Sergio Oliva (in bodybuilding circles received the nickname Myth), perhaps, is one of those people who are simply doomed to success from birth. This athlete was born on the Independence Day of the United States, July 4, 1941, and perhaps that is why extraordinary independence and dedication have become his main qualities. When, in 1959, the opposition headed by Fidel Castro displaced the government of Cuba, Sergio realized that his homeland of personal freedom could no longer be dreamed of. The boy from childhood was fond of athletics and the only chance if not to get complete freedom, then at least break away from Cuba, became a world of great sport. Naturally endowed with strength, speed and flexibility, Sergio decided to try his hand at bodybuilding. By the age of 20, the athlete became Cuba’s best bodybuilder and in 1961 took part in the Pan American Games in Kingston, Jamaica. For Sergio, a man with an extraordinary desire for independence, these competitions have become an opportunity to say goodbye – and perhaps forever – to his native lands.
This athlete knew perfectly well that such a chance could fall once in a lifetime. The combination of strength and speed helped Sergio to run one of the best, which allowed him and the entire Cuban team, participating in the competition, to obtain political asylum in the US and his long-awaited freedom.
First Sergio moved to Miami, and in 1963 moved to Chicago. It was in Chicago that the best local bodybuilder, Bob Gajda, was seriously involved in bodybuilding. Gajda was able to see in Sergio tremendous physical potential and actually took the athlete under his care. As expected, through regular, systematic training, Sergio’s muscles began to increase, as if they were pumped with air. At the end of the year, Sergio won his first title – Mr. Young Chicagoaland.
Very soon, due to physical strength and reputation, Sergio’s name began to be mentioned alongside Larry Scott, Chuck Sips and Bill Pearl. However, despite the advantage in physical form, the athlete quickly realized that he still had a lot to learn before he could win in competitions more complex than the Amateur Athletes Competitions. The struggle for the title of Mr. America and brought Sergio to the IFBB, and it was not far off the recognition of Sergio as the best bodybuilder in the history of the sport.
In 1966, the athlete won the title Mister World, in 1967 – Mr. Universe and, finally, in the same year, Mr. Olympia 1967. Just four years after becoming acquainted with the world of bodybuilding, Sergio became, in fact, the king of this sport.
And only in 1969, Oliva had a serious rival in the face of a powerful, though still inexperienced, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
When Sergio was going to take the third title, Mr. Olympia, learned from the experiences of Schwarzenegger’s defeats “pushed him from the throne.” Frustrated, but not broken, Sergio doubled his training efforts and returned to competitions in 1972, even more swinging than before, ready to win, at that time already two-time Mr. Olympia, Schwarzenegger. But this was not destined to happen.
It was a hard blow for an ambitious athlete, a blow that caused him to leave the competition, although Sergio could not give up bodybuilding at all and the debunked king of the competition took up coaching.