“Motivate the mind, the body will follow.” When you think about the golden age of bodybuilding, it’s impossible not to think of Idaho’s very own Larry Scott, who is affectionately known across the industry by bodybuilders both young and old as “The Legend” and “The Golden Boy.” Winning the first Mr. Olympia competition in 1965 and holding onto his title in 1966, it’s easy to see why Scott is truly a legend in the industry.
Scott was born and raised in the university town of Pocatello, Idaho and, despite weight training being unpopular among teenagers, he started seriously training at 16 years old and immediately took a liking to his new hobby. Over the next four years, he put on incredible muscle and bulked up his physique before entering his first competition in 1958, the Mr. Idaho, at 20 years old. Winning the title and seeing a bright future as a bodybuilder, he packed his suitcase, said goodbye to his small-town roots, and moved to California with the hopes of pursuing bodybuilding full time.
Once in California, Scott competed in the 1960 Mr. California contest and came out victorious with wins at the 1961 Mr. Pacific Coast, the 1962 Mr. America and the 1964 Mr. Universe competitions. Instantly becoming a household name known for his football-shaped biceps, he was the hottest figure in bodybuilding at the time and, thanks to his new California roots, landed a small role in the 1964 flick, Muscle Beach Party. Aside from that, he cashed in on his growing fame, muscled physique and on-stage charm by modeling for notable photographers like Pat Milo, Don Whitman and Bruce Bellas who paid top dollar to photograph the Golden Boy.
Thanks to his working friendship with Milo, Scott was introduced to a bigger network and built an even larger fan base as Milo coached him on various poses that would work in his favor and further enhance his frame while building his reputation as the boy next door. Around the same time, a Canadian bodybuilder by the name of Joe Weider was in the process of launching a new bodybuilding contest for the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) known as the Mr. Olympia. With Scott frequently appearing in and writing pieces for Weider’s bodybuilding magazines like Mr. America and Muscle Builder, it was only natural that he entered the first Mr. Olympia contest in 1965. Winning the title and $1,000, he reclaimed the crown a second time in 1966 and abruptly retired from professional bodybuilding at 28 years old.
When news broke about Scott’s sudden retirement, the media went into a frenzy as the world desperately looked for answers over the bodybuilder’s seemingly quick decision. However, Scott was fast to respond and explained that he had given bodybuilding his all and seen his dreams come true with two major victories under his belt. Choosing to focus more on his second marriage, he gave up his career and left his fans and fellow competitors with little to hold onto other than memories and training tips featured in publications like The Young Physique, Muscles a Go-Go, Muscle Boy and Demi Gods. Of course, there was always Muscle Beach Party runs to turn to on the silver screen.
After his retirement, Scott relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah where freelance writer Rod Labbe collaborated with the bodybuilder on a series of articles for various fitness magazines. With Scott’s experience writing for Weider’s publications, the articles were a success and were published in Ironman, Muscle Mag International and Scarlet: The Film Magazine. Using the momentum from this success, he launched his own personal training company—Larry Scott Fitness and Nutrition—and vowed to devote his future to manufacturing, promoting and selling customized health supplements and gym equipment.
Continuously recognized on the streets as “The Legend” and the first professional bodybuilder to ever build 20-inch upper arms, Scott eventually made a brief comeback in 1979 at the Canada Diamond Pro Cup. Finishing in ninth place, he went on to compete at the 1979 Grand Prix Vancouver but, when he failed to rank, he knew his five minutes of fame had come and gone. He announced his official retirement in 1980 and returned to Salt Lake City where he enrolled at the California Air College to study electronics and help raise his five children—Michael, Derek, Nathan, Erin and Susan—with his wife, Rachel Scott.
Scott’s accomplishments in the bodybuilding industry were recognized in 1999 when he was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame. Praised as the father of modern bodybuilding, his brief career popularized Vince Gironda’s training principles as well as the combined dumbbell press and side lateral raise that’s known today as the “Scott Press.” The only bodybuilder to never lose a Mr. Olympia competition in which he competed, he is also the first bodybuilder to win the Mr. America, Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions. On March 8, 2014, the bodybuilding world bid a sad farewell to the Golden Boy as he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Utah. He was 75 years old.