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Ronnie Coleman: The King follows the life of former eight-time consecutive Mr. Olympia champion Ronnie Coleman, specifically counting down towards another one of Ronnies major back surgeries. Ronnie goes down as one of the greatest and as the most loved bodybuilder of all time. He had everything. Arguably the best ever physiques, and the personality to go with it. Ronnie’ irrepressible love for life and bodybuilding won the hearts of the public just as much as how his incredibly thick back and bulging biceps impressed the judges.

An ode to one of, if not, the greatest ever bodybuilders the documentary is a blend of old clips and new interviews with Ronnie himself, the people around him and fellow bodybuilders such as Flex Wheeler, Dorian Yates and Jay Cutler. It is underpinned by constant juxtapositions. Transferring from grainy training footage of Ronnie in his prime screaming his iconic phrase of “Lightweight Baby” while moving an unthinkable amount of iron, to Ronnie in the modern day, physically a shadow of his former self. Going from a bristling, shiny behemoth carved out of granite, back to modern day Ronnie who had to learn to walk again after a particularly nasty surgery and lives in constant pain.

 One thing remains constant throughout the documentary; Ronnie’s never say die unbreakable spirit that earned him the nickname “The King”. Ronnie’s wife Susan, who features throughout the documentary, describes a conversation with a doctor in which the doctor says “most people in Ronnies situation end up in a wheelchair and once they’re in one that’s it they’re never getting out. But that’s not Ronnie, once after a surgery a few years ago Ronnie spent a month in rehab learning to walk again. Being in a wheelchair just simply isn’t an option for Ronnie. This unbreakable spirit is one of the main reasons Ronnie is remembered as a great, though it is the reason for his downfall. Since retiring, Coleman has had to undergo six back surgeries as a result of the weight he lifted; years of squatting heavy took a tremendous toll on his rear chain posterior in his back, meaning he now lives in constant pain and is forced to use crutches to aid him walk. As fellow Mr. Olympia winner and one of Ronnie’s main rivals for the competition Jay Cutler (below) put it: “he trained hard but not smart and now he’s paying the price of it. I wish I could have trained like Ronnie, but I couldn’t knowing the consequences”.

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Ronnies infectious smile and love for life is another constant in the documentary. Despite being in constant pain, a smile is never far from Ronnies lips even now in recent times. Ronnie is still an incredibly active father, and this is shown throughout the documentary. Ronnie picks his two youngest children from school every day, only missing this when he has to travel in order to promote his supplement company. Ronnies wife describes him as “patient and fun” around the kids, again showing his irrepressible optimism and love for life, this is something that shines through In all parts of the documentary. 

 The documentary starts following Ronnie in his prime, shadowing him at his day job as Police Officer. Ronnie says the best thing about the job is “you can wear shorts”. Ronnie was the only Bodybuilder of his level to have a fulltime job, describing himself as the “exception to the rule”.  Most bodybuilders can’t have another job. They simply cannot juggle, hitting their macros (calories and protein being the main two of these), getting sufficient rest and then of course countless hours of training with a full-time job. But Ronnie could. Albeit with a 3-month period where he wouldn’t work leading up to the Olympia. Flex Wheeler didn’t even know he had a job until he won his first Olympia.

 When Ronnie won his first Olympia, nobody saw it coming. This is shown in the documentary when prominent journalist Peter McGeough reminisces that he thought “Ronnie journeyman pro who was never going to make that break through”.  The competition was wide open following Dorian “the shadow” Yate’s retirement following six consecutive Olympias. Many expected Flex Wheeler to fill the void of the Solihull born Yates. But it was Ronnie. He went from finishing ninth in 1997s Mr. Olympia to winning eight in a row. 

In conclusion, Ronnie Coleman The King is an excellent tribute to one of the greats of bodybuilding and is a thoroughly enjoyable watch. Moreover, the documentary is an accurate depiction of “The Kings” life, with one of the main features of it being recounts of Ronnie by the fellow bodybuilders who would have worked closely with him. Flex Wheeler and Jay Cutler would have no reason to lie about Ronnie. They loved him. Jay Cutler describes him as “the strongest Mr. Olympia of all time” In the final scene of the documentary McGeough states that Ronnie was not only one of the best bodybuilders of all time, but also one of the most loved.”

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May 2024