Modest men rarely let their height hold them back from being great, and bodybuilding is no exception.
There’s a common misconception about short men and weightlifting – the two aren’t compatible. The reality is the opposite, and it’s even possible that shorter men might have an advantage when it comes to pumping iron.
In fact, men of modest height have been some of the best bodybuilders in the industry for years; and they show absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Note: Want to start lifting? This strength training guide will help!
Here are a few of them to look to for inspiration (if you’re into that sorta thing).
1. James “Flex” Lewis
Flex Lewis has been lifting weights seriously since he was 15 years old. He was also a semi-professional Rugby player in his native Wales, where is his ability to avoid tackles landed him the “flex” nickname.
Lewis is a six time winner of the Mr. Olympia 212, which (according to some) makes him pretty much the best modest bodybuilder there is.
2. Lee Priest
Lee Priest, originally hailing from Australia, started even younger than Flex Lewis – he won his first competition at the age of 13! In the midst of a successful bodybuilding career, Priest did a bunch of other cool stuff too.
He’s a racing enthusiast who’s won Rookie of The Year (2005) and the SCEDA Racing Championship in Lancaster, CA. Priest also helped with the bodywork for the movie “The Hulk,” and made an appearance in a local Australian TV show.
And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also a contributor and columnist for MuscleSport Magazine. I wonder when he has time to exercise…
3. Mohammed “Momo” Benaziza
Heading back into last century, Benaziza was born in Algeria in 1959. He led a tragically short career, ended by what was believed to be a lethal injection from a friend who promised to speed up his preparation for an upcoming contest.
At his peak, he placed 5th in 1992’s Mr. Olympia competition.
4. Danny Padilla
Padilla is nothing short of a rockstar. He’s been training since the age of 7, and was born in Rochester (NY FTW!).
After some initial hardships, Danny went on to become one of the only two men in history IFBB (International Federation of Body Builders) Mr. Universe and Mr. America in the same year.
5. Franco Columbu
Like Lee Priest, Franco Columbu was a lot more than just a bodybuilder. In addition to an early boxing career, Colombu has appeared in more than 20 different movies and TV shows, including The Terminator.
He’s also a qualified chiropractor and was appointed to the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners by his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger.
6. Shawn Ray
Ray competed during three different decades throughout his bodybuilding career, and placed in the top 5 in every single Mr. Olympia contest from 1990 – 2001 (!).
Shawn has also been active in the media space, co-hosting bodybuilding competitions on ESPN working with a number of media companies as an analyst and commentator.
7. Alexey Lesukov
Alexey continues our streak of impressive bodybuilders who excel at other activities.
Born in Russia in 1988, Lesukov graduated from music school and plays the piano. He’s also an avid dancer, and apparently break-danced with a European champion recently. Who knew?!
8. Flavio Baccianini
The first on our list to stand below 5″, Baccianini is an accomplished Italian lifter and actor.
He competed and placed all the way from 1983 to 2008, often placing in the top 5.
9. Choon Tan
In addition to being the smallest competing weightlifter in the UK, Choon Tan is a promoter, but a self proclaimed lightweight.
He grew up with a rare condition that stunted his growth growing up, but didn’t let it limit him at all. In his words, Tan focuses on things that he can control and doesn’t worry about the other stuff.
10. Aditya “Romeo” Dev
Dev has been (informally) recognized as the world’s smallest bodybuilder.
He was a frequent TV guest to showcase his dancing skills, but unfortunately passed away in 2012 from a brain aneurysm rupture.
11. Tom Platz
One of the only Americans on this list, Tom was a prolific competitor in bodybuilding competitions.
He won first place in the IFBB Mr. Universe competition in 1980, and boasts Master’s degrees in Fitness Science and Business Administration.
12. Jose “The Boston Mass” Raymond
According to Team BPI, Jose “remains the only bodybuilder in history to win both the National and USA title in three different weight classes (light, welter and middle).”
Although Raymond has never won the Mr. Olympia title, he’s still considered one of the best around.
Being a man of modest height does not hold you back from being a great athlete, or in our case a great bodybuilder.
The modest men featured in this article compete at the highest echelons of competition, and have broad interests ranging from film to dance and journalism.
So if you’re thinking about getting started with an exercise routine – know that the only thing holding you back is yourself.
Who did we miss? Leave a comment below!