Archive for the ‘General Info’ Category

Rules are rules, sort of

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

The CBBF’s 2009 Canadian Natural Championships, formerly called the World’s Qualifier, were held on March 22nd in Montreal. The overall men’s winner was Dickens Lambert. But you wouldn’t know that from the CBBF website. The CBBF website states “Previous winner removed due to professional status in a non recognized organization.” They must mean the IDFA Canadian Classic.

But Dickens wasn’t the only one disqualified from the Canadian Naturals. Michael Kwao won the Light-Middleweight class, but is also not listed on the official results. He has competed in both the IDFA and Musclemania, although that didn’t get him DQed from last year’s CBBF Canadian Championships. Perhaps they didn’t know of his previous contest history at the time.

The front page of the CBBF website says “events which provide cash or cash prizes, this is against the policy of the IFBB.” Now ignoring the fact that IFBB contests in Latin American countries often give cash to their winners, the CBBF can define their rules as they see fit.

But then why don’t they apply the rules equally? The women’s overall physique winner, Maria Mikola, was not disqualified from the CBBF Natural Championships, even though she had competed in the 2008 WNBF Pro Natural World Championships, which is an event that provides cash prizes to its winners. If the rule is you can’t compete as a pro, then why were Lambert and Kwao disqualified, but not Mikola?

Personally I feel that the distinction between amateur and professional has lost all meaning in the modern world. 40 years ago, working as a personal trainer made you a professional and ineligible to compete in amateur bodybuilding contests. Today, MLB, NBA and NHL pro athletes compete in the Olympic Games. And in many Asian countries, top IFBB amateurs get six figure stipends from their governments to compete in international contests, yet they’re still considered amateurs.

Or is it just that the Canadian IDFA is more of a threat to the Canadian IFBB than is the US based WNBF? Athletes should be allowed to compete where ever and when ever they want without repercussion. Should a bowler be banned from one bowling alley for having entered a competition held at another bowling alley?

If you’re going to have rules, they should be applied equally. It certainly doesn’t seem like that is happening here. I wrote the executives of the CBBF asking for clarification, but so far have gotten no response.


Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

MuscleMemory was down for many hours this evening due to a Distributed Denial of Service attack. Thanks for your emails of concern. (No I didn’t forget to pay the bill. But feel free to use the donation button on the front page, especially those of you in the industry who use my site to do your work. Yes I mean you at AMI/Weider.)


Monday, April 30th, 2007

Hey, it’s been a while. I just got bored writing “the results of ____ are now available”. And while I could have written about current events, such as who’s the latest to leave the IFBB for the PDI, or who is the latest to be arrested, plenty of others are doing that elsewhere on the web.

But today I have something to write about. The MuscleMemory database now contains over 100,000 entries. And yes, I personally type in almost all of them. Here are the current statistics:

12501 different women with 28883 entries. 27639 men with 71141 entries, for a total of 40140 individuals with 100024 entries.

MuscleMemory currently receives 1.5 to 2 million hits a month from 65000 unique visitors.

Now if each of you would just send me 10 cents…

(My service provider is in the UK, and while it seemed like a good rate at the time, today’s exchange rate is not so good.)

There are many things I would like to do with the website, but just haven’t had the time to so.

  • I would love to create a WebServices/SOAP interface to the database. This would allow others to incorporate the contest results into their websites.
  • I want to include more non-US bodybuilding magazines in my list of magazine covers. I also want to find more European contest results. A month long trip to Europe would help greatly.
  • I want to complete the bodybuilding magazines Table of Contents database. So far I’ve typed in the table of contents of all US bodybuilding magazines from 1930 into the 1970s into a searchable database. Many people have written me to say they find it very useful for doing research on the history of bodybuilding, weightlifting and fitness. But as we go into the 1980s and 1990s, the magazines got thicker and thicker, and it takes longer to type in the table of contents.
  • I added a wiki to the site for things that don’t fit in elsewhere on the website. A wiki is meant to be a place where everyone can contribute encyclopedia type articles.

All this takes is time and money. Both are in short supply at the moment. Much of my time has been spent working on other projects, one’s that may actually make money. But I do my best to try to put in a few hours each week on MuscleMemory.

