This is why I was very pleased to come across Chris Dickerson; The First Black Body Builder to win the Mr. America title in 1970 and the oldest to win the Mr. Olympia title in 1982.
Born August 25, 1939, Dickerson was one of three triplets. His mother (Mahala Ashley Dickerson) was a pioneer of African American History herself. She attended a private school, where she began a lifelong friendship with Rosa Parks, who would become a hero of the civil rights movement. She was the first black female attorney in her home state of Alabama in 1948 and the second black woman admitted to the bar in Indiana in 1951.
She was also Alaska’s first black attorney, admitted to the bar in 1959 and the first black president of the National Association of Women Lawyers, 1983-1984.
Following in his mother’s greatness, Chris Dickerson wanted to be an actor and singer as a teenager. He felt there was not much representation of blacks on television at that time so he studied and took acting classes after school. He studied opera and musical theater. He also took up dance and gymnastics. All of which helped him excel on the stage when he turned to and fell in love with body building.
Entering the world of bodybuilding in 1965; his career spanned over 30 years and he has won over 50 titles.
In 1980 he was beat by the retiring and “in less perfect shape” Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was still riding the success of Conan The Barbarian.
Still gracious and grateful, Dickerson took it in stride and continued to compete to finally come back and win Mr. Olympia the following year in 1982.
(see the video below).
This win allowed him to be the first African-American to appear on the cover of FLEX magazine in 1983.
His classical symmetry and definition is missing from many of the competing body builders of today where mass and protruding bellies (results from HGH) seem to be the norm.
Some reports stated that he reveled he was gay in the late 80’s when his career was coming to an end; however other articles state that he came out in the late 70’s.
Dickerson however did act as Master of Ceremonies at the physique competition at Gay Games III in Vancouver in 1990.
In 1994, Dickerson went out with a bang. He came in first place at the age of 55 as Mr. Olympia – Masters 50 plus category. Dickerson went on to be inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 2000.Well deserved recognition for this Body Building Legend.
I had seen old full frontal nude pics of Dickerson back in the early 90’s when my parents first got internet service (yes the slow ass land line connection via AOL) and I wanted to see some pictures naked black men.
Dickerson had taken many artful nude photos and had even posed for the legendary Tom Of Finland for a couple of hand drawn portraits.
Today at 73, Dickerson lives in Florida where he continues to train and conduct seminars. He still looks great and has performed opera in front of audiences. Rumor has it that is writing a tell all biography, detailing his life as a pro body builder for 30 years and his relationships.
Below you can view his pose down routine which resulted in him winning Mr. Olympia 1982.