2009 Arnold Classic Preview: Crowning A New Champion!

The Arnold Classic - This is no average pro event. This, in tennis terms would be a grand Slam event; you win this, you've got it made! Learn more about the Expo and what the exact placing of each IFBB Pro. Check it out!

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2009 Arnold Classic Preview
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2009 marks the 21st anniversary of the Arnold Classic, the second longest running professional show on the IFBB circuit. It is second only to the Mr. Olympia, not only in age, but also in prestige, fan attendance and prize money.

Held annually in Columbus, Ohio since 1989, the Arnold classic has grown from a professional male bodybuilding contest, to include women's bodybuilding, fitness and figure, and holds the largest fitness expo there is.

Also part of this event is a sport festival with sports including powerlifting, weightlifting, strongman, MMA, gymnastics and wrestling to name but a few. In a nut shell, the Arnold is so big it boasts more athletes than the Olympic Games, and has an attendance of more than 250,000 fans. Not bad eh?

The inaugural Arnold Classic was won by the CEO and founder of Gaspari Nutrition, Rich Gaspari, a former Mr. Universe and a Mr. Olympia runner up. He was followed into the winners circle by fellow Mr. Olympia bridesmaids Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone, Flex Wheeler, Nasser El Sonbaty and Victor Martinez as well as two future Mr. Olympia's, Jay Cutler and Dexter Jackson.


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Dexter Jackson At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
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The only reigning Mr. Olympia to enter the show was Ronnie Coleman, who won in 2001. So, as you can see, this is no average pro event. This, in tennis terms would be a grand Slam event; you win this, you've got it made!

dot Arnold Classic Champions: dot

  • 1989 - Rich Gaspari
  • 1990 - Mike Ashley (Shawn Ray was the original winner, but failed the drug test, the only year it was ever implemented)
  • 1991 - Shawn Ray
  • 1992 - Vince Taylor
  • 1993 - Flex Wheeler
  • 1994 - Kevin Levrone
  • 1995 - Mike Francois
  • 1996 - Kevin Levrone
  • 1997 - Flex Wheeler
  • 1998 - Flex Wheeler
  • 1999 - Nasser El Sonbaty
  • 2000 - Flex Wheeler
  • 2001 - Ronnie Coleman
  • 2002 - Jay Cutler
  • 2003 - Jay Cutler
  • 2004 - Jay Cutler
  • 2005 - Dexter Jackson
  • 2006 - Dexter Jackson
  • 2007 - Victor Martinez
  • 2008 - Dexter Jackson

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The 2009 Iron Man
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This year's event is without the defending champion and now reigning Mr. Olympia, Dexter Jackson, and also last year's runner up, Phil 'The Gift' Heath, leaving the door open for a new Champion to be crowned.

So will there be some new blood taking home the Arnold trophy or will the 2007 Champion make the comeback of the decade and cement his place as a future Mr. Olympia?

Whatever happens it is certain to be a great contest as this year's competitors list looks a VIP list of who's who in the bodybuilding world and makes for a very tense and interesting competition. Competitors include:

Of that list only one man has taken this title before, and that is Victor Martinez. After finishing 2007 with a disputed second place at the Mr. Olympia, many feel he should have beaten Jay Cutler. Martinez was injured and sat out all of 2008 and is making his comeback right here at the Arnold.

Ok so lets take a look at the athletes and their past performances at the Arnold, and how I expect them to do at this years event. Their previous placing is given with their most recent being first:

dot Gustavo Badell - (6th, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 7th): dot

    You can never rule out the 'Freakin Rican' when it comes to placing well at a show. Gustavo carries a lot of muscle on his frame and can come in shredded.

    Not the Gustavo we have seen as of late I know, but after sitting out the Ironman we are sure to see him fight to regain his status as a top tier pro. I don't think he will make the top 6, but could be as high as 7th.

Gustavo Badell Gustavo Badell
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Gustavo Badell At The 2008 IFBB Olympia.
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Gustavo Badell's 2008 Olympia Posing Routine.
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WMV (29 MB)
[ More Routines From The 2008 Olympia ]

dot Moe El Moussawi - (11th): dot

    Coming in off of a second place finish at the Ironman, which could have easily been a third place, El Moussawi will most likely be trying to improve on his conditioning if he is to move up the placings.

