Shawn Ray – The Myth, the Man, the Bodybuilder

Shawn Ray, the bodybuilder, is a man who may be considered one of the most consistent and dedicated Mr. Olympia’s competitors of all time. He’s competed thirty times professionally, only placed once outside the top five for twelve years consecutively. He’s beaten pretty much everybody. One of the most demanding workers in the bodybuilding industry, Shawn travels the globe to cover events and promote his shows.

 Shawn is not afraid to report his truth, even if it is controversial. But it’s because of this that he has such a unique personality. You will learn about the myth, the mythology, and the life of Shawn Ray in this article. Forget what you have heard. We’ll be completely honest with you and give you the whole truth. We’ll discuss his life, career, challenges, triumphs, and titles.


Shawn Ray, the bodybuilder, was born on September 9, 1965, in Fullerton, California, United States. Shawn didn’t exhibit much enthusiasm for health and athletics growing up. However, his goals altered once he started attending college and the gym. Growing up, Shawn washed windows and cleaned toilets in the family business while his friends went to the beach. He further said he wanted to play professional football; he already had karate experience.

He started playing football at the age of eight. Shawn came from a football background. All his brothers played football. However, he soon began to see changes in his physical appearance and became passionate about weightlifting. After months of diligent training, Ray began to think about entering a bodybuilding competition. Shawn was married in 2003, and on August 10, 2005, he had his first child. His second child was born on April 30, 2008, to him and his wife, Kristie.


Before retiring at the age of 36 in 2001, Ray competed for three decades. He was one of the most regular warriors at the Mr. Olympia competition. However, he never won the competition. Nevertheless, Ray achieved a milestone that no other bodybuilder has matched: becoming a Top 5 Mr. Olympia Finalist for 12 Consecutive Years. Apart from 8-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney and 6-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates, Ray defeated every opponent he faced on the stage at least once throughout his career.

Here are some of his most significant victories:

  • 1983 California Gold Cup
  • 1984 Teenage Mr. California
  • 1985 Teenage National Championships
  • 1987 Mr. California (Lightheavy & Overall)
  • 1987 National Championships (Lightheavy & Overall)
  • 1990 Pro Ironman Champion
  • 1991 Arnold Classic Champion
  • She was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame for professional bodybuilding in January 2007.
  • Received Ben Weider Lifetime Achievement Award 2020.
Shawn Ray Bodybuilder Interview


In an interview, Shawn Ray, the bodybuilder, said, “during my pro career, I came probably five years too late, a lot of people think. But of course, I’m not sour grapes, but let me tell you something I had one of the best colorful careers of not winning Mr. Olympia and still being inducted into the bodybuilding Hall of Fame all at five foot seven, 210 pounds; I got nothing to complain about.”

Shawn also said no one could steal his thunder. He said a lot of people are chirping on social media. You hear a lot of opinions. Shawn mentioned that people talk about how he didn’t beat Doren Yates. But then he quickly replied nobody beat Dorian.

Mohammed bin Aziza, the shortest guy up there, beat him in his rookie year. Shawn stated he was in the conversation argumentatively to beat Dorian Yates. He said he didn’t hear the same argument for Kevin Levrone to beat Dorian Yates. Nor did he hear anyone say Flex Wheeler should’ve exceeded Dorian Yates. Shawn Ray, the hard-working kid from California, always seems to have a chip on his shoulders.

Shawn believes it didn’t take anything away from his career that he didn’t win, Mr. Olympia. After all, he says he didn’t end up in a wheelchair. Also, he says it didn’t make him any more intelligent than those bodybuilders. Shawn says they did what they had to, but he was always aware of the finish line. Shawn stated his goal was to be healthy, wealthy, and well-traveled. He said he got what he wanted from bodybuilding. Finally, Shawn said he didn’t get the Mr. Olympia trophy but didn’t lose any sleep over it.

Gym-Life Barbells

Workout Philosophy

Shawn Ray, the bodybuilder, developed his workout philosophy early in life while working for his dad’s janitorial company. He learned that hard work and discipline were the keys to success. He also worked for his father, teaching him how to be patient. Like most bodybuilders, he used compound lifts with an attention to detail to build his physique. Shawn stated he used the mirror as his guide when working out. However, he didn’t look in the mirror with admiration but as a student of what he needed to do to work harder and smarter.

For example, Shawn crushed his gym workouts and ensured his diet and sleep didn’t sabotage what he built in the gym. In addition, he learned from his father to speak softly and carry a big stick. Because of his discipline and low profile away from bodybuilding, many thought he came from a wealthy background. But as the son of a janitor, the environment Shawn came from was humble and focused.

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Diet Plan

They say a muscular body is built in the kitchen, not the gym. Shawn Ray, the bodybuilder, always took a balanced approach to his diet and supplements. He ate 6 or 7 meals a day. Shawn stated you need to bulk up and diet down. He said he didn’t take unnecessary risks and always prioritized his health. Shawn believes because he was responsible for his diet and supplements, he didn’t meet the fate of many of the bodybuilders of his era. It should be mentioned that Shawn Ray lost the 1990 Arnold Classic due to failing a drug test.


Shawn is not shy about drugs and steroids in bodybuilding. He and Chad Nicholls, nutrition coach for Flex Wheeler, Big Ramy, and Ronnie Colman, have had their share of disagreements. Shawn called out Chad Nicholls, AKA Doctor Diet, for his nutritional approach. Shawn accused Chad of causing the death or serious medical issues of some of the most prominent bodybuilders. Chad has also contributed to the bad blood between the two by saying Shawn is a crybaby because he couldn’t beat any of Chad’s bodybuilder’s in his prime.

Shawn and Chad represent two different schools of thought regarding bodybuilding. Shawn is the last of the old vanguard. The janitor’s son likes to keep things clean. In contrast, Chad represents the street cop who does unconventional things to bring out the best in his bodybuilders. They are as different as day and night. It is no wonder they clash.

The Last Word on Shawn Ray, the Bodybuilder

There is a reason that Shawn thinks of the bodybuilding world as his second home, where he can relax. Shawn has always enjoyed working out and lifting heavy things. It reminds him of his father’s janitorial business. It seems no matter where we go, we always return home. Shawn Ray, the bodybuilder, feels this passion pushed him down the path to being one of the greatest bodybuilders the sport has ever seen.

Ray came from a humble, hard-working background and worked to the top of the bodybuilding world while maintaining a clean bill of health. Today he fights to clean up the bodybuilding community despite being met with severe opposition. His life has come full circle.

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