Chris Dickerson, a legendary bodybuilder who became the first-ever Black Mr. America, died on Dec. 23, as mentioned by PEOPLE. He was 82 years old. Dickerson died at a hospital in Florida after suffering from a heart ailment, according to his friend Bill Neylon who spoke to the Washington Post.
Neylon said that Dickerson was living in a rehab center in Fort Lauderdale before his death. In 2020, Dickerson broke his hip, experienced a heart attack and contracted COVID-19. "He brought class and dignity and culture to bodybuilding," Neylon told The New York Times.
Chris Dickerson, Legendary Bodybuilder Who Was First Black Mr. America, Dead at 82 https://t.co/S5A5QG7Zvf— People (@people) January 12, 2022
Along with being the first-ever Black man to win Mr. America, Dickerson became the first openly gay Mr. Olympia in 1982. He won 50 titles in his career, including wins at the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Grand Prix competitions in multiple states. According to his obituary on Legacy.com, Dickerson started competing in the mid-1960s and trained in ballet. He was also a model who posed for artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe.
"Winning the Mr. Olympia. Not only is it the highest title, both then and now, but also after two disappointments, to finally win it was great. That would have to be the pinnacle of my bodybuilding career," Dickerson said in past interview from Bodybuidling.com."The other one, a close second, would have to be being the first African American to win the A.A.U Mr. America."
According to Muscle and Fitness, Dickerson ended his career in 1994 after placing fourth at the Masters Olympia. And along with being trained in ballet, Dickerson is an accomplished singer. In another past interview, Dickerson talked about what he does to say in shape during the offseason.
"As a competitive bodybuilder, I would only add eight to 12 pounds onto my body during the offseason," Dickerson said. "While my fast metabolism allowed me to stay relatively lean year-round, I simply didn't like the extra pounds around my waist. Interesting, I think, how your body looks bigger when you weigh less. Besides, a lot of added pounds during the offseason have to be shed anyway in getting back into shape. So, why put all that stress on the heart by adding 40 or 50 pounds, only to take it off again, and have your weight fluctuate up and down like a yo-yo?"