Larry Scott is best known as the first winner of the Mr Olympia competition, winning two consecutive titles in the inaugural 1965 competition and the 1966 competition.
He retired at just 28 years old, which shocked the bodybuilding world at the time.
He was one of the first bodybuilders to build 20 inch upper arms. Larry actually returned (briefly) to bodybuilding 13 years later in 1979 but was not particularly successful. He died in March 2014 at the age of 75.
Larry Scott was born in Blackfoot, Indiana in 1938. His father Wayne Scott was a machinist, his mother was named Thea Scott.
It might seem crazy now, but Larry was actually quite small as a child. He was famously too small to play for his High School Basketball or Football team due to his narrow shoulders and small frame.
Instead, he took up gymnastics and became particularly adept at tumbling.
It wasn’t until Larry was 18 that he became interested in bodybuilding, after finding a bodybuilding magazine.
Two years later he entered his first competition the Mr Idaho Show and came in first place.
After winning his first competition he decided to move to California where the bodybuilding craze was concentrated.
He studied electronics at Valley College and trained every spare minute that he could.
In 1960 he came third in the Mr Los Angeles bodybuilding competition. He started training with Vince Gironda, known for his unorthodox training techniques (avoiding back squats, performing neck presses instead of bench presses).
Gironda was also the creator of the Preacher Curl. This exercise became Larry Scott’s trademark, and many people call preacher curls, Scott curls to this day.
Larry Scott’s biceps became his most recognisable feature, and he was the first bodybuilder to create 20 inch upper arms, mostly thanks to his preacher curls.
In 1961 he competed in the Mr Pacific Coast and won it, this helped to establish him as one of the big names in bodybuilding at the time, over the next five years he would become its first superstar, only to be overtaken by Arnold Schwarzenegger when he won his first Mr Olympia.
The Golden Years
What may seem odd is how few competitions Larry actually competed in, when you compare it to the amount that say Ronnie Coleman competed and won. But bodybuilding was just taking off at this time, and a) Larry did not have access to as many competitions, and b) he needed less competition wins to become a superstar, as there was less competition.
As Bodybuilding.com puts it though, bodybuilding “could not have asked for a better initial representative” .
In 1962 he came second in the Mr America competition, and in 1963 he won the Mr Universe competition. He retained his Mr Universe title in 1964, the year that he also appeared in the film Muscle Beach Party.
Larry was mostly known for his appearances in bodybuilding magazines, particularly the ones run by Joe Weider.
In 1965 Larry Scott entered and won the inaugural Mr Olympia Contest. It was held on September 8th in the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in New York City. Larry came first, with Harold Poole (the youngest competitor in the tournament’s history to date) in second, and Earl Maynard of Barbados in third.
Instead of a Sandow trophy, Larry received a jewel encrusted crown and $1,000 in prize money. It was around this time that Larry-fever was at its apex.
A year later, in 1966 Larry entered his second Mr Olympia, again it was held in September at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City. The top three came in the exact same order as the previous year – Harold Poole of America in second, and Earl Maynard of Barbados in third.
This competition saw Sergio Oliva (future three time Mr Olympia winner 1967-69) come in fourth place. After winning his second Mr Olympia, and at the age of 28, Larry shocked the bodybuilding world by retiring from the sport.
His reasons for leaving were that he wanted to concentrate on his marriage, and he felt he had achieved all that he could in the sport.
He continued to write for bodybuilding magazines and did many interviews.
After 13 years without bodybuilding, Larry Scott returned to the scene in 1979 at the age of 41. He competed in the Canada Diamond Pro Cup and managed a 9th place, but did not place at all in the 1979 Vancouver Grand Prix and promptly retired for a second and final time.
After bodybuilding Larry concentrated on personal training, selling gym equipment, and selling nutritional supplements. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, and died in March 2014 at his home in Utah, at the age of 75.
It’s interesting to think about how the bodybuilding world would have been different without Larry Scott.
The Mr Olympia Competition was designed by Joe Weider with Larry in mind, and if he had not been there to win it, the competition would not have received the publicity that it did.
Larry Scott was a huge star at the time, and by winning the competition he managed to raise its profile with the general public.
If the Mr Olympia competition had not been a success, would Sergio Oliva have competed in it in 1966? Would Arnold Schwarzenegger have come to America?
This is just speculation, but without a big recognisable name to associate itself with, the Mr Olympia might not have survived its first year. Now it is seen as the premier competition in the Bodybuilding world.
Larry Scott will be seen as the Godfather of competitive bodybuilding, and will also be known for his huge biceps, and the preacher curls that he helped popularize.
He will also be remembered as an inspiration to many of the biggest names in bodybuilding, with Schwarzenegger himself citing Larry as a source of inspiration.
Larry can also be remembered as the only bodybuilder to never lose a Mr Olympia competition in which he competed in, with a 100% winning record (thanks to his two victories).
In a sport that chases perfection, that is a pretty nice statistic to finish with.