2007 Iron Man Pro Invitational - Complete Competitor Review!

The 2007 Pro Iron Man Contest was held on February 17, 2007 in the beautiful city of Pasadena, California - It was perfect weather! Here are the final results along with my comments on each competitor.

The 2007 Pro Iron Man Contest was held on February 17, 2007 in the beautiful city of Pasadena, California. Unlike the previous three years in which Pasadena was hit with non-stop rain, this year the weather was beautiful with sunny skies and 80 degrees of California warmth. It was perfect weather to kick off the professional bodybuilding contest season.

As for the competition itself, most of the top bodybuilders who plan on entering the Arnold Classic on March 3rd choose not to travel to California to compete in the Pro Iron Man. 2 time Arnold Classic champ Dexter Jackson, 3rd place winner at the Mr. Olympia Victor Martinez and rookie pro sensation Phil Heath all decided to wait until Columbus to unveil their physiques.

This absence of the top tier bodybuilders left the Pro Iron Man wide open for some new blood to emerge and gain recognition. In addition, the Pro Iron Man is now a top five Olympia qualifier so the top five placings in this contest are qualified for the Big Show.

The only big name entered in the Pro Iron Man and the favorite to win was Toney Freeman. After his overall win last year at the Europa Supershow and his 7th place finish in the Mr. Olympia, "The X-Man" is on a role and was the odds on favorite to win this contest.

In addition to Freeman, David Henry was returning to the Iron Man after his controversial second place finish to Lee Priest last year. Many observers felt that Henry's superior conditioning should have earned him first place in the 2006 event so he was coming back for revenge.

Other contenders for the title of the 2007 Pro Iron Man included the always impressive Mark Dugdale, Ahmad Haidar, Kris Dim, Marcus Haley and Joel Stubbs. Omar Deckard, the 2006 NPC USA overall champ, was making his pro debut and dark horses included Eddie Abbew, Silvio Samuel, Hide Yamagishi and Sergey Shelestov from Russia.

Here are the final results along with my comments on each competitor:


1st Place Toney Freeman

    Toney Freeman was the easy winner of the 2007 Pro Iron Man Invitational. Nicknamed "The X-Man" because of his wide shoulders and narrow waist, Freeman lived up to his reputation and arrived onstage big, full and ripped with great proportions. His legs have always been his strong point but Toney is rapidly bringing up his upper body, especially his arms.

    With the combination of his great proportions, size and hardness, this was a relatively easy win for Toney Freeman who has to be considered a lock for a top five placing in the Arnold Classic.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Toney Freeman At The 2007 Iron Man Pre-Judging.
View More Pics Of Toney Freeman From 2007 Iron Man: Pre-Judging - Finals - Press Conference

Toney Freeman's Posing Routine.
Click Play To Start The Video.
Or Pick Your Preference Below:

Windows Media (15.1 MB)


2nd Place Mark Dugdale

    After missing this contest last year because of the flu bug, Mark Dugdale was back with a vengeance this year. Although not one of the bigger bodybuilders, Dugdale has plenty of thickness and nice shape to go along with his razor sharp conditioning. He has some of the best legs in the sport and he showed them off to great advantage during the pre-judging.

    Mark also has some extremely thick pecs and delts which really highlight his most muscular and side chest poses. His back was a weakpoint when he first turned pro a few years ago but he has really brought it up and his rear double biceps pose looked great along with his shredded glutes and hamstrings.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Mark Dugdale.
View More Pics Of Mark Dugdale From The 2007 Iron Man: Pre-Judging - Finals - Press Conference

video
Mark Dugdale.

Windows Media (14.1 MB)


3rd Place Eddie Abbew

    One of the many dark horses to emerge at the Pro Iron Man was third place finisher Eddie Abbew. I saw Eddie hanging around the lobby in the Sheraton Pasadena hotel and I was blown away by the size of his immense arms. They looked to be at least 23" with incredible vascularity and separation.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Eddie Abbew.
View More Pics Of Eddie Abbew From The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals - Press Conference

video
Eddie Abbew.

