So, pre-judging began with all the comparisons, and I found myself standing next to Arnold, so I said to him “How does it feel competing after not being on stage for 5 years?” “It’s really hard” he said and with that I laughed and went into a most muscular pose. This photo of me laughing next to him appear in his Arnold Encyclopedia with the caption “Arnold tells Zane a joke during the Olympia competition, so he’d break his concentration and laugh.” Not true but no one would know the difference until now.
Pre-judging concluded and I was exhausted, too tired to even leave the Opera House to eat so Christine went out and brought food back as I took a short nap. After eating and feeling a little better we took a short walk outside before the evening show started.
It seemed like everybody was in this contest. Arnold certainly didn’t look his best in pre-judging by he looked much better in the evening show but still not good enough to win. I was impressed with the size Boyer Coe had added, Mentzer looked about as good as he did last Olympia, Dickerson’s ballet posing routine only showed fancy moves but little muscle, and I couldn’t see past Platz’s thighs. I thought I had a chance because I was more defined than anyone. But when judges see you bigger one year and smaller the next the likelihood of winning decreases. It was hard to match my 1979 combination of size, muscularity, and confidence and there was some doubt in my mind as I did my posing routine on stage. The crowd loved it, and this boosted my spirits.
The contest concluded and we waited for the winners to be announced. This has always been the most challenging part of all the competitions in which I’ve participated: waiting for the winner to revealed. Most of the time I knew after pre-judging. It was easy to tell: if you won everybody wanted to be around you, if you didn’t win nobody said much to you. But things could change in the evening show voting if you looked way better or much worse than in the afternoon. If you sweat a lot in pre-judging, you’ll be more muscular at night; if you eat a lot after pre-judging, you may be smoother and puffier at night.
“In sixth place is Roger Walker of Australia” came the voice from the podium. He was in good shape, and they want an Australian to be in the top six I thought. “In 5th place Mike Mentzer USA” “Wow, he’s angrier than hell and can’t believe he’s 5th” I said to myself. “4th place Boyer Coe USA” And at that moment I had a strong feeling that my name would be called next. “In 3rd place Frank Zane USA”. Loud booing from the audience preceded “In second place Chris Dickerson USA” “I guess they like ballet” I thought. And the winner of Mr. Olympia 1980….(who else?)….Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’d accepted my trophy, bowed to the audience, and left the stage. Walking with trophy in hand backstage, I set it down and put on my warm-up suit. Picking up the trophy, the oil from my body had spread to the trophy and it slipped out of my hand, hit the floor, and fell apart.
I leaned over , looked at it and took the name plate off it that spelled Mr. Olympia 1980 third place. And walked out to the back of the auditorium where Arnold was addressing the audience from the stage “This proves once and for all that I am the greatest bodybuilder of all time.” Booing must have gone on for a full minute. “Well, the audience has good taste” I thought. I met Christine and we walked out the backstage door and there were hundreds of people waiting to greet us with cheers. There was a party, but we went back to our hotel, I had a few glasses of wine and went to sleep. The next day we went to a barbecue on the beach across from the Coogee Beach Motel where we stayed. We picked out steaks, cooked them and sat down. “What’s the strongest beer you have” I asked the beer mate. “This one in the white can” I took two. But the booze couldn’t erase what had
happened from my mind. I had a long time to think about it on the flight home. “Why the accident, how freaky, why me? It wasn’t until I realized it that I had created conditions for it’s occurrence by my attitude. I’d spent so much time being angry and resentful, I was “pissed off” when it occurred.
The result was a physical manifestation of this anger: My pissing was off with a smashed urethra. This negative body metaphor had become selffulfilling prophesy. I had created my experience with negative thinking and emotion. Back in California everything got back to normal. Arnold was away making his Conan movie and when he returned, I saw him at World Gym, and he asked me out to breakfast. I had agreed to pose in Columbus Ohio for his Mr. World contest but after the Australia fiasco I refused. Since Arnold had MC’d a contest Christine and I ran that summer I owed him this posing exhibition and when I didn’t do it letters from his attorney began arriving threatening a lawsuit. “Just pay my attorney costs and we’ll call it even” he told me, so I did. Then Arnold explained his contest behavior by comparing it to politics: “Suppose Jimmy Carter approaches Ronald Regan before the election and tells him his plan to win. Regan would be a fool to not take advantage of this information. Competition is about strategy, not friendship.”
He was right. I had mistaken a competitor for a coach. Touché. I didn’t compete the next year. The wise move would have been not to compete in 1980 but enter in 1981. In a fair contest I’d beat Franco Colombu but how fair did it turn out to be? Dickerson thought he had the title only to place second to Colombu whose injured leg looked different than his other one. Judging from what I saw Danny Padilla should have won.
I still wanted to win four Olympias and losing in 1980 fueled my resolve to do so. In 1982 I’d come in bigger, after all the critics said I needed to get bigger.