world title of his sport.
Then, there are the appearances he makes, such as the 2021 KO Pro show in Egypt. When he opted to guest pose onstage, mere weeks after winning the title, you know that there was at least a few kids or young adults in the crowd that saw Mr. Olympia in supreme form and conceived the dream of being in his position one day themselves. “He is from our country and he did it, so I can too,” may have been the thought process, as it should have been. Elssbiay’s influence on fitness can be seen and felt in the entire Middle East. This is because the fans feel the genuine connection between themselves and their champion.
This may not be seen on Instagram or livestreamed on YouTube as frequently as someone like Brandon Curry or Jay Cutler posts, and that could bother some fans. As a matter of fact, there have been several people in recent weeks that have been critical of the champion’s absence or lack of participation in these outlets. Anyone that has engaged with him since he second consecutive victory in Orlando last October will tell you that he’s committed to his role in the sport. The issue may be that what he’s doing isn’t taking place online or in the United States, where many of the biggest media outlets reside. Because of this, his engagement may not be as obvious. However, like Yates, we may see his impact a decade from now if the sport sees a massive increase in Egyptian competitors that say that Elssbiay inspired them to get into the sport.
Big Ramy clearly understands that wherever he goes, he is associated with professional bodybuilding, the Olympia, and the IFBB Pro League. While his efforts may not be measured in likes or clicks, it’s clear to everyone that is paying attention that he has proven to be a very successful champion, both onstage and off.