Just IMHO: As we all know, the AAU Mr. A judges wanted a Mr. America who was 'American', who could speak the English, who was a citizen, etc. So Sergio was out on that basis. Almost like the Miss America contest where a woman needed to be 'American'. Right or Wrong or Stupid, that was the expectation almost half a century ago in 1966. Oliva couldn't even travel in some cases to the contests overseas since he was not a citizen. Was the AAU racist? Could be. But Hoffman never was, and he insisted that black heavyweight Oly lifter John Davis be housed with his white Olympic lifting team as far back as the fifties.
Weider only put Sergio on the cover of maybe 2 or 3 of his magazines out of the 72 issues [36 Muscle Builders plus 36 Mr. Americas] that were on the newsstands during the entire 3 years that Oliva was Mr. O. White guys and hot skinny girls were the name of the game back then. They sold more magazines for Joe. And that's all the Weider Bros cared about as businessmen.
Mr. Americas Vern Weaver, Jerry Daniels, Val Vasilief and 1959 Mr. A., Harry Johnson, were smooth as hell. But most of them were in the early sixties. Harry Johnson didn't even look as if he worked out, but he was a Southerner and that year the South had some political clout, and the same can be said for Southerner Daniels, who was basically a football player who lifted.
Looking at the photo below of Gadja v. Oliva, Bob Gajda looks great, just as big as Sergio. That was at the June '66 Mr. A which Bob won while Sergio took the Most Muscular. Here's the key to unlocking that mystery: Sergio was not as mind-bending as he would be six months later when he joined Weider and took his first Olympia. And Bob was cut as hell even with no tan and in outdoor lighting as seen in the February '66 S&H. In 1967 through 1972 we watched at the Duncan Y as Sergio grew and grew while working long shifts smashing iron in the scrap yard....during which time Arnie was sunning himself with a Weider contract in Cal. I don't think there are a lot of guys who feel Arnold really beat the Oak for the '72 Mr. O. The Wayne Gallasch photos taken two days after the contest were freaky from another planet.
For the strength fans among us, we knew that Sergio could warm up with the poundages that Arnold maxed out with. It was Chicago iron verses California pump.
goodpost except for the harry johnson part he actually was ripped off in a mr a contest before he won it in a later year. weaver was said to to be surprised how the winners of contest changed from when he won his mr a. he didn't think he couldwin a local contest under those standards.