If you would like to help, I could certainly use help finding more contest results, especially from outside the US. I could also use help finding people with collections of non-US bodybuilding mags. You’re welcome to write articles for the wiki. I’d even be willing to allow others to write about current events on the blog. And of course, there is a donation button on the front page.


Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

This morning, all sites hosted on the same computer as musclememory got hacked. The hackers used the backup/restore function in an old version of phpbb to replace all index.* files with one of their own.  I’ve restored most of these files, but let me know if you find any others.

New and Improved

Monday, December 26th, 2005

I’ve moved MuscleMemory to a new ISP. Besides saving money, I have more resources to play with, more disk space, bandwidth, MySQL databases, php and tomcat. You might not see too many differences for a while, but things should be easier for me to maintain.

One immediate change is that I’ve switch the blog software from MovableType to WordPress. That should mean less spam for me to delete. One nice feature of WordPress is that it allows multiple authors on the same blog. I’m hoping to find others to contribute to the MuscleMemory blog. If you’d like to write about what’s happening in bodybuilding in your part of the world, drop me an email.

New Muscle Memory Wiki

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

I’ve added a new feature to MuscleMemory: Wiki .

A wiki is a community document, where everyone can contribute. You can create new pages, or edit already existing pages. Perhaps the most popular wiki is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia where anyone can write about any topic. Here are the bodybuilding topics already covered there. Hardly anything at all.

The MuscleMemory Wiki will be about bodybuilding, of course. The goal is to have biographical articles about all the major figures, historical and current. But other topics can be covered, nutrition, training methods, politics, etc. Its up to you. If you have a favorite bodybuilder, feel free to create a wiki page about him or her, or add to an existing page.

The wiki will also allow you to write about yourself. If you are already in the MuscleMemory database, you can create a wiki page to tell about yourself, list other contests not covered by the database, even about your achievements in other sports. Once you’ve created a wiki page, email me, and I will link it to your name in the database so that a Wiki icon appears on your contest page.

To create a new page, you just append the topic name to the URL in your browser, for example

Capitalize each word, but don’t add spaces. For example

If that page does not exist, a new one will be created.

Note that you must register and log in to edit a page. To create a new account, just enter a name and password (at least six characters) in the login form.

This wiki will be successful only if everyone contributes.

Not as popular as I thought

Monday, January 17th, 2005

So for my second interactive survey, I was going to ask how many of you use RSS to be notified when something new gets posted to the MuscleMemory blog. But anyone using RSS would have answered last week’s survey question within a day or two. In one week, only 15 people have answered the survey!

Now, the webstats that I get from my service provider shows that I receive 9000 unique visitors this past week. But the blog is not being visited. The rss feed was downloaded 1327 times, but for services like bloglines which download it once an hour, 1300 downloads is only 7 aggregators.

This week, I created a new website for NABBA Mexico. They had been at geocities. I created the layout and the php scripts. Since I don’t speak spanish, I’m waiting for them to write the text. I will still be adding a blog and a forum. Now if I could just get IFBB Mexico to hire me to create a website for them….

A new year!

Sunday, January 2nd, 2005

2004 is over, and not a minute too soon. It was a tough year for me, being unemployed for most of it. Fortunately, I saw it coming, so my financial house was in pretty good order. But I’ve got to find a job soon. I do get calls from headhunters for jobs in other cities, especially New York, but very little in Los Angeles. I would really prefer not to move again.

The response to my donation page has been a bit of a disappointment. In three months, through the paypay and amazon buttons, seven individuals (one anonymous) and two businesses (I think the one from Europe was from a business) have donated $385, which just about covers the yearly fee of hosting the site. One person also sent a very generous check. Thanks to all.

In the eight years that MuscleMemory has been on the web, I’ve put in a minimum of 10 hours a week on the site, sometimes much more. Most of that time was spent scanning the 2000+ magazine covers and typing in the magazine Table Of Contents index. (See the What’s New page for more details.) Still working on the 1970s for the table of contents. Hopefully I’ll get to the 1980s in 2005.

