Kevin Levrone was one of the most preeminent bodybuilders of the 1990s until he stopped competing in 2003. The Maryland-based professional bodybuilder burst onto the bodybuilding scene in 1991 with a definitive win at the 1991 NPC Nationals held in Pittsburgh. At a height of 5-foot-nine, Kevin competed at a weight that ranged from 243 to 254 pounds. Among his many victories in professional bodybuilding contests, Kevin placed second no less than four times in the coveted Mr.Olympia contest (1992,1995, 2000, and 2002). In all, he competed in 67 IFBB professional bodybuilding contests, winning 23 of them. After years of competing, Kevin opted to drop out of competition (although he never officially retired) in 2003 to focus on a career in film and music. But in May 2016, he announced at a contest in Pittsburgh in the same auditorium where he had won his first major contest 25 years earlier that he was making a comeback at the Mr.Olympia contest scheduled for September 18. Because of his past status as one of the top pro bodybuilders, he was granted a special invitation to compete in the Olympia, which normally required a bodybuilder to place in the top three of a qualifying contest. Kevin's announcement was only mildly surprising in the bodybuilding world since he had stated in the past his intention to return to competition, but never followed through.
It didn't take long for some of Levrone's former competitors, such as Shawn Ray, to come out and warn Kevin that his intention to compete was mere folly. After all, Kevin hadn't competed in over a decade, and there was some question whether his body at age 52 would be able to respond to training the way that it did when he was at his peak. Kevin's comeback was not unprecedented in bodybuilding. Arnold Schwarzenegger won six consecutive Mr.Olympia titles between 1970 and 1975, then retired for 5 years and returned to the Mr.Olympia stage in Sydney, Australia in 1980. But Arnold was only 33 years old when he competed in Australia, which is still within the peak physical response years for a bodybuilder. Although Arnold won the 1980 Mr.Olympia contest, his victory was not popular since many felt that he wasn't at his best. Some even hinted that the contest had been fixed for Arnold, a rumor never confirmed. Now here was Kevin Levrone attempting to return to the most competitive contest in bodybuilding at age 52.
Many, such as Shawn Ray, felt that Levrone's proposed return to competition was risky not only from a health perspective but also because he could risk sullying his stellar contest record with a low placing. With the exception of Dexter Jackson at age 45, Levrone would be the oldest man in the contest, nearly twice the age of some of the other competitors. On the other . . .