Last week a 77-year-old Golden Era bodybuilding legend, Robby Robinson, graced the stage in Naples, Italy. While veteran bodybuilding fans know Robinson is still shredded, no one was prepared for the Black Prince’s incredible physique. The small crowd at G Exclusive Gym in Naples, Italy, exploded with cheers as Robinson hit one pose after another.

While the bodybuilding veteran’s physique is incredible for his age, his story may be even more fascinating. Robby Robinson was among the hardest working yet least-recognized bodybuilders during his prime. Despite winning the Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles and training with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robinson is often absent from the Golden Era lore. So why is the first Masters Olympia winner, ripped at 77, not as popular as other legends of his time? This is his story.

The humble beginnings of Robby Robinson


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Robby Robinson didn’t have the easiest time growing up in Tallahassee, Florida. Although he was born in Damascus, Georgia, Robinson’s family moved to Tallahassee shortly after his birth on May 24, 1946. Finances were always a concern for the Robinsons. The Black Prince’s father was a bootlegger, and his mother was illiterate. Later, his father abandoned Robinson and his 13 siblings.

“I went to what was basically an all-Black high school in Tallahassee,” Robinson had said in an interview with Oprah Daily. “Everybody was poor, Blacks and whites, it didn’t look like I was any better than you—we ate the same food, cooked in the same pots,” Robinson said about his circumstances growing up. Robby Robinson was also diagnosed with sickle cell disease back then.

However, neither his poor financial condition nor the sickle cell disease couldn’t dampen the bodybuilder’s spirits. He played football and track-and-filed while attending Florida A&M University. Robby Robinson noticed his exceptional physical development while training for these sports and thus, the Black Prince started training and competing in amateur bodybuilding competitions.

He became a prolific amateur competitor with over 300 appearances before turning professional. The prodigy found immediate success after turning pro in 1975. However, this is where he would run into more challenges.

Robby Robinson’s tumultuous career

In 1975, the bodybuilding icon moved to the bodybuilding capital of the world, California, to chase his dreams. There he came into contact with some of the greatest bodybuilders in history, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, and others. However, while the bodybuilders at Gold’s Gym welcomed him like brothers, things got dicey with organizers.

Read More | “Mr. Robby Looks Young as Hell!”: Bodybuilding World Bows Down to the Black Prince “Still Killin’ It” at Nearly 80

The Black Prince might have won the Mr. America and Mr. Univers within two years of turning pro, but he faced discrimination. “Blacks don’t get contracts,” an unnamed authority told Robby Robinson. While he never won the Mr. Olympia, the 5’7 over 200 lbs bodybuilder won the tall category in 1977 and the Heavyweight category in 1978. Despite these prestigious wins, things got rough.

Robby Robinson also wasn’t one to stay silent. “Hey, you know, listen, there’s really no money here; people don’t really care about you. If you don’t care about yourself, you’re not gonna make it,” Robinson said sometime in the early 80s. His statement got him suspended from the IFBB. However, by the 80s, he was moved to Europe and competed for 13 years.

“Over there, I was treated completely differently,” said Robinson during the Oprah Daily interview. While he didn’t face bias in Europe, the IFBB pro decided to stage his comeback in 1994. Robbie Robbinson decided to compete in the first-ever Masters Olympia. After facing “injustice” for years, the Black Price finally earned vindication, becoming the first Masters Olympia winner.

However, the audience wasn’t ready to accept the decision. At the 1994 Masters Olympia, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s old rival Lou Ferrigno looked for a last hurrah. He was by far the crowd favorite. So when Robby Robinson beat him, “all the fans—everybody booed,” said the 77-year-old. However, the Black Prince never paid heed to the negativity and even today pursues his passion.


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How is the Black Prince so ripped at 77?

Robby Robinson still takes training and diet seriously. Despite being in his late 70s, the Black Prince still follows the bodybuilding lifestyle. Although he is well beyond his prime, Robinson walks into the gym with the mentality of making gains. Like other Golden Era bodybuilders, Robinson focuses on reaching failure through volume training.

However, he also incorporates high-intensity work into his training. Robby Robinson also shares the mentality of visualization with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also emphasizes perfecting posing like Frank Zane. Hence, at 77, The Black Prince is the living embodiment of the Golden Era bodybuilding philosophy.


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Read More | Phil Heath Sees a Glimpse of Legend Robby Robinson in 2023 Mr. Olympia 212 Champion, Names Him the New “Black Prince”

Robby Robinson grew up amidst difficult circumstances and faced bias within the sport he loves. However, despite the challenges, the Black Prince has immortalized his legacy as a bodybuilding great and continues to inspire others at 77.