2008 New York Pro Men's Preview: A Fight For Top 6!

Despite 33 professionals slated to appear, the competition is indeed slim for Kai and Ronnie, both former pro show winners... See who will take top six and why I think it will go down that way! Read on.

With a large field of relatively unknown competitors and a handful of established second/third tier pros, the 2008 New York Pro men's competition is shaping to be a walkover for either one of the two top names currently scheduled to appear: Ronnie Rockel and Kai Greene.

Despite 33 professionals slated to appear, the competition is indeed slim for Kai and Ronnie, both former pro show winners and solid performers, although there are several names that could surprise should they put it all together: Sweden's Martin Kjellstrom, the Caribbean's Joel Stubbs and US athletes' Tricky Jackson and David Henry II are all likely to be in the top six, depending on what kind of shape the rest of the field bring and notwithstanding any potential surprises.

Although this line-up is down on established talent there is a positive side to this: many likely surprises and the possible emergence of several future bodybuilding superstars, new Pros' Ben White (2008 USA winner) and 2007 National's winner Charles Dixon being amongst these.

An added attraction, for me at least, will be the continued return of former top competitor Don Long, who made his bodybuilding comeback at the 2007 Atlantic City Pro several years after a kidney disorder almost claimed his life.

Though it is noticeably lacking a Dennis Wolf, Branch Warren or Dennis James, this contest will provide plenty of excitement and the element of surprise will definitely be worth watching for.

My Top Six Are As Follows:

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One: Kai Greene:
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    With his respectable third place at the 2008 Arnold Classic, based on the tremendous improvements he made over the past year, Kai Greene, at least on paper, looks to be the obvious favorite to win the 2008 New York Pro. It was at the 2007 version of this show that he gave a hint of what he was really capable of when he walked away with sixth place and a commendation for his extraordinary posing ability.


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Kai Greene At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
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    What Kai has in his favor is incredible overall thickness and consistently ripped conditioning, which, when combined, make him hard to beat. And no one at this year's Arnold had him beat on overall shape, size and cuts. Look for Kai to make the 2008 New York Pro his second pro win.

Kai Greene's 2008 Arnold Classic Posing Routine.
Download: WMV (29 MB)

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Two: Ronnie Rockel:
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    Speaking of shape, Germany's Ronnie Rockel is one bodybuilder who brings the best of this each and every time he competes, but his lack of overall size usually seems to relegate him to the bad end of the top six in smaller shows and completely out of the money at larger contests like the Mr. Olympia.


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Ronnie Rockel At The 2008 New Zealand Grand Elite Pro.
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    For my money Ronnie is one of the best bodybuilders competing today because of his near-perfect symmetry and proportion. And at over 220 pounds contest shape at around 5' 6" he is not a small guy. He just does not seem to generate the hype necessary for him to be seen more often by the judges and to be perceived as being as good as he really is. A fan favorite, Ronnie will bring the house down in New York, and if Kai comes in lacking cuts, could win his second pro show.

Ronnie Rockel's 2008 Arnold Classic Posing Routine.
Download: WMV (22 MB)

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Three: David Henry II:
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    Just two years ago David Henry II was touted as pound-for-pound one of the best bodybuilders at any pro show he entered. His consistently shredded conditioning and full round muscles gave his physique quality that was appreciated by fans and judges alike.


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David Henry At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
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    But he began to play the size game in 2007 and was instantly marked down for the obscuring of definition this created. This was no more evident at this year's Arnold Classic where he placed a disappointing 12th with barely a cut on his physique. If David can bring the conditioning he is known for he should place top three at this show.

David Henry's 2008 Arnold Classic Posing Routine.
Download: WMV (24 MB)

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Four: Joel Stubbs:
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    Since his excellent showing at the 2007 Australian Pro, the massive Joel Stubbs, with one of the best, if not the best back development in bodybuilding today, has readied himself to break through to the big time.


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Joel Stubbs At The 2007 Europa Super Show.
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    With his very long limbs it was always a big task for Joel (over 6' 4") to compete successfully with the much shorter (average height: 5' 8) and more dense and balanced professionals. But he has proven to be a worthy contender and does posses one of the best upper bodies in the sport today.

    If he has built his legs to an equal level of impressiveness, he will not disappoint in New York. If he brings his usual phenomenal conditioning along with improved legs he is likely to place top four.

