Joe does need to sit down and take notes from the Arnold show. The Arnold Classic had over 500 vendors with famous bodybuilders marketing products and services. Also held in the Expo building was the martial arts festival with competitions non stop. The women's bodybuilding (Ms International) pre-judging was at the expo building but the night show was at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. There was also loads of entertainment all day, making the Arnold classic twice as entertaining and fun than the expo held in Las Vegas. Knowing Joe Weider, he will be trying to show up Arnold and produce a bigger event next year. Breaking it down, the Arnold Classic was one of the largest fitness Expos in the world; professional competitions in men's and women's bodybuilding, fitness competition, a hug martial arts competition involving six different disciplines, arm wrestling, bench pressing, cheerleading and gymnastics.
Both Arnold and Joe have signed new multi-year contracts with Columbus and Las Vegas, so I would imagine they will be dueling back and forth for years to come.
Jumping over to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, where they held the Fitness International and Ms. International finals on Friday, and the Arnold Classic Men's Bodybuilding prejudging and finals on Saturday. This of course had you walking back and forth from the Expo building which put mileage on your body. It was about a twenty minute walk in 70 degree weather, didn't hear many complaints at all though. Also at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium you get to briefly (and I mean briefly) meet Arnold and get your picture taken. I felt like I was in line back in boot camp getting vaccinated. They moved you through pretty fast to accommodate everyone who wanted to have their picture taken. The reason they had the Fitness weekend in two locations was because of the amount of vendors they had at the Expo building with all the entertainment and activities.
Anyway the Veterans Memorial Auditorium held over 4000 people for the Men's and Women's bodybuilding show, Fitness International show and the Ms. International, and it was packed. Friday they alternated between the Fitness International and the Ms. International competitions, while on Saturday they only held the Men's' Bodybuilding pre-judging and finals.
In the Fitness International on Friday the crowd favorite Kelly Ryan with her spectacular routine took a very deserving 1st place taking home $20,000 before taxes. As one of America's best known fitness competitors, Ryan placed 2nd at the IFBB Pro World and Ms. Olympia Fitness contests and first at the Jan Tana Fitness Classic. This was her first appearance at the Fitness International. Once again like the 1999 Olympia there were awesome routines and fine tuned bodies. I have to admit, the fitness show was the most exciting and entertaining show out of all of them. Well maybe except for Flavio's "I'm not your toy boy" routine in the Men's bodybuilding show.
Timea Marjorova took 2nd ($10,000) who has titles like the 1997 IFBB European and World Amateur Fitness Championships moved quickly to the top of the pro fitness ranks. She was 5th in the Ms. Olympia fitness, 5th at the 1999 Fitness International and 2nd at the Danish Grand Prix.
Shannon Meteraud took 3rd ($5,000) had a great routine as well. A former college cheerleader with a background in soccer and swimming, Shannon turned pro in 1999 by finishing second in the short class at the NPC USA Fitness Championships. This was her first appearance.
Shena Forkner took 4th ($3,000) and did surprisingly well since placing eleventh at her pro debut at the 1999 IFBB Pro World Fitness competition and finished eighth at the Han Tana Fitness Classic that same year. This also was her first appearance.
Jenny Hendershot took 5th ($2000) with her dynamic fitness routine. Jenny comes to the pro ranks after placing second at the 1998 IFBB North American Fintess Championship, and a victory in the medium class at the 1999 NPC Fitness Championships. The former cheerleader made her pro debut at the Fitness International event in front of a strongly supportive local audience. She is from Worthington, Ohio. And the last money maker
Laura Makowski placed 6th ($1,500) at her first Fitness International contest. After a very active amateur fitness career, Laura moved to the pro ranks with an impressive victory in the tall class at the 1998 NPC Nationals. Last year Makowski made her pro debut a memorable one by placing sixth at the IFBB Pro World Fitness Championship, followed three weeks later with a fourth at the Jan Tana Fitness Championship.
