Muscular Development|March 2021
When Big Ramy was crowned Mr. Olympia last December, it was the first time a man over 250 pounds had held that title in over a decade. At 290 pounds, we hadn’t seen such a mass monster rule the sport since the days of Ronnie and Jay. Ronnie Coleman remains the heaviest man to ever win the Mr. Olympia at a bodyweight of 296 in 2004. Comparisons between the two colossal men, Ramy and Ronnie, soon sprung up everywhere online and in social media. Who is the king of all freaks? To answer that, we sought out the best-qualified men to answer that question: Giles Thomas, Ronnie Coleman himself, and the only man to coach both champions to Mr. Olympia wins, Chad Nicholls.


Photographer and journalist since 1995, former UK Market Manager for Ronnie Coleman Signature Series

King of ALL freaks? Hmm, I’d like to say this is a tough one to answer, but my Dad didn’t raise no liar, no sir. It’s pretty easy. Why? I’ll tell you.

Let’s break it down. We have the new Mr. Olympia, Big Ramy. He’s big; the clue is in the name. For seven long, agonizing years, we waited, we hoped that Egypt’s finest would, pardon my French, get his shit together. We saw him storm to victory at two New York Pro victories, one year making even 2007 Mr. Olympia runner-up Victor Martinez look positively, well, “not so big” next to Big Ramy. (Did I mention the clue is in the name?) But this was Ramy with still many improvements to make; the structure was all there, the size was certainly there (hoo-whee), but the balance was “off,” the conditioning, inconsistent. Seemingly, his team – at that time – wanted Ramy to live up to the name; they wanted him to be the biggest thing who ever stood on an Olympia stage.

I remember legendary industry photographer Kevin Horton, fresh back from his trip to Kuwait, raving to me over the phone at how he had just shot Ramy at a whopping 150kg bodyweight. That’s 330 pounds, my friends. “If he nails it, Giles, he will win the Olympia,” Kevin stated boldly. Well, that was six or seven years ago. For the following few years, we grew weary, the conditioning was – to be fair - hit and miss, the same physique strengths and weaknesses were being presented onstage. We lost faith; well, some of us did anyway.

Let us fast-forward now to the 2020 Mr. Olympia. Ramy – receiving the special invite – came in like a Stealth Bomber, with no pictures, no videos, nothing. Just quietly working away with Chad Nicholls and staying at his friend Dennis James’ house in Arizona, reportedly posing three times a day for Dennis, steadily grinding away. No fuss, no noise, like a ninja. A big one. On December 19th and 20th in Orlando, Florida, a 289-pound completely rebooted version of Ramy was unveiled. The conditioning was fixed; the leg separation, better. The size? Unmatched by anyone else in that contest. Ramy won/steamrolled the Mr. Olympia, the 16th man to do so.

But what about Ronnie Coleman? KING Ronnie Coleman? After all, in the land of freakdom have we all lost our tiny, feeble minds and simply forgotten what he brought to the stage? I was lucky enough to see Ronnie in his prime, on stage. The first time was in 1996 at the British Grand Prix, at two Mr Olympias (2001 and 2002, definitely not his best years, but still, damned impressive) and also at the 2004 British Grand Prix. Ronnie was over 300 pounds in that one. Shredded. The muscle bellies, the fullness, oh my. It was a site to behold, we all gasped in the audience. ALL of us. King Coleman at his all-time freakiest. For me? Nothing even comes close to that. Not Ramy, not anyone.

But – just like Ronnie – Big Ramy took a few years to really hit his stride. Hell, Ronnie was getting nowhere in the Mr. Olympia for several years before he morphed into the G.O.A.T. My point is, let’s revisit this comparison in a few years, shall we? It was six years of even BEING Mr. Olympia before we saw Ronnie hit the 2003 Olympia stage at the likes of something never before seen on ANY bodybuilding stage that left everyone else fighting for second place. So, let’s talk then yeah, and then let’s see who really is – who truly is – the F.O.A.T. (Yeah, buddy).


Who carried more mass, you or Ramy?

I think I carried a little bit more than he did. I might be a little bit taller than him, too. At the 2004 Mr. Olympia I was 296 pounds, the year before I had been 286.

What differences do you see between your two physiques?

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