Ronnie Dean Coleman (born May 13, 1964) is an American retired professional bodybuilder. The winner of the Mr. Olympia title for eight years in a row, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. Alongside his eight Mr. Olympia wins, he held the record for most wins as an IFBB professional with 26 titles (since broken by Dexter Jackson).
Ronnie Dean Coleman was born on May 13, 1964, in Monroe, Louisiana. In 1984 he graduated cum laude from Grambling State University (GSU) with a BSc in accounting. While at the university, he played American football as a middle linebacker with the GSU Tigers under coach Eddie Robinson. After graduation, he failed to find work as an accountant and instead went to work at a Domino's Pizza outlet, where he would eat the complimentary pizza every day due to being so poor that he could barely afford to eat outside of work. He then became a police officer in Arlington, Texas, where he served as an officer from 1989 to 2000 and a reserve officer until 2003.
Coleman's fellow officer Gustavo Arlotta suggested he attend the Metroflex gym, owned by amateur bodybuilder Brian Dobson. Dobson offered Coleman a free lifetime membership if he allowed Dobson to train him for the upcoming Mr. Texas bodybuilding competition that year. After training for Mr. Texas, Coleman won first place in both the heavyweight and overall categories. He also defeated Dobson himself. Coleman won his first competition as a professional, the Canada Pro Cup, in 1995. The following year, he won the contest again, then went on to win the 1997 Russian Grand Prix. He also participated in powerlifting competitions in the mid-1990s.
His rise at the top in the professional circuit of bodybuilding was relatively slow: for his first participation at the Mr. Olympia contest (the most prestigious worldwide) in 1992, he wasn't ranked; then in 1994 he placed 15th, then 10th in 1995, 6th in 1996, and 9th in 1997 when Dorian Yates won his sixth and last title before retiring. At the 1998 Mr. Olympia, the favorite was Kenneth Wheeler, with Nasser El Sonbaty, Kevin Levrone and Shawn Ray considered as the most serious contenders; but Coleman – who had won the Night of Champions earlier that year and was starting to be recognized as one of the very best in the discipline – appeared greatly improved and won his first title, beating Wheeler by a few points, and beginning the longest streak of victories in the history of the contest (tied with Lee Haney), with eight titles from 1998 to 2005. In 2001, he became the first man to win both the Arnold Classic and the Mr. Olympia titles the same year (only Dexter Jackson has repeated this feat, in 2008). He finally lost the Mr. Olympia title in 2006 when Jay Cutler finally beat him after placing second three consecutive years; it was only the second time in the history of the contest that a reigning champion having won more than once lost his title while still competing (after Sergio Oliva losing to Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1970). Coleman placed 4th in 2007, which was his last participation.
Coleman's success as a professional bodybuilder has led to many product endorsements and other opportunities in his career. He has visited places such as Brazil, Austria, China, and Australia. He also made many guest appearances at gym openings all around the United States. When training, Coleman preferred to use free weights rather than machines in order to maximize his flexibility and range of motion. He has made three training videos: The Unbelievable, The Cost of Redemption, and On the Road. In these videos, he gives tips for more experienced weightlifters, while warning against overexertion and improper form.
Coleman supports the Inner City Games, an organization co-founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1991. He was the recipient of the 2001 Admiral in the Texas Navy Certificate Award from Texas Governor Rick Perry for outstanding achievements in bodybuilding and for the promotion of physical fitness. In 2011, he launched Ronnie Coleman Signature Series, a company that provides sports nutrition and wellness products for bodybuilders and other athletes.
The extreme weights he used over the course of his career competing as a powerlifter and then a bodybuilder (like squats and deadlifts with 800 lbs) took a toll on his body, and since 2007 he has had to undergo a series of surgeries: two hip replacements and various attempts at alleviating chronic pain from damaged intervertebral discs. Coleman later revealed that he has continued to train despite his deteriorated condition, but could only use light weights now to try to prevent muscle loss, and that some of those surgeries (each one costing between $300,000 and $500,000) had such poor outcomes that he may never be able to walk unassisted again. He feels no regret, though, considering that he was determined to be at the top at any cost, and that, if anything, he regrets not having done even more to set his mark and consolidate his legacy.
In 2018, Vlad Yudin documented Coleman's life and career in the documentary Ronnie Coleman: The King, released on Netflix. For the film, rap artist Quan made a song called "Flexin' on Them (Ronnie Coleman)" inspired by Coleman's bodybuilding career.
Some of Coleman's vocal gimmicks, popularized in his training videos where he regularly utters them as a form of self-encouragement, like "Yeah buddy!", "Light weight baby!" or "Nothing but a peanut!", have become commonplace in the bodybuilding community all over the world.
Coleman is a devout Christian.
Coleman met French-Lebanese personal trainer Rouaida Christine Achkar at a sports exposition in Paris on March 22, 1998, and they were married in Beirut on December 28, 2007. They divorced shortly after.
On April 11, 2016, Coleman married personal trainer Susan Williamson. They have four children.
- Height: 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
- Contest weight: 287–300 pounds (130–136 kg)
- Off-season weight: 315–320 pounds (143–145 kg)
- Chest: 60 in (150 cm)
- Arms: 24 in (61 cm)
|1990||Mr. Texas (Heavyweight & Overall)|
|1991||World Amateur Championships (Heavyweight)|
|1995||Canada Pro Cup|
|1996||Canada Pro Cup|
|1997||Grand Prix Russia|
|1998||Mr. Olympia, Night of Champions, Toronto Pro Invitational, Grand Prix Finland, Grand Prix Germany|
|1999||Mr. Olympia, World Pro Championships, Pride Grand Prix England|
|2000||Mr. Olympia, World Pro Championships, Mr. Brody Langley, Grand Prix England|
|2001||Mr. Olympia, Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, New Zealand Grand Prix|
|2002||Mr. Olympia, Grand Prix Holland|
|2003||Mr. Olympia, Grand Prix Russia|
|2004||Mr. Olympia, Grand Prix England, Grand Prix Holland, Grand Prix Russia|
|2006||Mr. Olympia, Grand Prix Austria, Grand Prix Holland, Grand Prix Romania|