Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Samir Bannout (aka “The Lion of Lebanon”) began lifting weights at the age of 16 and earned his first trophy two years later as the youngest participant in the 1974 Teenage Mr. Universe competition. Soon after this initial stage experience, he moved to the U.S., where he dedicated himself to training and competing, and earned his pro card by winning the light-heavyweight class at the 1979 IFBB World Amateur Championships. For the next two decades, Samir participated in more than 50 competitions, including winning the 1983 Mr. Olympia contest in Munich, Germany. Renowned in particular for his incredibly developed lower back, which was immortalized as the “Lebanese Cedar,” Samir was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 2002, joining such luminaries as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, and Larry Scott.
“If you want to do something; do it from the heart.”
1st Place | 1979 World Amateur Championships
In a highly competitive field that included such favorites as Ron Teufel, Samir won the light-heavyweight class and earned his pro card.
1st Place | 1983 Mr. Olympia
At the time only the sixth bodybuilder to win the title, Samir was the last Mr. Olympia to weigh under 200 lbs. With his win, the "aesthetics" era of the Mr. Olympia contest came to a close, and mass and size became the defining criteria.