Joel Stubbs's 2007 Iron Man Posing Routine.
Download: WMV (11.2 MB)

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Five: Tricky Jackson:
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    Tricky Jackson has become very popular in the pro ranks despite being one of the smaller competitors out there. With his second place at the Europa pro show under-210 pound class, and subsequent impressive display in the open class, he has shown that, if given the opportunity, he can stand out with the best of them.


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Tricky Jackson At The 2007 Atlantic City Pro.
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    With flawless posing skills, excellent conditioning and great proportion, complete with a tiny waist, broad shoulders and wide back, he does look impressive from all angles.

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Six: Martin Kjellstrom:
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    Impressive by virtue of his sheer size, Martin is always a fan favorite. Although often overlooked due to the large number of competitors in each contest he enters and the lack of quality he has presented in comparison to the top guys, it is time for Martin to bring his usual massive size with improved conditioning and balance. If he can do this he will place top six in New York.


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Martin Kjellstrom At The 2008 Australia Pro Grand Prix VIII.
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Under 202 Pounds Class
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Beginning at the 2007 Europa Pro Show and featured again at the 2008 New York Pro is a separate men's professional bodybuilding class for the lighter competitors. Proving to be a stunning success first time around, where it was won by Silvio Samuel, the under-210 pound class (or the under-202 as it will be in New York) has given the spotlight to competitors who might otherwise be overlooked in shows that are increasingly filled with monsters at 250 pounds or more.

The New York Pro will feature six great under-202 pound competitors, each a potential worthy winner, but of course only one of these will be named New York Pro ultimate champion for 2008. Here is my pick for top five.

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One: Tricky Jackson:
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    Based on previous competition outings, the favorite for this class would have to be Tricky Jackson, who at 5' 5" packs a lot of mass on his "smaller' frame. His V-Taper is also one of professional bodybuilding's most impressive and his conditioning, shape and outer quad sweep, hamstring and overall leg balance is also great.


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Tricky Jackson At The 2007 Atlantic City Pro.
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    Upon turning pro, Tricky appeared to be just another smaller bodybuilder hitting the pro ranks. However, unlike many before him, he has capitalized on his great shape and excellent posing ability and is now making a name for himself in this competitive industry.

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Two: Jimmy Canyon:
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    If recent photos and reports are anything to go by, Jimmy Canyon, who placed seventh in the 2007 Europa under-210 pound class, and packs almost 200 ripped pound on his 5'5" frame, will be very hard to beat in this year's New York Pro under 202-pound class.


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Jimmy Canyon At The 2008 Iron Man Pro.
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    With some of the best abs in the business and ultra-thick shoulders and arms, both in good balance with the rest of his physique, Jimmy, if he can hold, and slightly improve (fine-tune), the conditioning he has shown in recent weeks, will likely place second in this contest.

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Three: Bola Ojex:
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    Bola looked phenomenal at the Australian Pro show a few months back. His thickness and proportionate muscle belied the fact he was only around 180 pounds. Next to the larger guys he does tend to fade due to the vast size discrepancy but alone or in the company of similar-sized competitors he is one of the larger men.


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Bola Ojex At The 2008 Australian Pro.
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    Narrow lower lat muscles and legs that tend to overpower his upper body may cost him, but overall he is one "smaller" bodybuilder who will, given time, go onto bigger things.

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Four: Jason Arntz:
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    Jason has been in the mix for many years, impressing with his width, hardness and freaky deltoids. But he has never really put all the ingredients together to overcome his general lack of size compared to the more established professionals. It is always good to see Jason onstage as his posing ability and general showmanship is first class.


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Jason Arntz At The 2007 Atlantic City Pro.
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    Alongside men of a similar height and weight he will definitely shine. If any of the top three mentioned here make even the slightest mistake with their preparation, he could take this class.

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Five: Roland Huff:
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    At 5'3" and around 160 pounds, one of the smallest competitors in this class will be Roland Huff. However the mass he presents is evenly distributed and covers every inch of his impressive physique. In the 2007 Europa under-210 pound class Roland was outclassed and finished near the back of the pack with a disappointing 17th place.


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Roland Huff At The 2007 Atlantic City Pro.
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    He came in too smooth, but the shape and muscle was there. If he can improve for New York, he will do his great physique justice and increase the possibility that he will be given greater attention at future contests.