The Straight Story: Arnold Classic 2005
Checking into the Hyatt Regency after making the haul to Columbus via
Cincinnati via Atlantic City, I could feel the electricity in the air.
In dire need of some nutrition ASAP, I booked across N. High St. to the
nearest eatery, Max and Erma's--something like a Midwest TGI Friday's.
As I ate my chicken quesadilla and 12 oz. New York Strip, I observed
the bodybuilders and fitness chicks milling around me. What became
strikingly obvious was that I was in the home of the Arnold Classic,
Columbus, Ohio, which, at least for this weekend, is the center of the
bodybuilding universe. I still need to thank my waitress for asking me
if I was there to compete- that made my night.
Up at 7 am, disappointed that the Columbus gyms don't keep the Vegas
hours of Gold's on Flamingo, I had to go without my daily pump. I had,
however, come prepared and had gotten all of my week's training out of
the way before I left Jersey. As I lay in my bed and watched the event
coverage on MSNBC, I grew increasingly anxious to get to what had been
billed as the best Expo in bodybuilding. Reminiscent of my trek to the
Olympia through Mandalay Bay, the walk from my hotel room to the
convention center that housed the Expo never necessitated me leaving
The line out front was ridiculous, with thousands of bodybuilding fans
clamoring to enter the Expo doors. The Cage was off the chains. Sgt.
Rock yanked a raw 700 lb. deadlift on Friday at less that 230 lbs.
Saturday, Andy “The Warrior” Fiedler, one of the thickest human beings
I have ever seen in my life, put on an insane benching exhibition,
hitting 855, and a 310lb.+ Machine put a few Cage visitors through
their paces during a delt training seminar that was a sight to behold.
Sunday brought a benching spectacle by The Freak that was capped off by
an 850 lb. press that put those in the Arnold strength competitions to
There was not enough product and gear to go around as the Animal crazy
crowd had guys like me and Mazz hauling ass to keep up with demand.
Note to all those who come next year: Come early to get skullcaps and
t-shirts-most of the stuff was sold out by Saturday morning. Anyway,
during one of our trademark benching contests, Philadelphia Eagles'
defensive tackle Hollis Thomas stopped by to hoist some iron, banging
out 405 for a few and repping with 315. Awesome. All in all the 2005 Arnold
Expo was an amazing experience, a veritable who's who of the
bodybuilding elite, a huge mix of up and coming talent, seemingly the
top 1% of beautiful women in the world and a legion of
bodybuilding lifers, all in one fucking room, all hailing from
different corners of the world, all there for the love of the sport.
Saturday evening after the Expo, it was back to my hotel room for a
quick shower and a protein shake before it was game time: The men's
bodybuilding finals at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. I took my seat
about 20 yards from the stage intrigued by what would unfurl, as a new
champion would step into the empty spotlight vacated by three-time
champ Jay Cutler who was sitting it out this year to focus on
challenging Ronnie in October. Here is the way I saw it:
10.) Toney Freeman:
Classic lines and a pleasing physique, but so damn tall it seems like
the dude would have to be 400 lbs. to fill out his frame… A solid
placing for a rising star.
9.) Mark Dugdale:
Class through and through, this rookie pro seems like a vet of the IFBB
stage. A very marketable dude with a complete physique, the sky is the
limit for Mark.
8.) Troy Alves:
Cut from a similar physique mold as Dugdale, Alves has the potential to
contend for the title in every show he competes in. It's just a matter
of time until Troy is top three every time out.
7.) Victor Martinez:
The total package. A New York native with Mr. O potential, Vic just has
to cut his teeth and pay his dues before his time comes… and this is
being said about a guy who already has two pro victories.
6.) Darrem Charles:
A study in consistency and steady improvement over the years.
Perennially a finalist and truly one of the sport's best performers,
Darrem is a pro's pro.
5.) Melvin Anthony:
This guy's routine actually game me chills… No bullshit. Kind of an old
school physique, you could see Marvelous Melvin doing damage during
4.) Lee Priest:
Always the fan favorite, Lee improved on his Ironman shape and came in
hard as nails. His “victory pose” a la Sergio Oliva is one for the
3.) Gustavo Badell:
Gustavo has arrived and is here to stay. The thickest guy in the
lineup, Gus could have easily taken the whole damn thing. The '05
Ironman champ will definitely leave his mark.
2.) Chris Cormier:
The Real Deal has gotta have a bitter taste in his mouth. The dude has
come in 2nd at the Arnold 6 straight times. He was ready for war this
night and came up just short of taking home the big cakes. I saw him
walking around at the Expo, and it is unreal how big Chris' traps are
up close--the cat has no neck.
1.) Dexter Jackson:
You just can't fuck with The Blade. Bigger and better every time, the
dude was so shredded, you could see his spleen. Sick genetics coupled
with constant improvement over the years, Dexter's time has come. There
is only one trophy missing from his mantle, and October is right around
the corner… Ronnie best come prepared.
the actual contest, the show was mad entertaining. It included Arnold
holding court on the mic, a tribute to Jack LaLanne, an Ong Bak-like
martial arts exhibition and an acrobatic display by these two Russians
that was so mind boggling, it had to be seen to be believed. Following
Dexter's crowning the show went on, with the finals of the Arnold
strongman exhibition. The last event involved hauling an 860 lb. pile
of lumber up an inclined plank and was attempted by strength icons like
Svend Karlsen, Mark Phillipi, Magnus Samuellson and eventual winner
Zydrunas Savickas. Top to bottom it was a motherfucker of a show.
Later that weekend, as I boarded my 20 minute hop to Cinncinati, I
realized that the Arnold Classic was coming with me, as Kevin Levrone
was a few rows back, and Dex the champ was a couple of rows in front,
crystal trophy in tow. The pilot made the announcement that The Blade
was on board and the whole plane erupted in applause. A unique moment,
especially considering the underground, off-the-radar status our sport
is too often relegated to.
My transfer flight home brought me back to reality, but a certain part
of my psyche will forever stay in the bodybuilding utopia that is
Columbus during the Arnold Classic weekend. Seated by the emergency
exit door of my bus with wings, all I could do was reminisce on my
weekend, feeling the fire of inspiration burn in my stomach, scheming
as to how I was going to become a bigger, badder G Diesel by Olympia