Post Nationals Interview With Jerome Ferguson. Will He Be Back?

In a very inspirational story Jerome Ferguson talks to us about his recent loss at the NPC Nationals and how he is planning on returning next year to take another shot at a pro qualifier. Read on for details right here!

One week out from the 2006 NPC Nationals and super heavyweight contender, and eventual fifth place finisher, Jerome Ferguson, is philosophical about his placing. A definite fan favorite going into the show, Jerome knew that expectations were high.

A lengthy preparation period - Jerome had continued his diet after placing fifth at the NPC USA Championships in July - ensured he was extra hard and as dry as could be. One week out from the Nationals Jerome went as far as to say he would win the entire show. "I don't see anyone coming close to me."

One week later he would find himself onstage with four competitors ahead of him after the pre-judging, his dreams of professional glory in shatters. Backstage before the pre-judging - Jerome, upon seeing his competition, felt convinced it was his show to win.

After pre-judging many in attendance told him he would go on to victory. However, a veteran of many amateur events, Jerome knew he would not place as expected. Today he cannot explain why the judges relegated him to fifth.

"I gave them what they wanted, came in harder." Despite, or perhaps in spite of the result, Jerome has vowed to come back stronger than ever and prove once and for all that classic shape and symmetry along with muscle fullness will prevail.

"I am a true bodybuilder and I will show you what a true bodybuilder does," says Jerome. "I still feel that with my symmetry and muscle fullness I can't be beaten. Next year I will look great enough to turn pro." Though he won't be drawn on what show he will enter, Jerome does promise to bring an improved package with ten pounds more muscle while maintaining his characteristic shape.

A man with limitless enthusiasm and an unbreakable passion for bodybuilding, look for Jerome to be back to claim that elusive pro card.


[ Q ] Hi Jerome. It is one week after the Nationals, how are you feeling?

    I feel totally awesome, better than I have ever felt after a show. It is like I have so much more appreciation for everything (laughs).


Click Image To Enlarge.
Jerome At The Pre-Judging.
View More Pics From The 2006 NPC Nationals Pre-Judging Here.


[ Q ] Did the show go as expected for you?

    The last week before the show was getting easier because the endorphins were kicking in. Also I had teamed up with Chad Nichols and he helped me out for the last week. He changed my diet a little to deplete me ever more. He was so professional with the water control and fuelling me back up. It was perfect, so pleasant.

    I worked with Tom (Prince) in the past and he was harder. Chad was easier and light, very professional. At the pre-judging, when I got backstage and saw the guys it was like, "you know what? This is my show." I was better conditioned than all of them. No ego or anything, but I feel I worked a little bit harder to get more conditioning.

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    So after Chad filled up with carbohydrates and everything was going perfect, show time came around and I had a lot of energy. I felt great onstage and when I got the callout I was like, "whoa, shucks man." I saw the guys that they call out in front of me and the only thing in my mind was, "I suffered more than those guys did."

    I figured I didn't have to have those last few days of having to try to dry out. That was the only thing that really got to me, given I really worked hard for this one. I wish the judges would understand how hard it is to come in that hard and tight, and do two shows back to back. When they called me out fifth in pre-judging I was like, "shucks, here we go again." I was a little bit disappointed.


[ Q ] What did you think of your competition?

    The guy Evan; I thought he looked good but he does have some stuff to fill out. Miller? Well I didn't see him a lot. When I did I just thought he had great legs with some upper body stuff to fill out.

    Even Centopani
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Evan Centopani.
    Photo Courtesy Of Graphic Muscle (photographer: Bill Comstock)

    Note:
    Desmond Miller went on to win the super heavyweight and overall Nationals title.


[ Q ] What separated you from the competition?

    I thought I was just a more complete bodybuilder compared to the top two guys. Then they called me out fifth it was like, "whoa." Even backstage people were saying to me, "Jay, this is your show dude, you did great." So I guess you never know until you never know.

    People were asking, "Who did you man, how did you get so tight?" So once again I was a little disappointed with the pre-judging. I have been in the game long enough to know how callouts work. But I said to myself, "I'm not going to worry about it."

    Although I felt I had great conditioning I have much respect for the guys I competed against, but I suffered a little bit more and dried out like a bodybuilder is supposed to do. So I understood that part. Then I changed my routine for them.

    I didn't do "Who let the dogs out." I did the Titanic music in Italian, and Excalibur, Lee Haney's music. I tried to give the judges everything they wanted and I did take it personally because I did my half and came in the best condition I possibly could. On the other hand it was, "Why don't they like me."


[ Q ] How do you explain the decision when many had you in the top three and you had yourself as the winner going into the show?

    I can't quite figure it out. Even some of the competitors were, "Jerome, dude, you are there." Then some professional bodybuilders, guys who saw me Saturday, said, "It's your show man, go get them." It was said on the Internet that I was always onstage jumping around having fun, not being serious enough.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Is Jerome Serious Enough Onstage.

    Flex Wheeler told me that the judges would want me to be more serious. But I do take it very seriously. I take it more seriously than a lot of guys; that is why I dry out and suffer so hard. Then I changed my routine to please the judges, but when I got done with the routine the crowd was like, "What happened?"

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    One guy said he brought his wife all the way from Dallas just to see "Who let the dogs out." People said I was the best performer they had ever seen. They actually like who let the dogs out and considered me a performer, and entertainer. I said I was told that the judges wanted me to take it more seriously. So I changed the routine and gave them what they wanted? With regards to the outcome, I'm totally lost.


[ Q ] You gave them what they wanted yet they did not respond favourably to you.

    Even if they were to compare me with Miller just to get the comparison, but to bring me all the way to fifth. When I got done Friday I thought, "They don't like me." After pre-judging I was so disappointed and said to Chad, "They don't want to see me anymore".


