2009 UKBFF British Championships
Warning! - IFBB Professionals Watch Out Because King Khan Is Coming!
The hype for this show all year (not just in the UK, but globally) has only been rivaled by the Olympia so, did it deliver in terms of everything that it promised that it would? The answer to that was a resounding "Yes!" Nearly 200 competitors, a completely sold out venue and an atmosphere that I really don't think could be exceeded anywhere in the world.
2009 IFBB UK British Championships!
Check out Bodybuilding.com's full contest coverage from 2009 British Championships right here. Checkout the results and photos from this contest.
This year it was to be held over two days due to the ever increasing number of classes and aside from a few small hiccups I think the new format worked extremely well. The show (on both days) was finished a lot earlier and the judging wasn't rushed, so everyone had a good equal chance to show their wares.
Only one pro card was given out this year to the men and it went to a very deserving 258lb Zack Khan who has been hammering away at this show for the past 9 years after so many near misses. But this year he finally, finally silenced all his critics who said he'd never be able to really nail granite-hard conditioning to go with his colossal pro caliber physique.
A word to the IFBB - Be afraid, be very afraid. The UK has a new secret weapon in the battle for another British Mr. Olympia hopeful as not since Dorian have we had anyone that could even hope to replicate anything like Mr. Yates achieved back in the 90's... Mark my words, it's going to happen people.
Under 70kg Class
Now this wasn't the best 70kg line-up that I've ever seen at the British, but not a bad one nonetheless.
In 6th was regular British competitor Sword Almashan. In years previous Sword was all arms and chest with not much else besides. However, this year he had legs! And pretty good one's at that too. As always his condition was good with some mighty arms and a light-heavies chest!
5th was Darren Stewart, a new name I've not seen before. I had Darren 3rd in this line-up by virtue of his outstanding condition and near perfect symmetry and serious conditioning.
Taking 4th was another familiar 70kg competitor, Kit Saeyong. I get frustrated seeing Kit most years as he seldom nails his condition on the day, his legs are nearly always soft and the reason why I get so annoyed is that Kit has one of the best shapes I've ever seen in this class. Really nice small waist, a huge back, flawless aesthetics and terrific presentation.
If Kit had been in the condition of the top 2 then I think he'd have been going home the winner yesterday.
3rd was Darren Clark. Darren should be pleased with his placing here - the shoulder to waist ratio was Darren's strongest point, good condition, but nothing like the top 2, and pretty much a good, pleasing physique.
Taking the runner-up position behind the winner by the smallest of margins was Brandon Marjoram. Now Brandon has been around pounding away in this class for nearly ten years and nearly always places in the top 5. In years previous Brandon was always bottom heavy and despite always being in good nick I've never seen him this hard before.
His condition was breath-taking, his upper body was bigger than ever and you could see he really was here to win this thing. Great posing and I think only a lack of arm thickness kept him away from the number one spot.
To think Brandon had actually retired last year, also, I wouldn't be surprised if at least a few judges had put him first. Brandon has to be the man to beat next year! Would you believe that he could make the under 65kg class? Awesome.
In first was 2004 lightweight British Champion Lee Williams. I was surprised to see Lee back in the lightweights as he had for a couple of years tried his hand in the next weight limit up - the under 80kg's. However, he told me that even in the last few weeks the middleweights was the original plan, but as the weight came off in those last few weeks that stripping off that last 2 kilo's would mean that the 70kg class could be a possibility.
Even at 70kg, pretty much bang on the limit, it's hard to see how he could put on much more size without ruining those perfect lines and aesthetics. As always Lee was seriously rock hard, ultra-separated and his posing yet again was one of the very best in the whole show. Lee is without doubt Britain's answer to Lee Labrada!
Under 80kg Class
Overall I would say, without question, that this was the toughest, cruelest and deepest line-up by far of the whole weekend. Normally, as your eyes scan across the line-up as the first come out, maybe 3 or 4 guys really stand out, but in this case literally everyone was in shape!
