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Jakub Paulík
October 8, 2021, 11:55am
Reading time: 7:44

Ronnie Coleman: Bodybuilding Has Got Him on Crutches, Yet He Keeps on Working Out

Ronnie is often called The King due to his immense success in the world of sports.

Jakub Paulík
October 8, 2021, 11:55am
Reading time: 7:44
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Ronnie Coleman: Bodybuilding Has Got Him on Crutches, Yet He Keeps on Working Out
Zdroj: TASR/Martin Baumann
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Eightfold winner of Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, had no idea what the title meant in his early days. He lived in poverty for a long time and was talked into joining the competition, mainly because of the free gym membershim.


During the 90s, he became an extremely successful bodybuilder, but continued to work as a police officer. However, one day, he got in trouble with the law and ended up in jail.


A woman who dragged him to court for donating sperm has also given him some headaches. Most of his money went to operations due to serious spinal problems, caused by years of lifting heavy weights, ending up on crutches.


In this article you'll read:
  • What he thinks about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • How alcohol allegedly helped him before the competition.
  • Why he didn't quit his job as a police officer, despite becoming a professional bodybuilder.
  • In which job he experienced humiliation.
  • What did the woman he donated sperm to say about him?


He's been working since he was 9 years old 

Ronnie Coleman's mother worked hard to support her children. Growing up, he observed hard work as something that is necessary - and he approached his training in the gym in a similar way. "When I was nine years old, I decided that I wanted to get some type of employment and make my own money.," the bodybuilder wrote in his book Yeah Buddy! My Incredible Story by The Barbell fitness website.


Even though he was still a child, he managed to persuade an owner of a shop to allow him to at least help out a little. Three years later, he began chopping cotton every summer and later he got hired at a restaurant.


He did not do it because he had to, but he simply enjoyed working and considered it a "blessing." According to his own words, he fell in love with sports, swimming and fishing in high school. He allegedly went fishing every single day as a teenager, he revealed through his YouTube channel. As seen in his later videos, this hobby of his stuck around - apparently not only because of the high protein content in fish.


Young Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman Source: Netflix

Pizzeria employee, police officer and bodybuilder 

Although he graduated from university with honors and tried to work as an accountant, they didn't want to accept him anywhere because he had no experience. He needed to live off something, so he worked at Domino's for about 2 and a half years and ate the unhealthy pizza every day.


For a university-educated person, this type of work was a disappointment. It was a difficult time, during which, based on his own words, he often got humiliated by the customers, which served as motivation in his trainings later on.



He allegedly got the job as a police officer in 1989 due to the fact that they didn't require any previous experience. During his service in the police force, he began to devote himself fully to bodybuilding. At first, he used a police gym to build muscles, but it didn't suffice for his massive body at some point. He refused to quit his job even at the time of his first victories in the Mr. Olympia prize. As a reason, he stated that he simply loves his job. He left the police force permanently somewhere between 2003 to 2004.


Ronnie Coleman deals with a case of domestic violence Ronnie Coleman deals with a case of domestic violence


Free gym pass? Gimme that!

The owner of Arlington's Metroflex gym saw potential in Coleman. He told him to quit the police gym and offered to train with him free of charge. Coleman claims that he was poor at the time and simply couldn't refuse a free gym pass. When they told him at the time that he could end up as Mr. Olympia one day, he had no idea about the existence of such title.


Ronnie always preferred self-weight exercises to isolated machine exercises when working out. He was known to lift abnormal weights, for which, on the one hand, many people, including competitors, admired him, but on the other hand, he destroyed his spine that way. It was a very difficult time for Ronnie in terms of time. He trained six days a week, one rest day, and catching criminals on the side.


In 1991, Ronnie Coleman participated in the Mr. Olympia. Not as a competitor, at the time, but as a security guard. At that time, he watched his idols on stage - Lee Haney, Dorian Yates or Samir Bannout, writes The Barbell. Surrounding bodybuilders reportedly praised Coleman's form and joked about him competing with them.


He made his competitive debut at Mr. Olympia a year later, but it was far from successful - he came in 16th. The next editions of Mr. Olympia ended up similarly for him, and for a long time he was nowhere near the top.


Ronnie Coleman's form between 1992 and 2007


Vodka to the rescue?

As an honest athlete, he allegedly refused alcohol. However, former professional bodybuilder Kevin Levrone revealed in The King documentary that he got Ronnie drunk with vodka, which indirectly helped him in the competition. Coleman came to him for advice, because despite all his efforts, he was not achieving great success.


Levrone said he was taking it too seriously and that he should relax. He's put a bottle of hard liquor in front of him. Ronnie initially refused, but later he had a few glasses. Levrone indicated that his body looked much better the next day due to alcohol drainage, so he was totally shining on stage.



