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.
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