Windows Media (11.0 MB)

    I knew Eddie was going to make an impact when he got onstage and I was right. With incredible thickness and size in his pecs, delts, quads and, of course, those arms! Eddie looked like he needed more separation in his back and hams and he needs to bring his calves up to be in proportion to his huge thighs. Still, this had to be a breakthrough contest for Eddie who has never placed this high in an IFBB pro contest before.

RELATED ARTICLE
An Interview With Eddie 'The Punisher' Abbew An Interview With Eddie 'The Punisher' Abbew!
A 3rd place finish at the 2007 Iron Man - Not a bad start for a new season! In the following interview, Eddie discusses this turning point in his pro career and his plans for the rest of the year.
[ Click here to learn more. ]


4th Place Silvio Samuel

    The real surprise of the 2007 Pro Iron Man Invitational was Silvio Samuel. Displaying incredible separation and muscularity, Silvio was the favorite of the audience who booed loudly when he took 4th place. Overlooked by the judges in the initial call-outs of the pre-judging, Silvio had no chance to place higher than fourth after not being compared to the top three.

    Presenting fantastic thickness and hardness in his physique, Silvio shocked the audience with his skinless, rock-hard abs, his tremendously thick pecs and massive thighs. Although he appeared a little narrow from the back, Silvio's combination of thickness and granite hardness should have earned him a placing in the top three. His freaky ab development reminded me of Thierry Pastel from France.

    I personally would have placed Silvio no lower than second.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Silvio Samuel.
View More Pics Of Silvio Samuel From The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals

video
Silvio Samuel.

Windows Media (18.2 MB)


5th Place Marcus Haley

    Grabbing the last qualifying spot for the Olympia was Marcus Haley. Marcus has good size and proportions and I was really impressed with his legs, which were huge with awesome separation and shape. He looked to be big and hard all over with very good hardness.

    I think his pecs could be thicker because they looked a little flat in some poses. Marcus beat some impressive bodybuilders to make it to the top five in this contest.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Marcus Haley.
View More Pics Of Marcus Haley From The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals - Press Conference

video
Marcus Haley.

Windows Media (13.0 MB)


6th Place David Henry

    Last year's runner-up in this contest, David Henry, could place no higher than third this year because he was simply not hard enough. Although one of the smaller pro bodybuilders, David's secret weapon has always been his extreme hardness combined with good thickness.

    This year, David decided to get bigger and he was noticeably much thicker but he lacked the hardness and definition he normally displays. As a result, he finished out of the top five and was actually fortunate to place ahead of several bodybuilders who were in better condition.


Click Image To Enlarge.
David Henry.
View More Pics Of David Henry From The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals - Press Conference

video
David Henry.

Windows Media (11.1 MB)


7th Place Hidetada Yamagishi

    Another pleasant surprise of the 2007 Pro Iron Man was the appearance of Hidetada Yamagishi, Japan's only professional bodybuilder. Yamagishi was very animated and intense onstage as he showed off his impressive thick, hard physique.

    With an entourage in the audience who was waving the Japanese flag and cheering loudly for their fellow countryman, Hidetada was excited to be onstage in his best condition ever. Look for Yamagishi to place much higher this year in future pro competitions.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Hidetada Yamagishi.
View More Pics Of Hidetada At The 2007 Iron Man: Finals - Press Conference

video
Hidetada Yamagishi.

Windows Media (14.2 MB)


8th Place Ahmad Haidar

    Ahmad Haidar returned to the stage in the first pro show of the year in excellent condition. Renowned for his incredible abdominal development, Haidar did not disappoint as he again showed up in great shape with awesome leg development and his abs lived up to their famous reputation.

    His back and arms are still not up to par with the best in the sport but he displayed great separation in his rear double biceps pose and he was in shape as evidenced by his striated glutes. I think Ahmad should have been 2-3 places higher.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Ahmad Haidar.
View More Pics Of Ahmad At The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals - Press Conference

video
Ahmad Haidar.

