Larry Scott was a catalyst whose effect on the bodybuilding world will only be measured by history. The cast of characters in his story is a who’s who of bodybuilding: Joe, Ben and Betty Weider; Bob Hoffman; Peary and Mabel Rader; Vince Gironda and Rheo Blair—all seminal figures in the sport’s modern era.
In the early ’60s Joe and Ben Weider were in a battle with Bob Hoffman and the AAU for the leadership of bodybuilding. The AAU had a lock on the most prestigious title, the Mr. America. The Weiders’ IFBB was in desperate need of a star—and a vehicle—that would shine beyond the prestige of the AAU title.
At the same time Larry was pursuing his dream at Vince’s Gym. With Gironda’s help he created a physique the likes of which had never been seen before, with a drama and presence that grabbed a crowd by its throat and made the fans shout his name. No one who was present at the Brooklyn Academy of Music will ever forget the tension in the room and the explosive energy as Larry walked onstage at the first Mr. Olympia contest, in 1965, and the second, in ’66, both of which he won.
Let’s back up for a minute to that cast of characters: Rheo Blair’s revolutionary milk-and-egg protein supplement was well known to Gironda, who introduced Larry to it. Vince was an evangelist for the importance of nutrition in achieving maximum physical development. Larry not only created a revolutionary physique but, in doing so, helped cement Vince’s reputation as a trainer of champions and Blair’s as bodybuilding’s first sports nutritionist—before the phrase existed.
The Raders and Vince were longtime friends and shared his belief in the importance of nutrition and supplementation. Iron Man was the only bodybuilding magazine that discussed Blair’s revolutionary protein and supplement techniques. So there was a symbiosis—Larry, Vince, Rheo and the Raders—that moved all of them forward and took us with them.
It’s a fact that the creation of the Mr. Olympia contest occurred because Larry had won everything there was to win in the IFBB but was still not at his competitive peak. The Weiders created the contest so Larry would have a new world to conquer. Fate forged the marriage of the Scott physique and the breakaway event that forever separated the IFBB from the AAU.
Much will be written about Larry’s peerless arms and blond good looks, but they were just tools that helped create a revolution, one that has never been equalled. Besides inspiring countless thousands to be bodybuilders, Larry was an essential factor in the growth and legitimacy of the IFBB. Plus, through his relationships with Gironda and Blair, he was a catalyst for the acceptance and growth of both sports nutrition and Vince’s revolutionary training ideas. Peary and Mabel, as bodybuilding publishers and advocates for those ideas, were in the middle of that revolution.
Larry would never see those events as I have interpreted them. He was much too humble and self-effacing. I am fortunate to have known him since the day in 1966 when I watched him train his arms with unimaginable intensity.
You are missed, my friend—a true gentleman. [See the Larry Scott video interview at IronManMagazine.com and more on him in this issue, beginning on page 76.] IM