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By Adam Coughlin, Managing Partner at York IE
Arnold Schwarzenegger is, without a doubt, the most famous bodybuilder of all time. But he is not, without a doubt, the best of all time. That distinction, in many weight lifting circles, goes to Ronnie Coleman.
Ronnie Coleman won 8 straight Mr. Olympia titles (more than Arnold’s seven). And, in doing so, he beat legends like Flex Wheeler, Jay Cutler, Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone — all men who, in any other year, would have been champions. But Coleman was on another level. His size, conditioning and definition had never been seen before — and will probably never be seen again.
At 5’11, Coleman weighed nearly 300 lbs. He worked out in a gym in Arlington, Texas that didn’t have air conditioning. He won Mr. Olympia twice before he stopped his full-time job as a cop.
Coleman had one goal: to be the best. And he would not let anything get in the way of achieving that goal. He outworked everyone, every day.
At 56 years old, Ronnie Coleman can no longer walk without the aid of crutches. He has had several back surgeries, hip replacements, and takes multiple Oxycodone's per day because the pain is so bad.
He is paying the price for his unrelenting drive.
I learned all of this by watching the documentary, “Ronnie Coleman: The King.” It was a fascinating commentary of the quest for perfection — a quest all of us are on, or at least think we are on. Hindsight is 20/20 (side note: after this year do we really want anything to be 2020 again?). It is easy to see the end results and say Coleman was foolish to put his body through such punishment.
But it is a good reminder for anyone chasing a career goal in which you want to say you are the very best. If you’re not willing to risk it all then you will never be able to beat someone like Ronnie Coleman. It is important to level set expectations so you don’t spend your time mad that you didn’t accomplish what someone else did when, in fact, you wouldn’t have been happy even if you had. I would rather be able to walk than be Mr. Olympia. Right or wrong that is an individual choice.
Despite the constant pain, Ronnie Coleman doesn’t see it the same way. In fact, his only regret is that he didn’t go harder and win more championships and further his legacy. And that is why his documentary is called “The King.” What will my documentary be called? Well, the reality is I will probably never have a documentary. I’ll just have some home videos of me enjoying my life with my family.
And I’m ok with that. Are you?
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