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Shawn Ray's 2003 Year In Review!

It's that time of year again, where we take a look back at the events that took place over the past year and with pleasure I will do just that!

It's that time of year again, where we take a look back at the events that took place over the past year and with pleasure I will do just that!

As I sat in the sidelines this year, I will say first off that I attended most every major event of this bodybuilding season both Professional and Amateur, so let's get started from my point of view and the way things happen!

Pro Ironman - Torrance, California - February

1st - Jay Cutler
The 13th Annual Pro Ironman Contest took place in mid-February and as predicted, the 2002 ASC Contest Winner and front runner for this show, "A Cut Above", Jay Cutler from Las Vegas, Nevada cleaned house and took home the Grand Prize of a whopping $10,000.00!

Make no mistake, Jay won this show with relative ease but the line up was formidable. Jay was big, cut and oozed confidence that had previously eluded his stage presence. He served notice that this show was only the beginning and not the end of what he had in store for the year, as he had bigger fish to fry down the road and it would be no walk in the park!

2nd - Melvin Anthony
"Marvelous" Melvin Anthony who has taken some time to get his life together by becoming a Born Again Christian and a husband, finally dialed himself in to where he peaked at show time and not later, as he has done in the past! Beautiful lines and graceful posing put him front and center to qualify for the Mr. Olympia for the second time in his 4 year professional career!

3rd - Flex Wheeler
"Fabulous" Flex Wheeler would pick up 3rd place in a contest that he has owned for half a decade with a record 5 Ironman victories! Flex coming off a 7th place finish at the 2002 Mr. Olympia and battling Kidney Disease, would not be at his best with only 6 weeks of preparation but still good enough to conquer less genetically gifted athletes.

Flex, Milos and myself trained together for the last 5 weeks before this show and to say that this guy came from being mortal man to Superman would be the understatement of the year! Flex was no more than 205lbs when we started training together and wound up coming in at 230lbs and balanced. Not as hard as he used to be but nonetheless, this guy pulled off what seemed to be a miracle to finish in the top 3 and no one would argue that he was not too far off the mark!

** Chris Cormier decided to NOT compete in this show, which drew some speculation that he was not ready. According to Chris, he never signed a contract to compete in this show in the first place even though he already has 4 victories in this very contest.

Pics From The Show:

More Pics Here!

Arnold Classic - Columbus, Ohio - March

For the second year in a row, "Cut" Jayson Cutler would take home the title, $100,000.00, the Hummer and a $20,000.00 Rolex Watch!

1st - Jay Cutler
Jay looked to be a carbon copy of his form in California 2 weeks prior, the lighting in Columbus leaves a lot to be desired compared to the Pro Ironman with Ace Photographers like, Mike Neveux & John Balik working the set however, Jay would win this contest with perfect scores regardless!

2nd - Chris Cormier
"Crazy" Chris Cormier would play brides maid for the 4th time in this contest! Chris, whom many thought could possibly take Jay, again was just not powerful enough in the comparison shots to be seriously considered to topple Jay. Chris is balanced and proportional but was not quite hard enough to deliver the knockout punch! Chris has better symmetry but Jay seemed to have the right amount of everything else to defeat this 4-time bridesmaid.

3rd - Markus Ruhl
The contest surprise was the Gargantuan Size of the "German Giant"- Markus Ruhl! Markus came to Columbus with winning on his mind! This guy put added definition to places on his body where definition was not supposed to be! I am not sure of how much Markus weighed but believe me when I say he was HUGE! Add to that, the fact that he was sliced and you get a top 3 finish! I have never been a fan of his physique but I have to give the guy his props for coming in the way he did with what he has to work with.

4th - Dexter Jackson
Dropping in at 4th place would be "The Blade", Dexter Jackson. Dexter after coming off his first ever top 4 placing in the Mr. Olympia in 2002, was not spectacular but his muscle maturity was shaping up nicely. I have said, this guy competes way too much to make significant impact in a show of this size but Dexter knows his body better than most and this show was to serve as an appetizer for things to come later in the year! Still, the Blade represented big time with a line up that was rich with talent!

5th - Kevin Levrone
"The Maryland Muscle Machine" Kevin Levrone would pull up the rear of the top 5 in this show, which as of late, seems to be habit forming as it relates to him competing in the ASC.

