Can Akim Williams Win The Arnold Classic?

by Christian Duque

When The Brooklyn Beast released photos on social media it created shockwaves throughout the fitness industry. This top six Olympian has gone under the radar for most of his career. People have always recognized the fact that he brings tremendous size to the stage and is able to get himself in great condition but for some reason he has never been someone that commentators considered to be a shoe in to win the competition.

This could largely be attributed to the fact that he is not a shit-talker. I’ve got to be honest with you my friends and that’s the only thing I know how to be here at Iron Magazine when I tell you that the bodybuilders that let their physiques do the talking seldom enjoy the accolades of a media hungry for clicks.

The reason is because many media websites want to have articles that stir people up. This is where those that opt to be dramatic instead of sportsmanlike tend to get the lion’s share of the press. We are unfortunately in a state in our sport where social media is so dominant that for people to click on actual news stories they have got to be of a sensational character. Otherwise people don’t read articles anymore. Most bodybuilding fans also don’t really frequent message boards like they did as recently as 10 years ago. The whole dynamic has changed and it really it has become more a show of shock value then of aesthetics, symmetry, and the overall package.

The Arnold Classic is a competition that is shaping up to be a phenomenal showdown of great bodybuilders in just days away. More and more fans are looking to Columbus to see who will emerge victorious and how they will fare at the Olympia which will be once again be held in Las Vegas nevada. Promoter Jake Wood has pulled out all the stops for the show known as the Super Bowl of Bodybuilding but once again the Arnold Classic has assumed its role as the second biggest bodybuilding show. This of course is noteworthy because last year the competition almost didn’t happen. This show is really second only to the Olympia and I suspect it will go above and beyond even the most hopeful of fan expectations. I have a feeling that after the near failure of 2023 that Arnold and his crew are going to make sure that this competition is one for the record books. And it’s not just going to be with the bells and whistles but it’s also going to be with the depth of the lineup. We have not seen this caliber of athlete take the stage in Columbus in probably the last 20 years. Whoever emerges victorious in just a few days will be able to lay claim to being the number one contender.

What I find remarkable however is it even though Akim looks to be in the best shape of his life most commentators will only give him top six. This is a man that took top 6 at the Olympia and not just any Olympia but one of the most competitive up until that point. I will never forget meeting Akim at the 2014 Arnold Classic. The sheer size of him made my jaw drop. I had never seen a guy that large have such incredible shape. I mean if you go to these large fitness expos you will of course run into guys that weigh a lot but they don’t have the separation or the vascularity. Then you might run into guys that do have the separation and the vascularity but they’re a bag of bones. To see this guy known as The Brooklyn Beast in person, you know it’s not just hype. He was a guy that walked around and knew that he was massive, but it was more than that. He had a great personality and he was a real people person. And that is exactly why at the time he worked with Species Nutrition and why he has always had a sponsor the entire time he has been a professional bodybuilder.

You have got to truly love the fans and love the sport if you’re going to have sponsors. Most bodybuilders think that sponsorships come just because you can build a great physique or because you can get a pro card or because you can win a pro show. Unfortunately that is not the case. Fans do not respond to titles or trophies they respond to people that truly love what they do and love the fans. This is why Akim made such a strong impression on me from the moment I met him. After that we were able to do many interviews including some workout footage at the iconic Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym – the real Mecca of Bodybuilding. And that’s just it, where you come from really shapes who you are.

Akim is a bodybuilder straight out of New York. He has that New England work ethic. There’s something about the northeast; maybe it’s the cold temperatures or maybe it’s the fact that training still matters there. Nobody skips like day. Nobody half-asses it in the gym. That is the office. That is where you go to put in real work. No stone gets left unturned. When you’re dealing with New York bodybuilders, New Jersey bodybuilders, Connecticut bodybuilders, you are dealing with a specimen unlike any other. These guys eat, sleep, and breathe bodybuilding. When I look at Akim, or Juan Morel, or Kai Greene, or Victor Martinez, you see what bodybuilding can be. These guys never hold back; they go all the way. They never take a backward step. This is why when I see Akim drop a progress photo 3 weeks out from the Arnold Classic I wouldn’t be like so many other fools and say he can barely make the top six. If he is putting out progress photos 3 weeks out it’s because he’s going to Columbus Ohio with one thing and one thing only on his mind and that is to win.

No self-respecting New Yorker who has placed in the top six at the biggest show in bodybuilding who trains regularly at the Mecca and who has paid his dues is going to go to the second biggest show in bodybuilding without wanting to win. And that is exactly what I think is going to happen. I appreciate Nick’s Strength and Power’s commentary because at least he gave Akim the time of day. I will never attack a media outlet that gives coverage to good athletes but I will say that I disagree because I think that Akim can go much farther than merely being the sixth man. I think that he has all the tools in his arsenal to go there and beat the likes of Samson Dauda and Hadi Choopan and totally pull off the upset. Let’s not forget that Samson is largely tapped out and Hadi WAS Mr. Olympia. Only one guy has ever reclaimed that title – ever! I think that we have seen the best we are going to see of him.

Therefore it’s anyone’s Arnold Classic to win and I especially think that The Brooklyn Beast can go there and deliver the knockout just like any other top guy. Not only can he deliver the knockout, but being that he has placed 6th in the world he knows that he can hang with the big boys and he knows that if he brings 100% it will be more psychological than physiological when he’s on that stage. He has the size, the condition, the self-confidence and the ability to present his physique to the judges in such a way as to showcase everything he has worked so hard for. I have no doubt in my mind that we could be talking about your 2024 Arnold Classic champion.

What say you?