Chris Dickerson, Bodybuilder Who Became First Black Mr. America, Dies at 82

He was a bodybuilding champ who held several titles in his career.

Chris Dickerson, a legendary bodybuilder who made history as the first-ever Black Mr. America, reportedly passed away in late 2021. He was 82.

According to the Washington Post, Dickerson died at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after struggling with a heart ailment.

Friend Bill Neylon told the newspaper that Dickerson had broken his hip in 2020 and also experienced a heart attack and contracted the coronavirus. He had been living in a Fort Lauderdale rehab center before dying, according to Neylon.

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Dickerson was a trailblazer for many people. He became the first openly gay Mr. Olympia, a men’s professional bodybuilding contest, in 1982. He also amassed 50 titles during his career, including International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Grand Prix competition wins in multiple states, the Post reports.

But perhaps his biggest claim to fame was becoming the first ever African American to become Mr. America, an honor he earned in 1970.

According to Neylon, at the time, Mr. America was expected to represent “the ideal male,” and to be more than “just a guy with muscles.”

"He brought class and dignity and culture to bodybuilding," Neylon told The New York Times.

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