Shawn Ray's Quest
Unless you've been living under a rock, you are well aware that Shawn Ray has been pursuing a leadership role within the ranks of pro bodybuilding. His initiatives have made headlines in recent years fueled by a relentless desire to lead his fellow card carrying IFBB brothers.
The last time we saw Shawn in his posing trunks, he was collecting a 4th place check at the 2001 Mr. Olympia. It was his 12th consecutive top 5 finish at the sports most heralded event. He has not competed since.
Since the 2001 Olympia, Shawn's attention has shifted from his own body to the entire body of athletes that comprise the International Federation of Bodybuilders. His ambitions are no secret. Shawn wants to assume a role that will give his fellow athletes a voice among the hierarchy of the sport.
Shawn has spoken candidly about his displeasure over several issues. Most notably, he has taken an active role in trying to increase contest prize money. His initial focus was on the 2002 Olympia. Shawn called upon the IFBB to award prize money to every athlete who competes in the Olympia. Currently, only the top 12 receive prize money (before this year it was the top 10).
Shawn felt that it was ludicrous that a professional athlete could actually receive nothing despite qualifying and competing in the sport's most prestigious event. He even called upon several of his fellow all-stars to contribute to a prize fund that would raise enough prize money to ensure that every Olympia athlete is paid.
Well, as it turned out, the effort fell short and never came to fruition. On the surface, it seemed absurd that the top athletes would have to contribute to the prize money of the bottom finishers, however, it was a noble cause and it served a greater purpose by drawing attention to the issue of prize money and it forced everyone to take a closer look.
Shawn's next initiative brings us to the 2003 Olympia and it also revolves around prize money. In this instance, Shawn took an entirely different path.
Earlier this year, at the Jan Tana Fitness show, it was my pleasure to create and sponsor a new cash award on behalf of Pro Muscle Online that was presented to the Fitness athlete who performed the "Best Routine". Shawn followed suit by presenting a similar award in the Masters Olympia event. Shawn contributed $1,000 of his own money. Both award presentations were a huge hit among the athletes as well as the fans.
Shawn decided to take the Best Poser award to the next level by raising a cool $10,000 cash prize for the athlete who performs the best routine at the upcoming Mr. Olympia. Once again, the award is designed to stimulate the routine round and increase the overall entertainment value of the show. At the same time, it's also intended to put more cash into the prize purse. Shawn received a ton of support from a collection of sponsors. In fact, he actually raised more than the desired $10,000.
After Shawn raised the prize money, he contacted the IFBB to formerly request that the award be recognized and presented on stage. As word began to spread about the new "Best Presentation Award", several of the top performers were getting excited about the possibility of earning an additional 10k.
The early front-runners for the new award were Melvin Anthony and Darrem Charles, both are known for their show-stopping routines. Many of the other athletes were also inspired and vowed to take their routine preparation a bit more serious. The new award appeared to be a win for everyone, including the fans. But, not so fast. A few days after Shawn formerly requested the inclusion of the new award, he was shocked to learn that his request would not be immediately granted.
According to a letter written by Shawn to his sponsors, the award would have to be voted on during an IFBB meeting held during Olympia weekend. Apparently it was also reported that it is up to the promoter to determine how sponsor dollars are used.
It would have been very easy for Shawn to cancel the award after he learned that it was not assured a spot in the show. Instead, Shawn and his fellow sponsors decided that the athletes should not have to suffer. The announcement was made that the award will now be presented on the following day during the All-Star Seminar he is holding in Las Vegas.
Shawn reached into his own pocket and put his money where his mouth is. He has had more than his share of competitive success, but in the end, Shawn Ray's legacy just might be defined by what he can accomplish off-stage.
In Other News...
Join me in congratulating 7 time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger on his latest conquest. Arnold has proven yet again, that bodybuilders are a relentless breed.
For expanded coverage of the 2003 Olympia, be sure to visit www.ProMuscleOnline.com... The Home of Bodybuilding Fans Worldwide!
Craig Titus' 2003 Mr. Olympia Preview!
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Until next time...