I’m way behind in typing in the list of upcoming contests for 2005. Last year I decided to do it in XML and use jsp to fetch the info. That’s fine, but it requires that I use a GUI to enter the info. Also my ISP doesn’t support jsp, so I was using a third site to do the fetching. An awkward system, so I thought I’d do it all in php this year. Easier said than done. Turns out php is pretty slow parsing xml and has a real memory problem processing 300+ complex objects. I should have stuck with a flat file. (If you understood that, you qualify as a computer geek.)

In the coming weeks, I hope to make this blog a bit more interactive with a few surveys about the state of bodybuilding. If nothing else, it will give me an idea of how many people actually read this thing.

Pro Contests

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

The 2005 IFBB Pro Schedule is out.

No Show of Strength. No Night of Champions. No Masters Olympia. No Jan Tana.

For the men, 6 contest in North America, 4 in Europe, one in Australia.

For women’s bodybuilding, only four contests are listed: 3 in North America and one in Europe.

Women’s fitness, 6 contests, all in the US.

Women’s figure, 12 contests, all in the US. The funny thing is that many of these women’s figure pro contests are held in conjunction with NPC amateur shows. I attended the prejudging for a few of these contests this year. It seemed to me that there were two very distinct audiences. The audience for the amateur events took a break while the pros were being judged, and the audience for the pros didn’t arrive until just before the women went on stage, and left immediately afterward.

I wonder how they’re able to combine NPC and IFBB events. Did you know that the NPC is considered a public charity? See,,id=15053,00.html and enter physique for the name and Pittsburgh, PA for the city and state. None of the other major amateur bodybuilding organizations seem to be listed. (Thanks to NubianMuscle at getbig for this info.)

Clearly the IFBB is a money making business. One would think that cross promotion between the organizations would cause problems. The IFBB can promote the NPC all it wants, but one would think there would be limitations on what the NPC can do for the IFBB. The way the NPC website promotes IFBB events should be enough to put their charity status at risk.

What’s In A Name?

Friday, November 12th, 2004

This weekend is the WPF Universe contest in Philadelphia. According to their press release, which was posted to a mailing list I belong to, “the original Mr Universe is returning to Philadelphia after 57 years”. Something similar is posted to their website. (They also state that Arnold has been invited to present the awards. As he was in Tokyo today on a state visit, he must be flying directly to Philadelphia to get there in time.)

“How is this the original Mr Universe returning to Philadelphia?” you may ask. I certainly did. It works something like this. The first Mr Universe was in Philadelphia as part of the World Amateur Championships. The AAU was the host, although the contest was officially sanctioned by the world amateur weightlifting organization of the time.

Then in 1986, 1987, and 1988, the AAU held three Mr Universe contests. In 1989, the AAU dropped out, but the promoter wanted to continue with the contest, so he formed the WPF and held contests in 1989, 1990 and 1991 . I find no mention in any magazine of any WPF Universe contests from 1991 to present, although the WPF website does list one for 2003. (I’d love to add the 2003 contest to my database, but they only list last names and first initials, and I need complete names. I did email them, but never heard back from them.)

So we have first Mr Universe in 1947 —> AAU 1986, 1987, 1988 –> WPF 1989, 1990, 1991 —> 2004

So the AAU was involved with the first Mr Universe. Then 39 years later, the AAU held three contests in a row. Then the same promoter held three more under the name WPF. Therefore, according to the WPF, the Real and Original “Mr Universe” is returning to Philadelphia!

Now it doesn’t matter that in 1948 the second Mr Universe was held in London in conjunction with the Olympics. The contest was again sanctioned by the international weightlifting governing body of the time and run by the people who became NABBA. Then every year from 1950 to the present NABBA has held the Mr Universe also in the UK. (There is a guy in Australia who decided to take his marbles and go home. He formed NABBA International, and holds a World and Universe contest, but he’s been hosting it with NAC, so that’s how I list it in the database. The alternative would be faux-NABBA.)

Nor does it matter that throughout the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and even in this decade the general consensus is that the NABBA UK event is the “real” Mr Universe. The real Mr Universe for this year took place in October, and Steve Sinton won it.

