After a career of excellence, James “Flex” Lewis — winner of seven 212 Olympia titles — is retiring from competitive bodybuilding. On May 13, 2022, the 38-year-old Lewis announced the news in the first episode of his podcast, Straight Outta the Lair. Not soon after, Mr. Olympia President, Dan Solomon, confirmed the reveal in a post on his Instagram profile.
Lewis makes the official announcement starting at 22:10 in the video below:
“[Bodybuilding’s] been something I’ve been doing since I was 19,” Lewis says on the podcast. “There’s really no easy way to say this, but it’s time. Bodybuilding has served me very well. It’s opened amazing doors for me. It’s time for me to hang up my posing trunks. It’s been an amazing road. One that I’ve been very blessed to say I’ve accomplished more things than I ever imagined.”
A Living Legend
Lewis has been a competitive bodybuilder for nearly two decades in some capacity. According to Muscle Memory, Lewis made his professional bodybuilding debut during the 2003 International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) British Championships. At quite the start of a career, he captured first place while featuring in the Juniors division.
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From there, Lewis’ career would soon snowball into something incredible.
In 2007, Lewis notched his Pro Card while winning the overall British title. Later, he debuted at the 2008 IFBB Europa Supershow, where he won first place in the Lightweight division. After a few attempts over the next few years, Lewis would win his first-ever 212 Olympia title in 2012. That year also saw the champion bodybuilder “flex” on his competition and take home victories in the prestigious IFBB British Grand Prix and IFBB Prague Pro.
At his peak, Lewis was a top fixture in the Lightweight bodybuilding scene. Even as it shifted from 202 to an eventual official 212 classification, it seemed as if Lewis never lost any steam. A run of seven consecutive 212 Olympia titles (2012-2018) is proof as much of his unique achievements.
Here are some of Lewis’ more notable career results:
James “Flex” Lewis | Notable Career Results
- IFBB Olympia Champion (212) — 2012-2018
- IFBB Prague Pro Champion (212) — 2012-2014
- 2014 IFBB Arnold Classic Champion (212)
- 2014 IFBB San Marino Pro Champion (212)
- IFBB Korean Grand Prix Champion (212) — 2014-2017
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Into The Sunset
In 2018, Lewis announced his intentions to compete in the Men’s Open division. He would take the entire 2019 season off to build mass but eventually had to withdraw from the 2020 Mr. Olympia because of an undisclosed injury. The year 2021 was to mark his return, but then he and his wife placed their focus on the incoming birth of their child.
When the cons outweigh the pros, you really have to assess things.
Lewis did not discuss his plans for his individual future now that his competitive bodybuilding career is over. Considering the announcement is still fresh, it’s understandable. That said, he seemed to place a lot of weight on the sport’s rising stars to thrive for years to come.
In other words, Lewis wants to help leave professional bodybuilding in a better place than he found it.
“As an athlete, a champion, there’s a lot more work for me to do off-stage to help athletes be represented,” Lewis says. “To do what they don’t really want to do, and that’s get health checks. And, also, open more doors for these athletes in various different divisions and with various different sponsorship opportunities. My work is not done, and it will never be done. It is just done on-stage.”
Featured image: @flex_lewis on Instagram