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2004 GNC Show Of Strength Preview.

In recent weeks, we have heard a lot about the decrease in prize money for this event, however, this hasn't stopped some top talent from competing for the $20,000 winner's check. Here is a brief preview of the contenders:

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As Las Vegas braces for a highly anticipated Olympia Weekend, the city of Atlanta will take center stage this weekend. When the GNC Show of Strength was announced for October 9th, it appeared that bodybuilding fans would be treated to a rare Olympia "sneak preview".

Historically, the Olympia is held months after the conclusion of the regular IFBB schedule. But this year, the GNC promoters have boldly opted to stage their show just 3 weeks before the annual showdown in Vegas.

In recent weeks, we have heard a lot about the decrease in prize money for this event, however, this hasn't stopped some top talent from competing for the $20,000 winner's check. Dexter Jackson and Chris Cormier have opted out, but there still remains an impressive stable of talent. Here is a brief preview of the contenders:

The Contenders

Darrem Charles

After unveiling major improvements earlier in the year, Darrem will bring his momentum to Atlanta in search of a 5th professional victory. Darrem has spent the past 4 months adding a few more quality pounds to his frame. This on-going process has brought Darrem very close to the upper-tier of pro bodybuilding. Look for Darrem to once again present a balanced, striated package…worthy of another top placing.

Troy Alves

Remember Him??? It's been nearly a year since we've seen Troy on stage. After a solid rookie campaign, Alves is eager to show off a year's worth of labor. Already qualified for the Olympia, Troy can do damage at this event. A victory for Troy would be impressive, considering it's only his 2nd year as a pro.

Victor Martinez

All the potential in the world, Victor is making his first professional appearance since his time behind bars. The former N.O.C. champ is hoping to begin a new chapter in his career, but we are all left scratching our heads at the thought of Victor preparing for a show in the wake of his legal drama.

Craig Titus

Despite finishing a solid 6th at the Arnold Classic, Craig has failed to qualify for the Olympia in 4 events this year. In his last event, Craig showed up well off the mark, finishing 7th at the Xtreme Pro Challenge. Titus is determined to end the year on a high note. Still looking for his first pro victory, Titus has vowed to be ready.

Ahmad Haidar

Another pro looking for victory number one, Ahmad finished 2nd earlier this year in Orlando. It will take a tremendous effort, but he can do damage at this show. His aesthetics make him a threat every time he walks on stage. Haidar is already qualified for the O.

Johnnie Jackson

In Toronto, JJ reminded us that he can be a very legitimate contender. The second place finish in Canada was his all-time best overall package. One of the thickest and strongest pros on the circuit, Jackson will reach the next level as soon as he can achieve better overall conditioning.

Let's be reminded, the GNC show has proven to be one of the LEAST predictable shows. In its first year, Gunter Schlierkamp defeated Ronnie Coleman in a stunning turn of events. In 2003, Dexter Jackson managed to snag the $100,000 first place check… ahead of Jay Cutler.

Who Do You Think Will Win The 2004 Show Of Strength?
Troy Alves
Toney Freeman
Claude Groulx
Ahmad Haidar
Johnnie Jackson
Victor Martinez
Craig Titus
Mat Duvall
Nasser El Sonbaty
Darrem Charles

In Other News…

Here is the latest edition of reader mail:

Q. Dan, it seems that there are mixed opinions about the new Olympia "Challenge" Round. Do you think it's a positive addition to the show?

Akron, Ohio

    A. The Challenge Round is EXACTLY what the show needed. Up until now, the athletes never had a voice on stage. They would show up, hit their poses, and collect their trophies. NOW, we will actually be able to hear from the athletes on stage! The challenge round creates a new layer of strategy and the crowd will love it.

Q. Dan, we haven't heard much about the Fitness Olympia. Now that Susie Curry is retired from fitness, who do you think will wear the crown?

Myrtle Beach

    A. I love all the fitness girls because they work so hard. In my opinion, there are 3 girls who really stand out. Kelly Ryan, Adela Friedmansky and Stacy Hylton. These 3 athletes bring the best "combination" of physique, athleticism, strength and showmanship. But, lets be very honest... Kelly has deserved this crown for a few years!

    Kelly Ryan.

    She remains the most popular and the most gifted all-around athlete in the sport. Her fan base is large and her routines are worth the price of admission. The sport of fitness needs Kelly on top.

Q. What's the deal with the GNC prize money decrease? I read on Pro Muscle Online that the prize money dropped from 100k for the winner, all the way down to 20k. What's the story with that?


    A. The situation with the GNC Show of Strength is rather unusual. Apparently, the promoters were not happy when the IFBB increased the sanctioning fees.

    As a result, expenses increased and several sponsors subsequently opted to pull out. In the end, all of this added up to a massive drop in prize money. Needless to say, there are "other" versions of the story, so I'll reserve my opinion until I speak to the right people. It now appears that a few headliner athletes are re-considering their plans to compete in the event.

Q. Dan, I read in the recent Flex Magazine that Darrem Charles has now won more pro contests than Gunter Schlierkamp, Lee Priest and Dennis James, COMBINED. Wow, that's impressive! Do you think he can do damage at the Olympia?


    A. This is Darrem's 6th career Mr. Olympia. Last year, he finished a very impressive 7th place. Darrem is gunning for one of the coveted spots among the Top 6. He continues to improve and add quality size, thickness and detail.

    2003 Mr. Olympia Results

    Place Name Country 1 2 3 4 Pnts
    1 Ronnie Coleman USA 5 5 5 5 20
    2 Jay Cutler USA 10 10 10 10 40
    3 Dexter Jackson USA 16 15 15 16 62
    4 Dennis James USA 19 20 21 20 80
    5 Gunter Schlierkamp Germany 25 25 23 25 98
    6 Kevin Levrone USA 30 30 30 30 120
    7 Darrem Charles Trinidad 35 40 39 35 149
    8 Troy Alves USA 41 36 37 35 149
    9 Melvin Anthony USA 45 41 39 35 160
    10 Ernie Taylor England 53 50 51 35 189
    11 Johnny Jackson USA 53 58 55 35 201
    12 Rodney St. Cloud USA 58 64 60 35 217
    13 Art Atwood USA 68 60 65 35 228
    14 Claude Groulx Canada 72 73 69 35 249
    15 Lee Priest Australia 71 77 75 35 258
    16 Jonathan Davie Australia 80 75 76 35 266

    Darrem is looking forward to getting his callouts with Cormier and Dexter. You just might be surprised when you see how Darrem compares.

Q. I just finished reading a couple of your articles on I always enjoy them. I especially loved the article titled "From Rising Star - To Superstar".

East Brunswick

    A. Thanks Melissa. I really enjoy writing the column. The guys at have created the #1 most visited site in the industry. Keep checking back for more articles and commentary soon. The article that you mention can still be viewed at the following link. ( From Rising Star to Superstar)

    View All Of My Articles...

Q. Will the Olympia events be televised this year?


    A. I recently spoke to executive producer Richard Enlow. Great News! The show will be carried, once again, live on pay-per-view. I can assure you that there is a major commitment to increasing the quality of the television production for the Olympia.

    In years past, the production has experienced some growing pains, but it sounds like the producers are poised to bring an improved level of quality and expanded coverage (including all of the Women's events). Check back soon to Pro Muscle Online for more updates on the Olympia TV show… including some surprise guest-star announcements!

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