I count at least nine organizations that have used Universe in their title in one way or another. So this may be a lost cause. However, in my database, I only list the 47 and 48 events and the NABBA events from 1950 to present as “Mr Universe”. None of the others get the “Mr” prefix. Hey, its my database.

Now one would expect that a Universe contest would have world class competitors from throughout the world. However I once attended a Universe contest that not only did they only have one or two people from outside the US, but almost all the contestants came from the local Los Angeles metropolitan area. Then they went and boasted that one of the class winners, this was his very first contest!!! So much for the Universe being a contest for the best of the best, a contest for people who have proven themselves at the regional and national level.

I wish the WPF well. But the name doesn’t make the contest. The name Mr Universe became significant because of Grimek and Reeves and Pearl and Hargitay, Sansone, Yorton, Schwarzenegger, Coe, Zane, Petsas, Dickerson, Lawrence, Enünlü, King and DuFresne, all NABBA winners. Not AAU winners and not WPF winners.

But the WPF is not the only organization trying to hook their wagon onto a famous name of the past.

In October, the WBFA held their second Mr America contest. In this case, at least they seem to have the legal right to call their contest Mr America.

In 1938 and 1939 there were two contests held called Mr America. Then the AAU took it over and held it every year through 1999, usually part of the national weightlifting championships. From 1959 to 1977, the Weider organization also held a contest by the name Mr America, but the IFBB was considered an “outlaw organization” and the AAU event was always considered the “real” Mr America. Then in the late 1970s, the IFBB actually promoted a few of the Mr Americas for the AAU, over strong protest by many in the AAU. That only lasted a few years and they went their separate ways. Also the AAU won a civil suit for the rights to the title Mr America. Part of the settlement included that no organization could ban an athlete for entering another organization’s contest. The IFBB via the NPC then called their top amateur event in the USA the Nationals.

The NPC became the dominate force in amateur bodybuilding and the AAU Mr America became less and less significant. Finally in 1999 the AAU washed its hands of bodybuilding all together. In 2003, the WBFA acquired the rights to the title Mr America from the AAU.

Now I have exchanged a few emails with Kelvin Fountano of the WBFA, at least until he got tired of responding. My main question was “Are you sure you want to call your contest ‘Mr America’?” He replied that he “will bring this prestigious title back to its rightful place in the bodybuilding community.”

The problem is that when people look back fondly on the Mr America contest, they’re not looking at the contests from the 1990s, and very seldom at contests from the 1980s. They’re looking back at contests from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and into the 1970s, when the Mr America was a significant part of pop culture. After that, it was dying a slow death.

The Mr America contest did not die because of mismanagement of the AAU. It died because times changed, tastes changed. The reason for the contest no longer was relevant.

The Mr America was not just a physique contest. It was not to determine who was the best built man in America. It was to determine who was the best representation of the American male. The most muscular man in the contest rarely won the overall title. Points were given for appearance, grooming, the ability to speak well, moral character. Points were also awarded for athletic ability outside of bodybuilding.

The Weiders decided to go a different route. They would judge on physique only. It took time, but the fans and athletes decided they liked that better.

The AAU tried to adapt, but once you take away the interview and the athletic points, it becomes just another contest. The NPC Nationals is the top amateur contest in the USA today. But no one looks back fondly at past winners the way they look back at Mr America winners from the 1970s and before.

Without the rules of the old Mr America contest, it is just another contest. (This new Mr America contest isn’t using the old rules. They’re even allowing winners to come back and defend their title, which the AAU Mr A did not allow.)

But the rules from the hey-day of the Mr America contest are from a different era. The Mr America contest died because the world changed. Perhaps we’re more jaded. We’re not interested in who’s the best representation of an American male. We’re just interested in who’s the biggest. Perhaps it’s difficult to talk about moral character when you need to commit multiple felonies to get the drugs required to compete at the national level (even in drug tested contests). Then again, Miss America and Miss USA contests aren’t doing too well, either. The world changes.

The WBFA wants to return the Mr America title to its previous glory. But being a national level contest isn’t what made it glorious. And claiming a lineage to the AAU Mr America won’t make it glorious. Nor will being the best built bodybuilder outside the NPC. I do wish them well. I just wish they’d use a different name. The Mr America title belongs to the past.