Kevin, coming off his 4th First Runner-up finish at the Mr. Olympia in 2002, would have to settle for 5th place for the second consecutive year! Kevin, it seems, does not allow himself enough time to properly prepare for the ASC yet he still manages to put it together just enough to grab that top 5 spot and $10,000.00 from guys who train all year for this show, amazing!

Pics From The Show:

More Pics Here!

San Francisco Pro - Berkley, California - March

1st - Jay Cutler
"A Cut Above" Jay Cutler would continue to dominate the competition from start to finish winning his 3rd consecutive contest in a row! A bit fuller and rounder, Jay could do no wrong; he even had his posing down and was as fluid in his transitions as he was confident! $10,000.00 to the winner!

2nd - Chris Cormier
"Crazy" Chris Cormier would take runner up here solidly and with little fan fare. As great as Chris is, his stage presence leaves a lot to be desired. His posing routines now resemble "Guest Posing" routines with booty shaking and miming Michael Jackson? Chris with all the right stuff, never seems to fulfill his promise, yet remains close to where he has always dreamed of being near the best but coming up short by inches.

3rd - Dexter Jackson
"Dazzling" Dexter Jackson would pick up the number 3 spot here in Berkley. Dexter was primed and ready to move up but the judges didn't see it that way. Nothing to really breakdown here, since I saw him in second place convincingly! Dexter it seems is just warming up for things to come. Possibly the "Calm before the STORM!"

Australian Pro - Melbourne, Australia - March

1st - Chris Cormier
"Crazy" Chris Cormier would go onto grab what be his 4th Australian Title and second in a row! Chris has the ability to hold it together despite long over seas flights with just enough balance and conditioning to get the job done and grab the first prize check to boot!

2nd - Troy Alves
New comer and USA Heavy weight Champion, "Terrific" Troy Alves would take the runner-up spot and qualify for his first ever Mr. Olympia later in the year at the age of 37!

Troy, has just enough of everything to challenge the top guys when he nails his conditioning on game day! A sleeper from where I sat earlier in the year but nobody gets lucky qualifying for the Mr. Olympia!

Hats off to Troy for staying hungry!

3rd - Jonathan Davie
Australia's own, Jonathan Davie would grab 3rd place here and get into his first Olympia as well!

Jonathan had been battling a Triceps injury coming into the show but believe me when I say, he enjoyed every bit of the contest experience, as it was a life long dream to stand on the stage as one of the best in world! Big guy over 6 ft tall and needs to pack on more size in the upper body region, catching himself up to those massive legs of his!

Night Of Champions - New York City, New York - May

1st - Victor Martinez
1st ~ New Yorks own, former National Champion Class winner, "Vicious" Victor Martinez came ready to Rock n Roll pulling in the top prize of $15,000.00 and Mr. Olympia Qualifying spot!

Not only was Victor spot on but he had the Beef to back it up! There was Victor then there was everyone else, as he would win this one UNANIMOUSLY! Humble in victory, Victor had the crowd and the judges eating out of his hands with the hard work he put into this show and he was reward equally by both in attendance! Victor presented a pleasing package, with both size and shape getting Flex Wheeler to tout this guy as a future Mr. O THREAT!

2nd - Pavol Jablonicki
From Czech Republic "Shredded" Pavol Jablonicki treated the fans to an awesome display of detail! At 40 years old, Pavol's body looked incredibly healthy and ripped! Lacking in the "Shape" department compared to Martinez, Pavol more than made up for it by showing off cuts on top of CUTZ! Clearly he was battling "Bad Boy" Craig Titus for the number 2 spot in the prejudging but would hold his condition through the night show to secure his 2nd place finish here tonight!

3rd - Craig Titus
"Bad Boy" Craig Titus, showed up to do battle with EVERYBODY! Kamali, Cicherillo, you name it! Craig wanted to serve notice he was not one to be pissed on whether it was on the Internet or by magazines! Craig during prejudging looked like he would be in 2nd by way of the call outs. He was dry, hard and confident, all the necessary ingredients to pull an upset!

