The old adage is that if you’re going to talk big, then you have to be able to back it up. When it comes to Phil Heath, he has done both on a regular basis. Sure, he has pissed off a number of people and has been called the most hated Mr. Olympia ever (by this space, included), but the man known as “The Gift” has won five consecutive Mr. Olympia contests and it is hard to argue with that – plain and simple.
Heath has been dominant on bodybuilding’s biggest stage and in a few weeks, he has the opportunity to match a mark held by Dorian Yates, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman with six straight Sandow trophies. This year, he has another formidable – yet very beatable – line-up to contend with, as well as the addition of Kevin Levrone, who is making his well-publicized comeback after 13 years of retirement.
On a recent episode of Heath’s weekly vlog on his online video service The Gifted Channel, he responded to a viewer via a Q&A forum about his thoughts on Levrone coming back and if it will have an effect on the Olympia.
“I mean it’s great for him,” Heath says in the video. “I’m not going to be an asshole and say that it’s not a good thing. It’s his choice; it’s the IFBB’s choice to allow him that comeback (Editor’s note: Levrone was given a special invite to compete). I think it will be great entertainment for the Olympia line-up.
“I think it’s good for Kevin,” continued Heath. “He has some unfinished business that he wanted to have (sic). I don’t necessarily know what that means because this title is mine and I think that we do know that.”
The “unfinished business” is obviously Levrone never winning an Olympia after coming close so many times. And the title is Heath’s coming into the show, but he will have to retain it in order to have the privilege of saying that again 12 months from now.
The video goes on with Heath asking his own question about what the other competitors think about Levrone’s fans overlooking all of them and talking about the show being Heath and Levrone. “He (Levrone) ain’t stealing my thunder; he’s kind of stealing yours. It doesn’t bother me. It’s just another person that I have to potentially stand next to. Line these guys up; I kill them every year. That’s just not even talking shit. For all of you guys out there thinking that I’m talking trash, that’s just facts. I say ’em all. Line ’em up; I kill ’em every year.”
Call it confidence or cockiness, but Heath is one hundred percent correct. He has been a great champion and at this stage of his career, he should easily win again and beat the entire field, Levrone included.
At 52, it is an amazing accomplishment just for Levrone to be there, let alone win the show. Sure, it would be perhaps the greatest comeback in sports history, something out of a Hollywood script, especially when you factor in that at one point not too long ago, Levrone had stopped bodybuilding and was trying his hand in the entertainment industry. He was barely recognizable as the four-time Olympia runner-up but he has been able to once again pack on quality muscle while retaining his V-taper. It isn’t totally out of the question that Levrone can do some damage in Las Vegas.
But Heath is the reigning champ and will need to be knocked out to lose. Hypothetically speaking, it would be a great match-up for the 1990s version of Levrone to go up against Heath, with the former having the latter bested by a large margin. But this is 2016 and everyone has to face reality.
Heath has, and phrased it only in a way that he can. But it’s hard to argue with that.
Photos: Andrzej Jaworski/AJ JAWA Photo, courtesy of Kevin Levrone