Muscle Builder, Vol 15, Num 1, Page 12, January 1974


says Joe Weider,
the Muscle Builder

At the 1973 "IFBB Mr. International" contest, Sergio Oliva tried to pull-off another dirty trick - but it didn't work!

A great invasion of bodybuilders gathered in Tijuana, Mexico, on August 12th for the annual "Mr. International." A large contingent of competitors came from the Southern California area, and others from as far away as Belgium and Czechoslovakia. The contest was held at the Palacio Azteca in downtown Tijuana. Once again, Mexico's bodybuilding impresario, Eddie Sylvestre, staged an outstanding show. The trophies were really unusual - of Aztec design and made of gold plated bronze mounted on marble!


Short Class (under 5'6")

  1. Pierre Vandensteen
  2. John Maldonado
  3. Carlos Rodriguez

Medium Class (under 5'10")

  1. Bob Birdsong
  2. Bill Grant
  3. Kent Kuehn

Tall Class (over 5'10")

  1. Dave Dupree
  2. Bill Howard
  3. Charles Fautz
Pierre Vandensteen
Subdivision Winners
Best Chest: David Dupree
Best Arms: Bill Grant
Best Back: P. Vandensteen
Best Legs: Bob Birdsong
Most Muscular: P. Vandensteen
World's Best Abdominals:
P. Vandensteen
Franco Columbu

NOTE: Sergio Oliva won the Medium Class,
but was later disqualified for not
being an eligible IFBB member.

The biggest surprise turned out to be when Sergio Oliva showed up and entered the contest. It was puzzling to see one of the real Superstars entering a competition of approximately a "Mr. America" caliber after years of competition against the world's greatest. Before the day was over, however, it was clear that Sergio had more than winning "Mr. International" on his mind...

In addition to the feature contest, several other titles were also contested. The "Mr. Mexico" was won by Luis Perez. The "Professional Mr. Mexico" went to Roberto Tolos. The "Mr. Latin America" title Was annexed by John Maldonado, with Carlos Rodriguez second and Luis Perez third.

The "Mr. International" contest lived up to its name as Pierre Vandensteen came all the way from Belgium. . . and he looked sensational! He won the highly coveted "World's Best Abdominals" award, and he definitely deserved it. He also easily won "Most Muscular Man" and "Best Back." What tremendously deep-chiseled definition he possesses. . . ! Pierre won the "Short Man's Class" by beating an impressive John Maldonado (2nd) and Carlos Rodriguez (3rd). Franklin Jones, a former 3rd place winner in the AAU "Mr. America," was fourth.

The "Medium Class" was dominated by Sergio. He was far and away ahead of his rivals. Sergio said he weighed only 218 pounds, which would be the lightest he has been in years. He was adjudged the overall "Mr. International" winner, but this was later changed, and Pierre Vandensteen was declared the winner (I'll explain that later on). Sergio declined to accept the height class 1st-place trophy, so it went to first runnerup, Bob Birdsong. Improving with every contest, Birdsong won "Best Legs," and was very close in every other subdivision. Bill Grant looked terrific and copped the 2nd place trophy, also winning "Best Arms." The 3rd place trophy went to impressive Kent Kuehn of Orlando, Florida.

The "Tall Man's Class" winner was popular David Dupree. He has tremendous arms and fine upper body. He also won "Best Chest." Second place in this class was somewhat of a surprise as 40-year old Bill Howard came out of retirement looking more muscular than ever and displayed a carbon copy of Vince Gironda's famous posing routine. Charlie Fautz won third place, but didn't appear to be in his best shape. With four weeks to go before the big shows in New York, Charlie should be at his best and give a great account of himself as he always does.

The contests were well covered, with photographers Artie Zeller and Russ Warner on hand to capture the event on film. There was also a banquet held for all the contestants and officials which cost the host (Eddie Sylvestre) $1500. All profits from the show were turned over to charity.


Now let me tell you the dirty story. . . the unexpected appearance of Sergio Oliva proved to be extremely popular with the audience. The competition was very close in all divisions, except that Sergio was easily the best man in the contest. Sergio declined to accept either the height class award, or any subdivisions. He was only interested in the overall title. The "Mr. International Azteca" was open to all former "Mr. International" winners, but Sergio was the only contestant.

