Lee Haney: The First of the Muscle Monsters

I bear in mind standing outdoors of Gold’s Fitness center in Venice again within the early Nineteen Eighties and listening to a younger bodybuilder complain that there have been no extra “large guys” within the sport.  At that time, Arnold had retired, and high rivals included Samir Bannout, Chris Dickerson, and Frank Zane.  Excellent bodybuilders, however not very large ones.  However little did I or that younger bodybuilder notice {that a} sea change was about to happen in physique competitors, and it could be introduced by the arrival of the huge and aesthetic Lee Haney.

Bodybuilder Lee Haney performing a leg extension exercise for a lower body workout
Lee Haney had mastodon muscle groups however not mastodon bones, which created nice form and aesthetics. Invoice Dobbins

I run into massively mesomorphic physiques on a regular basis, our bodies that seem like they had been designed for linemen within the NFL.  Lee Haney doesn’t have that type of physique.  The story I heard was that he bought into bodybuilding as a result of he broke his leg twice enjoying highschool soccer.  That might point out that Lee has mastodon muscle groups however not mastodon bones.  And, after all, that’s the key to his excellent aesthetics.  With smaller bones and joints, you may find yourself with extra shapely, tapered muscles.  In any other case, you find yourself with thick, huge however extra blocky muscle groups.  Take a look at photographs of Lee and see how small his wrists are.  I at all times seen the identical factor about Arnold.  Big forearms tapering right down to surprisingly small wrists.

Within the age of 300 kilos plus Mr. Olympia rivals, Lee Haney won’t appear that huge.  However when he gained the NPC Nationals in 1982, he appeared like one very large dude, certainly.  He was the primary of a line of future huge rivals equivalent to Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Jay Cutler – main ultimately to Huge Ramy, who’s so huge he appears to be like as if he may be a member of a distinct species.

Lee Haney gained eight Mr. Olympia titles – and was at his finest the yr he retired. Courtesy of Weider Well being and Health / M+F Journal


Bodybuilder Lee Haney performing leg curls exercise at the gym
Lee Haney was the primary of the “Mass Monsters” in fashionable professional bodybuilding. Invoice Dobbins

Again within the 80s, the Nationals champion went on to compete within the IFBB Mr. Universe.  I bear in mind speaking to Lee on the flight to Belgium for the Universe and having him inform me he had by no means been to Europe earlier than.  “You aren’t actually going to Europe now,” I instructed him.  “You might be simply going to a different contest.  An airport, a resort, a theater.  The identical factor you might be already used to. Consider that and enjoy a trip to Europe later, after you’ve gained the competition.”

YATES vs. HANEY, 1991
Dorian Yates and Lee Haney in 1991 – the tip of 1 period, the beginning of the following. Invoice Dobbins

For sure, Lee did win the Universe and went on to victory in eight Mr. Olympia events.  The final was in 1991 in Florida.  The query on the time was whether or not “newcomer” Dorian Yates would be capable to beat the champion and change into the brand new Mr. Olympia.  I bear in mind being backstage when Dorian got here in to pump up.  He was after all very spectacular.  After which Lee got here in took off his shirt.  Photographers and journalists watching instantly realized the competition can be for second place.  Lee was a kind of bodybuilders, together with others like Lee Labrada, who was at his finest the yr he retired.

I had event to {photograph} Lee Haney many occasions, on stage, within the fitness center, and within the studio.  He was at all times a complete gentleman, simple to take care of.  Joe Weider despatched me twice to Atlanta to shoot Lee in his gyms.  The unique one had no air con.  You’ll assume, doing photographs in November, wouldn’t be an issue.  However I’m from very dry Los Angeles and Atlanta was extraordinarily humid, so though it was not super-hot, I ended up with a set of Lee Haney tee-shirts since I saved getting replacements after I sweated via those I used to be carrying.

Lee Haney working out in the gym with biceps curls using a preacher bar
Invoice Dobbins

The following Lee Haney fitness center shoot was at his newer fitness center, all chrome and air-conditioned.  It was frequent for photographers on the time to spray topics with water to imitate sweat.  I sprayed Lee a number of occasions, however the fitness center was very chilly at that time, and he discovered this uncomfortable.  So, he lastly stated to me in his light however very pronounced southern drawl, “Invoice, please don’t spray me with no extra water….”

That was about as “troublesome” as Lee Haney was able to being.  A brilliant-nice man, everybody would agree.

Lee Haney talking with former Ms. Olympia Lenda Murray
A whole lot of Olympia titles right here: Lee Haney and Lenda Murray, each 8X winners. Invoice Dobbins

Bodybuilding Titles

  • 1991 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1990 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1989 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1988 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1987 Grand Prix Germany (II), 1st
  • 1987 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1986 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1985 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1984 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1983 World Professional Championships, 3rd
  • 1983 Mr. Olympia, third
  • 1983 Evening of Champions, 1st
  • 1983 Grand Prix Switzerland, third
  • 1983 Grand Prix Sweden, 2nd
  • 1983 Grand Prix Las Vegas, 1st
  • 1983 Grand Prix England, 2nd
  • 1982 World Newbie Championships Heavyweight, 1st
  • 1982 Nationals Heavyweight & Total, 1st
  • 1982 Junior Nationals Heavyweight & Total, 1st
  • 1979 Teen Mr. America Tall, 1st
  • 1979 Teen  America 1st



Lee Haney photoshoot photo selects from photographer Bill Dobbins
Invoice Dobbins
Bodybuilder Lee Haney photoshoot selects
Invoice Dobbins


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