    He has added some mass compared to last year but at the expense of conditioning. Will he have what it takes to make an impact in the placing? I have him fighting for a place in the top 10.

Moe El Moussawi Moe El Moussawi
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Moe El Moussawi At The 2009 IFBB Iron Man Pro.
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Moe El Moussawi's 2009 Iron Man Posing Routine.
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WMV (16.3 MB)
[ More Routines From The 2009 Iron Man ]

dot Toney Freeman - (7th 3rd 9th 10th): dot

    This show has not been The X Man's most successful. He has placed as high as 3rd but failed to make the top 6 last year. Freeman has the ability to win this show, and who knows, if he nails it he could very well be the next Arnold Classic Champion.

    But, providing everyone turns up with their A game, I have Toney placing as high as 2nd but going on past performance, who knows what Toney Freeman will turn up. I have him finishing 4th

Toney Freeman Toney Freeman
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Toney Freeman At The 2008 IFBB Olympia.
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Toney Freeman's 2008 IFBB Iron Man Pro Posing Routine.
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[ More Routines From The 2008 Iron Man ]

dot Kai Green - (3rd): dot

    Kai Green has come from not placing at the Colorado pro in 2006 to winning that same show and rocketing to 3rd place at his first attempt at the Arnold. After recovering from a hernia surgery, Kai will be hungry for gold, and with Dexter Jackson and Phil Heath sitting it out, Green should be heir apparent.

    But Victor Martinez is back from injury too, so it should be a great battle between both men. I have Kai Green finishing as high as 2nd this year.

Kai Greene Kai Greene
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Kai Greene At The 2008 IFBB New York Mens Pro.
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Kai Greene's 2008 Arnold Classic Posing Routine.
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WMV (29 MB)
[ More Routines From The 2008 Arnold Classic ]

dot Ahmed Haider - (12th 9th 7th 6th 12th): dot

    A veteran of this contest, Haider has already made his comeback to the IFBB known by grabbing an Olympia qualification at the Ironman earlier this year.

    He brings a very symmetrical physique to the stage and his conditioning is top notch, but I think with the calibre of athlete competing at the Arnold, he will be battling it out for a spot in the lower echelon of the top 10.

Ahmad Haidar Ahmad Haidar
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Ahmad Haidar At The 2009 IFBB Iron Man Pro.
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Ahmad Haidar's 2009 Iron Man Posing Routine.
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[ More Routines From The 2009 Iron Man ]

dot Marcus Hailey - (12th): dot

    Another athlete making a comeback from a serious injury - torn patellar tendon - Hailey failed to impress at the Ironman missing out on a top five finish. I think he will finish outside of the top ten at this years Arnold.

Marcus Haley Marcus Haley
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Marcus Haley At The 2009 IFBB Iron Man Pro.
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Marcus Haley's 2009 Iron Man Posing Routine.
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[ More Routines From The 2009 Iron Man ]

dot Johnnie Jackson - (9th 13th): dot

    A poor start to the 2009 season, Jackson will be looking to make some serious improvements in his conditioning, and if he wants to move up in the rankings nothing short of that will suffice.

    One of the bigger men in the contest, Jackson brings great balance and lines in his upper body, but light in the leg department so he will have difficulty breaking the top 6. I have him placing as high as 7th or 8th.

Johnnie Jackson Johnnie Jackson
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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 IFBB Iron Man Pro.
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Johnnie Jackson's 2009 Iron Man Posing Routine.
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WMV (20.2 MB)
[ More Routines From The 2009 Iron Man ]

dot Dennis James - (7th 3rd 4th): dot

    Since trimming his waistline down some, James has become a more symmetrical bodybuilder. Not quite the aesthetic lines he displayed when earning his pro card but vastly improved on the physique he displayed while he tried to play the size game.

    He finished 2nd twice last year to Toney Freeman and could place as high as 6th this year.

