Samir Bannout and The Golden Age of Bodybuilding

April 26, 2022

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

Big Ramy is an amazing and deserving Mr. Olympia. However there usually are not many younger bodybuilders in gyms world wide who have a look at him and say, “Sometime I’m going to construct a physique like that.”

There additionally occurred a confluence of forces that occurred throughout that interval. Muscle & Health Journal was so unexpectedly profitable it was known as “the publishing miracle of the Nineteen Eighties” by the business. As a result of Joe Weider was situated in Los Angeles, and had a lot of the prime bodybuilders below contract, lots of the professionals both lived within the space or visited frequently. Me and different Weider photographers had been all the time taking pictures them at Gold’s Health club or within the studio, which helped Gold’s, Venice earn its repute because the “Mecca of bodybuilding.”

Bodybuilder Samir Bannout wearing red shorts and smirking
Samir Bannout at Gold’s Health club in Venice, “The Mecca of Bodybuilding”. Invoice Dobbins

As a result of photographs in Muscle & Health and Flex had been principally performed on the health club in Venice, this introduced bodybuilders from everywhere in 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 health club.

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

Among the many different champions on the health club ground, one of the crucial distinguished was Samir Bannout, often 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 newbie degree the place he rose up the ranks and ultimately achieved IFBB professional standing by successful the light-heavyweight class on the 1979 IFBB World Beginner Championships. Bannout took 4th place on the 1982 Mr. Olympia contest and returned the next yr to

Munich, Germany to take residence the Olympia title in 1983. Bannout weighed 196 lbs. for his win on the contest which made him the final Mr. Olympia to weigh below 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 report grand complete of 8 titles.

Samir posing in green shorts
A traditional physique proven hitting a traditional bodybuilding pose. Invoice 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. At this time, Samir could be within the 212-pound class, as would Zane, Lee Labrada, Franco Columbu, Wealthy Gaspari, Shawn Ray, Bob Paris and lots of different legends of the interval. These days, even the “smaller” professional bodybuilders are likely to weigh greater than 212 kilos and should compete on stage subsequent to physiques which might be 270, 290 and even 300 kilos.

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

“Like several severe bodybuilder, “Samir says, “I labored exhausting to construct muscle after I began coaching. However I used to be by no means excited about mass for the sake of mass. Bodybuilding to me has all the time been about aesthetic high quality, sculptural element. We are likely to admire statues of athletes from historic Greece or the sculptures of Michelangelo not simply because they’re muscular however as a result of all that muscle is offered as so lovely.”

I photographed Samir many occasions on stage and within the health club. Then sooner or later in 1989 we determined to go to close by Marina Del Rey and do out of doors photographs within the nice California seaside daylight. Samir was not in ripped contest form, however he regarded good, and you might definitely see the aesthetic qualities that made him a champion. I remembered this photograph session not too long ago and went trying via my huge photograph library for the photographs.

Samir Bannout at Marina Del Rey
Samir Bannout at Marina Del Rey, 1989. Invoice 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 one drawback is when these frames had been mounted on cardboard slide mounts, they often ended up having the sides barely clipped. Besides it’s apparent that these photos are price sharing with Samir’s many associates, followers and admirers. For one factor, they make it clear why the early 1980s were considered a Golden Age – and why.

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

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

Samir Bannout Bodybuilding Competitors Historical past

· 2011 IFBB Professional 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 Professional Invitational tenth

· 1993 Ironman Professional Invitational thirteenth

· 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger Traditional thirteenth

· 1992 Mr. Olympia sixteenth

· 1992 Grand Prix Germany eleventh

· 1992 Arnold Schwarzenegger Traditional N/A

· 1991 Mr. Olympia sixteenth

· 1990 NABBA World Championships Skilled 2nd

· 1990 Pittsburgh Professional Invitational 1st (Winner)

· 1990 Mr. Olympia eighth

· 1990 Houston Professional Invitational 2rd

· 1990 Grand Prix Italy sixth

· 1990 Grand Prix Finland fifth

· 1990 Grand Prix England sixth

· 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger Traditional 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 Traditional 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 Professional Cup fifth

· 1983 Mr. Olympia 1st

· 1982 Mr. Olympia 4th

· 1982 Grand Prix Sweden 2nd

· 1981 Mr. Olympia ninth

· 1981 Night time of Champions tenth

· 1981 Grand Prix New England sixth

· 1981 Grand Prix California seventh

· 1980 Pittsburgh Professional Invitational N/A

· 1980 Mr. Olympia fifteenth

· 1980 Night time of Champions tenth

· 1980 Grand Prix Pennsylvania seventh

· 1980 Grand Prix California 4th

· 1979 World Beginner Championships, Mild Heavyweight 1st

· 1979 Canada Professional Cup, N/A

· 1979 Finest within the World, Beginner 1st

· 1978 Mr. Worldwide, Middleweight 2nd

· 1977 Mr. Worldwide, Middleweight 2nd

· 1976 Mr. Universe, Middleweight twelfth

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

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