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Fisherman Turned Pro Bodybuilder Big Ramy Couldn’t Believe His First Ever Mr. Olympia Victory in 2020: “Would Wake Up and it Would Feel Like a Dream”

Published 10/19/2022, 9:45 PM EDT

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For the last two years, Mamdouh Elssbiay, aka Big Ramy, has ruled the Olympia stage. He’s shown consistency and beaten his rivals with size and conditioning. However, the journey to reach bodybuilding’s grandest stage wasn’t easy for the Egyptian. In fact, when many of Mamdouh’s now rivals were already competing, he hadn’t even turned pro.

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From dreaming about the title for a decade to overcoming the negativity he faced, Ramy once revealed how it felt to win the coveted Mr. Olympia title in 2020.


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It felt like a dream even after winning

On April 5th, 2021, Ramy appeared on Dennis James’ “The Menace,” podcast. Dennis asked Ramy how long it took him to process the biggest win of his career. Ramy said, “For the first three days after the show, I would wake up and it would feel like a dream.”

Ramy also added, “I’d look for the Sandow around me, and I would be like, ‘It happened. I’m still not dreaming.'” Most bodybuilders take decades to build a physique that’s worthy of the Mr. Olympia stage. However, it took Mamdouh just seven years.


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Mamdouh Elssbiay made his pro debut in 2013 and won the New York Pro. Elssbiay said that winning the Mr. Olympia title in 2020 was a dream come true. “I did that (dreamed) for 10 years, and I was thinking about that every day.”

Elssbiay talked about the negativity he faced as well. He said, “A lot of people around me said that it would never happen.”

Big Ramy proved all the doubters wrong. In 2021, Elssbiay won the Mr. Olympia title again and started building a legacy. Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay is also the first non-American to win the Mr. Olympia title after 1997. Before him, UK’s Dorian Yates was the last non-American to hold the title.


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Big Ramy’s journey to the top has been incredible. It took him a short time to get his hands on the title, but Elssbiay faced a lot of adversity in life. Just like bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ramy wasn’t born into a wealthy family. In fact, Elssbiay worked as a fisherman before he began bodybuilding.

COVID-19 almost ruined Big Ramy’s chances

In October 2020, COVID-19 almost ended Big Ramy’s dream of competing in that year’s Mr. Olympia. While he recovered in time for the show, Mamdouh had given up all hope of competing in the Mr. Olympia contest. However, he received an unexpected official invitation. It was a chance of a lifetime, and Ramy took full advantage, dethroning Brandon Curry.


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Watch this story – Ronnie Coleman Delivered His Top Lineups for Mr. Olympia 2022

Big Ramy has had an incredible journey so far. He became the first non-American in decades to win the Mr. Olympia title. From a humble fisherman to a champion of the world, Ramy manifested a dream. No wonder Elssbiay felt like he was still dreaming, even with the trophy in his room.

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Written by:

Sagnik Bagchi


One take at a time

Edited by:

Melroy Fernandes