In the late 19th century a German living in England named Eugen Sandow would have displays of his physique in what he called “muscle display performances.” Today Eugen Sandow is considered the “Father of Bodybuilding”. Mr. Olympia winners are awarded a bronze statue replica of Eugen Sandow.
Eugen Sandow later went on to invent several pieces of exercise equipment such as machined dumbells, spring pulleys, and tension bands. His own image was coined as a standard of ideal body proportions close to those of ancient Greek and Roman statues. Men’s physiques were judged based on these standards.
On September 14, 1901, Sandow organized the first bodybuilding contest called the “Great Competition” in London.
During the 1940s bodybuilding grew in popularity. In 1946 the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) was founded by Canadian brothers Joe and Ben Weider. Mr. Olympia was started by the IFBB in 1965.
In 1978 the first U.S. Woman’s National Physique Championship was held in Canton, Ohio. This contest is considered the first female bodybuilding contest.
In 1981 the National Physique Committee was formed by Jim Manion.
The Bikini division was created as a category with much less emphasis on muscularity to accommodate more women in the world of physique competitions and the IFBB recognized bikini competition as an independent competition category on November 7, 2010.
The first Bikini Olympia was introduced in 2010, since then it has grown to become the largest and most popular division on the fitness stage.
How Bikini has changed over the years…