The Muscletime Report: 2008 Iron Man Pro.

By almost every measure, the Iron Man was a huge success. Bodybuilders loved the old venue in Pasadena due to the terrific lighting and was a bodybuilder photographer's dream. But some questionable judging decisions need to addressed.

The 2008 IFBB Iron Man Pro bodybuilding contest was greeted for the second consecutive year with perfect Southern California weather. This was the 19th year for John Balik's Iron Man Pro contest but this year saw a brand new venue for the event. Everything was done on a much grander scale than previous years with the huge Los Angeles Convention Center serving as the venue for both the contest and the expo.

By almost every measure, the production was a huge success. Bodybuilders loved the old venue in Pasadena due to the terrific lighting that better displayed their physiques and was a bodybuilder photographer's dream. But John Balik's team proved that it was not so much the venue, but their expertise that resulted in the great lighting. Again, the Iron Man Pro had the best lighting of any pro contest on the calendar.

The larger venue resulted in a greater fan attendance, a greater number of exhibitors at the expo and a larger overall turnout at the expo. I believe the 2008 Iron Man Pro XIX had the largest turnout of any in its history. However, the large venue was not without unintended negative consequences.

The larger venue resulted in the IFBB judges sitting too far back from the stage (at least 15 rows back behind the VIP ticket seats. In addition, competitors on stage were about 15 feet from the edge of the stage. We felt this would have made it extremely difficult for judges to accurately assess and compare the large number of competitors especially when only minor details distinguished many of them.

These were apparent to those with either the benefit of backstage access or cameras with telescopic lens. Unfortunately, the judges did not have these advantages. It seemed that they probably needed to look at the large screen televisions on either side of the stage to see sufficient details in order to judge.

This may have resulted in some questionable judging decisions. For example, how did Armin Scholz and Paul Baker place outside the top 15. This is beyond our comprehension. Also, Troy Alves was in his best shape ever! We felt he should have been in the top 5.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Armin Scholz, Paul Baker & Troy Alves.

dots
Commentary On The Results Of The 2008 Iron Man Pro
dots

dots
1. Phil Heath:
dots

    The appearance of Phil Heath at the 2008 Iron Man Pro had a profound effect on my core philosophical beliefs. He made me question one of the very principles upon which the United States was founded, namely that all men are created equal. The physique of Phil Heath categorically proved this tenet false!

Phil Heath
+ Click To Enlarge.
Phil Heath At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Phil Heath.

    His shape alone is not human. But the combination of his shape, size and conditioning are alien to human life on earth as we have previously known. Perhaps, Phil Heath is not of this world and not genetically human; otherwise, we are faced with a Constitutional crisis!

    His physique was almost perfect with the added muscle mass that he created since the 2007 Arnold Classic. But he did not quite have the same condition as his all time best condition in Denver at the 2006 Colorado Pro contest. Nonetheless, the Phil Heath on stage at the 2008 Iron Man Pro was his best overall package to date. He held the slightest film of water in various spots when he relaxed. Fortunately for him, these completely disappeared and were not visible while he flexed.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Phil Heath At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Phil Heath.

    He was still clearly the winner; we asked him backstage who he felt would place second. He told us he didn't really care as long as he didn't place second; he also told us he plans to dial it in for the Arnold Classic and look even better. And based on the almost imperceptible small film of water he retained at this show, we feel he can look even better over the course of the next two weeks in time for the 2008 Arnold Classic.

    Not to scare anyone, but if he loses water and improves, then no one will beat him. If Kai Greene, Dexter Jackson or Gustavo Badell stand a chance to beat Phil, they must be in their best condition. And even then, we feel they can win only if Phil is slightly off from his showing at the 2008 Iron Man Pro. There is hope for other competitors as we've rarely seen a winner of an Iron Man Pro show match or exceed his conditioning when he subsequently competed at the Arnold Classic.

    We wonder what two-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler thought about a potential Olympia showdown with Heath when he greeted Phil Heath in the pump room Saturday night? Speaking of Jay Cutler, we feel he is the consummate professional and one of the classiest bodybuilders to ever win the Sandow; to the best of our knowledge, Cutler is the only reigning Mr. Olympia to greet all the bodybuilding competitors backstage prior to a pro show. This is the second consecutive year Jay has gone backstage with competitors (and in a nice suit too). That is class.

Phil Heath's 2008 Iron Man Routine.
Watch More Iron Man Routines Below.

dots
2. Gustavo Badell:
dots

    We felt Gustavo Badell was a clear second place. He was not quite as hard as his first Mr. Olympia in 2004 but he is bigger than ever! He was almost on the nail conditioning wise but not quite. Maybe he is trying to hold on for a peak at the Arnold Classic?

Gustavo Badell
+ Click To Enlarge.
Gustavo Badell At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Gustavo Badell.

    Gustavo's routine was the most entertaining and creatively and uniquely done with the voiceovers. The importance of family to Gustavo was evidence with his family backstage to offer support and assistance!

dots
3. Moe El Moussawi:
dots

    Moe El Moussawi was the biggest surprise of the show. Absolutely no one placed him in the top five in any of their pre-contest predictions. Clearly, he works best under pressure!

Moe El Moussawi
+ Click To Enlarge.
Moe El Moussawi At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Moe El Moussawi.

    The package he presented at the Iron Man exceeded the conditioning of the 2006 version of Moe Elmoussawi and exceeded the size of the 2007 version of Moe Elmoussawi. This is probably what edged him over Silvio Samuel. The top five placing qualifies Elmoussawi for the 2008 Mr. Olympia. It will be his first Mr. Olympia appearance and it is well-deserved.

dots
4. Silvio Samuel:
dots

    I remember Silvio from years ago when he competed in the WBBA. He is never, ever out of shape. It goes without saying that this show was no exception. He was in incredible condition but with much added mass since his WBBA days. We had it very close between Silvio Samuel and Moe Elmoussawi. Silvio told us he won't be competing in all the pro shows like he did in 2007.