Windows Media (15.1 MB)


9th Place Omar Deckard

    Omar was making his pro debut after winning the overall at the 2006 NPC USA Championships. He still has a young physique with plenty of potential. Omar has extremely wide shoulders and a small waist so the frame is there. As he matures and develops more size in the legs and arms, he will be placing much higher.

    For this competition, he didn't appear as hard as he was in winning the overall at the USA last year. He needs more size and hardness in the hamstrings, calves and glutes and his quads need to also be bigger with more rock-hard separation. The best is yet to come from Omar Deckard.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Omar Deckard.
View More Pics Of Omar At The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals - Press Conference

video
Omar Deckard.

Windows Media (17.3 MB)


10th Place Joel Stubbs

    One of the biggest surprises of the show to me was Joel Stubbs. His back is gaining legendary status as the best back in the world and it lived up to its reputation. I was also blown away by how big of a man Joel is. He towered over the rest of the line-up with the exception of Toney Freeman and his wide shoulders, massive pecs and huge arms were almost as impressive as his incredible back.

    Unfortunately, Joel's legs do not match up to his upper body. His thighs have good size but the shape of the quadriceps is attached high on his leg near the knee and this creates the illusion that his legs are smaller than they really are. Although Joel is genetically blessed with extremely low lats in the back, his quads are attached high on the leg and this imbalance in his physique resulted in tenth place.

    Trust me, if his legs were as impressive as his upper body and back, Joel would be in a top three comparison with Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman at the Olympia. He's that impressive!


Click Image To Enlarge.
Joel Stubbs.
View More Pics Of Joel At The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals

video
Joel Stubbs.

Windows Media (11.2 MB)


11th Place Kris Dim

    I was disappointed to see Kris Dim place out of the top ten at the 2007 Pro Iron Man. Kris has great size for a shorter competitor and he was really ripped and hard for this competition. His glutes were shredded and he was ripped throughout the rest of his physique.

    He could use more separation in his arms and delts but those massive arms are something to see. One suggestion I would make to Chris is to appear more animated like Hide Yamagishi. He seemed too serious and didn't appear to be enjoying himself up there.

    When the competition is this tough, the smaller guys like Chris need to do anything they can to stand out and Hide stood out as much for his personality onstage as he did for his physique. If Chris did the same thing, he might get more love from the judges.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Kris Dim.
View More Pics Of Kris At The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals - Press Conference

video
Kris Dim.

Windows Media (14.7 MB)


12th Place Rusty Jeffers

    The 2004 Masters Nationals champ, Rusty Jeffers, showed up in great condition. Rusty competed in his first competition back in 1979 so he obviously has lots of contest experience behind him and it shows in his very polished, flowing posing routine. There was no dancing or hip-hop in Rusty's presentation, just classical posing designed to highlight his massive, symmetrical physique.

    Rusty was probably not rock hard enough to place in the top ten in a competition of this caliber. Being hard is not good enough when competing against competitors like Silvio Samuel, Mark Dugdale and Toney Freeman. It should be noted that Rusty was the ONLY bodybuilder in the contest to do a vacuum pose.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Rusty Jeffers.
View More Pics Of Rusty At The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals - Press Conference

video
Rusty Jeffers.

Windows Media (16.3 MB)


13th Place Roc Shabazz

    Roc is in his second year of competing as a professional bodybuilder after winning the light heavyweight class at the 2004 Nationals. He has a good physique with good separation and hardness but he just wasn't big enough to place ahead of the bodybuilders who beat him. Roc is also a little narrow in the shoulder structure so his size potential may be somewhat limited but he is still young so we will see what the future holds for him.

video
Roc Shabazz.

Windows Media (13.0 MB)


14th Place Moe Elmoussawi

    This was my first time seeing Massive Moe compete. Of course, I had seen many photos of him in Ironman Magazine so I was aware of his awesome physique. Moe has super thick and massive arms. In fact, I think he might have had the most impressive biceps on the 2007 Pro Iron Man stage.

