Shawn Ray startet competing in bodybuilding at the age of 17 and just 2 years later he already became overall junior world champion. At 21 he won the Nationals and got his pro card, making him the youngest pro back then.
He made his pro debut at the 1988 Night of Champions and qualified for the Mr. Olympia right away. At his first Mr. O. he placed just 13th but on his following 12 Mr. O. participations he never placed lower than 5h place and in 1994 and 1996 he even became second.
Generally, Shawn Ray beat every athlete, he ever stood on stage with, at least one time, with the exception of Lee Haney, Dorian Yates and Lee Labrada.
Nevertheless he only had two pro victories during his very successful carreer. In 1990 he won the very first IRONMAN Pro at the age of 24, making him the youngest pro contest winner ever, even after he was suspended for one year before this.
Why was Shawn Ray suspended?
During the preparation to the very first Arnold Classic in 1989 he suffered a neck injury. Although the injury was healing pretty fast, he thought he wouldnt be able to prepare properly and cancelled his attendance, but had contract that obliged him to compete. Due to that breach of contract the IFBB banned him for the rest of 1989 - possibly just for his own good so that he could completely recover... ;-)
But this wasnt the only spot on Shawns carreer.
The cancellation of Shawn Ray's 1990 Arnold Classic victory.
After winning the 1990 IRONMAN Pro, Shawn also was the favorite for the Arnold Classic victory - and won. However in 1990 the IFBB pro league introduced doping tests for the first time and Shawn failed. His Arnold Classic title was rewoked and Mike Ashley took his place. Though at the same year's Mr. Olympia he passed all tests and got 3rd.
With his typical eagerness Shawn wanted to get the Arnold Title back and competed again in 1991. He won again and this time he kept the title - and it stands in the history books until today.
In the video below you can watch the 24 years old Shawn Ray with his posing routine at the 1990 IRONMAN Pro. Enjoy!