Chris Dickerson: The Record Breaker

Chris Dickerson

Chris Dickerson, born on August 25, 1939, in Montgomery, Alabama, was a pioneer in the world of bodybuilding who defied the odds to achieve greatness. As the first African American Mr. Olympia winner and the oldest competitor to win the prestigious title at the age of 43, Dickerson’s inspiring journey serves as a testament to the power of perseverance and determination. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the life and accomplishments of this remarkable athlete who left a lasting impact on the world of bodybuilding.

Early Life and the Path to Bodybuilding

Chris Dickerson’s passion for fitness began during his childhood, fueled by his love of gymnastics and ballet. His innate talent for movement and discipline led him to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, where he studied acting and continued to pursue dance. However, it was after witnessing a bodybuilding competition that Dickerson became captivated by the sport, and he soon redirected his focus towards sculpting his physique.

Chris Dickerson’s physique stats during his competitive years were as follows:

  • Height: 5’6″ (168 cm)
  • Competition weight: 190 lbs (86 kg)
  • Off-season weight: 210 lbs (95 kg)
  • Chest: 50 inches (127 cm)
  • Waist: 31 inches (79 cm)
  • Biceps: 18.5 inches (47 cm)
  • Thighs: 27 inches (69 cm)
  • Calves: 17 inches (43 cm)

Breaking Barriers and Achieving Success

With a relentless determination to succeed, Chris Dickerson embarked on a competitive bodybuilding career in the 1960s, overcoming numerous obstacles along the way. As an African American and openly gay man, he faced unique challenges in a sport that was largely dominated by white athletes. However, Dickerson went on to win all 3 major bodybuilding competitions, achieving the trifecta in bodybuilding: Mr America, Mr Universe, and Mr Olympia. When Dickerson won the 1982 Mr Olympia competition, he was the first African-American to do so, and the oldest winner of all time (aged 43). 

Below is a comprehensive list of Chris Dickerson’s bodybuilding competition history:

  • 1965: Mr. Long Beach (AAU), 3rd
  • 1966: Mr. California (AAU), 3rd
  • 1966: Mr. Los Angeles (AAU), 3rd
  • 1967: Mr. USA (AAU), 6th
  • 1968: Mr. California (AAU), 1st
  • 1968: Mr. USA (AAU), 4th
  • 1969: Mr. America (AAU), 6th
  • 1970: Mr. America (AAU), 1st
  • 1970: Mr. World (AAU), 2nd
  • 1971: Mr. Universe (IFBB), 1st
  • 1972: Mr. International (IFBB), 1st
  • 1973: Mr. America (IFBB), 2nd
  • 1973: Mr. World (IFBB), 2nd
  • 1974: Mr. International (IFBB), 1st
  • 1979: Mr. Olympia (IFBB), 2nd
  • 1980: Mr. Olympia (IFBB), 2nd
  • 1981: Mr. Olympia (IFBB), 2nd
  • 1982: Mr. Olympia (IFBB), 1st
  • 1984: Mr. Olympia (IFBB), 11th
  • 1994: IFBB Hall of Fame Inductee

Through his hard work and dedication, Chris Dickerson shattered barriers, paving the way for greater diversity and inclusivity in the sport of bodybuilding.

Retirement, Mentorship, and Philanthropy

After retiring from competitive bodybuilding in 1994, Chris Dickerson continued to make a difference in the world of fitness. He founded a gym in Florida called Dickerson’s Fitness Emporium and became a mentor to aspiring athletes. Furthermore, he dedicated his time to various philanthropic endeavors, including working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and supporting the AIDS Resource Alliance.

Chris Dickerson’s incredible journey serves as an inspiring example of perseverance, resilience, and determination. His willingness to break barriers and defy stereotypes in the world of bodybuilding has left a lasting impact on the sport, encouraging athletes from all backgrounds to pursue their dreams.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Dickerson was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 1994, further solidifying his place in the annals of bodybuilding history.

Dickerson passed on December 23rd, 2021.

Chris Dickerson’s life story is a powerful reminder of the importance of persistence, courage, and self-belief in the face of adversity. As the first African American Mr. Olympia and the oldest competitor to win the title, he proved that with hard work and dedication, it’s possible to achieve greatness, regardless of the obstacles one may face. By celebrating his life and legacy, we can draw inspiration from his remarkable journey and encourage future generations of athletes to forge their own paths in the world of bodybuilding.

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