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50th Mr. Olympia Anniversary Interview: Behind the Scenes w/ Ben Tatar

50th Mr. Olympia Anniversary Interview: Behind the Scenes w/ Ben Tatar
Interview By Chris Wilson

Coach Chris: Hi Ben “Tatar-Monster” and thanks again for your amazing pictures and unequaled enthusiasm for the Mr. Olympia.  This year was the 50th Anniversary of the Big O, what made it bigger and better than in years past?

Ben and Phil Heath

Ben Tatar: I will list 10 things that made this years Olympia bigger than in years past:

1) There were more booths than any Olympia, ever! In fact, this year’s Olympia had more booths than the Arnold! There were so many booths that you couldn’t even see them all in one weekend!

2) There were more champions, stars and models at each booth than other years.

3) This year’s Olympia had NEW supplement companies that we have never seen before!

4) The older greats were all there this year! (The industry grows because all the true old champions stay in the industry even as new ones are welcomed!) Even Lee Haney, Sylvester Stallone and even Arnold Schwarzenegger attended the 50th.

5) Every year the Olympia adds new events and competitions.

6) It is better because it has a lot of history and has been in existence for over 50 years.

7) I approached the 50th Anniversary smarter than past events.  I used my time more efficiently.

8) I had more fun in Las Vegas than past years! I had so much fun; I didn’t even go to bed on Saturday Night.

9) I have so many crazy stories that I can’t write here, so email me at moc.liamgnull@retsnoMrataT to hear some.

10) What can I say? More booths, models, old stars, new stars, new companies, new competitions, Arnold and the fact that I went all out created a big weekend like no other.

Coach Chris: As in previous years, there is always a debate about WHO got robbed on stage and WHO got a lot of unnecessary hype.  Can you share with us your opinions about the 2014 results?

Hotties

Ben Tatar: I figured that Phil Heath would win before the Olympia even started. The “After Party,” at XS was named after Phil Heath. The Sandow Trophy (The Mr. Olympia 1st place trophy,) was at his Gifted Nutrition booth and headlined after him. At his booth people would get pics taken with it. The whole event just had Phil Heath’s name on it.  I know, there was a lot of hype about Kai Greene winning, but I just think a lot of people wanted Greene to win since he’s an entertainer!

Many people were ready for a change and feel that Greene’s ATTITUDE could take bodybuilding to a more exciting level. Others are strongly against Greene and look at his antics as unprofessional and degrading to the sport. For example, Greene bumped Phil the night before the Olympia and a lot of people were smack talking Greene. I try to stay out of that. LOL. However, Phil gives back a lot to the sport with all of his charitable endeavors such as The Make It Fit Foundation (for Autism). Phil I think is still the man and champion for at least one more year.

Coach Chris: What was more fun, hanging with the 275 lb shredded BEASTS or taking pics with the 100 lb hotties?

Ben Tatar: Interesting question. It’s so different. The models and I always get along really well. I also love reconnecting with the champions who I have already interviewed. Over the last fifteen years of being in the industry, it has been amazing how much socializing with them has changed. It’s different since I bond with them all in ways that are unique. However, I will say that going into this event, it was different than in the past.

In the last few years, social networking has changed drastically. Ten years ago, it was all about the phone and websites because models or shredded monsters didn’t have a Myspace or a Facebook. If bodybuilders or models wanted to be promoted, they would need to solely use magazines or the internet. Fifteen or even ten years ago, I was one of their only connections for fame. Back then the turnover with models and pro bodybuilders wasn’t as high which allowed for more of a “reunion” type of feel during every single event.

Tatar Monster in ACTION

Today social media is different because social media is about people wanting followers on Instagram or on their Facebook fan pages and there are many other apps. This makes social media different because most people are posting things for thousands of people to see or watching thousands of their friends’ postings.  If someone isn’t your best friend, social media usually isn’t one on one private conversation based. If you look at the Critical Bench fan page, you post, and tons of fans click “like”, share or comment!

In addition, changes in social media have led to a greater turnover rate of models and monsters at the supplement booths. I suspect that the supplement companies are looking for people with larger and different followings to endorse their products.  As a result of this, I went into the 50th Olympia knowing less people than I did at past events. This also means that many of the 275lbs Monsters and models who I was meeting, were new to me and the industry. Despite, the changes in social media, I made it all work and I had a kickass time! It’s usually more fun meeting the booth babes than it is meeting a 275lbs shredded beast for the first time, but I still can’t generalize because I know so many of them in different ways.