However, by the time the night show came around a totally different bodybuilder showed up to compete? Smoother than earlier in the day and a bit of stomach bloat, stopped Craig dead in his tracks! The contest being so close I believe Craig made some "rookie mistakes" after prejudging that cost his runner up spot! Possibly too many carbs, too much water, and heck I don't know? I do know if he came back at night as he was in prejudging he could have added a couple grand to his winnings and a runner up spot to his collection! He was gracious in 3rd place however.

4th - Shari Kamali
Shari Kamali took 4th place here in what he predicted would be his 1st Pro Win, so much for predictions! Kamali was considerably better than his last two outings Mr. Olympia 17th and the GNC Pro 11th out of 12. That being said, Kamali had a slew of fans that cheered his every move as he seemed baffled by Titus being called out before him and later being beaten by him? During the Pose down, Titus mimicked Kamali by doing exaggerated Kamali posing with Kamali doing a Titus rebuttal by sticking out his gut.

Funny and interesting, as these two wound up 3rd & 4th in the final placings of a contest that was won by a landslide by Martinez!

Pics From The Show:

More Pics Here!

Mr. Olympia - Las Vegas - October

1st - Ronnie Coleman
"Ridiculous" Ronnie Coleman would win his 6th Sandow Trophy in a row looking absolutely ridiculous!

This guy was from another planet! Ronnie added about a million pounds of muscle from the previous year and squashed the competition on sheer MASS! Unbelievable is what Ronnie was this night! Personally, I like the smaller version of 2001 when he won the ASC however, my hat goes off to a guy who packs on 40 more pounds of muscle in a year!

Ronnie tried to uplift his posing a bit and his efforts did not go unnoticed, as he is clearly getting better each year in the posing round. Ronnie must be serious about staying an "APPLE" while everyone else is just an "Orange."

2nd - Jay Cutler
2nd ~ After the year Jay Cutler had competing in 3 shows and traveling all over the world, it is amazing the guy even competed?

A bit off from his dominating condition previously this year, Jay still had the goods to get the job done! From the front Jay held his own however from the rear, the water under the skin around the glutes and lower back area were clearly visible and possibly his down fall. Taking home $75,000.00, Cutler surprised more than a few people competing in the shape he did considering his hectic schedule and he would be pressed hard from a young hungry lion called DEXTER!

3rd - Dexter Jackson
The surprise of the night clearly had to be "Dangerous" Dexter Jackson! Dexter claimed to be 10 lbs heavier and I am certainly not one to question that because on this night he looked a full 20lbs heavier and more shredded than ever! Dexter could have easily slipped into the number 2 spot and some would present a case for number 1! Sitting in my front row seat, I saw Dexter as Mr. Olympia for a number of reasons!

  1. Dexter was the most shredded guy on stage bar none!

  2. The improvements Dexter made were measurable to the point where he looked like a totally different bodybuilder from earlier in the year.

  3. Dexter was not out muscled nor was there anyone who dominated his symmetry. Dexter has my vote for most improved and congratulations on his first ever top 3 finish in the big one with more to come I am certain.

4th - Dennis James
Dennis "The Menace" James came in hard and full! Dennis finally after several years of trying, peaked for a pro show on the same day as the contest and we all got to witness it! Dennis, dialed himself in with the help of a certain "Guru" and came to California 2 months early to prepare for this show! This guys efforts were rewarded handsomely! Dennis deserved his placement, as well as the reception from his thankful and supportive fans!

5th - Günter Schlierkamp
"Gentle" Günter Schlierkamp repeated his previous years placing but not his conditioning. Günter, a victim of "Popularity" as well as a staff infection, could not duplicate his previous outing as a result. The ever popular German Giant with the help of training expert Charles Glass, carried way too much water in all the wrong places to be considered a threat to the 4 men placing ahead of him. That being said, Günter ever the sportsman gave a pleasant performance throughout and the fans showed their love with a huge response to his routine!

6th - Kevin Levrone
"The Maryland Muscle Machine" Kevin Levrone missed his peak bad for several reasons. A torn triceps weeks before the show, had him undecided on competing until the last minute, as well as running a gym business. Kevin, a veteran of the Olympia stage was a shadow of the previous year, legs were down, body weight was low, the confidence was gone. Kevin, who's body can change over night, still managed to work a miracle with the amount of time he had and placed in the top 6 automatically qualifying him for the next Mr. Olympia contest in 2004!