The turning point came in 1998, when he defeated Flex Wheeler and won the Mr. Olympia title. Year before, he came in 9th, so it was a huge leap for Coleman. He later called Wheeler the best opponent he faced. They are great friends to this day, and he considers him one of the best bodybuilders, together with Arnold Schwarzenegger.


In an interview with Valuetainment in 2019, among other things, he praised Arnold's elaborate chest, which, according to him, no one can match to this day. He thinks that if Schwarzenegger competed with the accessories and technologies from the days of Coleman, he would look like a little boy next to him.


Arnold didn't hold back compliments for Ronnie either. In one interview, he said that he brought a completely different dimension to bodybuilding - symbolically and literally. He once weighed 130 to 136 kilograms at 180 centimeters, according to Republic World.



Ronnie Coleman was a beast and ruled Mr. Olympia for a long run of 8 years. The turning point came in 2006, when he was defeated by the bodybuilder Jay Cutler. Ronnie thinks he was entitled to the 9th title in a row; in his book, he argues about why Cutler had won that time.


"They decided that they were not going to give me my well-deserved ninth title and were going to prevent me from winning so that the sport would once again be competitive and garner a lot more audience," he wrote. A year later, he tried to get the title back, but came in 4th.


He soon ended his active sports career and began to devote himself to his business with nutrition supplements. He also recently introduced the Yeah Buddy app to help people take a comprehensive approach to training.


Ronnie Coleman Source: Instagram/Ronnie Coleman

He pretended to be a cop and got sued for donating sperm

Although he was a law enforcement officer for many years, he once got into trouble with the law enforcement himself. In 2009, he was stopped for speeding with his car. The Dallas Morning News reported that Ronnie allegedly introduced himself as a police officer, but he had not been one for many years. Apparently he wanted to escape responsibility. However, he ended up in jail and later got out by paying bail.


The woman he had dated in the past got him into bigger trouble. In 2006, he donated sperm to her pregnant. Coleman said that he'd only help her as a donor, so she should not expect him to be a father for the newborn. When his ex-partner started asking him about child support, the whole case ended up in court.


The woman claimed that they've planned to have the children together and even considered getting married, opposing Coleman's claim that it was only a sperm donation. According to a 2008 court ruling, Coleman had to contribute financially. Four years later, the court ruled in his favor, according to NBC DFW.

In-house gym or a house in the gym? 

Ronnie Coleman Source: Google Earth


What kind of bodybuilder would it be if he didn't turn part of his house into a top-notch fitness center? Ronnie Coleman went to a lesser extreme in this case. In one episode of the Nothin But a Podcast, according to the Fitnessvolt website, he revealed that he had invested more in his gym than in the house itself.


Of course, the bargain purchase of the real estate probably also played a role. The house cost him about $ 125,000 and the gym about $ 200,000. Coleman was excited about his gym, especially during the Texas lockdown during coronavirus pandemic.


He also said in the podcast that despite the lockdown, his wife and daughters were not bored. Everyone has their own TV in the house, so they didn't have to argue about what they should be watching. However, it is certainly not possible to say that Coleman is financially well off. He spent a lot of his money on demanding spinal operations, which he destroyed by years of lifting heavy weights.



From sports to disability

Professional bodybuilders are well aware that they must be careful of bodily injuries. Too heavy weights or improper technique can very easily exclude an athlete from the competition or even cause lifelong consequences. Very risky exercises include, for example, deadlifts or squats. Ronnie Coleman, who trained with approximately 227 kilograms, also ended up getting hurt by the latter at the age of 17. After this injury, he had to start  visiting a chiropractor on the regular.


After the 2018 operation, it was a miracle that Ronnie continued to walk 


During Coleman's rise, his body became more and more demanding. Until this day, he's had a hip replacement, a number of spinal surgeries and has to lean on crutches while walking. In addition, he suffers from severe pain, which is alleviated by the highest possible dose of oxycodone. "The pain is a nine or a 10 (out of 10)," he described his suffering on a scale from 0 to 10 according to news.com.au. He also added that he had become accustomed to it over time.


"I can't be sad for Ronnie Coleman because I knew he'd have to pay for what he was doing. I think it was worth the price."

(Former bodybuilder Shawn L. Ray, documentary Ronnie Coleman: The King)


The sight of Ronnie Coleman in pain is sure to hurt many of his fans. However, if you look at his Instagram account, among more than 3,000 posts, you'd have trouble looking for shots of him leaning on crutches and complaining about his situation.


Even if there are a few such videos, he smiles practically everywhere. He doesn't give up, quite the opposite. He works hard in the business of nutritional supplements, raises children together with his wife Susan and, despite of his health condition, he still tries to stay fit in the gym. And that's the way many continue to remember him. Not a man to feel sorry for, but a man who has inspired and still continues to inspire a lot of people.


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Thumbnail: Instagram/Ronnie Coleman, Netflix
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