Coleman & Taylor Interview, Part 2: Near Death & Earning It On Stage!

Ronnie Coleman. Vince Taylor. Exclusive, Part 2: Two champions share what the Arnold Classic means and who they think will win in 2010. Learn more.

Part 1 | Part 2

Article Summary:
  • Vince thinks that bodybuilding standards may have lost some of their quality since the 90s.
  • Ronnie and Vince both see Kai as someone who could become a repeat Arnold winner.
  • Both see this year's Arnold Classic as a close race with many potential winners.

  • Bodybuilding.com Exclusive
    Part 2: Arnold Classic Legends Talk!

    In the first installment of this exclusive Arnold Classic feature, the two champions profiled gave their views on what the Arnold Classic means to them as top-level professional bodybuilding competitors and presented insights into their experiences as winners of this ultra-competitive event. Being ultra-competitive bodybuilders themselves their insights were no-holds barred and candid. So what better people to query on how the Arnold Classic ranks as the possible premier pro bodybuilding contest?

    Ronnie Coleman At The 2007 Olympia. Vince Taylor At The 2007 Olympia.
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    Ronnie Coleman And Vince Taylor At The 2007 Olympia.
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    In this second installment, our featured athletes - all top tier professionals by virtue of their Arnold Classic win alone - discuss the overall importance of the Arnold Classic as a bodybuilding spectacle and provide their views on how the current crop of Arnold competitors compare to those of their respective eras.

    Their picks on who will win the 2010 Arnold Classic and why are also featured. Sit back and enjoy this Bodybuilding.com exclusive as we again enter the minds of Ronnie Coleman and Vince Taylor and draw from these bodybuilding powerhouses the truth behind probably the world's greatest bodybuilding event.


    [ David Robson ] Vince - How well was the Arnold Classic run compared to the Mr. Olympia as far as you can recall?

      [ Vince Taylor ] I enjoyed the Arnold because of the atmosphere itself. It seemed to be just a little bit more laid back. The Olympia, because of the venue itself - Mandalay and other huge places - always seemed to have so much more buzz going around trying to get things right rather than, 'let's run a show'. So I loved the Arnold; that was a quality show to have competed in and to have gone to. For me it would rank as the number one show to compete in.


    [ DR ] The Arnold Classic also has a fully equipped gym for the competitors, as I understand it.

      [ VT ] Yes, the Arnold has that pump up room and it is just laid out. I did the worldwide pay-per-view for the Arnold about two years ago and to come into that room and watch the guys pump up, was very cool. So they have a first class approach to promotion.

    Vince Taylor At The 2007 Olympia. Vince Taylor At The 2007 Olympia.
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    Vince Taylor At The 2007 Olympia.
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    [ DR ] And of course to have Arnold himself there, that would no doubt be a major incentive to do well.

      [ VT ] Yes, because of his aura. When Arnold walked into the building that was Mr. Bodybuilding. I spoke German so I would joke around with him sometimes when we were in those close quarters when he walked through. It was just his presence being there, what he brought to the venue; you kind of just drew off of that. And what better way to top off the cake when you can stand onstage, shake his hand and get that trophy.


    [ DR ] Ronnie. Many have said the standard has improved among those competing in the Arnold Classic today. What are your views on the competition of today versus when you won the title in 2001, when you were in your competitive prime?

      [ Ronnie Coleman ] I think every era that has a new Arnold champion is different compared to the other. It is like technology - the only constant is improvement year after year. I think the same thing applies to bodybuilding too, but in saying that I don't think there is anyone yet who has put it together like I did (at the 2001 Arnold) but we still have time for that to happen (laughs).

    Ronnie Coleman At The 2007 Olympia. Ronnie Coleman At The 2007 Olympia.
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    Ronnie Coleman At The 2007 Olympia.
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    [ DR ] And Vince: '90s versus the current era?

      [ VT ] I look at the preparation and I think that the '90s era that we had until the new look came around was a much more pleasing look. I thought the competitors were more fearful because you did not dominate on one standard alone, and that standard was size. At any given time Nasser, Paul, myself, Cormier, Flex, Shawn: any one of us could have won.

      That quality, that balancing out: I think the process of judging a physique was harder because you saw more quality of physique. When they said conditioning you saw what they meant. Nowadays I see the quality, the size, but it is now a science experiment that has gone wrong. They all have great size - and some have a little bit better separation than others - but it seems the muscles are padded with some sort of softness - they have a softer quality and texture. And I don't see the texture we had any more. I just see size, and that's it.


    [ DR ] Ronnie - Kai Greene is the defending Arnold champion and has put together a phenomenal physique. How do you rate Kai's chances of winning the title for the second time in 2010?

      [ RC ] I think on a scale of one to ten his chances of winning again are just about a ten. All he's got to do is bring it in like he did last year and he can take that thing again. He is another one out there who is waiting to break out of that jail and put it together with that freaky size and conditioning he has.

    Kai Greene At The 2009 Arnold Classic.
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    Kai Greene At The 2009 Arnold Classic.
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    [ DR ] Comparing Kai with your fellow Metro-Flex pro, Branch Warren, how do you rate Branch's chances of overthrowing the current champ? Does he have a genuine shot?

      [ RC ] Oh yeah, definitely because he came second at the Olympia. He can take that momentum from the Olympia and bring it to the Arnold. He is on top of all those guys already. So yeah, on a scale of one to ten he's a ten too for winning.

