Arnold Comes Home To Muscle Beach
Most Recognizable Public Figure:
When the population of the world thinks of bodybuilding they think of two things, Arnold and "Muscle Beach". Did you know that Arnold is perhaps the most recognizable public figure ever on the face of the earth only second to Mickey Mouse? And did you know that Venice Beach, home to "Muscle Beach", is one most popular tourist destinations in the world right up there with Las Vegas, Disneyland and the Vatican? Well put those together on the last holiday weekend of the summer and what do you get, thousands of people crowded in to see it all. And you get newspaper, television and radio coverage rivaling a presidential visit.
Lifetime Achievement Award:
Lots of events took place on this Labor Day for the "Muscle Beach Championship" but let me go to the big event first. Arnold confirmed a number of days prior that he would indeed be coming to personally hand the Muscle Beach Lifetime Achievement Award to his old friend, the man who gave him his start, Joe Weider. I don't think we can spend a lot of time going over the biography of Joe Weider, but just to sum it up, Joe and his brother Ben are certainly the fathers of every part of the sport, from supplements to competitions, to the magazines, it all pretty much started with the Weiders.
We had a good idea when Arnold was set to arrive from his advance people. Security was tight and the media arrived by the bus load. And then around one o'clock the guy arrived.
Surrounded by his security he made his way through a sea of people, shaking hands, signing autographs and flashing that big Arnold smile. And you could see Arnold was having a great time, Venice was his place and he was happy to be there. Making his way past the "pit" he stopped and shook hands and compared biceps with the competitors pumping up for the finals.
Not the least bit in a hurry, not the least bit interested in politics, he was sharing the moment with the amateurs like the ambassador for the sport that he is.
Arnold's zeal for bodybuilding carried through when he took the stage talking about the sport and finally introducing his friend of many years, Joe Weider.
Flanked by his buddy, Franco Columbo, they stood and listened as Joe spoke about his journey in the sport of bodybuilding and received his award.
Joe Weider at 85 years old lacked no enthusiasm and although slowed by age he rose to the occasion and it was great having him there. Let me be direct in saying that this was a great moment in the history of bodybuilding.
The promoter of the show and the man behind the award, Joe Wheatley, had engineered and brought together the father of bodybuilding and the biggest name in bodybuilding at the place where it all started.
This was no small task and Joe Wheatley will go down in the record books for this one. It does not get any bigger than this.
Best Moments with Arnold:
Now I do have to tell you about one of the best moments with Arnold. If you get around the shows at all, you may have been lucky enough to see Jerome "Hollywood" Ferguson do his posing routine. Well Mr. "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Hollywood Ferguson had Arnold on his feet applauding to his routine.
Arnold loved it as did the rest of the huge crowd and Jerome got a well deserved hand shake and congratulations from Arnold when it was all done. Jerome might have missed his pro card at the USA but I bet he wouldn't trade in that moment for one.
Hall Of Fame Awards:
We also had a Hall Of Fame Award go to Leroy Colbert.
Leroy was one of the early great bodybuilders at the beginning of the more modern age of the sport. Getting his start competing in the 1950's in New York, Leroy was another bodybuilder discovered by Joe Weider who called him the "Monster". Joe Weider sent him to compete at the Mr. Universe in London and Leroy went on to become the first man to develop 21" biceps. He is still an enthusiastic supporter of the sport and a big image of living life to it's fullest.
Then we had the guy that everybody knows but maybe you don't realize it. Gene Mozee received his well deserved Hall of Fame Award. Gene has been called the first and best bodybuilding photographer ever. He is also a walking encyclopedia of bodybuilding and is known as the true historian of the sport. Once owner of the Pasadena Gym, he was a champion bodybuilder himself, bench press record holder, trainer of champions, publisher, editor-in-chief, and writer. Going back to Steve Reeves, there isn't a person in Hollywood and bodybuilding that has not been around Gene Mozee. And to this day there isn't a competition or event that is better served than when Gene shows up. And personally I am happy to call Gene my friend.
The First Ms. Olympia
Rachel McLish.... Do you know that name? In 1980 she was the winner of the very first Ms. Olympia. That was pretty ground breaking all by itself but Rachel brought a level of grace and beauty to female bodybuilding that was impossible to ignore.
She graced cover after cover of the magazines and filled endless numbers of pages in between. You cannot imagine how many guys bought the magazines just to look at Rachel and how many women wanted to look like Rachel. She just didn't change the face of bodybuilding but she changed the face of how all women perceived their view of health and good looks.
Rachel recently had an eye popping layout in Iron Man Magazine and on the stage to receive her Hall Of Fame Award at Muscle Beach she was just as incredible. Let's hope we continue to see a lot of Rachel McLish and I am sure we will.
Well amidst all this, there was something going on that will surprise you. Joe Wheatley did manage to fit in a bodybuilding competition.
And it was a great one too. From 19 year old first timers to masters amateurs, figure and bodybuilding were well represented. We had some big classes and some really good physiques. This may have been the biggest show of the summer at Muscle Beach.
The big bodybuilding winner went to amateur veteran Danny Hester.
As a middle weight he was cut, trim and symmetrical. Danny started out as a light weight in 1992 and has obviously developed a very refined body. But he came close to being outdone by heavy weight Larry Brown. Larry is fresh off his wins at the LA. in his class and as overall novice. And here at Muscle Beach just like at the L.A., he tore the house down with his posing routine. The crowd roared with approval and Larry not only took his class win but also overall win for best posing.
Here is another repeat of the L.A.; Kimm Winn took the overall women's bodybuilding just like she did at the L.A. And just like at the L.A. her posing routine had the crowd screaming for her.
She could have done her routine over and over again and I don't think the crowd would have lost any enthusiasm. And to top it all, it is Larry Brown who trains Kimm.
There is some hot bodybuilding stuff going on here folks. So if you want to know the secret behind it, chase off to Iron Bodies Gym in Santa Ana CA where these two train and find out what it is.
For the big find of the show we come to figure and the 19 year old winner, Melanie Garcia.
This was her first show and her win was just overwhelming for this 5-1 108 pound nursing student accompanied by her mom. She did this for fun but she has been an athlete her whole life as a gymnast and wrestler. So maybe we will see Melanie at some more shows and I have it on good information that we just might see her in some of the magazines. And by the way, do not send me e-mails about you want me to set up wrestling matches with her for you. I know you guys out here and the answer is no.
This was some day at Muscle Beach. I even think our own Bob Cicherillo had a great time working the booth for Bodybuilding.com. He did make sure that I shot a photo of him with Rachel McLish.
Watch for the shows next year at Venice Beach. And there are still some goings on for the next few weeks. So check MuscleBeachVenice.com for more information.
If you didn't get to this one, there are still lots of local shows for the rest of the year. No matter where you are, check the schedules here on Bodybuilding.com and go to a competition. It doesn't have to be the biggest for you to see a lot of great bodies, great people, see your favorite companies and learn something new.
Support your sport and get out there. But keep watching here on Bodybuilding.com for the latest coverage, news and photos. And we are going to have some new things too, so keep coming back.