Bodybuilder Mike Quinn has passed away at 61 after battling an undisclosed illness. This is his story.


Mike Quinn was born November 18, 1961, and grew up in working class home in Brocton, Massachusetts. “It’s known as a pretty rough city,” Quinn said. “I was picked on a lot and got the s**t beaten out of me until I was thirteen or fourteen.” Then he discovered the gym and began building himself up. “Later, I beat the f**k out of anyone that had ever beaten me up,” the always outspoken Quinn explained. He played football in high school, but even after practice he went to the gym for another two hours of pumping iron, often with his dad.

After briefly pursuing powerlifting, Mike Quinn turned to bodybuilding and found his true passion. He won the Teen Mr. Bay State, Teen Mr. Massachusetts, and then the 1981 Teen Mr. America. The next year he was second in a one-point decision at the Jr. Nationals behind future eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney. After bouncing between bodybuilding organizations for a few years, and winning his class at the 1984 NABBA Mr. Universe, Quinn won the overall 1987 NPC USA Championships and IFBB pro status.

mighty Mike Quinn
A rare shot of young Mike Quinn.

Mike Quinn competed as a professional bodybuilder from 1987 to 1999. In 1988, the phenom entered a whopping 10 pro shows and made the posedown (top six) in nine of them, highlighted by a sixth place finish in the 1988 Mr. Olympia, his Olympia debut at only 26. He never finished higher than fourth in a pro show, but from 1987 to 1989 he was consistently in the mix in even the world’s most prestigious contests, besting numerous legends. He was seventh in the 1989 Mr. Olympia at 27. The 5’8″ and 230-pound Quinn had an upper body that was Mr. Olympia-caliber in the ’80s. Though his legs lagged his upper half, his back could hang with anyone of that era, including Haney.

mighty Mike Quinn back
Mike Quinn (seen here in 1994) had one of the best backs of all time. / Muscletime: Raymond Cassar

Quinn was also celebrated for his intense workouts and stupendous strength, including repping out barbell rows with 455 pounds (206.4 kg.). It’s appropriate he was nicknamed “The Mighty Quinn” or “Mighty Mike Quinn.”


Mighty Mike Quinn landed on a lot of muscle magazine covers, before and after the all-powerful Weider company signed him. Quinn reminisced about those years: “In the 1988 Mr. Olympia I took sixth. They barely compared me with the winner, Lee Haney, which would’ve helped me because I had the best back. The powers-that-be did not like me. They didn’t know what to do with me. I spoke my mind, talked openly about drugs, which was a big no-no with [Joe] Weider. I was a thorn in his side.”

mighty Mike Quinn bodybuilder
One of several Weider covers for Mike Quinn: Flex May 1989.

He signed with Vince McMahon’s short-lived WBF (for, Quinn claimed, $375,000 for two years) and competed in its 1991 championships before returning to the IFBB Pro League. But bodybuilders were growing ever bigger and better in the ’90s, and, with the exception of a fifth in 1994, 30-something Quinn was never able to regain the high placings he had in his 20s. He failed to place in the 1994 Mr. Olympia. His final contest was in 1999 at age 37.

Off of stages, the Mighty Quinn, who lived most of his adult life in Florida, owned gyms, successfully battled substance abuse, married and divorced twice, and established a personal training business. He gave several frank interviews over the years, sharing wild behind-the-scenes tales and his unvarnished opinions about bodybuilding. One article dubbed him “The Black Sheep of Bodybuilding” for his outspoken personality. But he was much more than that. Mike Quinn was one of the hardest training musclemen of all time and one of the very best bodybuilders of the 1980s.

The Barbell extends our condolences to Mike Quinn’s family, friends, and fans.

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