Trying to even pick my top 6 I found it hard to whittle it down to even 12 or 13! I knew there were going to be some unhappy competitors who would have been in the best shape of their life not making the top 6. It was like looking at a world championships class, it was that good.
In 6th was one of the pre-contest favorites, Dwaine Creese, who was last year's runner-up. Dwaine is one of Neil Hill's protégés and at his true weight is really a light-heavy. Duane relayed to me that this year trying to squeeze down into the 80's was a true struggle and was definitely his last year trying to make this weight category.
Duane was easily the biggest in the line-up and he carries some serious muscle mass that isn't just in his lower half anymore. He looks like a little Dorian just standing there relaxed with the way his lats hang from the front. Duane was in good condition but it wasn't jaw dropping, so that alone kept him out of the top 3.
I think a lack of confidence that you could see came upon him as the callout's wore on without his name being called made a difference to his fighting spirit. On a good day Duane could win any show, but this wasn't one of them sadly. Let's hope he goes for it and comes back as a light-heavy next year and really shows us all how it's done.
In 5th was Cliff Benton, a new guy to make the final 6 that I'd not seen before. Nice round delts, pretty hard condition and a serious pair of legs on him. He did very well to place 5th in this kind of line-up, certainly someone to watch for the future.
In 4th was last year's overall Hercules show winner, Lindsay Bruce, who won an overall as an intermediate! Lindsay re-qualified as a middleweight this year and I was impressed to see him in such crazy condition, every pose he hit he looked like he was going to lock up and freeze and a really professional presentation saw this guy get noticed by the judges.
Taking 3rd was regular top 5 competitor Stephen Graham from Ireland. I've never seen Stephen in anything less than razor-sharp condition and here he was back this year in the same nick only a lot, lot bigger! His back shots were stunning and he's heavily muscled for a middleweight, I could tell from the callouts that he was going to do well. 3rd is a massive achievement so well done Stephen!
Taking the runner-up position was 2006's middleweight British Champion Tony Bailey. It's hard to imagine anyone getting any harder than this, you could see that Tony had really gone to a dark, dark place to get this crazy shredded.
His vascularity was just sick and every fiber on every muscle group was clearly visible. Tony made a very good campaign for first place and he seemed genuinely surprised when I told him this after the judging.
Tony has some serious arms, small joints, incredible abs and some devastating back shots. I just think that from a spectator's point of view he lacks confidence on stage, I mean, the guy is really, really good... so Tony, mate, please, don't look so pissed off!
In 1st was pre-contest fave Nana Manu, himself also a 2-time UKBFF British Champion - once as a lightweight (under 70kg) in 2004 and again in 2005 as a middleweight. Coming into the show you're always going to be looked at more but in this case your eyes are drawn to Nana perhaps quicker than to any others because his shape and overall condition were simply amazing.
I wouldn't be surprised if Nana was the lightest in that category, but when you've got as classy a physique as Nana it makes no difference, this guy is class, sheer class! The way he flows from pose to pose, so effortlessly, and the way everything just pops the instant he hit's the pose... it literally makes you realize why Nana has been likened to Flex Wheeler many, many times over the last few years.
I've never seen Nana in anything other than great condition, but this year he just took it to another level. Nana has told me that a 202 pro card is what he is really aiming for and I think he should be given that chance.
For those of you across the pond you can see Nana in Columbus next March as Nana has been invited to do the under 75kg class at the amateur Arnold Classic, what do I think his chances are? Well, I can't see him not winning it to be honest! Go see in March if I'm right.
Under 90kg Class
Another great class that showed some surprises along the way.
In 6th was regular British competitor Darren Nicholhurst. I've written about Darren many times before and always say the same thing - he has some great powerful looking body parts like massive calves, huge legs, freaky arms, but it's always just one or two things that really let him down like his tan or his condition.
