Former Mr. Olympia Shawn Rhoden has died of a heart attack at age 46, according to reports.
Rhoden, known among bodybuilders as “Flexatron,” passed away after winning Mr. Olympia in 2018 at 43 – the oldest strongman to ever win the title, Generation Iron reported Saturday.
Rhoden’s trainer, Chris Aceto, confirmed the bodybuilding star’s passing over the weekend to close friends and posted a tribute on Instagram early Monday.
“The best part of being in Shawn Rhoden’s inner circle is to bear witness to his desire, ability and need to validate others,” Aceto wrote to his 238,000 followers. “He uplifted everyone. For these and many other reasons I will miss an athlete who naturally became a genuine and dear friend.”
Rhoden had previously suffered a heart attack and had other health concerns, Generation Iron reported.
Rhoden, a Jamaica native, defeated Phil Heath in the 2018 Mr. Olympia, dethroning the champ who had won seven consecutive prior titles. He was later accused in 2019 of sexually assaulting a female bodybuilder in a hotel room in Utah, the website reported.
Rhoden was banned from future Mr. Olympia competitions after he was charged in July 2019. The expulsion was to be reconsidered following an outcome in the case.
It’s unclear how the rape case was adjudicated but Rhoden had pleaded not guilty, TMZ reported at the time.
Rhoden had not competed professionally since winning the 2018 Mr. Olympia, according to Muscle & Fitness magazine, which reported Rhoden had a heart attack on Friday.
Rhoden is the fourth Mr. Olympia to have died among 16 winners dating back to 1965, Muscle & Fitness reported.
Rhoden is survived by a young daughter, Cora Capri. He posted a photo of the pair on Instagram just days before Halloween, showing the girl in a Batgirl costume as he donned a mask.
“When the squad show up for work,” Rhoden wrote. “Not saying we are superheroes but we might be villains to some people.”
In his last public post just five days ago, Rhoden showed off his chiseled, 250-pound physique.
“Brick by brick and patience it will take,” Rhoden wrote to his nearly 2 million followers. “See you on the other side.”
Rich Gaspari, a retired bodybuilder who placed second multiple times at Mr. Olympia, said he was “shocked” Saturday to learn of Rhoden’s unexpected death.
“It’s very sad to hear of his passing,” Gaspari wrote on Instagram. “He had always been a gentleman towards me. Shawn had one of the most aesthetic physiques in bodybuilding. My condolences to his family.”