Chris Dickerson, Who Broke Bodybuilding Barriers, Dies at 82


His Mr. America win signified greater than muscle groups.

Like Miss Americas, Mr. America was anticipated to signify “this unbelievable image of the most perfect, virile American person,” a determine most frequently anticipated to be white, Richard Cavaler, a bodybuilding contest promoter and administrator who booked Mr. Dickerson within the Nineteen Seventies, stated in a cellphone interview. Along with physiques, judges took into consideration the contestants’ interview abilities and their potential to signify the game favorably on a nationwide degree.

Black athletes had taken the competitors’s Most Muscular title on a number of events: Arthur Harris did so in 1959, and Sergio Oliva of Cuba adopted in 1965 and ’66. But the general victory had by no means earlier than gone to a nonwhite competitor.

That groundbreaking win was extra vital to him than even his Mr. Olympia title, Mr. Dickerson stated. “I had to say a few words, being the first man of color to win the competition,” he stated in an interview with The Bodybuilding Legends Show in 2015. “I didn’t want to make it a racial issue, but the fact was, it was.”

While competing, he caught to the fundamentals: an impressively sculptured physique and a quiet respect for the game, his colleagues stated. He was identified for his grace in posing, knowledgeable by ballet classes he had taken as a younger man.

“He brought class and dignity and culture to bodybuilding,” Mr. Neylon stated.

At the 1980 Mr. Olympia competitors in Sydney, Australia, Mr. Dickerson positioned second to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the longer term governor of California. Some attributed that outcome to favoritism. In a 2009 paper printed in Iron Game History: The Journal of Physical Culture, Mr. Dickerson took notice of the obstacles he had confronted in bodybuilding. The promoter of the Mr. Olympia contest, he stated, “was a real low life, a bigot, who had a real dislike for me — partly on racial grounds and partly for my sexual orientation.”