Coach Chris: You’ve now attended your share of Mr O’s and Arnold’s, where does this years event rank?

Ben Tatar: My favorite Arnold of all time was the 2011 event. My favorite Olympia of all time was the 2009 event.  The 2009 Olympia was better than this one because it had a lot more star power. You had Stone Cold Steve Austin, Trish Stratus, John Cena, Batista, Hulk Hogan, Carmen Electra (just to name a few,) and tons of bodybuilders & fitness models at every booth. Back in 2009 the bench press contest was on the main stage with easy viewing.

Ben and the Sandow

There were also fewer fans in attendance which made the 2009 event easier to network. The economy was stronger back in 2009 which meant that the companies and the city of Vegas was peaked. Also, since the industry was strong, I was seeing people who I have known for a long time at all the booths. 2009 I think was the best year for Olympia’s to date.

If I had to rank them, here is my top 10! Starting in at number 10:

10) a. 2013 Olympia– I jumped off the tallest tower in Las Vegas& United States, and I did well in the World’s greatest athlete contest. The reason these other cool things happened was because the Expo wasn’t the best.

The 2013 Olympia Interview with Ben Tatar can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/ben-tatar-2013-olympia-interview/

10) b. 2008 Olympia– This one wasn’t as good as the 2013 Olympia, but I have to mention it because the weekend was crazy! I really put the Tatar Terror on this event! Also, it brings back so many powerful memories since so many old friends were there.

The 2008 Olympia Report with Ben Tatar can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/2008-olympia-pictures.htm

Ben White

“Ladies & Gentlemen…We have another TIE”

9) a. 2010 Olympia– This was a special time because I saw Mike Westerdal and I also saw my Grandparents in Palm Desert right after. The reason it gets number 9 was because the actual event wasn’t as good as other ones.

Another interview with me: http://www.criticalbench.com/2008-Arnold-Expo-Report.htm

9) b. 2012 Arnold—The 2012 Arnold ties the 2010 Olympia for the 9th spot. This event was way better than the events before 2005. This event was also way better than the 2011 Arnold and the 2008 Olympia. The 2012 Arnold was special because my relationships had grown, I made forever deep friendships, the big stars were there and I had an incredible weekend! This event seemed ideal while it was happening on all cylinders. The issue with the 2012 Arnold when I look back in retrospect was that a lot of the people who I loved in the industry would never return!

The Ben Tatar 2012 Arnold Interview can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/tag/2012-arnold-sports-festival/

8) 2013 Arnold—This was big because it was the Arnold’s 25th Anniversary. The 2013 Arnold (The 25th Anniversary,) was similar to the 2014 Arnold. There were great after parties, charity parties and great times with friends.  I met lots of great friends, saw old ones and the parties were incredible. The 2014 Arnold was a little better than the 25th Anniversary because I made more history.

The Ben Tatar 25th Arnold Anniversary Interview can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/ben-tatar-interview/

Big Clay

7) 2014 Arnold—I set an all time record for doing 40 pull-ups wearing a 50lbs vest, and I competed& succeeded in the Arnold table tennis contest. A lot of my records set at this event are hung in gyms and restaurants all over. I did private charity events with Phil Heath, Jay Cutler, Ed Russ, and the after party was outstanding!

The Ben Tatar 2014 Arnold Interview can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/ben-tatar-2014-arnold-interview/

6) 50th Olympia Anniversary–This year’s Olympia was big as you can see in the first question. I was going all out in pool parties, at XS, Freemont street, flying helicopters, hanging with greats, more babes than ever and freaks everywhere.

5) 2007 Arnold—-The 2007 Arnold was big because the fitness industry was better. It was a time where the industry was more about being HARDCORE and a paradise to men. It wasn’t about making as many events as possible to make more money. I had been enough times to where I knew how to play the Arnold, I saw close friends who are no longer alive, and it was just a more badass time. I was screaming in excitement a lot at this one.

The 2007 Ben Tatar Arnold Report can be read here:  http://www.criticalbench.com/arnold-classic-2007.htm

4) 2006 Arnold—This one was great because it was new to me! I walked into the Expo and I saw all the Pro Athletes, Models, Pro Bodybuilders and everyone who I have ever interviewed. It was like attending this paradise and covering it for Critical Bench. At that moment, I knew I was living my dream. I was off the wall getting high on supplements and shaking. I was amped on excitement the whole time, and the whole event was a huge memory.