* Congratulations go out to Kevin for Re-Marrying his EX wife Lolita, in late November.

** Best Presentation Award was presented to the "Best Poser" as judged by fellow professionals Milos Sarcev, Flex Wheeler and myself.

This award was made possible due to the contributions of sponsors who would like to see Posing and Entertainment brought back to the Mr. Olympia stage!

"Marvelous" Melvin Anthony won the additional $9,000.00 Award the day after the event at the V Annual All Star Seminar at Gold's Gym East. Good job!

Pics From The Show:

For The Full Coverage, CLICK HERE!

Should Ronnie Have Won The 2003 Olympia?
Yes - He Was By Far The Best.
No - Jay Cutler Should Have Won.
No - Somebody Else Should Have Won.

GNC PRO - Atlanta, Ga - November

1st - Dexter Jackson
Dexter "The Blade" Jackson would top his year off with not only a victory but $100,000.00 and a feather in his cap named Jay!

The Blade, stayed home and away from the lure of the almighty dollar Bill on the European Tour of England, Russia and Holland to concentrate on this victory! Making good on staying true to his diet, Dexter beat the favorite Cutler on CUTS! A carbon copy of the physique displayed at the Olympia, Dexter caught and flew by the heir to the throne Jay Cutler. This was Dexter's 2nd Pro win in his incredible career!

2nd - Jay Cutler
Jay "Cuts 280" Cutler has nothing to be ashamed of! This was not a victorious night for Jay on stage but consider the fact that Jay competed in 8 contests and won 5 of them with 3 First Runner ups! Jay was tad smooth in all the wrong places to be standing next to Dexter but he was still hard enough and hungry enough to surpass a very solid field of challengers. With some much deserved rest, Jay will not accept defeat easily as he returns to the gym in 2004!

3rd - Kevin Levrone
Speaking of miracles, "The Maryland Muscle Machine" Kevin Levrone made another transformation worthy of Ripley's Believe it or Not! Levrone, added some more detail to his physique from 2 weeks prior at the Mr. Olympia, noticeable enough to catch and pass, James and Gunther in this line up! Kevin can change his appearance in a matter of hours like nobodies business when he wants to and here he did just that! Awesome!

4th - Dennis James
"The Menace" Dennis James would duplicate his Olympia placement here and move up from his placement of 6th last year in this show. Dennis was fully committed to making the necessary changes to be considered a real threat and it paid off here!

4th - Günter Schlierkamp
"Smiling" Günter Schlierkamp would pick up the tail end of the top 5. Fitting end to a world wind schedule after winning the show a year ago. I say fitting end because, when you factor in Günter's travel schedule staff infection and contest traveling (Russia, England, Holland and Atlanta) most people would have written him off! Günter handled the fact that he was not at the top of his game like a Pro who is worthy of a round of applause from his fellow competitors for Sportsmanship!

Pics From The Show:

More Pics Here!

Over The Last Year...

2003 has come to an end and there is another chapter in the annuls of Bodybuilding tucked away. We had some flashes of Brilliance mixed in with some Casualties of War!

A few things of note looking back at the past year:

  • Flex Wheeler retires for the 2nd time due to Kidney Failure ultimately resulting in a successful Kidney Transplant from a female donor at his Church. Praise the Lord!

  • Tom Prince diagnosed with Kidney Failure, Liver Disease and Bleeding Ulcers has to drop out of the Night of Champions and has yet to return to the stage.

  • Craig Titus does not "KNOCK" Kamali OUT at the NOC with a punch but rather his physique!

  • Jean Pierre Fux returns to the Pro stage at the NOC after tearing up his quads in a photo shoot but with little notice and even fewer call outs.

  • Juliette Bergman wins the Ms. Olympia Lt Wt. Title for the 2nd year in a row and promptly retires.

  • The verdict is still out on Bertil Fox regarding the Death Penalty or Life without regarding the double murders of his late girlfriend and her mother.

  • Chris Cormier's mysterious stomach virus withdrawing days before the Mr. Olympia?

  • Arnold Swazhisname wins Governor of California in a Total Recall!

  • Paul Dillett's - 4 Million Doller contract cannot get him a qualifying spot at the Mr. O.

Be sure to also check out:
Shawn Ray's 2002 Year In Review!

In Strength & Honor,