Considered one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, Ronnie Coleman won his first professional title back in 1995. He went on to become an eight-time Mr. Olympia winner, a record he holds for most wins alongside fellow champ Lee Haney. But where is Ronnie Coleman now? Is there any truth to the rumors that he can no longer walk? Here’s a look at the life of retired pro bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman in 2021.
Ronnie Coleman Won The Mr. Olympia Bodybuilding Contest In 1998
Coleman admits that when he first started lifting weights, he didn’t intend for it to become a career. “I just worked out and competed because I was given a free membership to the gym,” the former pro said in a 2019 interview with Bodybuilding.com “It was just a way for me to save money on gym memberships. Because all of my life I have considered weightlifting just a hobby. Even when I got into bodybuilding it was still a hobby, but just on a different level, or in a different form.”
But once Coleman starting winning competitions, he realized it might be his destiny to go pro. In 1995, he won the Canada Pro Cup — his first competition as a professional. He won the title again in 1996, and took home the IFBB Grand Prix Russia title the following year. In 1998, Coleman won his first Mr. Olympia title, which is considered the most prestigious bodybuilding award in the world. He went on to win the title seven more times in a row, for a total of eight consecutive victories, before he was finally defeated by Jay Cutler in 2006.
Ronnie Coleman’s Body Slowly Started To Break Down Over The Years
Of course, all that heavy lifting began taking a toll on Coleman’s body over the years. The champ said he got used to living in pain and continued working out despite suffering serious injuries. Coleman even admits he completely ignored one of his first major injuries, a herniated disc. “There was a loud crunching sound,” he explained on The Joe Rogan Experience in 2020. “I lost a little strength. I heard it, but the athlete in you is like, ‘Let’s go on.’”
While Coleman was able to minimize his ailments at first, there eventually came a time when he could no longer ignore the fact that his body was breaking down.
“The first time you herniate a disc it’s as if you stack a bunch of cans on top of each other and you snap one out,” he told Joe Rogan. “Well after a while the other ones are going to start falling out of place, too.”
Doctors Warned Coleman That He Could Become Paralyzed
Since retiring from pro bodybuilding in 2007, Coleman has had more than a dozen major procedures to correct his issues — including two hip replacements and 10 back surgeries. In a 2018 interview for Muscular Development Magazine, he revealed that he’d spent over $2 million on surgeries that had done more harm than good — and was afraid he might never be able to walk again.
“I’ve had too much damage done to my body from all these surgeries,” he admitted. “A lot of it has to do with the way the surgeon performed the surgery. And the surgeon that I’ve had the last three surgeries has been really bad and caused a lot of damage to my body so I don’t know if I’ll be able to walk, but I’m gonna give it my best shot. But I think if that surgeon had to perform these surgeries right, then I would have been walking a long, long time ago.”
What Is Ronnie Coleman Doing Now In 2021?
Luckily, Coleman was not left paralyzed by his surgical procedures. He continues to work out and shares tons of weightlifting content with his 1.1 million YouTube subscribers and 4 million Instagram followers.
Nevertheless, the former Mr. Olympia champ is still paying the price for years of 800 lb. squats and deadlifts. In his 2020 Joe Rogan interview, he admitted that he can only walk a short distance without help. “I can walk, maybe from here to that wall unassisted but after being up for so long, my legs get real weak,” he said.
And while the former pro is still huge, you can tell his body has atrophied and is not as strong as it used to be.
Still, Coleman told Rogan he’s grateful that his condition isn’t worse. The heavyweight also credited stem cell therapy treatments with helping him reduce his pain significantly.
“Every time I get one it gets better and better, so I just gotta keep getting it. I’ve got another one in May. Every time I get one, I feel improvements. I’ve had two so far,” Coleman said of the treatments. “The pain is gone now. I’ve only got a little bit now, not a lot at all. So it’s getting better.”