Archive for February, 2005

Ironman Pro

Saturday, February 19th, 2005

The 2005 Ironman Pro Invitational was held today in rainy Pasadena, California. (Our rainy season is November through March, averaging 11 to 15 inches a year. This year we’re three times above normal. Today it rained almost 3 inches in downtown, probably much more in Pasadena which is against the mountains.)

Gustavo Badell won, barely beating out Lee Priest and Troy Alves. (I would have given it to Troy.) Melvin Anthony was fourth, King Kamali fifth, and Craig Titus a very generous sixth. Complete results here.

I had not planned to attend the event, as I’m still unemployed and need to save money. But at the last minute Jim Morris was asked to judge a side award and he brought me along as his guest. We both were given badges that got us in for free. The way it was first explained to him, the additional prize was to be for who presents the best image of bodybuilding to the public. Not following pro bodybuilding for 20 or so, Jim wanted me near by to answer any questions he may have of who is who. He had thought he’d be meeting with the athletes. We attended the morning judging without having anyone tell us what the judging criteria was. Then in the evening, the contest was explained as simply “best poser”. I think Jim was a bit annoyed as there was no reason for him to attend the morning show, and his Saturdays are usually quite full with personal training. Also, anyone could have judged best poser.

In fact, while there were five routines that were slightly out of the ordinary, only Melvin Anthony‘s stood out. And he did win the $1000 prize. Melvin’s routine had lots of dance movements. Frank Roberson wore a cowboy hat, boots and belt, and had the second best posing routine. Frank has a gregarious personality that is fun to watch…the first half dozen times. Then you wish he’d kind of tone it down. Eduardo Van Amsterdam had an interesting routine, marred by the offensive lyrics in his song. Cop killer lyrics with selected words barely bleeped out did not go over well. Kamali’s routine is your standard robot shtick. Hidetada Yamagishi wore a Japanese demon mask and played with a samurai sword.

I saw Hidetada when I was in Tokyo a few years ago. In my opinion, he had a much more aesthetically pleasing physique then than he does now. Pics on his website are much better than he looked today. I suppose he could have just had an off day, perhaps jet-lag took its toll. Or it could be that he thinks he needs a lot more mass to compete at the pro level. But big is not always better. Symmetrical with wide shoulders and narrow hips should win out over more massive but blocky. But I know it doesn’t.

Francesco Mazzotta had the best posing musc, but I couldn’t tell you what it was, other than it was along the lines of Carmina Burana. (While I love O Fortuna, it is one song that should not be played at a bodybuilding show ever again, along with Bad To The Bone, which I don’t love.)

The six months pregnant award goes to Heiko Kallbach, second place goes to Massimo Valli. These two reverse their order for bad skin. Is it the 3% bodyfat or the dehydration that makes the skin look so granular? like rough sandpaper.

And Jocelyn Pelletier once again wins the “what kind of self image must you have” award. Jocelyn got his pro card by winning the 1976 IFBB Mr International. He’s 57 years old and could not win a local NPC Grand Masters contest. Yet he continues to enter pro bodybuilding contests.

The most aesthetically pleasing physiques, physiques that I would like to aspire to, were in order, David Henry, Jojo Ntiforo, Melvin Anthony, and then Troy Alves. They were thick, yet still had symmetry.

Neither the morning or evening show was sold out. The morning show was less than a third full, perhaps because of the heavy rain. The evening show was maybe three-fourths full.

Below the theater was a fitness expo. I attended it on Friday night, paying the $13 myself, thinking I wouldn’t have time to attend on Saturday. Friday was quite empty. A few of the booths didn’t even bother setting up for Friday, and no one was really giving out free samples. Saturday the prejudging was over by noon and we had to be back for the finals at 6, (although they didn’t start until 7), and my badge go me in for free, so I walked through it again. This time it was quite crowded, and I did collected lots of free samples. At 1 pm in the expo was the amateur Figure prejudging. They had about 20 contestants total in three classes.

In the booths in the expo were your normal supplement companies, a few gym clothing resellers, the LAPD, LAFD, and Army Reserves, and an Amend for Arnold booth (I declined to sign their petition). In one booth was Lifewave, which I wrote about in a previous blog entry, promoting the multi level marketing of their little plastic disks. I showed great restraint and did not get into a conversation with them. But I did listen in: “I really don’t understand it, but it has something to do with nanotechnology.” I bit my lip. And the sad thing is that the people doing all the work promoting this product really believe that all this pseudo-science really means something. It doesn’t.

In the expo, I talked to a few top amateurs who were working at various booths. Amateurs who really have no expectations of becoming a pro in the IFBB. [in the old days, that would be an oxymoron, as an amateur working a booth at a fitness expo would no longer be an amateur] I asked them to consider entering the NABBA Universe, the real “Mr. Universe”. Today, the top athletes in the NPC really have no place to compete at the international amateur level. The IFBB World Amateur Championships are suppose to be natural, so that pretty much rules out anyone who’s made it to the NPC Nationals or USA. Americans use to dominate the NABBA Universe, but it’s been years since we’ve sent a top contender. I think I planted a few seeds. We’ll see what grows.

The only old-time bodybuilder that I saw at the expo was Frank Zane, who was signing autographs at the Ironman booth. Many of the current pros were signing autographs at other booths. I tried to go up and introduce myself when I could.

When I go up to someone and I introduce myself and my website, I always get one of two reactions: a blank stare, (it could either be “what’s a website”, or “so you have a website, big deal, everyone does”), or I get “MuscleMemory!!! I love that site. I visit it all the time. That’s you???”

The funny thing is, that I can never predict what reaction I’m going to get. Old timers, you might not think spend much time on a computer. But many of them do know about my site, and they’re very glad that I’m preserving the history. While people in the industry, people with their own websites, people who you’d think would use my site on a regular basis, they’re the ones I have the hardest time explaining it to. (I’ve explained my website to one contest promoter on three separate occasions. Each time all I’ve gotten was a blank stare.)

Today, I saw a pro bodybuilder that I’ve been wanting to meet. The thing is, I know he’s gay. While he may not be openly gay, it is rather common knowledge. And as you probably know, I’m quite openly gay, especially on web forums such as getbig.com, and long before that on Usenet’s misc.fitness.weights. I’m always willing to take on the clueless straight boys who think its acceptable to bash gays on these forums. Now I’m almost certain that this pro bodybuilder has also participated on these web forums. You’d think that a gay guy would notice another gay guy (quite deftly, I may say) putting these homophobic kids in their place. And you’d think that someone who participates on web forums would recognize the names of others who post regularly on these forums. But I went up to him tonight in the lobby of the theater, and introduced myself and my website. Got nothing but a blank stare. He had never heard of me or my website, and while he occasionally posts to a specific web forum, he didn’t recognize my name from that either.

Since Jim Morris was a judge, we got to sit in the first row for both performances. At the finals, in the row behind me there were two older gentlemen behind me. A few times they asked me who was who on stage. Before the show ended, one of the gentlemen left. Only afterward did I find out that it was Reg Park!