What If Hadi Choopan Doesn’t Win The Arnold?

by Christian Duque

After what happened at lay year’s Mr. Olympia everyone is looking at Hadi and the Arnold Classic, ver closely. No one wants a repeat.

Good sportsmanship is very important in any sport, especially in bodybuilding. For many years we have had many competitions that could be classified as close calls but all of the athletes are happy for one another. It is very important that we have that camaraderie both on and off stage to help grow this sport from a subculture into a mainstream passion.

For many years we would looked forward to the press conference at Mr Olympia because of the fact that it bothered so many of the athletes. Whether some competitors interrupted others, took potshots, or simply were rude and nasty, the press conference was the place to be if you liked drama and you liked cheap entertainment. Some guys would pose down while other guys would do whatever it took to get under their adversary’s skin. It was part of a phenomenon that really honestly drew a lot of attention to the sport, but I would argue drew the wrong kind of attention. Some will tell you there is no such thing as bad press, that as long as you’re being talked about, that’s good. I would argue in hindsight that the antics of the past hurt the sport. For example when Phil and Kai were elbowing each other on stage many believe that was the reason why the Mr. Olympia was not broadcast on NBC in 2014. Even though it provided a talking point for many generations to come, it substantially reduced the number of people that year’s event reached. If we are going to talk about true growth then it goes without saying that we cannot have a sport dominated by brutes, rather we need a sport that promotes health and well-being. I don’t care what anyone says the goal of bodybuilding should be to be in front of as many people as possible.

Some people say that the sport should be dangerous. They will point to Hadi walking off stage at last year’s Mr Olympia and say that speaks to the very raw nature of the sport. I would argue that seeing a top competitor walk off stage seemingly because of anger over a placing does not do any favors for a sport that truly wants to grow into a mainstream capacity. Whether that means seeing bodybuilding in the Olympics or it means seeing it on network television, it really comes down to the same point. It needs to be a family-friendly sport that promotes positivity.

When we see competitors smashing trophies, slapping judges, or walking off stage in a fit, that is not the kind of look that is going to earn the sport the respect and accolades of the mainstream.

In the end all it is going to do is keep it small and keep it out of the conversation. I mean you don’t see NFL or NBA athletes storming off the field because they don’t get their way. But to see it in bodybuilding or any other sport really truly does it a major disservice. Unlike mainstream professional sports, bodybuilding is still very much unregulated. You would never see an NHL or MLB team walking off because they were upset about how a game went down. Teams stay in position, congratulate each other, and then offer interviews to the press. This is because they have huge paychecks that they get, sponsorships, and many fans to keep pleased. If a major league sports star stormed off stage like Hadi did in last year’s Mr Olympia, that might be the end of that particular athlete’s career. In bodybuilding we just look the other way and hope that this behavior will not repeat itself. The consequences are not quite as rigidly laid out as in major league sports. And that might be one of the problems that needs to be addressed.

With the Arnold Classic just days away many folks are looking at the top competitors once again. They are hoping for a competition that exemplifies all of the attributes of good sportsmanship. Nobody wants to be witness to another athlete storming off the stage because they don’t get the placing they want. They are looking forward to a hard-fought battle with plenty of posing, plenty of comparisons, and really truly racking the judges’ brains. This should not be an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination. If these guys really bring their best they should stump the judges at least partially if not entirely during the competition. This will also lead to a lot of conversation on the message boards and throughout Facebook groups. The fans should also be stumped because of the fact the competitors will come so ready. I expect the competitors to bring in tremendous size, condition, and very very clear-cut separation. This is what the second biggest bodybuilding contest calls for. You will have Arnold Schwarzenegger perhaps the best known bodybuilder in the world and the namesake of the competition looking on. The last thing we want is for Arnold to congratulate the winner and then leave. We see this when he is unhappy with whoever wins his title.

On the flip side, when he is happy he will stick around for photos and interviews, and he will show his pleasure with the judge and criteria. This is after all second only to the Mr Olympia and whoever wins the Arnold Classic will have tremendous bragging rights for the rest of the year. Let’s also not forget that there is an English Arnold, a South African one, the Arnold brand is all around the world but the one in Columbus, Ohio, is the flagship. Therefore every competitor on that stage must take this competition seriously.

That being said Hadi has a track record already with the Olympia. We hope that that was an isolated instance and will not repeat itself but there is no guarantee that he will walk away with the win in Columbus, Ohio. He looks tremendous and has posted a lot of update photos and videos but he is up against a pretty stacked lineup. Samson who took third to him at the Olympia is looking phenomenal, Akim Williams who just recently posted progress shots looks absolutely phenomenal, and then of course you have several other top competitors who do not care that they are up against a former Mr olympia. Many of the competitors that are going to Columbus want to win and want to make a name for themselves. We cannot forget the fact that whoever wins the Arnold has the bragging rights of being the number one contender for the Mr. Olympia later this year. Winning this competition would also secure them a position with regards to media attention and possibly more sponsorships. Right now the sport is in a very unusual situation because there are multiple people who have held the top title and who all could compete in 2024. Whether or not Hadi shows good sportsmanship are not will depend entirely on him and his camp. I think that a lot of people are expecting the worst should he not win and I will tell you that if he does not win it will spell disaster for his chances of regaining the Olympia title in Las Vegas Nevada later this year.

We saw what happened to Big Ramy after an unsuccessful Mr Olympia; he hoped for validation and redemption at the following Arnold. Instead he got the same placing with lower quality guys. And afterwards he had to sit out the rest of the year including the Mr. Olympia. If Hadi goes to Columbus and gets anything less than first he will also have to make a serious decision with regards to the Olympia later in 2024. You do not go to the Arnold after losing the Olympia only to place worse and then expect to come back and win the Olympia back in 6 months.

Many people, myself included, believe Hadi doing the Arnold is a mistake, but good luck trying to convince the top tier athlete otherwise. I just hope that if he does not win or does not place where he wants to place that he doesn’t storm off stage like he did at the O. Doing such a thing would all but ruin his career and we also give the sport of bodybuilding a black eye from which it may not be able to recover quite as easily as it did after the Olympia. I personally think he has a very good shot at winning the competition but I certainly would not like to see any more bad sportsmanship from The Persian Wolf in the future.

What say you?