The 2002 Show of Strength is an event Ronnie Coleman will remember for a long time — probably forever. This is the night Gunter Schlierkamp defeated him while he was the reigning Mr. Olympia. Not to mention, this came as a surprise to the entire bodybuilding universe.
The Night Gunter Beat The Reigning Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman
At the announcement of Coleman in second place, Schlierkamp dropped to the stage, mimicking Ronnie’s usual flat-to-the-boards victory reaction. Gunter was in sobs while the audience was going berzerk and still couldn’t believe what they were witnessing.
As he came back to his feet, his non-competing fellow pro-bodybuilder Kevin Levrone came to the stage and hugged him. Ronnie didn’t appreciate this show of affection by Levrone and felt it was unnecessary and unsportsmanlike.
GNC Show of Strength in New Orleans on November 8, 2002, was three weeks after Coleman won his fifth Sandow. Schliekamp was four spots behind Ronnie at this Mr. Olympia. To be fair with Ronnie, although he won the ultimate bodybuilding contest, he wasn’t in his best shape that year.
To add to it, between the Olympia and the Show of Strength contests Coleman had traveled to Europe and won the Dutch Grand Prix. During all this, Gunter was sitting on the sidelines and prepping for the Show of Strength.
The reason Gunter finished fifth at the Mr. Olympia contest was his relatively weaker upper body. He used this time to perfect his physique and showed up at the Show of Strength at a massive 300 pounds, easily shadowing Ronnie.
Just like with the other sports, you sometimes have some momentum behind you in bodybuilding. Everything was certainly working for the German giant in 2002. “This Mr. Olympia will be historic because Ronnie Coleman is going to lose. I will beat him. A major change in bodybuilding will occur, and I welcome it.”
At the 2002 Olympia Gunter was a revelation; a special invite who had never cracked the top ten. You get the idea how good the German was that year. Every athlete has a special year, 2002 was that year for Gunter.
Schlierkamp was the recipient of a standing ovation at the 2002 Mr. Olympia contest. He took his ‘man of the moment’ to New Orleans while everyone was mindful of the happenings three weeks earlier.
Gunter got the first call-out from the judges who were captivated, just like the audience was. He was successful in taking all the four rounds against Ronnie who was actually better than he was at the Olympia.
Making History — Again
This was the first time since 1984 after Samir Bannout lost his title to Lee Haney that a reigning Mr. O was not a top dog at a contest. The only previous times a reigning Mr. O has lost outside of the Olympia was when the Arnold beat Sergio Oliva at the 1970 Pro World.
Although, the bad news didn’t end for Sergio with that loss. Arnold beat him again at that year’s Olympia showdown. Ronnie Coleman was smart enough not to let this happen to him. A perfect example of a self-aware competitor.
More than losing to Schlierkamp, he lost to himself. He wasn’t his best self and was nowhere near the condition he was in the years 2001 and 2002. Ronnie came in at a huge 287 pounds at the 2003 Mr. O and crushed the opposition, including Gunter.
If you’re wondering, Schlierkamp never got any further. Show of Strengths in 2002 was his career best; he was never as good again. He closed out his career with a tenth spot at the 2006 Olympia, but he has that night at New Orleans he can narrate for the rest of his life.