Ward posted a video to his YouTube channel just a few hours before he died. According to Rx Muscle’s Dave Palumbo, he was complaining about possibly having pulled his left rib.
Palumbo said he thought he’d injured himself while carrying luggage, and that the issue got worse after he used a massage chair.
A friend told Ward to get it checked out but he decided to sleep it off, according to Palumbo.
The news was confirmed by promotor Gary Udit on Friday (July 22) who wrote on Instagram: “Sadly we lost a terrific friend today with the passing of Jerry Ward.
“Jerry died suddenly last night. He was here in Pittsburgh commentating on the Live Stream of the NPC Teen, Collegiate and Masters Nationals.
“In the NPC and IFBB PRO LEAGUE over the years Jerry was an excellent competitor, judge, expediter, head judge and PPV commentator.
“His knowledge of the sport of Bodybuilding was unparalleled. Jerry was liked and loved by everyone he came in contact with.
“We are devastated at his passing.”
The tragedy comes after news last month that former Jr Mr America Robert Rothrock had died aged 59. His cause of death also remains unknown.
There was also the death of up-and-coming competitor Ryeley Palfi, 19, who had been dubbed the ‘next Mr Olympia’.
Palfi’s passing was confirmed on June 8 by his dad Rick following a horror motorcycle crash.