A long, long time ago before IG fitness models were a thing, if you wanted to learn anything about lifting, it was either through YouTube videos or Bodybuilding.com (this was when they didn’t charge a monthly subscription). Either way, Ronnie Coleman was a name that popped up on every bodybuilding page possible. I still remember watching Ronnie’s 800lb squat video in the middle of lunchtime when I was in high school and I was dumbfounded. “Yeah, buddy” and “lightweight” were phrases yelled every time I went to the gym all because of that one video. I was thrown off on how a police officer got so big and why Ronnie was even still working as a police officer while competing. Aside from the short bios, interviews, and random YouTube videos, there wasn’t really a good source to find out everything about Ronnie.
Now, thanks to Vlad Yudin of Generation Iron and Generation Iron 2, Ronnie Coleman The King tells the story of how former police officer, Ronnie Coleman, became one of, if not, the greatest bodybuilder of all time. Move over Black Panther because the true King is here.
The documentary begins with Ronnie in his police uniform being asked why is he still working as a police officer when he is Mr. Olympia. His answer is simple, “Because I love it.” After which, the film is seen to be broken down into three segments told simultaneously: the story of how Ronnie became The King, Ronnie’s current journey with his surgeries, and interviews with well-known bodybuilding names.
I enjoyed seeing the parallels of seeing how Ronnie progressed and eventually became the 8x Mr. Olympia alongside the countdown to Ronnie’s next back surgery. It was great to see and hear from the King himself how he pushes himself to be the best, not only in bodybuilding, but in everything he sets himself to do. Then after we see Ronnie in his prime lifting massive weights, we see how he currently struggles to walk around his own home. We get to see people around Ronnie’s life that fans didn’t know much about before including his wife, his children, his medical doctors, and Brian Dobson, the man that offered Ronnie the free gym pass to Metroflex. The back and forth images of Ronnie in his prime versus his struggle with his pain now made me wonder, was it all worth it?
Throughout the film, well-known bodybuilders Jay Cutler, Rich Gaspari, Kai Green, Victor Martinez, Shawn Ray, and Dorian Yates give their commentary on Ronnie’s development as a bodybuilder and as a person. All these names agreed that Ronnie was one of a kind and that his physique wasn’t even considered human. Jay Cutler, the 5x Mr. Olympia who dethroned Ronnie from his 8-year reign, stated that when he beat Ronnie, he knew he didn’t beat Ronnie at his best.
Some of my favorite moments in the film included footage of when Ronnie breaking down on stage when he won his first Mr. Olympia, Ronnie talking about how his biggest regret was not squatting the 800lbs for more reps, and learning more about Ronnie before he became a police officer. The film gave a very personal feel that, in my opinion, made me feel like I got to really know Ronnie and what he’s going through.
While I did enjoy the film (if that wasn’t obvious already), there was still more I wanted to learn about Ronnie. To be specific, I wanted to know Ronnie’s opinion on how the physique of Mr. Olympia has changed, his thoughts on being the pioneer of the current massive Mr. Olympia competitors, and the drugs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to criticize Ronnie for taking steroids. What I am curious about is how Ronnie continued his career as an officer of the law while also using illegal substances. Who introduced him to it, what else did he take, and how did he pass his drug tests? Anyone can tell that Ronnie was on something and he admitted to it in a 2011 issue of Muscular Development magazine. In regards to the change in Mr. Olympia physique, this was touched upon by the several of the bodybuilders in the film. Comments included how Ronnie’s quality went down as the years went by, but the judges were letting him win because of his size. Yudin’s Generation Iron 2 also touches upon how there is a movement to try and bring back the old school physiques like back in Arnold Schwarzenneger’s day. However, we never hear from Ronnie himself on his thoughts about the change in Mr. Olympia physique, especially being the pioneer of the massive Mr. Olympias today.
Overall, the film’s story is told extremely well. Yudin’s Generation Iron films do a great job in telling the side of bodybuilding that most people don’t know about and Yudin does the same thing here with Ronnie Coleman: The King. The film explores not just Ronnie himself, but the people behind Ronnie, and his struggle to maintain what is left of his physique with commentary by bodybuilders who were there during Ronnie’s reign as King.
Available for only $12.99, you can lift LIGHTWEIGHT with the King here.