2020 sports yearender: Big Ramy beats COVID-19 to make history at Mr Olympia

Mahmoud Elassal , Thursday 31 Dec 2020

At one point, Big Ramy was not going to take part in Mr. Olympia due to a COVID-19 infection. However, he eventually beat the odds to claim the prestigious title

Big Ramy
Egyptian bodybuilding star Ramy Elssbiay 'Big Ramy

Egyptian bodybuilding star Ramy Elssbiay 'Big Ramy' made history after becoming the first non-American to win Mr. Olympia since 1997 and the first ever African to claim the title.

The 36-yearold claimed the 2020 Mr. Olympia title that took place in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, United States after beating defending champion Brandon Curry and iconic bodybuilder Phil Heath, a seven-time Mr. Olympia winner.

Big Ramy suffered a setback in his preparations for the tournament when he tested positive for COVID-19 in October, an infection that ruled him out of the qualifiers and effectively ended his hopes of taking a shot at the prestigious title.


However, after his recovery from the infection, Ramy received an official invitation from the tournament’s organizers to compete in the biggest bodybuilding competition in the world.


Big Ramy made his first appearance at Mr. Olympia in 2013, finishing eighth. His steady improvement saw him finish 7th in 2014, 5th in 2015 and 4th in 2016.

He came within a whisker of winning the title in 2017, only to finish second following a tight contest. A disappointing outcome saw him come sixth a year later.

The IFBB Professional League bodybuilder decided not to compete at the 2019 Mr. Olympia despite his steady progress, but came back roaring this year to claim a $400,000 check and make history for his country.


Big Ramy became the first non-American to win the title since British champion Dorian Yates in 1997.

"I wanna thank all the bodybuilding fans in the world for the love and support," Big Ramy wrote on his Instagram account after winning the trophy.

"I had many setbacks this year with a show canceled due to corona, and a positive test, I also lost my main supplement sponsor earlier this year but all that mattered is I kept working hard for that dream to make my fans happy, LOVE YOU ALL," the Egyptian star added.

Adel Fahim, president of the Egyptian Bodybuilding Federation, said the federation only sponsors amateur bodybuilders because it can hardly bear the costs of professionals.

“The monthly budget of the Egyptian Bodybuilding Federation is EGP 500,000 ($31,700), which is equal to Ramy’s outlay in two months including supplements, vitamins, food and training,” Fahim told a television show.

Big Ramy, who was born in the Nile Delta province of Kafr El Sheikh, started his professional bodybuilding career when he traveled to Kuwait.

He earned his pro card by winning the overall title at the 2012 Amateur Olympia in Kuwait City, just three years after he started training. He joined Oxygen Gym in Kuwait.




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