    Branch Warren At The 2009 Olympia. Branch Warren At The 2009 Olympia.
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    Branch Warren At The 2009 Olympia.
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    [ DR ] So the momentum that is generated from one contest to the next counts for a lot in pro bodybuilding?

      [ RC ] Yes, exactly.


    [ DR ] Based on what you said earlier, Vince, is it likely that any of the top-six competitors at this year's Arnold could win it should they nail their conditioning? Would that be your view?

      [ VT ] Yes, that would be my view. And that narrows the field down tremendously. And I think you have to have a sense of standard. When I saw the Olympia... oh my gosh.

      Branch Warren - his conditioning is monstrous sometimes, but the overall physique has a lot to be desired, so to me you can't win Branch. You can set a standard, but you can't win: you are thrown together.

    Branch Warren At The 2009 Olympia. Branch Warren At The 2009 Olympia.
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    Branch Warren At The 2009 Olympia.
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      Phil Heath - he has some minor flaws that he is working on, but he too needs to bring the conditioning and show off that body.

    Phil Heath At The 2009 Olympia. Phil Heath At The 2009 Olympia.
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    Phil Heath At The 2009 Olympia.
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      Dexter has shown he can do that and has a nice symmetrical body to go with that. Look at his record and how long he has been competing. But he, too, has lost a little edge on conditioning.

    Dexter Jackson At The 2009 Olympia. Dexter Jackson At The 2009 Olympia.
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    Dexter Jackson At The 2009 Olympia.
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      The guy to watch out for , that nobody can stand next to unless he continues to blow that stomach out, is Kai Greene. If he can dial it in, this guy is unstoppable.

    Kai Greene At The 2009 Olympia. Kai Greene At The 2009 Olympia.
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    Kai Greene At The 2009 Olympia.
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    [ DR ] I agree. Kai is basically unbeatable when he is on (objectively speaking). Last year he did not have the Olympia momentum that a lot of his fellow Arnold contestants had, but he nevertheless won the Arnold Classic pretty convincingly. Branch Warren, however, has the momentum of placing second in the Olympia. Will this help Branch's chances of winning the Arnold do you think?

      [ VT ] It will help; it will give him a monstrous look over. I can tell you right now: top three will be Branch, Dexter Jackson and Kai Greene, unless they bring out six. If they bring our three, that's your top three. But if they bring our six then you have to throw Melvin into the mix and Freeman and Rockel and to me that's second stage anyway. Old school top three is Heath and Kai, and Branch will be in there, but they will kind mix him around. But he will set a standard because he will be ready to go.


    [ DR ] And, as we have learned from your experiences, it might also come down to whoever is politically in vogue at the time among the judges.

      [ VT ] Yes and don't we know that (laughs).


    [ DR ] Who do you feel will be the main challengers to this years Arnold title, Ronnie?

      [ RC ] I think the show is wide open this year; I think any guy can win it. You have at least three or four guys who could win it. You got the winner from last year, Kai Greene, the winner from the previous four years, Dexter Jackson (who won the title three out of four of these years), and then you got Branch Warren, second at last year's Olympia. And you have another rising star in Phil Heath, who at some point in the future will be untouchable. He will at some point have a real breakout year but you don't know when that is going to happen, because that is kind of what happened with me.


    [ DR ] So Phil Heath could be the next Ronnie Coleman?

      [ RC ] Well you never know. When a guy has that good shape and that excellent quality of muscle you just never know when he is going to break out of the jail that he is in and put it all together in that one show and continue to go on from there.

    Phil Heath At The 2009 Olympia. Phil Heath At The 2009 Olympia.
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    Phil Heath At The 2009 Olympia.
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    [ DR ] Do you think Phil Heath's much-publicized narrow clavicles, which give him perhaps less fullness in the chest area, will be a limitation for him in the future as far as winning the Arnold is concerned?

      [ RC ] Not really. If you look at it none of us are really perfect in our body structure so there is always going to be some kind of fault that holds us back in some way. Even me with all of the wins I had, I had faults too. Same with Lee Haney. So it is all about improving on those faults and making them less apparent. That's how you overcome your disadvantages, just work on them and try to improve on them.


    [ DR ] Who would you pick to win this year's Arnold Classic and why, Ronnie?

      [ RC ] Well it is kind of hard for me to pick this year because you have so many good guys in there. I would be happy if Dexter won it, as I am a real big fan of his physique. I would also like to see Kai Greene come back up and do it again. And then I would like to see Branch come up and do it too; you see, Branch trains at the same gym I do, so I'm a little biased when it comes to him - you are always going to be rooting for the guy who comes from your gym and hometown. I would be happy if any of those four guys won - and I'm including Phil Heath in there as well - because they are all just so good. So for me it is about whoever comes in shape on that day because they all have the ability to win the show.


    [ DR ] So any of these four men could potential win this year's Arnold in your view Ronnie?

      [ RC ] Yes, they could all potentially win it because all of them competed in the Olympia and because of this none of them have had any real chance to put on quality size since then. You can't put on must muscle mass in three or four months; that is really not possible.


    [ DR ] Thank you very much gentlemen for your expert analysis on the 2010 Arnold and for sharing your personal thoughts and experiences in relation to this prestigious event.

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