Steven Olema - Uganda's Most Prolific Bodybuilder
Steven Olema.

Steven Olema - Uganda's Most Prolific Bodybuilder


He counts himself as the only self-trained body builder in Canada to go all the way to the national level.

By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
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First published: March 4, 2008


In the bodybuilding world, this Ugandan with the Herculean physique has a nickname - Shaka Natty, the dreaded one a.k.a "The King from the East". His slogan is "Born in Africa, Made in America".


Origins and Education

Born in Uganda in 1973, he immigrated to Canada in 1985 as a refugee. Steven Olema is the son of well-known Ugandan-Canadian community leader Mary Apai Duku, who is also a music promoter and president of Music Africa – the organization behind Afrofest, the biggest African music festival in Ontario, Canada. His family settled in Calgary, Alberta and that became his hometown. However, in 1989 his family moved to Toronto, Canada. Olema holds a diploma in Fitness and Recreational Leadership from Centennial College. He is also armed with certification from the Canadian Personal Trainers Network and is currently a third year student of Kinesiology and African Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. He currently resides in the Beaches, one of Toronto's finest residential areas, above his personal training studio, where he trains himself and his clients.

Body Building Ambitions

As a pre-teen, Steven Olema was active in many sports, but it was finally when he was a teenager that he was introduced to weights. This was what would later define his career internationally. He says, "If music is the international language of communication, then sports is the body language. It certainly is a form of non-verbal communication. I generally enjoy all forms of sports."


Bodybuilding champion: Steven Olema
Bodybuilding champion Steven Olema.

Olema goes on to say that he has always admired the sheer drive and determination required to compete in international sports. He lives a hardcore bodybuilding and fitness lifestyle and would not have it any other way. Bodyweight being important for the six-pack endowed body builder, he usually fluctuates between 175 and 195 pounds, which is mostly muscle. As a little child, Olema, now a bodybuilding champion, always nursed dreams of becoming something like his idol - bodybuilding champion Mohamed Makkawy. At the tender age of ten, he cut out what is now a tattered newspaper clip of Makkawy, and held onto the photograph for inspiration. Therefore, it is safe to say that his journey towards his destiny started then. He also cites Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of his role models.

He trained for sixteen years and then finally stepped onto the international stage to compete in 2005. He counts himself as the only self-trained body builder in Canada to go all the way to the national level. His efforts definitely yielded results - he is the only self-trained athlete to reach the national level in one year. It was an amazing achievement, as most body builders compete for many years before reaching that level. He amazed the world by winning two provincial competitions in one year. Olema won 1st place as a middleweight at the 2005 Eastern Ontario Bodybuilding Championships and then seven months later, he won the 2006 Ontario lightmiddleweght Championship too, qualifying for the 2006 Canadian National Championships where he finished sixth.

Charity and Humanitarian Work

Olema is actively involved in raising money for the Canadian Resources for Humanitarian Initiatives. It is a charity that was founded by his mother in order to help orphans and underprivileged children in Uganda and Sudan. As a personal trainer who helps people reach their health and fitness goals, a very health-conscious Olema emphasizes that like other communities, Ugandans need to pay attention to their health. He considers himself an artist and sculptor, whose canvass is the human physique. His hobbies include sculpturing, fine arts, theatre and music. He loves rock, R&B and reggae.

Olema also does some modeling work. He has been the cover boy for www.BodyBuildingLive.com since 2005 and is the featured athlete for the Jamor Enterprises 2007 events calendar. Jamor is the number one promoter of body building, fitness and figure shows in Ontario, Canada.

Bodybuilding champion: Steven Olema
Bodybuilding champion Steven Olema.

What is next for him? Olema's goals are to reach IFBB Pro status. Having excelled in all weight classes he has entered, he wants to compete in the heavy weight league next time. He is currently taking a break to train himself to that level. Having gone from a refugee to a champion, there is absolutely no reason why he cannot do it. The dreadlocked Ugandan with a body of steel is certainly one to look out for.

For more information on Steven Olema, please go to www.stevenolema.com

Bodybuilding champion: Steven Olema
Bodybuilding champion Steven Olema.

By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
more from author >>
First published: March 4, 2008
Jane Musoke-Nteyafas, poet/author/artist and playwright, was born in Moscow, Russia and currently resides in Toronto, Canada. She is the daughter of retired diplomats. By the time she was 19, she spoke French, English, Spanish, Danish, Luganda, some Russian and had lived in Russia, Uganda, France, Denmark, Cuba and Canada.

Jane won the Miss Africanada beauty pageant 2000 in Toronto where she was also named one of the new voices of Africa after reciting one of her poems. In 2004, she was published in T-Dot Griots-An Anthology of Toronto's Black storytellers and in February 2005, her art piece Namyenya was featured as the poster piece for the Human Rights through Art-Black History Month Exhibit.

She is the recipient of numerous awards for her poetry, art and playwriting and is becoming a household name in Toronto circles. Please visit her website at www.nteyafas.com.