Nasser El Sonbaty Dead at 47

One of the most popular bodybuilders of his era, Nasser El Sonbaty will forever be remembered as the “Uncrowned Mr. Olympia”

March 22, 2013

By Frank Hoffmann

Typically, I’m the last guy who’ll buy into any rumors lurking around on the internet, but when I heard that one of my favorite bodybuilders of all time may have suddenly passed away, I had to dig. I combed through every bodybuilding forum and exhausted every search engine in an attempt to disprove the tragic news that I so desperately wanted to be a hoax. Sadly, it has been confirmed that on March 20, 2013, Nasser El Sonbaty passed away at the age of 47. Sources confirm that he died in his sleep while in Egypt. He will truly be missed and remembered for the contributions he made to the sport of bodybuilding.

Before I ever became a bodybuilding fan, I was an admirer of Nasser El Sonbaty. I remember when was a kid, about fourteen years old, I stopped by a local convenience store to buy a slushy after playing with some friends. On my way out, I decided to check out the magazine rack and for the first time I picked up a bodybuilding magazine. I don’t recall who was on the cover, but as I flipped through the pages one bodybuilder in particular captured my attention– it was Nasser! I’ve been hooked on the sport ever since.

Nasser El Sonbaty was one of the true mass monsters of the '90s. Wearing his signature spectacles, he would walk around at 315 lbs. with visible abs during the offseason and then shred down to 280 lbs just in time to dwarf his competition on stage. Personally, I think that Nasser is the greatest bodybuilder to never win The Sandow, and to this day feel that the 1997 Mr. Olympia was the biggest judging debacle in the history of the sport. Despite finishing second to an injury riddled and 5-time defending champion Dorian Yates, I still believe Nasser was the clear winner. Over his career, Nasser competed in over 50 IFBB sanctioned events with his biggest victory coming in 1999 at the Arnold Classic. His bodybuilding superstardom aside, Nasser was also a keen intellectual who stayed on top of the news and boasted advanced degrees in political science, history and sociology.  Earlier this month, when all the past Arnold Classic champions were called out to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show, I was disappointed that Nasser wasn’t there to take the stage. It would have been great to see the man one last time.

Frank Hoffmann is a former NCAA and Professional CFL football player from Toronto, whose passion for health and fitness stems from his years as a personal trainer. Frank works as a freelance fitness and lifestyle writer while holding down a nine to five job and believes having a full-time job is no excuse to not be fit. Check out his fitness blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Nine2Fit.