Dennis James Dennis James
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Dennis James At The 2008 IFBB Olympia.
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Dennis James' 2008 Olympia Posing Routine.
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[ More Routines From The 2008 Olympia ]

dot Victor Martinez - (1st 3rd 7th 13th): dot

    The last time this man stepped on this stage he took home the title, the trophy and the check!! Beating out current Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson, not only here at the Arnold, but also at the Olympia that same year.

    He has been keeping his legs under wraps since the injury. If his upper body is anything to go by he is better than ever; mass, symmetry and conditioning. If his legs are up to scratch he will be taking home another trophy and check!

Victor Martinez Victor Martinez
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Victor Martinez At The 2007 IFBB Olympia.
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Victor Martinez's 2007 Arnold Classic Posing Routine.
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dot Ronny Rockel - (13th 8th): dot

    The sultan of symmetry, Rockel possesses one of the most perfectly balanced physiques in the IFBB, his downfall is his conditioning.

    Many felt he should have been 2nd in LA at the Ironman, and with better condition could have even won the show. But then again, if my aunt had balls she would be my uncle! I have him finishing just outside the top 6.

Ronny Rockel Ronny Rockel
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Ronny Rockel At The 2009 IFBB Iron Man Pro.
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Ronny Rockel's 2009 Iron Man Posing Routine.
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[ More Routines From The 2009 Iron Man ]

dot Silvio Samuel - (5th 6th): dot

    Started off the year with a bang winning the Ironman. He is without doubt the most well conditioned athlete on the Pro tour. He has striations upon striations and all the while bringing up his lagging muscle groups, such as calves and hamstrings. I have 'El Matador' placing as high as 3rd.

Silvio Samuel Silvio Samuel
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Silvio Samuel At The 2009 IFBB Iron Man Pro.
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Silvio Samuel's 2008 Arnold Classic Posing Routine.
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[ More Routines From The 2009 Iron Man ]

dot Sergey Shelestrov - (15th): dot

    The Russian is as big as a house, scratch that, he is as big as two houses. As big as he is, he still manages to possess a very symmetrical physique.

    His conditioning is his weak point but if he can bring that in then it maybe lights out for a few big names. However, I have yet to see a glimmer of that. I have him finishing outside the top 10.

Sergey Shelestov Sergey Shelestov
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Sergey Shelestov At The 2008 IFBB Olympia.
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Sergey Shelestov's 2007 Arnold Classic Posing Routine.
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[ More Routines From The 2007 Arnold Classic ]

dot Branch Warren - (4th 7th 2nd): dot

    The Texan mass monster is starting out the 2009 season on the back of a torn triceps. Coincidentally, I was on the phone to Branch only the day before he slipped on the stairs in his home, causing him to miss the Olympia last year.

    This year however, he is back bigger and better than ever, he was seen last week in Gold's Venice banging out some shoulders and thick grainy muscle like that has not been seen since the days or Dorian.

    Warren displays, freakish mass, with great balance, and unparalleled conditioning, I have him making the top 6 for sure, he has the potential to win this show, so watch out.

Branch Warren Branch Warren
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Branch Warren At The 2008 IFBB Arnold Classic.
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Branch Warren's 2008 Arnold Classic Posing Routine.
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[ More Routines From The 2008 Arnold Classic ]

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Predictions
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Ok, right about now most bodybuilding pundits will give you their top 3 predictions. I am going to go out on a limb and try predict all the placings at the 2009 Arnold Classic, so here goes:

  • Victor Martinez
  • Kai Green
  • Branch Warren
  • Silvio Samuel
  • Toney Freeman
  • Ronny Rockell
  • Dennis James
  • Moe El Moussawi
  • Johnnie Jackson
  • Gustavo Badell
  • Ahmad Haider
  • Marcus Hailey
  • Sergey Shelestrov

Of course, there are a few athletes that can trade places, and most likely will. However, going on past performance, and everybody being in shape this is how I see it.

Only a couple more weeks until the 21st Annual Arnold Sports Festival kicks off, and we are presented with a new champion and new threat to the Olympia Crown. See you all in Columbus.