Up Close and Personal with Sergio Oliva Jr. By Shawn Ray
Stronger on the inside than what his muscles could ever show!
Up Close and Personal with Sergio Oliva Jr.
By Shawn Ray
SR- First off, I'd like send my regards to on behalf of TEAM MD regarding the passing of your father "The Myth!" Can you share your thoughts in reflection of your earliest memory of your dad being Famous and Mythical? When did you know he is Mr. Olympia?
SO- Yeah, I don't know? I've always just seen him as a regular dad. It wasn't till I got into competing myself that I realized how crazy his career really was. I do remember at the last Mr.O in Chicago contest in 1996 that you were as well placing 2nd to eventual winner Dorian Yates I believe this was when I really realized the pull my dad had in Chicago. Its as if you would have thought my dad was the "Guest Poser" at that show with the amount of respect and attention he got from the fans, as well as from you and the other competitors, that's when I knew what being Mr Olympia entailed!
SR- In 1984 Sergio made a comeback in the Mr. Olympia contest that made him famous nearly two decades prior and after his performance he brought you onstage (still a baby in diapers) and presented you to the world. When you look back at that moment, what goes through your head?
SO- I feel like him holding me up above his head was like a scene from the movie "Lion King!" Talk about no pressure lol.
I love it the older I get. I have the record for being the "Youngest" person on a Mr. O stage, gotta love that!
Now that I'm getting more serious in my bodybuilding career and I would just love to have his name live on and make that prediction come true in the years to come by being the best bodybuilder I can be!
SR- Its no secret, your father is respected by many as one of the greatest if not "The Greatest" Bodybuilder of All Time. How do you view your father in the ever changing landscape of past Mr. Olympia Winners?
SO- Yes. If I had a dollar for every time someone had said a particular bodybuilder was "the best ever" I'd be rich!
So I obviously had a favorite when I ``used to win the "my dad could beat up your dad" debates as a kid.
I love how the sport has changed but now everyone's "big" so its more about the science. I cant imagine what my dad's mass seemed like when there were only a handful of "big" guys in the world back then? I tell people my dad was every bodybuilder combined into one. My dad had the the small waist but with Ronnie Coleman size that could just make you re-think life if you had to compete against him!
SR- It is well documented your dad did things his way, albeit stubborn most times and controversial at at other times. What do you think was his biggest accomplishment besides being Mr. Olympia?
SO- That's easy, being a Chicago Cop for 30 years!
SR- I know personally, you had many issues with your dad growing up as a kid that are beyond bodybuilding. Have you been able to reconcile those differences in adulthood or are they deeply rooted in the present?
SO- Our issues were "only" about bodybuilding. He didn't want me to compete and its all I want to do.
So a long time ago I told him I was going do this with or without him and to either help me and guide me so I do it right or I can do it myself. He chose for me to do it on my own.
I see Lee Haney going to shows with his son. Lee Labrada and his son Hunter lifting together, even Darrem Charles and his son Guest Pose and do things together as Bodybuilders. so it would hurt me to see everyone else still involved with the sport and their family while my father couldn't be bothered.
SR- At some point you decided you too would become a Bodybuilder, I remember you mentioning you did not want to bother your dad with help, was that a tough decision considering his wealth of knowledge and wisdom or did you think he simply did not want to help you?
SO- I did ask for help but I had just started getting into it. I don't know if he didn't think I loved it as much as I do and would continue but nonetheless there was no help coming from his end toward me pursuing bodybuilding as an athlete.
SR- Sergio Sr. was laid to rest last week, how did the service go and did you get the closure on the passing of your father?
SO- I think he would have loved the service we had for him. It was not too big but still had that "Oliva flare" he always had when he was still with us.
SR- My dad passed away 2 years ago and looking back, we never spoke of "Death" as if it were never going to happen to either of us. Did you ever speak to your dad about his mortality or was it something you both knew one day would come and just simply ignored?
SO- You simply don't talk about a Mr. O falling off on his workout let alone him dying. You know these guys they will never act weak or ask for help. Most believe they are just Invincible!
SR- You were competing at the NPC Nationals in Atlanta, Ga. the weekend word broke about your father passing shortly thereafter and who was already gravely ill. Was that a surprise to you?
SO- That's what's crazy! When I left he was fine. They had taken him off dialysis and he was doing "better" and then the Monday after I got back he had a mild Heart Attack and that was it!
So it had been a very weird two weeks of my life. Still don't know how to act. Competing then for you becomes a welcome distraction not to have to think about the demise of your ailing father you know.
SR- What is your memory about the shooting incident involving your dad back in 1986 who narrowly escaped death after being shot by Arlene. Did he ever share the story with you and how did you process the news?
SO- Yes of course. For one thing, I feel bad for my mom still. My dad was in his rage that all bodybuilders have sometimes and she felt her life and mine was in jeopardy, she shot his gun to scare him and the bullet hit him in his stomach. He was so big he didn't feel it and thought she missed and she had to tell him he was shot. Is that nuts? Needless to say, they are both very strong individuals.
SR- Whatever happened to her after this incident?
SO- She drove him to the hospital and then they stuck things out and later....they had my sister. :)
SR- Your father was many things to many different people. Share with us why it was such a difficult relationship for you growing up?
SO- My dad never stopped being "Mr. Olympia" to his fans. He was always turned on, so they saw a different side of my dad then I did.
As to why I he was different with them even though I was his biggest fan, well we'll never know, you would had to of asked him.
All I know is everything happens for a reason, maybe it all made me strong enough to be able to handle it all when I go Pro which is a goal of mine. I definitely have no regrets I couldn't have done more to try and make him proud of me.
SR- Moving forward, what's next for you? Sergio is in heaven with some All Time Greats like; Steve Reeves, John Grimick, Reg Park & Jack LaLanne to name a few. How?
SO- I'm gonna keep going forward and show him what I promised him and go pro. how I would remember my dad would be the guy who never lied and talk behind your back. he was very stubborn but never fake. even when he should have for the sake of his IFBB career
SR- You have another memorial tentatively planned for your dad where he can be formally remembered and celebrated by the industry. Can you share some of the details with us?
SO- We are still working on info for an Industry Memorial for my father so everyone can pay their proper respect.
SR- You have the last word, as it is never the right time to mourn a life that was lived so rich and full. What would you like us to know about Sergio that we may not already know?
SO- Probably as to why he was so stubborn and could come off rude at some times. He was a survivor. He escaped the country of Cuba when he was 18 years old and Fidel Castro tried to kill him. He joined the best gang for protection, the Chicago Police Department and became the best he could be in the sport then sent all his money back to his family in Cuba. That's a Real Man!
SR- What is the lesson to be learned here in Father / Son relationships that could help other regardless of who their fathers are?
SO- Sometimes we are born and raised in different times but we are ultimately the same person.
SR- Finish this line, "My dad was 3 X Mr. Olympia to everyone but to me he was........."
SO-Stronger on the inside than what his muscles could ever show!
Thank you Sergio Jr.,