Capitalizing on his popularity in Mexico among fellow Latins, Sergio challenged Arnold Schwarzenegger to a contest to see who was the "best built man in the world." This was done despite the fact that Arnold has beaten him three times in a row, and despite the fact that Sergio knew he could go to New York and compete against Arnold in the "Mr. Olympia" in less than a month. Using his usual tactics, Sergio decided to kick up a theatrical farce and issued his challenge to Arnold by trying to put him on the spot, even though Arnold had told him before the contest that he was looking forward to the "Mr. Olympia" when all the challengers would be there to officially battle it out for bodybuilding's greatest award.

Naturally, Arnold being a great competitor, he wanted to compete. He asked whether he should accept the challenge. I said that he shouldn't, however. I then went to the microphone and explained to the audience that Sergio was up to one of his old tricks, again, and that it was impossible for Arnold to compete because he was already committed to the "Mr. Olympia" contest in New York where the world's best built man would be officially decided. I also explained that if Sergio really wanted to compete against Arnold, that he should go to New York and compete in the "Mr. Olympia" contest, Sergio wouldn't go for this idea, and kept demanding a contest be held instantly. I tried to explain to Sergio, and to the audience, that people in New York had already spent thousands of dollars on advance tickets-many of them young bodybuilders who had saved up their money for a long time-to see the battle of the century between Arnold, Sergio, Nubret, Katz, Franco and others. It would not only be ridiculous, but it would also be highly unfair to all those fans in New York to have the issue already decided before-hand. That is totally illogical! It is comparable to people buying ringside seats for a world heavyweight boxing match at Madison Square Garden to see the champ and the top contender, but the boxers decide to fight it out in Puerto Rico a month before the match at the Garden. . . !

The whole idea was totally nonsensical, but Sergio would not accept "no" for an answer. He went out into the audience and pleaded with them in Spanish and English to back him up. I had no choice but one-and that was to tell Arnold not to compete. Arnold, being a good pupil, took my advice and did not enter. If he had entered, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have wiped out Sergio completely! But I had the people in New York to consider. Tom Minichiello had spent thousands of dollars organizing and preparing the "Mr. World" and "Mr. Olympia" events; contestants were coming in from all over the world to vie for the titles. So to protect the best interests of everyone concerned-the fans, the other contestants, and the sponsors - I advised Arnold to decline Sergio's challenge.

Sergio continued to rant and rave until Franco Columbu came up out of the audience to accept his challenge. Although not in his best shape, because he still had 27 days of muscularizing and "polishing" before the "Mr, Olympia," Franco gave a terrific posing display, Sergio then went through a rather brief routine. There was really no official decision, and, as you can see from the photo of the contest, Eddie Sylvestre raised both men's hands overhead which usually means a draw. However, it is important to point out that Sergio somehow got the title of "Mr. International Azteca." This was ruled out by the IFBB when it was learned that Sergio had entered the "Mr. Galaxy" contest (sponsored by the World Body Building Guild) a few days before, making him ineligible to compete in any IFBB show. It isn't exactly clear how Sergio got the 1st place trophy. . . perhaps he just walked over and picked it up on his own. The fact is that he does not have this title, and it was turned over to Franco Columbu as the only eligible entry.

Another thing that should be mentioned is that it was very unsportsman-like of Sergio to challenge others when he knew full well they were training for another show almost a month away. Sergio trained specifically to be at his best for this show, while Arnold and Franco had four weeks left of shaping up and cutting up to be at their contest best.

However, since the "so-called" Myth isn't the greatest in the world like he thinks he is (three straight loses to Arnold, plus one to Bill Pearl), I think it is a good idea to explode the Myth in our next issue. I will personally do an article on his muscular development in which I will present my view and analysis of why Sergio is not the unbeatable "King of Bodybuilders" that he would like everyone to think he is . . . and why, in my opinion, that he will never beat Arnold!


- "Sergio, the Winner . . . !" No! He was disqualified and the title went to Franco Columbu, who wasn't even in shape or ready for this contest; but he gamely entered from the audience when Sergio arrogantly insulted Arnold and the spectator's common sense!

- The trophies were beautiful - golden bronze on marble! It's a mystery how Sergio got away with the winner's trophy . . . he doesn't have the title . . . !

- "MR. INTERNATIONAL" Tall Man Class: David Dupree

- "MR. INTERNATIONAL" Med. Height Class: Bob Birdsong

- "MR. INTERNATIONAL" Short Man Class and overall: Pierre Vandensteen

- "MR. LATIN AMERICA" John Maldonado

- "PRO. MR. MEXICO" Roberto Tolos

- "MR. MEXICO" Luis Perez

- The Star of the Show, the Unbelievable Muscular "MR. INTERNATIONAL" Pierre Vandensteen

If you find these articles interesting and useful, please