    As for the rest of his physique, Moe needs to concentrate on bringing up his hamstrings, calves and pecs to balance out those huge arms of his. Moe was in good condition for this contest but he needs to be much harder to move up the ladder.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Moe Elmoussawi.
View More Pics Of Moe At The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals - Press Conference

video
Moe El Moussawi.

Windows Media (9.53 MB)


15th Place Daniele Seccarecci

    Daniele Seccarecci from Italy has a fantastic physique. When he standing relaxed facing front, he had one of the best physiques onstage. His super-wide shoulders combined with his small waist and massive thighs created one of the most symmetrical physiques at the 2007 Pro Iron Man.

    Daniele is proportionally developed all over his physique, which is no small feat for such a tall bodybuilder. His biceps were lacking a peak and he perhaps was not as rock hard as the top competitors; but if you are looking for a massive, symmetrical physique, this guy has it all.

video
Daniele Seccarecci.

Windows Media (6.92 MB)


16th Place Sergey Shelestov

    Sergey is another young bodybuilder who has a lot of potential ahead of him. He placed third behind Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman last year at the Romanian Grand Prix following the Olympia. He was facing a much deeper field of competitors here and although he placed out of the top ten, he was not out of place.

    Sergey is a big man with particularly impressive leg development. His hamstrings and glutes were shredded and he was massive all over. Sergey's upper body was not as shredded as his legs and he looks like he could add even more mass to his upper body but the potential is definitely there.


Perry Rader Lifetime Achievement Award

After all the competitors finished their posing routines, MC Lonnie Teper and Ironman Magazine owner John Balik presented their annual Perry Rader Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, the award was presented posthumously to former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay who recently passed away in 2006.

Mickey lived a colorful life that included working with Mae West, marrying starlet Jayne Mansfield and fathering three children including Emmy Winner Mariska Hargitay, the star of NBC-TV's "Law and Order". Mickey's second wife accepted the award and gave a moving speech honoring the life of her late husband.


Celebrities

Since the Pro Iron Man Invitational is always held in California, there were many bodybuilding celebrities in attendance. Most notable was the Master Blaster himself, Joe Weider. Joe has been in poor health the last few years as he recovered from a serious back operation so it was great to see the Father of Bodybuilding up and about and attending the Pro Iron Man competition.

Other bodybuilding pros in attendance included Chris Cormier who said he would be coming back to competition this year after taking last year off, Troy Alves who was looking huge with his massive arms hanging out of his shirt, Johnnie Jackson who looked to be well into the off-season, Shawn Ray, Flex Wheeler, Gunter Schlierkamp, Roland Kickinger and Lenda Murray.

The new Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler, was also on hand to present the second place trophy during the contest. Jay was looking very huge as he prepares for his second Mr. Olympia title in the fall.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Jay Cutler Presented Second Place To Mark Dugdale.


Top Ten Placings

When the top ten placings were announced, the crowd booed when Ahmad Haidar was awarded 8th place and Hide Yamagishi placed 7th. Both of these bodybuilders deserved to place much higher based on their excellent conditioning.

After the top five engaged in an entertaining posedown, the awards and checks were handed out. All five of these bodybuilders qualified for the Olympia later this year in Las Vegas. I was waiting for the crowd reaction when Silvio Samuel was given the fourth place award.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Silvio Samuel.
View More Pics Of Silvio Samuel From The 2007 Iron Man: PreJudging - Finals

I predicted the crowd would go crazy when Silvio did not make the top three and I was right. Boos reverberated throughout the auditorium as Silvio accepted his 4th place check. He handled the loss well because he knew he made a statement at this contest and had at last arrived out of the shadows.

Toney Freeman was happy to win the first place check and trophy for the 2007 Pro Iron Man Invitational.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Toney Freeman.
View More Pics Of Toney Freeman From 2007 Iron Man: Pre-Judging - Finals - Press Conference