Lee Haney: The First of the Muscle Monsters

March 9, 2022

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

Bodybuilder Lee Haney performing a leg extension exercise for a lower body workout
Lee Haney had mastodon muscle tissues 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 have been designed for linemen within the NFL.  Lee Haney doesn’t have that sort of physique.  The story I heard was that he acquired into bodybuilding as a result of he broke his leg twice enjoying highschool soccer.  That might point out that Lee has mastodon muscle tissues however not mastodon bones.  And, after all, that’s the key to his excellent aesthetics.  With smaller bones and joints, you’ll be able to find yourself with extra shapely, tapered muscles.  In any other case, you find yourself with thick, large however extra blocky muscle tissues.  Have a look at pictures of Lee and see how small his wrists are.  I all the time seen the identical factor about Arnold.  Big forearms tapering right down to surprisingly small wrists.

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

Lee Haney received eight Mr. Olympia titles – and was at his greatest 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 keep 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 advised him.  “You’re 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 received the competition.”

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

Evidently, 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 of beat the champion and turn out to be the brand new Mr. Olympia.  I keep 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 greatest the yr he retired.

I had event to {photograph} Lee Haney many instances, on stage, within the gymnasium, and within the studio.  He was all the time a complete gentleman, simple to cope with.  Joe Weider despatched me twice to Atlanta to shoot Lee in his gyms.  The unique one had no air con.  You’ll suppose, doing pictures 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 stored 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 subsequent Lee Haney gymnasium shoot was at his newer gymnasium, 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 instances, however the gymnasium was very chilly at that time, and he discovered this uncomfortable.  So, he lastly mentioned to me in his mild 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
Loads 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 Beginner Championships Heavyweight, 1st
  • 1982 Nationals Heavyweight & General, 1st
  • 1982 Junior Nationals Heavyweight & General, 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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