by Geoff Roberts
The extent to which Kai Greene continually causes controversy and drama is often referenced in the bodybuilding industry. That said, when examining this topic all on its own, it becomes clear that not only is this true, but drama and controversy are really the only constant occurrence Kai has had throughout his entire career. So much so, that if you were to gather all of the drama and controversy provided by the rest of the top ten bodybuilders in the world combined, they would fail to match that of The Drama King himself, alone. Now, I am no expert on Kai Greene’s personal affairs, so obviously this examination of all of his dramatic events and controversial decisions will be based on what I have seen, as well as what has been reported elsewhere.
Kai’s professional relationship with endless drama first began leading up to the 2009 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic. Kai had been trained by Oscar Ardon essentially since he was just a kid. For some reason, Kai decided to stop training with Oscar in the gym and instead travel across the country to California to be trained by Charles Glass. This decision in and of itself is not all that strange. However, soon after arriving in Venice to train with Charles, Kai mysteriously puts a premature end to this new relationship, and proceeds to make some seemingly negative comments about being in the mecca, and training with the great Charles Glass. The majority of people in the industry still have no idea just why Kai Greene was so unhappy with the situation he found himself in when he arrived in Venice California. The early drama doesn’t end there. While Kai was at Golds Venice training with Charles, rumors of Kai being way behind in his prep, far too heavy, and even passing out on the treadmill, all ran rampant. These rumors continued right up to the show, when Flex Magazine reported with certainty that Kai had in fact pulled out of the show due to health complications. In fact, everyone was unsure if Kai would compete or not right up until he walked out onstage for prejudging. I do not believe this has ever taken place at a professional bodybuilding contest before or since it happened with Kai. Once Kai did in fact come out and decimate the field, his pre-contest near-death rumors caused even more controversy in the weeks following the show.
After his stellar appearance at the 2009 Arnold Classic, Kai was a front-runner going into the 2009 Mr. Olympia, but not without drama. Kai and Oscar made an interesting decision to rent a hotel room in Vegas for the last seven weeks before the Olympia, as a sort of “training camp”. Everyone can see why this decision might be made, but it was an odd one nonetheless. To add a thick layer of drama frosting to this drama cake, plenty of videos were posted of these two training and prepping from this dumpy hotel in the desert, and boy oh boy was it dramatic. We saw Kai Greene acting like a sick, malnourished zombie-child all day long, depending on Oscar to do everything for him, while they constantly listened to religious and or motivational speakers on the radio. It was as if Kai was preparing to spend two months alone in the Kalahari desert without food or water, as opposed to a bodybuilding competition. It must be noted that Kai may have been acting a bit over dramatic just to better serve the cameras that were filming him, but I doubt it, and drama is drama no matter how you slice it. After all of this unnecessary monk-like meditation and seclusion was done, Kai placed a disappointing fourth place at the Olympia, looking worse than he did at the Arnold earlier in the year, which lead to even more drama, if you can believe it.
Kai managed to just slip by a charging Phil Heath at the 2010 Arnold Classic, and once again was a front-runner going into the Olympia. There was far less drama surrounding Kai leading up to this show, as his seemingly essential drama events came post show in 2010. There was talk of Kai’s ridiculous body weight and pre-contest photos leading into the show, but I would not necessarily classify that as drama. The drama came when Kai stepped out onstage and was as far off as we have ever seen him. Kai was nowhere close to the first call out, and swiftly became one of the biggest Olympia busts in the competition’s history. When the show was done, The Drama King decided to cold turkey his relationship with his “best friend, coach, and mentor” Oscar Ardon, begin working with The Fib King, George Farah, and essentially never speak to Oscar again. A bit of a dramatic overreaction is you ask me.
2011 was a fairly drama-less year for Kai. He won the New York Pro, defeating a weak lineup, and placed third at the Mr. Olympia that same year. In 2012 however, The Drama King fully lived up to this new nickname. Where do I begin? While Kai’s annual drama party took place prior to the Olympia, the overwhelming majority of people did not know about it until after the show. As mentioned earlier, Kai decided to work with George Farah when he abruptly dropped Oscar. Well, for the 2012 Olympia, he was only working with George on paper. In reality, he was getting his nutrition and supplement advice from Ron Noreman. Simply put, Kai faked working with George, ignoring his advice, and instead worked with Ron behind closed doors. Kai even got both of these men separate hotel rooms on different floors for the Mr. Olympia, so that he could work with Ron, fake working with George, and have George not find out. You just can’t write this stuff, it seems to be right out of an overly dramatic “reality” television program. Once the truth was exposed, of course, Kai refused to tell the truth and apologize, and instead took the dramatic route, not only lying about the situation, but calling Ron a parasite at a seminar shortly after the Olympia. It should also be noted that Ron was not only Kai’s nutritionist for the 2012 Olympia, but also his accountant and very good friend, before all of this hoopla that all but destroyed their relationship.