In the Ms. International Heavyweight division Vickie Gates, Dallas, TX was by far the winner ($7000) with her mass and cuts. Now as an elite member of the IFBB pro ranks, Gates culminated her illustrious amateur career with middleweight victories at the 1993 NPC USA and National Championship events. As a pro, Gates has reached the pinnacle of the sport by winning last year's Ms. International and placing second at the 1999 Ms. Olympia behind Kim Chizevsky. This year Gates entered her sixth consecutive Ms. International dating back to 1995.
Denise Hosher, Brea, CA place 2nd with her symmetry earning her $5,000. Denise makes her IFBB pro debut at this year's Ms. International after a successful amateur career that included an overall victory at the 1996 NPC Steel Rose and an overall win at the 1999 IFBB North American Championship. She also finished second at the 1999 NPC USA as a heavyweight.
Iris Kyle placed 3rd ($3,000) with her thickness and cuts. Still a relative newcomer to the pro ranks, Kyle made a major impact after her pro debut at the Ms. International last year. Following a fifteenth place finish in Columbus, she bounced back to place second at the Pro World, and fourth at the Ms. Olympia. Prior to last year, Iris was the 1998 NPC USA overall champion and 1996 NPC California winner.
Amy Pazzo, Warren, OH placed 4th ($2,500) with her lean and cut physique. A colorful amateur having scored decisive victories at the 1996 NPC Junior Nationals, 1997 NPC USA middleweight, and 1999 IFBB North American, Amy scored a pair of top ten finishes at the pro level in 1999 claiming ninth at the Ms. International, and sixth at the Jan Tana Classic.
Tazzie Columb, Metaire, LA placed 5th ($1,500) looking shredded and hard as ever. Turning pro after winning the 1992 NPC USA overall title, Tazzie quickly earned a pair of thirds at the 1994 and 1996 Jan Tana Classics. A year later she notched a third at the 1997 Ms. International. In 1999 Tazzie further solidified her top pro standing by placing fourth at the Ms. International and sixth at the Ms. Olympia.
Betty Pariso, ($1000) Bedford, TX took 6th and earned herself $1000. Betty had good size and very vascular and made her pro debut at the 1997 Jan Tana Classic. Competing four times in 1999, she notched a fifth-place finish at the Pro World, and a pair of fourths at the Jan Tana Classic and Women's Pro Extravaganza. This was her third Ms. International this year.
The Ms. International Lightweight division Brenda Raganot, Seattle, WA taking 1st ($7000) and showing off her perfect symmetry along with her mass and cuts, had no problem taking the field of Lightweights. As a very successful amateur since 1992, Brenda earned her pro status with an overall victory at the 1998 NPC Nationals. Making her pro debut last year, Brenda was the runner-up finisher to Laura Creavalle at the Women's Pro Extravaganza, and followed that strong showing with a ninth-place finish at the Ms. Olympia.
Andrulla Blanchette of London, England took home $5000 and 2nd place with a muscular thick look. As a top international star as an amateur, Andrulla was the 1993 World Games and IFBB European champion as a lightweight before Turing pro in 1995. Since then she has placed in the top ten at the Ms. Olympia on four occasions and this year will be her fourth Ms. International event. Blanchette finished seventh at last year's Ms. Olympia, and was fifth at the 1999 Ms. International.
Cathey LeFrancois of Quebec City, Quebec took home $3000 and 3rd place with good symmetry and cuts. Now in her tenth year as a competitive bodybuilder, Cathey moved from the amateur ranks in 1995 after winning the Canada Cup Championship. Since then, as a pro, she has competed frequently with 1999 shaping up as her most successful year thus far. Competing in her third Ms. International, she scored a solid fifth place showing at the 1999 Women's Pro Extravaganza.
4th, Denise Masino of Fort Myers, FL earned $2,500 with a very hard and ripped upper body. Entering her fourth Ms. International this year, Denise is looking to improve on her seventh-placed finish from 1999. Also last year, the striking Floridian placed fourth at the IFBB Pro Worlds. As an amateur, Denise was the 1994 NPC Florida overall champion and won the lightweight division at the 1995 NPC Nationals.
5th, Gayle Moher of Gahanna, OH earned herself $1,500 with lean and ripped look. As one of the IFBB's most active competitors, Gayle was busy once again in 1999 when she placed sixth at the Ms. International, first at the Jan Tana, third at the Pro World and eleventh at the Ms. Olympia. As the 1996 NPC National overall champion, Gayle has entered her fourth Ms. International.