Darren could have won this class 5 years ago had he really wanted too. I think he just needs to pay closer attention to the little things that added up. It can make all the difference. Still, he deserved to place, and he did, so well done Darren!
5th was new Temple Gym owner Simon Fan. Now I wasn't expecting Simon to turn up looking so improved as he did this year. At the qualifier he was outstanding and many said he deserved to win the overall. Two things have held back Simon from becoming pro - his left pec tear and condition!
This time around, his condition was shockingly good, he was much bigger and I'm not sure how he's managed it but the pec injury this year just wasn't as glaring a flaw. Something about Simon's fantastic shape reminds me of Kevin Levrone. I think it's the tiny waist and incredible taper, oh, and those phenomenal legs of his!
Some felt Simon deserved higher this weekend, especially judging from the boo's, but I thought 4th or 5th was about right. Big props for making the improvements he has though - nice, Simon!
In 4th was Doug Kelly, who after making an impressive showing at the qualified only a few weeks previously, was touted by many to be a top 6'er before the contest and he didn't disappoint here. Overall in this class Doug was one of the thickest muscled men in the line-up, although the tiniest waistlines he more than made up for this in brutal development and gnarly, granite conditioning with no glaring weaknesses.
3rd was Welsh champion John Griffith. I saw John at the Welsh qualifier and was really, really blown away by his improvements there too. I remember photographing and writing about John at his first show back in 1996 (that he won easily) and here's John 13 years later; bigger, just as hard and as I predicted, has gone on to become one of the best light-heavies in the country.
His legs are just mad, conditioning was seriously impressive and aside from a slight lack of lat size you just cannot fault the guy's aesthetics and shape. He does need to bloody smile a bit more though, he's a right misery on stage! 3rd was the right placing, I put him 3rd myself after the judging.
In the runner-up position was one of my favorite physiques in the entire contest - Dean Lesiak! How many times do you look at a physique and think to yourself "now that is perfection"? I literally would love to have this guy's physique - his waist is tiny, the shoulders wide, his condition unreal, he literally could not have been any better in my eyes.
I'm so glad Dean is finally finding his stride now and is getting the attention from the judges that he so rightfully deserves. What a future this guy has if he keeps plugging away.
Rumbling into the top spot was the immensely popular Shaun Joseph-Tavenier! Already a two-time British Champion (first timers champ in 2007, light-heavy winner in 2008), would you believe that Shaun is only in his 3rd year of competition? There were many this year in the sport that said the class and overall win would merely be a formality if Shaun lived up to his incredible potential and came in bang on the money. Did he though? Yes, he did, Shaun has got it all, in fact many say he looks like a little J.D. Dowadu. Well I think in some ways he's even better!
I predict that Shaun will win the 202 Olympia within the next few years, Dave Henry and Kevin English will literally run for the hills if Shaun continues to improve.
On the first day of the show Shaun definitely wasn't as sharp as he needed to be though but that was deliberate and tactical as on the second day when it really mattered he looked to have dropped maybe 4 or 5 pounds of water and just looked simply mind-blowing! His posing routine sent the crowd banana's too!
Under 100kg - Heavyweights
This was a harsh class too with past British Champions not even placing.
In 6th was Dotun Diya. Dotun was improved over past years. He's definitely done his homework in terms of putting on quality size and coming in sharper. Aside from his gyno, which was quite bad, I thought Dotun deserved to place and he did. Some were even tipping him to win after the first day.
Coming 5th was big NABBA name and top Welsh competitor Justin Trollope. Justin has been going strong for years now and it was good to see him trying his luck against the UKBFF heavyweights. As always, Justin was one of the freakiest up there.
He doesn't have the prettiest shape by any means, but he's got muscle - lots and lots of hard muscle! Perhaps the biggest arms in the class and one of the most impressive, most muscular poses in the entire show. Justin deserved to place well and he could I think have come in 4th.