Silvio Samuel
+ Click To Enlarge.
Silvio Samuel At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Silvio Samuel.

    We feel this will likely give him an opportunity to make more dramatic improvements than last year's non-stop competitive schedule permitted. A fourth place finish is no shame in this contest with the caliber of competitors around him.

5. Johnnie Jackson:

    We've seen Johnnie in better shape, but the solid placing qualifies him for the 2008 Mr. Olympia at the very beginning of the season. The thickness, particularly in his chest is unmatched. Johnnie Jackson's physique will earn him a victory at some show(s) this year if his progress follows the same trajectory of the previous year.

Johnnie Jackson
+ Click To Enlarge.
Johnnie Jackson At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Johnnie Jackson.

dots
6. Desmond Miller:
dots

    Desmond Miller has fantastic shape, great conditioning and incredible size. His legs and particularly his hamstrings are some of the best in the history of the sport. In sum, he has a great physique.

Desmond Miller
+ Click To Enlarge.
Desmond Miller At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Desmond Miller.

    The one thing holding him back is his back, no pun intended. It's his back that keeps him from placing higher. If Desmond focuses on improving his back and creating a more imposing lat spread, the judges will generously reward him. It's a straightforward proposition for Desmond.

dots
7. Eddie Abbew:
dots

    If Moe Elmoussawi was the big positive surprise of the show, a bigger surprise for me was Eddie coming in 7th place. This is not to take anything away from his terrific physique and likable personality, but I didn't see him placing in the top ten.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Eddie Abbew At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Eddie Abbew.

dots
8. Toney Freeman:
dots

This was not the Toney Freeman from last year who impressed everyone with a win at the 2007 Iron Man Pro and the 2007 Sacramento Pro and with a strong follow up in Columbus at the Arnold Classic. His physique was better than the Mr. Olympia but still not close to the Toney Freeman of last year's Iron Man. The size was there, the conditioning wasn't.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Toney Freeman At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Toney Freeman.

dots
9. Troy Alves:
dots

    I was very impressed with Troy. After prejudging I had him as high as third place. He has a beautifully built physique and was in his best condition ever. People always say his glutes are not tight enough. This may be the case but everything else is tight enough. Several competitors placing way ahead of him had a lot more flaws. This is by no means saying his glutes were not tight enough to place higher - they were!


+ Click To Enlarge.
Troy Alves At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Troy Alves.

dots
10. King Kamali:
dots

    King Kamali came into the Iron Man Pro with a new hunger to place higher than his last few shows. He even hired Milos Sarcev to train him for this particular show. Kamali returned to the competitive stage better than his previous shows but not enough to place higher at this particular show. His progress was incredible considering that, as he said at the press conference, he has not slept in four months since the birth of his daughter to wife Barbara.


+ Click To Enlarge.
King Kamali At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of King Kamali.

dots
11. Will Harris:
dots

    What can we say about Will Harris? Will is the coolest bodybuilder around; no one comes close. When you talk to him, he is Mr. Cool. We he steps on stage, he is super cool. Unfortunately, his physique is not as hot as when he competed at the 2007 Europa Pro show; it may have even cool off a little since his appearance at the Mr. Olympia last fall.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Will Harris At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Will Harris.

    But he still gave an electrifying routine with the always present voice of his training partner in the background cheering him on. His unseen training partner was as much of the routine as the music selection. At times you didn't even pay attention to the song that Will Harris was posing to. This is what I call a true training partner who backs and supports him all the way.

dots
12. David Henry:
dots

    This has to be Dave Henry's worst ever condition. It is not the physique we are accustomed to seeing from him. This is not to say it is the end for Dave; he could have been off for the first time in his competitive career.


+ Click To Enlarge.
David Henry At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of David Henry.

    Perhaps, Dave has entered too many shows and his body needs to rest and recover to allow him to step back up to the next level. I am confident he will be back to form and the best of Dave Henry is yet to come.

dots
13. Khalid Almohsinawi:
dots

    Khalid Almohsinawi from the Netherlands is the most improved bodybuilding on stage along with Moe Elmoussawi. He would have been my favorite to win an under 200 lb class.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Khalid Almohsinawi At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Khalid Almohsinawi.

    Khalid was called out several times during prejudging for comparisons to some of the established bodybuilders in our sport. Khalid is on the verge of having a break through year in the sport of bodybuilding and could win a pro show with the renewed interest in the under 200 lb weight class that several promoters are including in their shows.

dots
14. JoJo Ntiforo:
dots

    This is JoJo's best ever shape in the last 5 years I've seen him compete on the pro stage. His skin color is perfect for contest lights. As a result, the stage loves him, particularly a stage with lighting setting up by John Balik's expert crew of technicians. I saw him placing higher at this show.


+ Click To Enlarge.
JoJo Ntiforo At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of JoJo Ntiforo.

dots
15. Ray Arde:
dots

    Stingray Ray Arde made his pro debut and must be thrilled with his top 15 placing. He has been busy running a personal training business with the recent opening of his new gym since he won his pro card. But Ray has not neglected training; he stepped on stage with 10-15 lbs more muscle mass than he displayed when he won his pro card at a body weight of 198 lbs.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Ray Arde At The 2008 Iron Man.
View More Pics Of Ray Arde.

dots
Men's Finals Posing Routines: Top 10
dots

Author Bios: