What happened to bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall? Everything you need to know

What happened to bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall? Everything you need to know

Bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall is no stranger to bodybuilding despite not becoming a professional. He is often described as the greatest bodybuilder, never to turn pro. Many people credited him as one of the bodybuilders with the most impressive physiques in his era. For a person who was as talented as he was, many people will never understand why he never earned a pro card. However, it appears that he was one of those who were content with the simpler things in life.

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Bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall
Bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall. Photo: @thegoldendays and @musculardevelopment on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: Instagram

Matt Mendenhall was nicknamed Mr Genetics due to his fantastic physique that put other bodybuilders to shame. To complete the package, Matt was also very handsome and was described by friends as kind, generous, sweet, and humorous. Sadly, the body he had worked so hard to be in great shape betrayed him by shutting down, leading to his death.

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Matt Mendenhall's profile summary

Name Matt Mendenhall
Date of birth26 June 1960
Place of birthCincinnati, Ohio
Age61 years old (died August 2021)
Birth signCancer
Ethnicity White
Hair colourBlonde
Eye colourBrown
Marital statusUnknown
Ex-girlfriendRachel McLish
SiblingsMark, Scott, Bobby, Robbie, and Martha
Education Ohio High School
Height 1.80 Meters
Height in feet 5'11"
Weight in kilograms111
Weight in pounds245

Early life

Matt Mendenhall was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in a large family. He had five siblings: Mark, Scott, Bobby, Robbie, and Martha. The family was passionate about fitness because all four boys were bodybuilders. Matt was a football player in his early days and also enjoyed pole vaulting.

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Career beginnings

His family and friends noted that young Matt had excellent genetics, which enabled him to develop an incredible physique without working out. However, when he was 15, he suffered a severe forearm injury while practising pole vaulting. His doctor said the arm would not recover fully and even suggested amputating it.

At this point, his siblings encouraged him to start training in the gym as a way of rehabilitation. As a result, he began lifting weights and recovered fully after a short while. He had also packed an impressive amount of muscle mass in that short period.

First competition

After three years of lifting weights, Matt's physique surpassed all his schoolmates and peers. He was 17 in 1978 when his family encouraged him to participate in his first competition, the Mr Ohio High School show.

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Matt had no prior posing or tan experience before entering the competition. However, this did not stop him from dominating the contest. As a result, he emerged the winner and took home his first trophy. This motivated him to try his luck in the industry.

Career setbacks

Matt has been in nine competitions for seven years, winning four of them. In most of the other contests, he emerged as a runner-up, second to future legend Lee Haney. But unfortunately, Matt never reached his true potential because of severe illnesses and accidents.

In 1983, he suffered from a flu virus just before the NPC Nationals. He lost a lot of weight and condition in his recovery but competed because his parents had arrived and they were excited to see him on the stage.

A year later, Matt had a car crash in which he was flung out of the front window. Fortunately, he recovered and brought his best shape to the competition. Unfortunately, the crowd did not understand how Mike Christian defeated him to 1st place, and this controversial decision was questioned for years.

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Rare success

In 1985, Matt tasted rare success when he won the heavyweight division of the NPC USA Championship. As a result, he entered the World Games that year but lost to Berry DeMey due to jetlag. He became ill soon after, and after a series of career lows, he decided to take a break from the sport. He used this time to study homoeopathic medicine and started his own supplements company.


Matt returned for just one show at the 1991 NPC Nationals, finishing 5th. He was 31 years old at the time, and this was his last appearance on stage. After that, he retired and moved to Texas, where he launched a personal training company.

Matt Mendenhall's wife and children

Matt Mendenhall was once in a relationship with fellow athlete Rachel McLish. They dated for a long time but eventually went their separate ways. However, they remained friends until his passing. Matt's other relationships were never publicized. There is also no information on whether he got married or not.

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What was Matt Mendenhall's net worth?

While Matt never turned pro and did not get many elite trophies, he still made good money in his career. He was a runner-up in many competitions, thus earning colossal pay and bonuses. At his time of death, his net worth was estimated to be around $1.5 million. However, this figure cannot be verified and hence unreliable.

What happened to bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall?

The bodybuilder was regarded as a legend regardless of the status of his competitive history. He does not appear on the IFBB list of bodybuilders, but his contribution to the sport is recognized. Before his death, he lived a low-key life devoting himself to his chiropractor practice. He died on 28 August 2021, at the age of 61. The cause of his death was never revealed to the public.


  1. Was Matt Mendenhall natural? Yes, Matt was a natural because he attained his physique without working as hard as other bodybuilders.
  2. What happened to bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall? He retired in 1991 and passed away in 2021.
  3. Who is the most outstanding male bodybuilder of all time? Arnold Schwarzenegger is considered the greatest bodybuilder of all time, having defined the Golden era of bodybuilding.
  4. At what age did Matt Mendenhall die? Retired bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall was killed in 2021 at the age of 61.
  5. Was Matt Mendenhall the only bodybuilder in his family? No, his brothers Mark, Scott, and Bobby were also bodybuilders.
  6. Why did Matt Mendenhall not turn pro? Matt competed in many amateur competitions but missed turning pro five times by one placing.
  7. Did Matt Mendenhall die of steroid of wrong drug use? No, rumours that he died due to steroid or drug usage were disputed, but the cause of his death was never revealed.

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It is not every day professional bodybuilders praise and openly admire a bodybuilder who retired as an amateur. While that is common practice in all sporting activities, bodybuilder Matt Mendenhall was no ordinary bodybuilder. Instead, he was heaven-sent – God's once-in-a-lifetime gift to the bodybuilding world. He worked hard to achieve his physique, but it would not have been possible had it not been for his genes.

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