Sergio Oliva is known in bodybuilding circles as "The Myth". This sobriquet was given to him by bodybuilder/writer Rick Wayne. Wayne had begun calling Oliva "The Myth" "(because everyone who saw him at the 1967 Montreal World's Fair said he was "JUST UNBELIEVABLE")".
Oliva was born in Cuba on July 4, 1941. At the age of twelve he worked with his father in the sugar canefields of Guambaco. When Oliva was 16, his father suggested that he enlist in Fulgencio Batista's army. In the absence of a birth certificate, the recruiting officer took the senior Oliva's word that his son was old enough to enlist in the fight against communism.