When Frank Zane won his Mr. Olympia titles, there were weight differences in pro-bodybuilding for men. There weren't any in the 1980s and 1990s when Shawn Ray peaked. As muscular as he was, Shawn wasn't a big man, so he had to go up against heavyweights like Lee Haney. So he won the Arnold Classic, but didn't finish second at the Olympics.
But pound for pound, I always thought Shawn was as good as anyone. And his physique was incredibly aesthetic.
He was such a good bodybuilder in part because of his superior genetics. Much of his success, however, was due to his own efforts. For example, his knowledge of training and his careful application of what he knew. I either watched most of the top bodybuilders of the 1980s exercise or took photos of them in the gym. In most cases, I could make at least one small suggestion about training technique – if asked, of course. But there were two competitors whose training methods were so excellent that I couldn't think of a single way they could improve: Lee Haney and Shawn Ray.
And Shawn also showed great discipline when it came to his diet. Joe Weider sent me to interview Shawn for a year at his house as he was preparing for the Mr. Olympia. He has not yet started his serious competitive diet, but for lunch he ate a dietetic meal of tuna, rice, and broccoli. I asked him why it was so strict and he told me he was planning to go out that evening and have a nice fish dinner, but at home there was no point in taking in excess calories that he would have to lose later.
A sign of maturity is the ability to postpone gratification. Shawn showed a lot of maturity that day. That kind of dedication and discipline paid off in Shawn's career. In over 30 major bodybuilding competitions, Ray was only able to finish in the top five once. From 1990 to 2001 he placed in the top five of the Mr. Olympia competition twelve years in a row, two of which were the first runner-up, and in 2001 he withdrew from the competition.
But after the competition, Shawn Ray continues to be one of the most active bodybuilders in the sport. He has always been known as an excellent businessman. He has used his skills to develop sponsorship relationships and spokespersons for bodybuilding and bodybuilding events over the years. He is also a successful organizer of competitions. More recently, he became editor-in-chief of Digital Muscle for Wings of Strength and is actively promoting and publishing the Olympic weekend.
There are few bodybuilders who continue to be a force in the sport after retiring from competition. Arnold is, of course, the best example of this. And Lenda Murray for the women. However, Editor-in-Chief, Hall of Famer, media analyst, producer and spokesman Shawn Ray deserves a special mention as a bodybuilder who has continued to give back and promote the sport that made him a legendary champion.
OLYMPIC COMPETITION HISTORY
- 1983 California Gold Cup
- 1984 Mr. Teenage Los Angeles (short & overall)
- 1984 teenager Mr. California
- 1985 teenager Mr. Orange County
- 1985 Teenage National Championships
- 1985 Jr. World Championships
- 1986 Jr. National Championships 12th place, slightly difficult)
- 1987 Mr. California (slightly difficult & overall)
- National championships 1987 (slightly difficult & overall)
- 1990 Pro Ironman Champion
- 1990 Arnold Classic Champion (lost title due to failed drug tests)
- 1991 Arnold Classic Champion