After my victory at the 2002 Southern Classic I felt great. I had won my class as the bantam champion making myself two-time Southern Classic Bantam Weight Champion. I had also represented my sponsors Bodybuilding.com with respect and victory in my debut as a Bodybuilding.com bodybuilder. When I arrived home to the great state of Louisiana, I immediately started to prepare myself for the ultimate challenge of becoming Mr. Louisiana. While on the path to this challenge, I realized something. Every time I do show I learn something about my body, I become a better bodybuilder, I learn more about peaking out, and lately I come home a champion. This gave me the fever and made me start searching for a show to jump into before the Mr. Louisiana (July 13th). I searched the web for a nearby NPC show and in the midst of my fury of searching I began to think. I said to myself, "Dino, why don't you step up to the plate and enter the Mr. New Orleans?" You see, I USED to think that it was unfair to myself to enter a show unless they had a Bantam Weight Division for me to compete in.
Why did my vision suddenly change? I studied the pictures from the overall of the Southern Classic and not to pat myself on the back or anything, but I held my own. I noticed that in some shots I looked damn great and was a threat to those other boys. Well If I can be a threat to a 225 lb monster why can I not be a threat to a 165 pounder? The answer... I can! I am going to put it on the line and compete once again as an Open Lightweight Competitor and try to be a threat for the class on June 29th in New Orleans Louisiana.
I am in shape and I get better by the day. I am super lean and I am holding on to my muscle very well. I entered the Muscle Mania last year as a Lightweight when I really weighed in as a Bantam and I ended up winning the class. Besides it is not as if I am a professional boxer trying to defend record or something. I will have my diehard fans no matter what happens to me. I actually plan on being the crowd favorite just because I had the confidence to go up against the big boys. My mind was made up and the only person in the world that could have changed my mind was my nutritionist Maris Lee.
I spent the weekend with Maris and I discussed my plan with him and he was all for it. He too thinks that I will do well. I am going in to the contest with an open mind and a great attitude. I am using it as a learning experience and to compete with some huge guys. I am estimating about 7-10 guys show up for the Lightweight Open Division at this show. I like being compared to a lot of guys, it gives me pride to place in the top five when there is a big class. This is how I see it; Jay Cutler placed second to Ronnie Coleman, that event actually made him a better bodybuilder. His fans support him more now than ever because they know his time is coming. They did not say "oh well Jay places second, he sucks" and forgot about him. My people also know that I have it coming to me.
This weekend Maris and I discussed the importance of getting me into a National show next year. I need to start paying my "National dues" and prepare to turn professional. It is time people, we are making it! Maris even helped me realize that I was one of the best Bantam weights in our region. I placed first 3 times out of my last 4 shows when I cranked it up again after a 5 year layoff. Not to shabby, huh? He also reminded me that I have four titles under my belt; 1994 Mr. Teen Louisiana, 2000 Southern Classic Bantam Champion, 2001 Muscle Mania Lightweight Champion, and 2002 Southern Classic Bantam Champion. I guess I am a pretty good bodybuilder after all.
I love the sport and I love competition. I have always said that I'd rather be placed 3rd out of 15 than 1st out of 3 or 4. Well, we are going to see what I can do as the NPC Mr. New Orleans combines the Bantam, Light, and Middleweight Open classes into one large Lightweight class. The cut off weight is 165 pounds. Ohh, and people, do not worry... this show will only help me get better for the Mr. Louisiana. I assure you I would not do it if it were not beneficial. I always learn so much as I diet for competitions each year. I get better and better, I flat out improve every time. I feel good at this point and I really have control over the whole diet scheme, we did it right this year. Heck, I like dieting! I plan on using these theories in the off-season. That is right, I am going to stay lean and mean in the off-season this year.
It is rather difficult to explain what I am going through right now. It is as if I am like a machine at this point in the season. I see myself as a dieting, cardio-doing, weight training, eating, water drinking, learning, and overall bodybuilding machine. On top of all this I am hungry for a victory at the Louisiana, I really want it bad and I am willing to pay the toll to get it. Well that is it for now, but be sure to stay tuned for updated on my progress as I prepare for the 2002 Mr. New Orleans, which is only 19 days away!