Finally, after a lengthy break and a crazy holiday season, the 2009 IFBB Pro Season is about to get underway. It will be held in no more fitting of a venue than the LA Convention Center, in the state that is the birthplace of this amazing sport.
Although technically speaking, the birthplace of professional bodybuilding was actually in England, where Eugene Sandow promoted the first ever men's professional bodybuilding contest. This contest featured competitors from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, where the prize was a solid gold statue of Sandow himself, however, it turned out to be only gold plated, I guess he was bodybuilding's original 'bad boy' but that is another story.
2009 IFBB Pro Fight Supplements Iron Man Pro
For the past 20 years, the Pro Ironman has been the traditional beginning to the pro season, and has had the best of the best winning the show down through the years. It is one of the most prestigious titles on the circuit. Past winners include:
- IFBB Hall of Famer, Shawn Ray
- Vince Taylor
- Flex Wheeler
- Chris Cormier
- Lee Priest
- 2 time Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler
- And current reigning Mr. Olympia, Dexter Jackson
- To name but a few...
This show holds a special place in my heart, being that it was the first ever pro show that I had the good fortune to attend in person. I attended the show in 2004 held in Pasadena, California with my good friend Richard Jones and witnessed current Mr. Olympia, Dexter Jackson, take the title. 2004 was also the year they introduced the FitExpo. Incorporating this with the show has really transformed the Ironman into the number one bodybuilding and fitness event on the west coast, giving the fans a chance to mingle and interact with their idols who were there giving Seminars, Signing Photo's and Posing for pictures with the fans.
I remember my first time being there, I met bodybuilding legends like Rich Gaspari, Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout, Dave Draper and Bill Pearl. Guys that I had heard and read about since the day I was born in 1977. It was also one of the most entertaining shows I had ever been to.
I remember seeing Jay Cutler sitting at a table signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. I called him and said, "Hey Jay, any chance of taking a photo?" He replied, "Yeah sure, no problem." He then stood up and came out from behind the table where he was signing pictures. I handed Jay the camera, put my arm around Richard Jones and said "Cheers!" We all burst out laughing. Jay looked at the ground shaking his head and handed the camera back. Richard and I laughed for quite some time afterwards. Ah, the memories!
Right, enough of that nostalgic crap! On with the show and who is competing in it this year. As usual, the Ironman does not fail to impress with the numbers, and has a tentative list of almost 20 IFBB Pros taking the stage. This list originally included former winner Gustavo Badell, but he has opted to sit this one out, as he and his wife are expecting the latest edition to their family, still in the mix however are, 2007 runner up Mark Dugdale, and consecutive 7th place Olympia Finalist, Silvio Samuel.
Below is the full tentative list of athletes set to take the stage in LA this coming January 24th.
- Silvio Samuel
- Gustavo Badell
- Ahmad Haidar
- Hidetada Yamagishi
- Ronny Rockel
- Mark Dugdale
- AD Cherry
- DeShaun Grimez
- Don Long
- Marc LaVoie
- Evgeny Mishin
- Thomas Bengali
- Oleg Emelyanov
- Daron Lytle
- Daniele Seccarecci
- Mohammad Bannout
- Cesar Mendible-Baptista
List Of Competitors:
There are a few names in there that have yet to make their mark on the IFBB Pro scene and who knows, maybe this could be the show where we see some new blood coming to the forefront. After all, this is where both Hidetada Yamagishi and Silvio Samuel made the leap from "also ran", to the Olympia stage.
My Top Five Predictions
As an IFBB judge, I tend to go into a show not completely concerned about the names of the competitors and their past performances. When I sit at that table and see who is in condition and who is not, that is when I see who did their homework in the off season and who sat on their arses and ate a little too much Christmas pudding. That being said, should EVERYBODY turn up in shape, here are my top five athletes:
1. Silvio Samuel:
Mr. Consistency, Silvio has been coming to each and every show in which competes, in top shape. To say that this guy comes in shredded is an understatement. He has nice lines and possesses a very proportionate physique, which earned him a 7th place finish at last year's Mr. Olympia.
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Silvio Samuel At The 2008 Olympia.
View More Pics Of Silvio Samuel Here.
2. Mark Dugdale:
The last time this former Mr. USA graced the Ironman stage, he finished in 2nd place to the X-Man, Toney Freeman in 2007, beating out 7th place Olympia finalist Silvio Samuel. Dugdale is always ready when he steps onstage; personifying what it is to be a Professional Bodybuilder in terms of his posing and conditioning. Mark never fails to impress. Will the break from competing during 2008 pay off and land him in the winner's circle for the first time in his IFBB Pro career??
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Mark Dugdale At The 2008 Europa Super Show.
View More Pics Of Mark Dugdale Here.
3. Ronnie Rockel:
The master of symmetry as he is known in Europe, the German always comes in just that little bit off the mark, yet still manages to qualify for the Mr. Olympia year after year. Whether he is soft in the glutes or his tan has not been applied correctly, he never seems to be 100% and always leaves you thinking, if only. But should he come in 100% then he definitely has what it takes to place in the top 3 if not win this show.
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Ronnie Rockel At The 2008 Olympia.
View More Pics Of Ronnie Rockel Here.
4-5. Hidetada Yamagishi/AD Cherry:
I feel it will be down to these two athletes to round out the top 5. Hide will be hungry for competition after a nightmare year in 2008 which saw him almost end his pro career before it even got started by landing himself in a jail cell for almost a month last year facing Importation of Drug Charges of which he was released to return to his homeland of Japan after the holidays in early 2008. AD however, failed to impress at the Arnold and should be hungry to finish in the top echelon.
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Hidetada Yamagishi At The 2007 Olympia.
View More Pics Of Hidetada Yamagishi Here.
Which is of course, unless some dark horse comes in out if the cold to fire things up amongst those more popular athletes. Remember a virtual unknown coming in out of the shadows placing second to Lee Haney way back when? That unknown came in the form of a future 6 Time Mr. Olympia by the name of Dorian Yates.
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Adorthus Cherry At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics Of Adorthus Cherry Here.
This is what is great about bodybuilding, on any given day any of these great athletes can come in and shake things up. As usual it looks like it's going to be an exciting show and I can't wait for January 24th. I will be there front and center enjoying one of bodybuilding legendary events as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of this prestigious contest promoted by Ironman Magazine Owner/ Photographer, Mr. John Balik!
To all the former Champions of this event who helped make it so great in the past 20 years, 11 have made it remarkably memorable! Many Thanks go out to: Shawn Ray, Flex Wheeler, JJ Marsh, Vince Taylor, Chris Cormier, Jay Cutler, Dexter Jackson, Lee Priest, Gustavo Badell, Toney Freeman, & Phil Heath.