4th was IFBB pro Gary Shelmerdine's brother - James Shelmerdine! When he first walked out on stage I was blown away by the sheer size and condition of the man, but as he posed and I examined closer, certain structural flaws did pull him down the rankings as it were.
Dodgy bumps in his triceps detracted heavily and a bloated waistline didn't do his physique justice. Again, not the prettiest of shapes, but he was big and in very good condition and that counts for a lot.
3rd was 2005 British light-heavyweight champ Lee Spencer. Now, going on how Lee looked on the 2nd day I had Lee the winner of this class. His tan on the first day was running and messy and he was definitely holding water which was gone by the second day when supposedly it really counts more.
Easily the nicest shape in the class, small joints, freaky body parts that seem to flow perfectly, you just cannot fault the guy's shape at all.
My only theory for him not winning this was maybe the judges were comparing to how he looked in 2005 at the British when I can honestly say he was one of the hardest, most freakishly ripped bodybuilders I think I have ever seen in my life! I felt for Lee as to me he was the winner of this class.
Taking 2nd was last year's light-heavyweight runner-up Barny Duplessis. The second Barny walked off this stage last year after controversially losing to an 'off' Shaun Tavernier, he was fully focussed on winning the heavyweights this weekend. Did Barny deliver? Well, yes and no really if I'm brutally honest.
Barny was much, much bigger and thicker than any previous showing, he was reported to be 12 kilo's heavier than last year and overall he was the biggest in this class with some incredible show-stopping poses like his most muscular pose and his rear double biceps that just made me gasp each time he hit them.
The reason Barny did not win this was simply condition. It's not that he was in bad condition, by any means, he just didn't have that real crisp, dry condition that would have been needed to pull ahead into first. I'd like to have seen Barny 2-3kg lighter, then my friends it would have been lights out for the rest!
Taking the pole position was perhaps the most improved bodybuilder of the year in this country - Pat Warner! Now, I like Pat's physique a lot but if you'd have told me last year that Pat would be winning overall championships (like he did at his qualifier 3 weeks previously) and being a serious threat for any British title I'd have told you to 'dream on mofo'!
To see Pat regroup after two years of not even placing at the British, go back to the drawing board and come back with such an amazingly shredded and dry new look was a real shock! He was stupidly ripped and any structural flaws were just over-awed by his amazing condition. Hats off to Pat, he really delivered this year and surprised everyone, he worked his bollocks off for this one, he must be so pleased!
Over 100kg - Super-Heavyweights
As I foresaw this was to be the class that would really send the crowd into sheer hysteria! The only time I've seen pandemonium such as this was at this same venue - The Royal Centre in Nottingham - when the British Grand Prix was held here in 1992 a day after the Olympia and also Dorian Yates' first win, in the pre-internet days when we sometimes didn't find out the results until weeks after and Dorian Yates was announced as the new Mr. Olympia! Only this weekend matched that and it lived up every bit to what we all anticipated it would be.
In 6th place was last's year 3rd place heavyweight - Mr. Potential himself - Stuart Core! Now Stuart Core was perhaps the biggest and classiest junior that bodybuilding has ever seen, certainly in this country anyway, and Stuart turning pro was expected of him nearly ten years ago!
So, to see Stuart come back in 2007 and steadily get better and better, then turn up looking like this, was a big disappointment. So much is expected of Stuart (as he is such an incredible physique). I don't know what happened here, but he didn't look as good as we all hoped and expected. I truly, truly hope Stuart can do what Pat Warner and others have done in years past and regroup and come back next year and live up to that limitless potential that we all know he has!
In 5th was new 'super' Patrick Williams, in only his 2nd year of competition I was just so, so impressed with this guy. Freaky isn't the word even for this guy, his waist is tiny and every body part was huge, full, dry as a bone and all put together really, really well!
I wouldn't have disagreed with Patrick coming as high as 3rd and he's without doubt a future overall British Champion! Just completely and utterly fantastic.
