James †Flex” Lewis, winner of seven 212 Olympia titles, retires from competitive bodybuilding† Lewis announced the news in the debut episode of his podcast, Straight from the caveon May 13, 2022. President of the Olympia, Dan Solomon, confirmed the news in a private Instagram post (embedded below).
It’s time I hang up my posing pants.
You can listen to Lewis’s announcement starting at 10:10 PM in the video below:
†[Bodybuilding] is something I’ve been doing since I was 19,” Lewis says in the podcast. “It’s time I hang up my posing pants. It’s been a great road. I am blessed to say that I have achieved more things than I ever imagined.”
Flex Lewis – King of the “Lightweights”
According to muscle memory, Lewis arrived in the bodybuilding world with a first place finish at the 2003 Junior British Championships. He was seen as a teenage sensation and envisioned the future of bodybuilding in his part of the world. In 2007 Lewis turned pro by winning the overall British title.
Lewis made his professional debut in 2008 Europe Pro, where he won the 202 division title (note: 202 pounds preceded the 212 division) and finished seventh in the Open. He made his Olympia debut that same year, finishing third in champion David Henry’s 202 match.
From 2009 to 2018, his last year of competition, Lewis was a mainstay in the lightweight division(s), meaning the non-open bodybuilding class, changing from 202 to 210 to 212. After starting with fifth and second place Olympia, among others finishes (2009 and 2011, respectively), the Welsh native peaked Flex Lewis in 2012. He won the British Grand Prix, Prague Pro and the Olympia – then went on to win six more consecutive Olympia titles.
Big wins from Flex Lewis
- 212 Olympia: 2012-2018
- Prague Pro: 2012-2014
- Arnold Classic 212: 2014
- San Marino Pro: 2014
The move to the open
After winning his seventh Olympia 212 title in 2018, Lewis announced his retirement from 212 and his intention to compete in the Open division. He took the 2019 season off to add the size he needed to compete against bigger athletes. In 2020, he received a special invitation to the Olympia, but withdrew due to injury. He hoped to compete in the 2021 competition, but he withdrew again as he focused on having another child with his wife, Ali.
There has been speculation that Lewis would receive a special invitation to participate in the 2022 Olympia. It has not been formally offered as the Olympia will be held on December 16-18, 2022 in Las Vegas, NV, where Lewis currently resides.
Lewis won 20 shows in bodybuilding’s non-heavyweight division, and he is considered one of the greatest of his generation, if not always. The 38-year-old said he will focus on business ventures in the future and his growing family, which now includes a daughter and newborn son.
Featured Image: @flex_lewis