April 27

Samir Bannout and The Golden Age of Bodybuilding

By fitness

April 27, 2022

There is a cause that the Eighties are thought-about a “Golden Age” within the historical past of bodybuilding. Champions within the sport included such basic legends as Frank Zane, Chris Dickerson, Franco Columbu – and Samir Bannout. These rivals all had tremendous aesthetic physiques and weren't so big that youthful bodybuilders couldn’t aspire to observe of their footsteps.

Big Ramy is an incredible and deserving Mr. Olympia. But there should not many younger bodybuilders in gyms world wide who have a look at him and say, “Someday I’m going to build a physique like that.”

There additionally occurred a confluence of forces that occurred throughout that interval. Muscle & Fitness Magazine was so unexpectedly profitable it was referred to as “the publishing miracle of the 1980s” by the trade. Because Joe Weider was situated in Los Angeles, and had a lot of the prime bodybuilders beneath contract, lots of the execs both lived within the space or visited regularly. Me and different Weider photographers have been at all times capturing them at Gold’s Gym or within the studio, which helped Gold’s, Venice earn its repute because the “Mecca of bodybuilding.”

Samir Bannout at Gold’s Gym in Venice, “The Mecca of Bodybuilding”. Bill Dobbins

Because images in Muscle & Fitness and Flex have been largely accomplished on the fitness center in Venice, this introduced bodybuilders from all around the world to coach there the place they might rub shoulders with the champions of the day. In reality, so many guests got here from overseas international locations, particularly in the summertime, I used to joke that I felt I wanted a visa to exercise on the fitness center.

Samir Bannout working out his legs in Gold's Gym
The Lion of Lebannon educated for the Olympia at Venice Gold’s. Bill Dobbins

Among the opposite champions on the fitness center flooring, one of the crucial distinguished was Samir Bannout, generally known as “the Lion of Lebanon”, Samir left his native Lebanon and emigrated to America the place he first moved to Detroit, Michigan and later relocated to Santa Monica, California. He started competing on the novice stage the place he rose up the ranks and ultimately achieved IFBB professional standing by successful the light-heavyweight class on the 1979 IFBB World Amateur Championships. Bannout took 4th place on the 1982 Mr. Olympia contest and returned the next yr to

Munich, Germany to take house the Olympia title in 1983. Bannout weighed 196 lbs. for his win on the contest which made him the final Mr. Olympia to weigh beneath 200 lbs. His victory ended what's known as the “aesthetics” period for the Mr. Olympia contest which had initially began with American Frank Zane successful the title in 1977 and reverted to emphasizing elevated mass and measurement beginning with American Lee Haney successful in 1984 for the primary time and following up his inaugural victory with 7 extra consecutive wins for a file grand whole of 8 titles.

Samir posing in green shorts
A basic physique proven hitting a basic bodybuilding pose. Bill Dobbins

This was the final interval in professional bodybuilding earlier than the arrival of the “muscle monsters,” champions like Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman and subsequent extra actually large Mr. Olympia winners. Today, Samir could be within the 212-pound class, as would Zane, Lee Labrada, Franco Columbu, Rich Gaspari, Shawn Ray, Bob Paris and plenty of different legends of the interval. Nowadays, even the “smaller” professional bodybuilders are likely to weigh greater than 212 kilos and should compete on stage subsequent to physiques which are 270, 290 and even 300 kilos.

Samir Bannout showing his aesthetic
For Samir Bannout, aesthetics are extra necessary than sheer mass. Bill Dobbins

“Like any serious bodybuilder, “Samir says, “I worked hard to build muscle when I started training. But I was never interested in mass for the sake of mass. Bodybuilding to me has always been about aesthetic quality, sculptural detail. We tend to admire statues of athletes from ancient Greece or the sculptures of Michelangelo not just because they are muscular but because all that muscle is presented as so beautiful.”

I photographed Samir many occasions on stage and within the fitness center. Then in the future in 1989 we determined to go to close by Marina Del Rey and do outside images within the nice California seashore daylight. Samir was not in ripped contest form, however he appeared good, and you would actually see the aesthetic qualities that made him a champion. I remembered this photograph session just lately and went trying by my huge photograph library for the images.

Samir Bannout at Marina Del Rey
Samir Bannout at Marina Del Rey, 1989. Bill Dobbins

It turned out that the sort of coloration slide movie had used was Kodachrome 25, which created very top quality and distinctive tones. The solely downside is when these frames have been mounted on cardboard slide mounts, they often ended up having the perimeters barely clipped. But even so it's apparent that these photographs are price sharing with Samir’s many associates, followers and admirers. For one factor, they make it clear why the early Eighties have been thought-about a Golden Age – and why.

As champions proceed to get greater and extra large, there's rising nostalgia for a time when aesthetic and high quality have been extra necessary elements of a champion physique and sheer mass merely wasn’t that large an element.

Samir Bannout sitting on the ocean cliff
Samir and surf. Bill Dobbins

Samir Bannout Bodybuilding Competition History

· 2011 IFBB Pro World Masters Bodybuilding eleventh

· 1996 Masters Mr. Olympia sixth

· 1994 Mr. Olympia nineteenth

· 1994 Grand Prix Spain twelfth

· 1994 Grand Prix Italy twelfth

· 1994 Grand Prix Germany thirteenth

· 1994 Grand Prix England 14th

· 1993 San Jose Pro Invitational tenth

· 1993 Ironman Pro Invitational thirteenth

· 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic thirteenth

· 1992 Mr. Olympia sixteenth

· 1992 Grand Prix Germany eleventh

· 1992 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic N/A

· 1991 Mr. Olympia sixteenth

· 1990 NABBA World Championships Professional 2nd

· 1990 Pittsburgh Pro Invitational 1st (Winner)

· 1990 Mr. Olympia eighth

· 1990 Houston Pro Invitational 2rd

· 1990 Grand Prix Italy sixth

· 1990 Grand Prix Finland fifth

· 1990 Grand Prix England sixth

· 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic 4th

· 1989 Mr. Olympia ninth

· 1989 Grand Prix Sweden third

· 1989 Grand Prix Spain (2nd) fifth

· 1989 Grand Prix Spain fifth

· 1989 Grand Prix Holland fifth

· 1989 Grand Prix Germany fifth

· 1989 Grand Prix France eighth

· 1989 Grand Prix Finland sixth

· 1989 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic 4th

· 1988 Grand Prix Italy ninth

· 1988 Grand Prix England tenth

· 1986 WABBA World Championship 1st

· 1985 WABBA World Championship 1st

· 1984 World Grand Prix fifth

· 1984 Mr. Olympia sixth

· 1984 Canada Pro Cup fifth

· 1983 Mr. Olympia 1st

· 1982 Mr. Olympia 4th

· 1982 Grand Prix Sweden 2nd

· 1981 Mr. Olympia ninth

· 1981 Night of Champions tenth

· 1981 Grand Prix New England sixth

· 1981 Grand Prix California seventh

· 1980 Pittsburgh Pro Invitational N/A

· 1980 Mr. Olympia fifteenth

· 1980 Night of Champions tenth

· 1980 Grand Prix Pennsylvania seventh

· 1980 Grand Prix California 4th

· 1979 World Amateur Championships, Light Heavyweight 1st

· 1979 Canada Pro Cup, N/A

· 1979 Best within the World, Amateur 1st

· 1978 Mr. International, Middleweight 2nd

· 1977 Mr. International, Middleweight 2nd

· 1976 Mr. Universe, Middleweight twelfth

· 1974 Mr. Universe, Medium Class seventh (Youngest contestant)

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