by Matt Meinrod
If you ever sit back and look at all of the great champions the IFBB has had throughout the years you’ll notice the one thing they all have in common: nearly every champion, regardless of the division has managed to go on unprecedented runs of success making each passing year a little more ho-hum than the year before. I’m guilty of using the phrase, “to beat the champ you have to knock out the champ,” but that is exactly what has become of bodybuilding. The ironic thing is that the Olympia is held every year in Vegas. What were the odds of Iris Kyle losing her Ms. Olympia title, 100 to 1? Where’s the parody?
The real reason people love sports is for the upsets. Rooting for the underdog and even though it’s a long shot, anything can happen. Not in bodybuilding. Did anyone really think Oksana Grishina was going to beat Adela Garcia or Tanji Johnson? I think the consensus was that we all “hoped” but in the end, and predictably so, Adela took home her 8th consecutive fitness title. At least when I watch the UFC, a sport whose champions can go on similar runs there’s always a punchers chance Andersen Silva can get his head knocked off.
Then there was Kai L. Greene, a.k.a. “Mr. Not Gettin’ It Done.” He couldn’t get it done in 2012 coming in peeled and then again he fell short in 2013 with a bigger look than the year before. Kai was the lone soldier in the fight to take down Phil Heath. Many people saw Heath’s moniker take on a new meaning this year, but facts are facts. Dennis Wolf isn’t the chosen one. Kai lost his chance with the notorious towel dance. And Big Ramy might actually have “The Gifts” but he is still a few more years away from rocking the IFBB boat. Like it or not, Phil Heath is about to make a run at 6-8 Sandows. But don’t tell me you’re surprised.
Flex Lewis is living in the same parallel universe as Phil Heath. The few guys he had breathing down his throat for the past 2 or 3 seasons have all but been relegated to clear cut runner-ups. And to be fair, it’s no fault of his own; the guy is just that good. He outshines Kevin English, David Henry, and Jose Raymond from every mandatory pose. I’m not calling for parody for the sake of parody, but if the day comes where Flex is off and Jose or David is on, a shakeup at the top wouldn’t be the worst thing for the division.
You never would guess it, but of all the classes where there has been parody it has come from the female divisions. Figure is a revolving door between Nicole Wilkins, Erin Stern, and Candice Keene. I feel bad for the judges in this division. How do they decide a winner? Is it based upon hard glutes, soft glutes, flaring delts, or is it simply who has on the best eye makeup? For the life of me, I can’t tell. It’s a shame the most beautiful women on the planet don’t have to do more with their routine than stand and walk. I’d love to see a pull up/push up contest and an interview segment. Wishful thinking, I know.
And for a writer who is asking for parody in the sport of bodybuilding, I guess I’ll have to settle for it within the pro bikini division. I’m still trying to figure out how Amanda Latona, Nathalia Melo, and India Paulino fell from the top so quick. That would be like Phil Heath, Kai Greene, and Dennis Wolf placing behind Ben White, Fred Smalls, and Marcus Haley in the Men’s Open at the Mr. Olympia.
The thing with parody in bodybuilding is that we just aren’t used to seeing it. Lee Haney went on an 8 year run; Dorian followed that up with 6; Ronnie tied Lee with 8; and then Jay had his 4 titles. By my math, that means in 29 years we’ve only seen two major upsets: Dexter Jackson knocking off Cutler in 2008 and Gunter Schlierkamp beating Ronnie at the 2002 GNC Show of Strength. So in 29 years the reigning world champion has only showed up “off” two times? That’s one hell of a streak.
Maybe bodybuilding needs to be more like boxing. You don’t always have to knock out the champ to win; a 12 round decision is just as good. But who wants to leave it in the hands of the judges?