2013 was another quiet year for Kai in regards to drama, especially for Kai. Once again he took the entire year off to focus on the Olympia, where he narrowly escaped placing third behind a stellar version of Dennis Wolf, and took a very distant second place to Phil Heath. Just like the case of 2011 and 2012, Kai more than made up for lost drama in 2013 by pouring it on heavier than ever in 2014. At the 2014 Olympia press conference, Kai dumped drama and controversy on us like a Biggest Loser contestant dumping maple syrup and Hershey’s chocolate sauce all over every last morsel they shove into their already full mouths, as soon as the show is over. He yelled at Phil, seemed to threaten Phil, and rudely interrupted him while talking about his father who recently passed away. Apparently, The Drama King was not yet satisfied with his display, because during the prejudging, for seemingly no reason at all, Kai sprung into Phil’s face looking for a fight onstage. Something that very rarely happens in professional bodybuilding, if at all. One week later in Prague, Kai makes yet another dramatic move that is also rarely if ever seen in professional bodybuilding. He competes in prejudging looking pretty bad for Kai, then proceeds to mysteriously pull out of the show, only to address the audience the following day looking perfectly healthy, claiming that stomach issues prevented him from continuing to compete.
Kai wasted no time in reinvigorating his dramatic ways after pulling out of the Prague Pro in 2014. He did this by somehow having a feud with the Mr. Olympia team, and not signing the contract to compete in the 2015 show. The dramatic cherry on top was a video that Kai released in the middle of the night (how dramatic!), sobbing his eyes out about not being able to compete in the Mr. Olympia. This may have been a political statement, or he may have very well not been allowed based on some rule that was violated, who knows. The bottom line is, it was drama city through and through. I personally feel that this Kai vs Olympia feud started back in 2014. The reason I say this is for the simple fact that Kai was mysteriously left off of the promotional poster for the Wide World of Sports airing of the Mr. Olympia that year, despite back to back runner up finishes in 2012 and 2013. Void of some kind of feud or disagreement, why on Gods green earth would Kai be left off a poster that is promoting a contest that he has been second in the last two years, and is the undisputed number one contender to dethrone the champ in?
Now, it may seem as if I am being very harsh on Kai, and maybe a bit unfair, but I do not think that is the case. I am simply revisiting all of the drama and controversy Kai has caused and or been a part of over the last seven years or so. In fact, I feel that Kai won the Olympia in 2014. I see no reason why Kai could not have dethroned Phil Heath in 2014, and he deserved to win all of the Arnold Classic shows he has recently come out on top of. That said, Kai was part of more controversy at the Arnold Classic Columbus. First because based on the scorecard, Kai won the show with his posing routine, and not his physique, despite the fact that the shows head judge claimed this was untrue on several occasions. I still have no idea what the disconnect was there, and why the head judge was unaware of how the scores went down. Second because of the fact that Arnold himself brought this issue to light right to Kai’s face onstage, mere minutes after his win, by asking Kai how it felt to have won with his posing and not his body. More storybook drama that only Kai Greene could provide us with. I would also like to use this as an opportunity to say that I do not like when people in the industry bring up Kai’s tainted past as a cheap jab at him. While Kai’s “unique” past is in fact a source of even more Kai Greene controversy, we all make foolish mistakes when we are young, and we should not be judged based on those things as adults, especially if said things were completely victim-less mistakes.
As I write this in mid April, Kai is yet to sign his Olympia contract for 2016, and if I were a betting man, I would put all my money on him not signing and thus not doing the show. A decision that will no doubt have the entire industry talking from now until well after the 2016 Mr. Olympia. Wouldn’t you know it, there is more Kai drama even as I write this piece! Let me make something crystal clear. I love all of this Kai Greene drama. In a sport that can be as boring as bodybuilding, Kai’s drama, controversy, and ups and downs give us some much needed entertainment, as well as something to discuss. Thank God. I will be the first person to say that Kai refusing to answer every single question ever, and instead giving the same exact answer of “follow your dream” every single time without fail, is the single most annoying thing in the entire industry. However, that does not change the fact that Kai is one of our most colorful characters, and the sport would be much better off with more interesting personalities similar to The Drama King himself.