by Christian Duque
4x Arnold Classic Champion and 1998 Mr. Olympia Vice-Champion Flex Wheeler recently underwent surgery to partially amputate his right leg. Word of it has spread like wildfire, and fans around the world have accessed social media and the message boards, probably sending personal e-mails, snaps, and DMs to the bodybuilding legend hoping for a speedy recovery. At the time of going to print, Wheeler has not made public comments yet, but is expected to appeal to fans in the coming days.
The influence of Flex on the sport has been indisputable since the 90s. On stage, he dominated the 90s with Dorian, Shawn Ray and Kevin Levrone and made a significant impact on the early 2000s. In 1998, Wheeler brought Ronnie Coleman to its limits and made him one of the closest competitions in the history of the event. Flex would return the following year and make another very strong attempt to defeat Coleman at 1999 Mr. Olympia. The choice between Wheeler and Coleman underscores the centuries-old wisdom that bodybuilding is a sport of apples and oranges.
Unlike the mass monsters of his time, Flex was able to see form, symmetry, and immaculate posturing (paired with a strong sense of self-confidence) as one of the most dangerous competitors on the stage. His ambitious nature and his iron work ethic have not renounced rankings and awards. He was also one of the most successful bodybuilders of his time, from a business standpoint. For many athletes, signing big contracts and being part of the latest companies and events is just as important as being well placed.
When kidney problems disturbed him in the early 2000s, some thought that it might be the last thing we saw about him, but those of us who knew better knew that he was just paging a new page.
Flex has worked with a number of companies, both in terms of supplements and as an established journalist and media personality. Long before King Kamali and even Shawn Ray & Kevin Levrone joined the network, Flex Wheeler was instrumental in developing Generation Iron and putting it on the map. With GI, Flex served as executive vice president, programming, reporting contests and a variety of events and projects.
Flex is also a respected contest prep guru who discovers and collaborates with superstar Keone Pearson of Classic Men's Physique early in his career, who is under contract with Blackstone Labs.
In the spirit of Kevin Levrone, Wheeler silenced the critics and gave the fans exactly what they had asked for when he announced his return to the stage in 2015. Unlike other legends (such as Lou Ferrigno), Wheeler did not transform his legendary look to become competitive with today's standards. His return was about creating the look that made him famous. Despite the excitement of his contemporaries and media, he made the brave decision to celebrate his comeback in the relatively new Classic Men's Physique Division.
What was important in his comeback was not where he was placed, but how, like Levrone, he announced his return, made a commitment, and recognized this commitment. Legends make promises and legends keep promises. When I think of Flex Wheeler, I think of that very word – LEGEND!
All we know about the recent operation is that Flex was brought to the ER last week and the partial leg amputation was the result of complications. The news has been spread by both the mainstream press and the industry press, and we, here in Iron Magazine, are releasing this article to get our community to side with Flex rather than breaking a story.
The bodybuilding sport has grown by leaps and bounds, this year's Mr. Olympia was a huge hit, but when all is said and done, bodybuilding is still a niche sport and the NPC / IFBB Pro League community is proud to be one of the close-knit family. We take great care of our friend Flex Wheeler and wish him a speedy recovery.
Please make sure you show Flex TONS support! Go to his IG page, send him an email and / or make cool posts and videos. I can not tell you how important it is to know how much people think and care about you.
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