2006 Australian Pro Preview.

Held in the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Center, the Australian Pro promises to be very interesting indeed. The main question will be whether Lee Priest can retain his title... Read on to learn more.

The 2006 Australian Pro will mark the return of two of bodybuilding's 1990 legends, top tier champion Vince "The Prince" Taylor, and master of symmetry Francis Benfatto. This alone should be worth the price of admission, but there is one other major attraction in store: the battle between incumbent Australian Pro champion Lee Priest and current flavor of the month Warren Branch.

Held in the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Center, this years Australian Pro does promise to be a very interesting event indeed. The main question will be whether Lee Priest can retain his title, but let's not forget Mustafa Mohammad who will be pushing both Lee and Branch for the top spot.

Although it would be reasonable to assume either of these men will make the top three, the comebacks of Vince Taylor and Francis Benfatto will ensure that their road to the top will not be an easy one. If Vince can achieve the size and conditioning he is renowned for, it could be lights out for at least two of these men.

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Francis, as recent reports suggest, is looking magnificent and should provide an adequate challenge for the top spots. With six top level pros compared to only two (Lee and Chris Cormier) at last year's event, the 2006 Australian Pro is yet another contest that is getting better each year. But who will win? All will be revealed on March 19.

Predicted Top Eight

First Place - Branch Warren

Although Lee Priest will be the hometown hero, and parochial favorite, the winner should unquestionably be Branch Warren. Based on previous placing's (second at the 2006 Arnold compared to Lee's sixth placing) and balanced mass, Branch should have no problem, if he can hold his condition from the San Francisco Pro where he placed second to Gustavo Badell.

However, Lee has the advantage of not having competed in the San Francisco Pro, where he would, like Branch, had to have peaked twice in as many weeks. Peaking three times in four weeks is a big task. The question is: can Branch do this? Branch has shown he can peak consistently, as he stood alongside the best of them in 2005. He will claim his third pro title on Saturday.

Second Place - Lee Priest

Incumbent Australian Pro champion, Lee Priest, will push Branch hard for the overall, but will probably have to settle for second. Lee, like Branch, is a freak bodybuilder who, more often then not, comes in shape.

The crowd will be wanting Lee to repeat his 2005 showing but, unfortunately for him, a monster by the name of Branch will be competing to win. Lee will not continue his winning streak on this occasion.

Third Place - Mustafa Mohammad

Coming off an excellent fourth place finish at the San Francisco Pro, Mustafa will be wanting to go one better this time around. He should have no problem achieving this aim. With an incredible amount of muscle on his 5.8 frame, Mustafa never fails to impress onstage.

However, Mustafa is one bodybuilder who feels he is constantly overlooked. If he arrives in shape, his first third place finish as a pro will be at the 2006 Australian Pro.

Fourth Place - Ronnie Rockel

Ronnie placed third at last year's Australian Pro and impressed everyone with his symmetrical package. He qualified for the 2005 Olympia and again impressed with his conditioning on arguably the biggest bodybuilding stage in the world.

If he can show some improvements, and present his 2005 condition, Ronnie will walk away with a solid fourth.

Fifth Place - Vince Taylor

Although Vince captivated the judges with his tremendous size and shape back in the 1990's, he will be up against some of the best of the current crop of competitors at the Australian Pro. It is hard to say exactly what he will bring on the 19th, but is he is serious about making the best possible comeback, Vince will give the judges enough to warrant fifth place.

At his peak, Vince brought to the stage a physique that could stand toe to toe with greats Lee Haney and Lee Labrada. From 1996 through to 2001 Vince won the Masters Mr Olympia. His credentials speak volumes and he should have no trouble making the fifth at the 2006 Australian Pro.

Sixth Place - Kris Dim

Kris Dim has had a pretty tough run this year, placing outside of the top six on nearly every occasion. The Australian Pro should hopefully see him presenting the kind of shape he stunned the audiences with at the 2004 Olympia. A very popular bodybuilder, Kris will not doubt have plenty of support in Australia. If he can get is conditioning just right, he will place seventh.

Seventh Place - Francis Benfatto

Another making a comeback is Francis Benfatto, who will give fans of the aesthetically pleasing physique something to cheer for. Francis was among the most popular bodybuilders of the 1990's and always arrived at a pro event in shape.

His 1992 showing, where Dorian Yates won the Sandow for the first time, marked Francis' emergence as one of the more symmetrical competitors. With Francis everything flowed nicely and his lines were near perfect. At 48, Francis should make a definitive comeback with a seventh placing at the Australian Pro.

Eighth Place - Eddie Abbew

Having placed 13th at the recent San Francisco Pro, Eddie Abbew should be the likely eighth place finisher at the Australian Pro. To make 13th at the San Pro, Eddie had to first beat out 16 other competitors, including fellow Australian Pro challenger Neil Gardener and top Iron Man finisher Eryk Bui. Eddy has nice balanced physique and if he comes in shape, he should make eighth.


Although these placing's, on paper, seem pretty accurate, several 2006 Australian Pro competitors have not been seen this year and might surprise a few. John Davie is a previous Olympia competitor and Charles Duca is a perennial contestant. With a higher quality, and quantity, of athlete this year, the 2006 Australian Pro should be the best ever.