6th, Monica Martin of Sao Paulo, Brazil $1,000 with her exotic stage presentation was very classy. She did crack the top six to earn some money. Monica breezed through her amateur career, winning a pair of Brazilian national titles to go with both the South American and Ibero American crowns - each in 1995. Turing pro in 1998, Martin placed twelfth at the Jan Tana Classic. She made three trips to the stage in 1999, competing in the Ms. International placing 16th, Jan Tana classic placing 7th, and the Women's Pro Extravaganza with an 8th place.
Then came Saturday - The Arnold Classic Men's Bodybuilding Championships. At noon the pre-judging started and all the competitors were looking good. Course you knew before hand that Flex Wheeler and Chris Cormier were the top two since they battled it out at the Iron Man competition where Chris Cormier won. But this time Flex had something to say about that. Flex was ripped and thick, looking better than Chris from the front. But look out for Chris, his back was awesome in which he had the edge over Flex. It could have went either way but Flex Wheeler came out ahead taking 1st and $100,000 prize money. The 34-year old bodybuilder superstar has finished second in the past two Mr. Olympia contests. Known to have the best genetics in the sport, Flex is a threat to win the title whenever he walks on stage. Height: 6' Weight: 245 lbs.
2nd place, Chris Cormier, Culver, CA. taking $45,000 home with him was every bit as good as Flex. This could have gone either way. In his three previous appearances in this contest, the "Real Deal" was fourth in 1995 and fifth in 1998. He won the 97 Night of Champions, and also was third in the Mr. Olympia contest in 1998. Chris has indicated that winning the Classic is his next goal. Height: 5'10" Weight: 250 lbs.
3rd, Kevin Levrone, Glenburnie, MD taking $25,000 to the bank look great! He was not as big as Flex or Chris but his symmetry was awesome. During the pose down Flex and Chris walked off the stage after a brief appearance while Kevin gave us a show and stayed on stage. The crowd went crazy and with the remainder of the competitors strutting their stuff. Course Flex and Chris couldn't stand it anymore and finally came back out and gave us a few more poses and then got off the stage again. Kevin Levrone is 34 years old. The Maryland Muscle Machine won this contest in 1994 and 1996 and placed second in 1999. Having won a record twenty pro shows, he vows that he will come to Columbus to win his third Arnold Classic title. He finished fourth in the 1999 Olympia contest this past October. Height: 5'10" Weight: 240 lbs.
4th, Dennis James, Chonburi, Thailand.($15,000) This was a surprise to me. It was looking like Dexter and Gunther had the edge but never the less Dennis pulled off 4th place. I was looking for information on Dennis but just can't seem to find any. Again this was a surprise placing.
5th, Dexter Jackson, Jacksonville, FL $10,000. Dexter was looking strong. Excellent thickness and cuts but didn't quite have the size needed go up against Flex or Chris. At 30 years old he made is second appearance here at the Arnold Classic. In 1999, he finished seventh and this year he was hoping to crack the top 5 and he did. Known for his sparkling condition and near-perfect proportions, Dexter says he is in his best-ever condition. Height 5'6" 1/2 Weight: 207 lbs.
6th, Gunter Schlierkamp from Germany $5,000. A fan favorite, the "Gentle Giant" has set his sights on surpassing his placing ninth at the 1999 Classic, and he did! This guy looked like he was having the time of his life placing 6th and qualifying for the Olympia in 2000. The crowd went crazy over the beach blond from Germany and the awesome size he carries. I picked him 4th or 5th ahead of Dennis James and maybe Dexter, but that was too close to call. You can see Gunter on many TV commercials here in the US. Height: 6'1" Weight: 285 lbs.
For those of you who like to meet the pros, get great deals on workout gear and taste free supplements all day long, this is the show to go to. Or the Olympia in Las Vegas. Get out, travel and have fun meeting people and enjoying the entertainment.
As Arnold would say: "I'll Be Back" with another article from the Mr. Olympia this fall in Las Vegas.
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