Written by Peter McGough
19 December 2012


Dexter Jackson’s long and winding road to making bodybuilding history.

By Peter McGough

2002_OIn the annals of bodybuilding Dexter Jackson stands alone as the first – and thus so far only – man to win both a Mr. Olympia title (as he did in 2008) and a Masters Olympia title as he did last December 8.


From his first amateur contest as a 135-pound bantamweight in 1991 Jackson climbed the ladder until he reached the pinnacle of the sport 17 years later by winning the 2008 Mr. Olympia title. This equaled Chris Dickerson’s longest journey record whose amateur contest debut was 1965, followed 17 years later by winning the Olympia title.

The Jacksonville native turned pro by winning the light heavyweight and overall titles at the 1998 North American Championships and flexed for ten seasons in the pros before taking his first Sandow. From turning pro all other 12 Mr. Olympias had a much shorter route to being top dog.

I can’t think of any other bodybuilder who has produced his best form at such a mature age and after more than 20 years of contest action under his training belt. The 2012 version of Jackson certainly brought a little extra (maybe Dextra is a better term) to the table. Always the possessor of great symmetry and balance, the current re-invention of The Blade seems fuller than ever which causes his skin to be stretched to maximum force revealing even deeper and more dramatic cuts. He has thus far competed in 61 IFBB pro contests with a record of 15 wins.


In free association mode when anyone mentions Dexter’s name I instantly recall Friday, September 29, 1995 in New Orleans, shortly after the prejudging of that year’s NPC Nationals. Just 12 weeks earlier this then 25 year old had won the light heavy division at the NPC USA Championships in Denver. In those days only the overall champ (which was heavyweight Phil Hernon whose victory caused the runner-up in that class Craig Titus to storm offstage) received a pro card.

2008-ONevertheless, Jackson went forward to the Nationals as a favorite and a light heavy win there would earn him a pro card. Then the unthinkable happened, as in New Orleans The Blade (he still had to attain that moniker) didn’t make the top 15 cut. (To this day I still think there must have been a mix-up with number IDs or something.) That’s as may be, but later that evening I espied seated in a diner just off Bourbon Street, a forlorn Dexter about as willing to digest the result as he was another bowl of chicken and rice. I offered consolation and puzzlement but it was clear he didn’t want to discuss it.

Backstage just after he won the 2008 Olympia I asked him to reflect on that crushing 1995 episode from New Orleans. From a 13-year perspective he said, “It was pretty much the end for me. I was working a lot and spending most of my money on bodybuilding. So when I didn’t make the cut I thought, this doesn’t make any sense I’m done with it. Now I’m Mr. Olympia – that’s crazy!”

Clutching the Sandow he said, “These past few years I’ve said just give me one, just the one. This trophy now separates me from some of the greatest bodybuilders of all time like Shawn Ray, Flex Wheeler and Kevin Levrone. I got the one I wanted. Don’t matter about another Olympia title.”

Well, sorry Master Jackson you just earned another Olympia title last December 8. Enjoy, it’s obvious the dance ain’t over yet. Next stop, the Arnold Classic on March 2.

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