    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Ferguson & Miller.
    View More Pics From The 2006 NPC Nationals Finals Here.

    You know when you get your feelings hurt (laughs)? He told me not to worry about it. I did two shows. I redeemed myself after the USA's, and let these guys know that I am a serious bodybuilder.

    When Tom messed me up by giving me the wrong meals and made me hold water I did not do that well. But I said, "I am a true bodybuilder and I will show you what a true bodybuilder does". You dig down deep and diet for many more weeks to come to the end to show that you are serious and that you will bring your best condition.


[ Q ] You have done everything humanly possible to get into your best shape ever, yet a pro card still evades you. What can you do to improve and take home that pro qualifier?

    Well I have a plan. I sat down with Chad and he said, "Jerome, this is what we are going to do." We decided not to tell anyone we were going to compete again. Greg Merritt from Flex said, "Maybe people are just tired of looking at you." How can you get tired of looking at a true bodybuilder?

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    It should actually be more inspiring to see a true bodybuilder come back. Chad advised me to take a year off and do another competition. We won't say what show just yet, but we are going to try to put on about ten pounds of muscle, and just come in bigger.


[ Q ] So you won't go on the record now and say what show you might be entering?

    Lets just say between you and me Dave that I have to do at least one show each year, so I will do a show next year. I won't say when, but I'm just going to have a good off-season and change my diet to get the calories up higher. Just try to add around ten pounds of muscle.


Click Image To Enlarge.
I Will Do A Show Next Year.
View More Pics From The 2006 NPC Nationals Finals Here.


[ Q ] So a pro card is on the cards for you?

    Yes. They had a guy at the Nationals that I really had compassion for. He did the Nationals for fifteen years (laughs). After the fifteenth time they finally gave him his pro card.


[ Q ] So you feel your time will come?

    You know David; I still feel that with my symmetry and muscle fullness I can't be beaten. I'm not bragging, but the work that I put in to make myself the complete bodybuilder puts me in that position. I feel I can't be beaten because I will outwork you. Whether they give it to me or not? Well, I can't do anything about that. But next year I will look great enough to be a pro.


Click Image To Enlarge.
I Feel I Can't Be Beaten Because I Will Outwork You.
View More Pics From The 2006 NPC Nationals Finals Here.


[ Q ] Did you analyze the physiques of the guys who placed ahead of you at the Nationals to determine where you need to make improvements?

    Yes. I think my back is the thing I want to improve on most. Even though it is really wide I do want to get more detail. That's about it really. Just put on more muscle. Genetically we all have our strong points. I have a small waist and a wide back, which does actually have great detail, don't get me wrong. Then you have people who have great detail, but don't have the width. None of us are perfect.


[ Q ] What is preventing you from achieving the back detail you would like?

    I think it is because I try to keep my waist so small. I try not to get too big, try not to make my back too crazy, because this would interfere with my symmetry. To keep your symmetry you need to sacrifice some things. For example, if you try to do deadlift row to get back detail, your waist will start growing.

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[ Q ] Clearly you have one of the more classic type physiques, but to win nowadays it appears you need to play the size game. Will you play the size game?

    You know what? I'm still going to stay with the classic physique. I love Lee Haney, Sergio Oliva. Those are my idols. I feel they have the greatest physiques. They both have small waists and wide backs. In my heart those are the classic physiques and that is bodybuilding. So I'm not going to play the size game.

    I will just try to get a little bit of a different look and put some more muscle on, but if it starts changing my physique I will just back off, because in my heart a true bodybuilder is like Steve Reeves, Haney, Oliva and Arnold. Those guys are true bodybuilders and my passion is to be a true bodybuilder.


Click Image To Enlarge.
I'm Not Going To Play The Size Game.
View More Pics From The 2006 NPC Nationals Finals Here.


[ Q ] Would it be fair to say you have to make a trade off. Do you keep your current physique and get relegated to fifth or build the mass and perhaps make it to the winner's circle? What would you have to sacrifice to get to the top?

    I'm going to try to do both. I will try to put on ten pounds of muscle and make my waist and symmetry stay the same by monitoring the exercises that I do. I will add weight and possibly do deadlifts every third week to keep my waist down and make everything else bubble around it.

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[ Q ] Sounds like a great plan. How would you describe the Nationals as a show?

    I do love the Nationals. I love the way it is set up; the people are very nice and the venue is really big. It's first class. I have been to the USA's several times and I like the Nationals better than I do the USA's. I didn't like the judging (at the Nationals), but that is okay. They had a different look in mind.


[ Q ] You are one of the more persistent bodybuilders out there today. What continues to attract you to the sport?

    I will continue to compete because I get so much support from my fans that have become my friends. All the e-mails I get and the exposure on Bodybuilding.com. I do it for these guys to let them know that regardless of what someone else says, or if you win a show or not, you should not give up that quick.


Click Image To Enlarge.
The Top 5.
View More Pics From The 2006 NPC Nationals Finals Here.

    You need to dig down deep and come back again. That's what life is all about and that is what I'm going to do. If people can see me showing up doing what I do, they will have the motivation to try and make their dreams come true as well.

    I would like to become a motivational speaker to tell people that they can do it. I have teenagers who check me out on Bodybuilding.com who say, "Jerome, you inspire me, what can I do to be more like you."

    So my thing is to keep doing this sport because I love it. Bodybuilding has been so great to me; it has given me something to live for and has given me the opportunity to make a difference in peoples lives. I don't care if I'm the underdog. I'm just going to keep showing up.


Click Image To Enlarge.
I'm Just Going To Keep Showing Up.
View More Pics From The 2006 NPC Nationals Finals Here.