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Nasser El Sonbaty – Uncrowned Mr. Olympia

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Nasser El Sonbaty is the bodybuilding champion who almost had it all and his life history is worth getting to know about, serving to be an inspiration to us. He has been a trendsetter in the field with his sculpted body which had a perfectly proportioned look that was balanced as well and yet he is best remembered as the uncrowned Mr. Olympia. It is time to find out who he was.

Quick facts and stats

Naser was born on the 15th of October in the year 1965 and passed away on 20th March in 2013 at the age of 47.

His height was 5 feet 11 inches or 180 cms and his weight was 295 to 310 lbs that are 133.8 kg to 140.6 kg, varying from the on-season to the off-season during his bodybuilding career.

Nasser El Sonbaty- early life and upbringing


Nasser ‘The Professor’ El Sonbaty

Nasser was of Serbian Egyptian origin with his father belonging to Egypt and his mother is Serbian. Nasser was born in Stuttgart, Germany on the 15th of October, 1965 and had two brothers and two sisters as siblings. He spent most of his growing years in Stuttgart.

Growing up as a child, Nasser was initially inclined towards sports, especially soccer. However, a chance visit to a gym post a soccer match at the age of 17, and meeting a Hungarian weightlifter there, got him interested in bodybuilding, and as they say there was no looking back.

Nasser was often referred to as ‘The Professor’ and it could probably be in reference to his background where he graduated with a degree in sociology, political science, and history from the University of Augsburg. Also, Nasser was fluent in a number of languages, another reason for the ‘professor’ tag. Interestingly he also sported spectacles, the trademark round rimmed ones, while training and even while posing, thus looking even more like a professor, albeit a very well built one.

His career

Nasser started his career actively in the field of bodybuilding from 1983 and went on to win many awards and accolades in the 16 years span of his career as an active bodybuilder contesting in various events. A mere 2 years after entering the competitive field of bodybuilding, in 1985 he had entered his first competition and achieved a respectable sixth position in the ranking. He participated for the first time in the much renowned and widely considered as the pinnacle of all the bodybuilding contests, namely, Mr. Olympia in 1994, and achieved an enviable rank in the 7th position.


Nasser in 1994 Mr. Olympia

Before that he participated in various Grand Prix contests across various cities of Europe and most of the times achieved a decent ranking, ranging from the 3rd rank to the 4th to sometimes 7th or 8th. He stood first in several of the championships he participated in 1995 and 1996. After a successful stint in European shows, Nasser moved to the US. After competing in the prestigious Mr. Olympia in the US in 1994 and securing the 6th rank, he was offered a contract to remain in the US and compete professionally.

He then went to participate in various competitions, including all the Mr. Olympia contests.

However, the most well-known contest was Mr. Olympia in 1997 as it was the most controversial, especially for Nasser.

Mr. Olympia – the title that he missed and controversy in 1997


Nasser in 1997 Mr. Olympia

The Mr. Olympia contest in 1997 was one of the most controversial contests held in California where Nasser lost out to Dorian Yates despite being in the perfect form and standing out against Dorian’s torn muscles. Even though Nasser out-shined Yates, especially from the frontal area where his physique looked perfect. However, Nasser was known to have a weaker back and closely lost to Yates owing to that at the event, where many feel he was in a way ‘robbed’ of the title, leading to a lot of outcry and resentment for his fans as well as for him.

This incidence was the closest he ever came to winning the title of Mr. Olympia. He participated consecutively in the following years for the prestigious contest and always secured a great ranking but never the crown. He thus came to be referred to as the uncrowned Mr. Olympia.

Further, during the 1996 Mr. Olympia, Nasser openly claimed to have used diuretics, which were allowed in the European countries, but not in the United States and was thus disqualified from the contest. However, another instance of someone else using the same diuretics in 2001 was let go by the authorities, thus displaying discrimination on the part of IFBB and making Nasser bitter against the judges (even alleging that most of the contests were fixed or rigged).

This history of his career proved that Nasser was always a favorite of the crowd but never seemed to win over the judges, thereby achieving various accolades and love from the fan, but never the coveted title of Mr. Olympia.

His physique


Nasser back workout

Nasser was often appreciated for his symmetrical and balanced body with the giant mass. His height was also another one of his strong points. He took his workouts seriously by reading up on diet and nutrition too to support his bodybuilding training.

His back, however, was often criticised for lacking definition and being weak.

His death


Nasser El Sonbaty passed away on 20th March in 2013 at the age of 47

Nasser died of kidney and heart failure at just the age of 47. Many consider it to be a result of the use of steroids that he took to gain mass and maintain his build.

Nasser’s impact on the world

Nasser was one of those builders who did not make many friends in the bodybuilding fraternity but liked to train by self and focus on improving himself. He was a very well-read individual who would call a spade a spade and also had no qualms in stating the truth, even regarding himself, although it did not earn him brownie points.

The dedication and consistency with which Nasser worked out will continue to be an inspiration to many as well as his passion for the sport.

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