The 2006 Ben Tatar Arnold Interview can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/arnold-classic-2006.htm

3) 2009 Arnold— This was a big one because the fitness industry was peaked in a hardcore state rather than trying to make it more family like to attract more people. I remember getting models booth jobs, did the human barbell, set some records. Everyone I knew was there, and the industry was top notch at this time.

The 2009 Ben Tatar Arnold Report can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/2009-arnold-pictures.htm

Fans

2) 2009 Olympia—This event would have made for a great movie if the whole thing was televised! It was at a time when I knew how to master Vegas and the Olympia event. Everyone I knew was there. The event had more star power than ever, and I just had crazy adventures all weekend.

The 2009 Ben Tatar Olympia Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-llzn6Y92w

1) 2011 Arnold– The 2011 Arnold was my favorite one yet. All the people I knew were there. All the stars were there, and everything was peaked to the maximum.

The 2011 Ben Tatar Arnold video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOKwO6VWjrA

In closing, all the events were special and peaked in different ways. At the end of the day, the events on this list and off this list are the best since they are all connected. I’m very grateful for all of them. What a ride! I give a special thanks to Critical Bench for the opportunities for coverage.

Tiny Meeker

Coach Chris: Please project for us where you see PRO bodybuilding in the next 5 years?  Is it possible for these guys to get even freakier or do you feel there will be a shift to a more tapered and aesthetically pleasing look, like the Old School muscle guys of the 70s?  Less bloated and more appealing.

Ben Tatar: I think PRO bodybuilding is already changing. At the 49th Mr. Olympia the smaller 212lbs pro weight class (the show down class,) emerged. There is also a men’s physique competition as one of the big Olympia headliners. Also, I’m aware that some of the supplement companies have replaced the larger pro bodybuilders for smaller physique competitors at some of the booths.

I remember posting a picture of the biggest bodybuilder in the world, Craig Golias, from the 2014 Olympia on the Critical Bench page and most everyone disrespected him.

We are also living in a time where we are seeing bodybuilders dying before they hit their 35th birthdays. I also think the biggest freaks from 15, 10 and 5 years ago were bigger than today’s top freaks. I think of the biggest bodybuilder lifters I have known such as Greg Kovacs. Greg was 6’4 and 440lbs (Who died last year,) which was much bigger than the stereotypical jacked freak at today’s Olympia of 6’4 340lbs.

None of the freaks at this year’s Olympia were as big as names like Andre Tilt Henry, Jeff Maddy, Jeff Lewis, OD Wilson, Vitor Richards, and strongman Glen Ross from their primes.  I think you could make a human bigger, (as that is a mentality where no limits exist,) but I don’t think it’s as universally desired. I think there are more shredded freaks today than there were ten years ago who are over 300lbs, but less who are over 350lbs.

The LADIES

For the more tapered physiques, I think that Old School Bodybuilding is making a comeback, but maybe not like the 70s because it’s not too rare to be ripped at a regular size today. Society is just different. At the Olympia there were lots of people who wanted to see the girls in bikini’s more than the ripped guys competing in the physique competition.  FAR more people attended the bikini contest than the men’s physique competition.

The bikini competitions and the female aspect of fitness is what is really on the rise! Even when you look at the thousands of commentators at the Critical Bench page, you often see thousands of people consistently saying things like 1) The Freaks are Gross and aren’t healthy or fit. 2) The ripped guys are called gay and are seen as individuals with inferior complex disorders who don’t lift a lot… I don’t think either side is going to become that popular from a mainstream perspective.

People are interested in other things now with the rise of other sports and styles of training. However, I think everything weight lifting and fitness related will always be popular! People will always want to be strong, fast, jacked and attract! It doesn’t matter if they are a Rockstar, athlete, comedian, philosopher, big brother, little brother, father, coach or any of the above!

Phil Heath 2014 Mr O

 

People who look healthy and who are strong will always be role models! People who are healthy and who are strong will self actualize! People who are healthy and who are strong will have confidence because they will attract people to them… I think from that angle, the fitness world is evolving! From that angle, the fitness world will evolve! From that angle, the fitness industry will have great surprises every single year. From that analogy, the world of training hardcore and fitness will always be a celebration.

Dinh & Reamon










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