There was a time when International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro League member Johnnie Jackson was a fixture on the competitive circuit. In the 2010s alone, the 52-year-old appeared in almost 20 sanctioned IFBB competitions. Overall, in a nearly two-decade-long career, Jackson can boast close to 60 appearances in bodybuilding contests. His profile spans back so far, he can boast of squaring off against various Mr. Olympia legends like Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, and Phil Heath. However, after 2017, while he never formally retired, Jackson stopped appearing on stage — aside from a brief return with two contests in 2020.
Instead, the winner of the “2009 World’s Strongest Professional Bodybuilder” title has since shifted away from posing to primarily focus on strength training — as one glance at his Instagram would indicate. That might change very soon. On Jan. 30, 2023, Jackson appeared in a podcast episode with Muscular Development, where he discussed upcoming plans. Over the course of the appearance, the seasoned pro elaborated on making a potential comeback at the 2023 Masters Olympia on Aug. 26-27, 2023, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
One of the main reasons Jackson says he is considering a comeback at age 52 is that he misses the thrill of competition. After spending so much of his life around high-level bodybuilding, walking away outright doesn’t appear to be easy for Jackson.
As for following through with any potential plans, Jackson maintained he hadn’t yet made any formal inquiries into competing at the 2023 Masters Olympia. For the time being, the idea of returning is more on the tip of his tongue — even if he has seemingly considered all of the possibilities.
“Nobody [the Masters Olympia organizers] reached out to me, and I haven’t applied yet,” Jackson clarified. “I’m mulling it over. It’s still in the works. I’m totally thinking about it. I mean, I miss competing like you would miss your left hand if it wasn’t attached to your body anymore … Honestly, I’m not one of those guys who is like, ‘yeah, I’m happy in retirement.’”
Judging by Jackson’s tenor and candor within this tell-all conversation, it might be harder to keep him away from the stage as time passes.
Sometimes an athlete just has to scratch their competitive itch.
” … I have to say, since they announced it [the 2023 Masters Olympia], each day more and more I’m thinking about it,” Jackson said. I figure by mid-February, I will be in or out. By mid-February, I have to say yes or no. More and more every day I’m leaning towards yes.”
A pivotal decision in Jackson’s bodybuilding career awaits him.
He could elect to return and harness that competitive energy he notes he’s been missing. He doesn’t appear to have much to lose. At the same time, as he enters the thick of his 50s, there might not be too much of a rush to shift his life around on a dime again. Whatever lies ahead, he certainly has the current appearance of a man who wants to show off an elite physique again.
Featured image: @johnnieojackson on Instagram