4th was another big surprise for me - big Dean McTernan! Now I have huge, huge respect for Dean as he doesn't have the most genetically gifted physique, he has both strengths and a few weaknesses like the majority of bodybuilders, but what he lacks in area's he can do nothing about he makes up for in sheer Brit-grit and tenacity.
Hard, hard work and some seriously punishing dieting gave us the best Dean we've seen to date. You've rarely seen such scary vascularity and conditioning on a man this size and I for one am glad he took 4th place, it was fully deserved.
In 3rd was 2007 heavyweight champ and last year's heavyweight runner-up Darren Ball. Many have been tipping Daz to be the winner of the class this year and he has worked tirelessly to turn up in incredible shape for countless guest spots, seminars and appearances.
Even if you're not a fan of this guy's shape you've got to give huge, huge respect for what this workhorse has achieved. I feel Daz looked more impressive on the first day; his tan was better and he was drier overall, I'd say. As for his physique itself, well, let's start with legs - Daz wrote the book on legs!
I can't think of anyone in the world with a lower body as big and developed as Daz. His calves don't even look human! He says they've been up to 24 inches! He's made the best of his physique and against some bad advice last year when he came in over-dieted and stringy (for him anyway) Daz came back to what he does best - Brutal, ripped and freaky mass! As I heard one of Daz's many fans shout out even before his placing was announced - He did his 'fans proud!'
In the runner-up position was a huge, huge shock for me - last year's heavyweight British Champion Alvin Small! Why was he a shock? Because in the lead-up to the show I had heard from several reliable sources that Alvin just wasn't looking as sharp as he needed to be for the points he was at in his prep.
Seeing Alvin myself only 3 weeks before he just didn't look small enough or lean enough in the face to be a fully prepped British contender I thought. So, like a fool I wrote Alvin off saying publicly that I thought he'd be lucky to make top 6 this year.
I'm pleased to say that he proved me and a lot of people wrong by turning up looking absolutely sensational! He looked to me to be 270 at least and with a miniscule waist and with one of the most visually pleasing shapes you could ever imagine on such a frikkin' massive guy! To say this guy was a threat for not only the class, but the overall as well was an understatement!
Next up - BOOOMMMM!!! In first was the great British hope, the UK's biggest and best chance of our next potential threat for a future Mr. Olympia title - The Mighty Zack Khan!
At 29 years old Zack has been coming 2nd's, 3rd's and 4th's for nine years now. He was 2nd in the heavyweights in the British when he was just out of his teens at 20 years old! But each and every year that he has come so close so many times he has been pipped to the post by often smaller and much harder guys.
Each year he'd try his best but would either come in monstrously big and watery, or small and ripped. Many had written him off, so this year the pressure was on Zack to really come up with the goods or he might as well retire and take up snooker or ballet!
Zack said to me that me hooking him up with prepper of the last 3 year's British overall champions, Neil Hill, was the best thing that could have happened to him. The alliance proved to be a match made in heaven (or h#ll if you get prepped by the dungeon master Neil, depending on which way you look at it).
Super-Heavyweight Zack Khan Explains Prep For 2009 British Championships! Zack Khan is a favorite at this year's British Championships. In this interview you can get a look at how this giant has prepared. Learn more.
All the anticipation, all the huge expectations for Zack were met - and how! Weighing 279lbs at his qualifier (which he won) Zack lost 21 pounds in 5 weeks to come in, by far the shape of his life, at 258. I can't explain just how ripped, dry and full he was, he honestly looked like he belonged in a top 6 Olympia line-up.
Hats off to the big man, he really suffered at the hands of 'The Punisher' Neil Hill. He did everything that was expected of him and worked just so d@mned hard for this and it paid off. I for one couldn't be happier for Zack! You did it bro - British Champion and IFBB pro!
Zack called me last night. You can tell it still hasn't sunk in yet. What a buzz, what a career this guy is going to have. You mark my words! Zack is coming (Zack went on to win the overall and pro card as well)!