OLYMPIA WEEKEND 2008: “PRE-JUDGING”

Expanded Event Coverage/Contest Results
by Andrew Oye

THE MR. OLYMPIA PREJUDGING: 9/26/08 8:30 pm

A BATTLE TO SEE WHICH BB KNOWS THE ABCs IN THE IFBB

The Mr. Olympia Prejudging opened with a moment of silence for Steve Stone, who passed on Friday, September 26. Stone was the co-host of Fox Sports’ “MuscleSport USA” TV program, as well as the Chief Expediter for the Olympia and at many NPC contests.

The Orleans Arena was the meeting place of rivals, rookies and returning warriors ready to settle scores and snatch statuettes. After the crowning of Iris Kyle as Ms. Olympia for the fifth time and Jen Hendershott Ms. Fitness Olympia, the big boys came to do battle.

The Mr. Olympia competitors were introduced individually. Entering to the most enthusiastic cheers were Jay Cutler, Toney Freeman, Phil Heath, Dexter Jackson, and Dennis Wolf. So, it seemed the crowd had already conducting its own prejudging prior to this night and had selected its Top 5 picks.

Following are my general impressions of the Olympians. Note my coining of the phrase ABC (Aesthetic Bodybuilders Club) as a reference to those whose shape closely resembles the ideal bodybuilder physique (an “X” shape denoted by broad shoulders, a narrow waist, flaring quads and overall symmetrical, balanced musculature):

Jay Cutler

USA’s Jay Cutler, 5’9″, 270 lbs., returns to the arena, chasing a third Sandow trophy and Olympia title. While his conditioning improved from last year’s controversial contest, some doubt if he can ever recapture the noteworthy physique he possessed in the early 2000s. He did some homework, too. The muscles of his massive back and tree-trunk legs show some detectable separation; however, his lower back did not completely dry out. While his abs are cut, they sit atop a visually wide waistline. No doubt, onstage alone, Cutler is a striking vision of muscular girth, but, when standing next to the other front-runners, the comparison yields an unavoidable shape or silhouette issue – some have described it as less of an “X” and more of an “H.” For the rest of the pack, psychologically, if not physically, he’s still the man to beat.

Toney “X-Man” Freeman

USA’s Toney “X-Man” Freeman stepped on stage at 6’2″ and about 290 lbs. with his signature symmetry and the sort of stage presence and presentation worthy of a bodybuilding ambassador. Freeman is a representative of what I refer to as the ABC (Aesthetic Bodybuilders Club) because his shape hits the ideal marks – big shoulders, small waist, developed legs. He’s tall and imposing in an awe-inspiring way, and point blank, the guy knows how to present muscle in a beautiful manner. Pec tear aside, he had conditioning, shape, everything!

Dennis Wolf

Germany’s Dennis Wolf, 5’11″, 270 lbs., visits the Olympia for a third time. The Russian-born gladiator is another tall ABC rep, who is wide where it counts – the shoulders – and narrow where it counts – the waist. There were deep grooves in his flaring quads and splits in his hamstrings attached to compact striated glutes. A thick, billboard back helps him dominates in a Rear Double Biceps pose, but his Side Chest shot is also blinding.

Dexter Jackson

USA’s Dexter Jackson, 5’5″ 230 lbs., is an ABC veteran who has “been there and done that” all over the Olympia stage. Will the ninth time be the charm? Although Phil gave Dexter a run for his money, Dexter brings one of the most distinct and recognizable sets of carved-up, puzzle-piece abs on the planet. Flaring lats spread from his torso up into cannonball delts. His thick traps jut forward like football shoulder pads in the crab-style Most Muscular pose. His Side Chest pose is equally awesome. While his calves don’t overwhelm, his glutes, quads and hamstrings have notable lines. Ultimately, Jackson’s selling point is his overall shape, comprised of orbs of sculpted muscle fused together like an armor suit.

Phil Heath

USA’s Phil Heath, 5’9″, 240 lbs., is a favorite among new generation muscleheads who view him as the future of the sport at the Olympia level. Even though he bypassed the Olympia Stage, thereby making him a default rookie, he packs the kind of bursting muscle bellies that titillate the Olympia judges. This is “beef and nails.” Dry, sliced hams on your sandwich, anyone? Addressing the “narrow” issue, over the course of five months, Heath got “wider” up top. Bodacious triceps and delts make for a nasty Most Muscular pose. His peeled conditioning on top of a solid structure are advantages enhanced by an insanely intense posing style. The madman facial expressions – priceless!

Vying with Heath for the title of most bombastic Most Muscular pose and exaggerated facial expressions while posing is USA’s David Henry. Henry does the Joker’s wicked grin, while Phil does teeth-gnashing madman – both are fun to watch.  Henry, 5’5″, 202 lbs., delivered a frame full of cut-up muscle, billowing off his spine and femurs. In other words sliced and diced legs and back. The delts explode when fired, but will stature still be an issue for the Giant Killer?

Kevin English

USA’s Kevin English, 5’4″, 202 lbs., is another rookie who wants to walk the path laid by David Henry and also be known as a smaller man that bigger men should fear. His grainy quality on an overall balanced body and barely-there waist are plusses for this East Coast scrapper. For now, unless standards change, this top contender in the 202 Showdown might just lack the mass to be competitive in this Olympia Open Division.

Melvin Anthony

USA’s Melvin Anthony, 5’8″, 242 lbs. loves the spotlight and returned to it in Vegas for the sixth time. He exhibits remarkable shape coupled with stellar posing ability. Addressing the previous grumblings about his hamstrings, Anthony grinded in greater detail in his hamstring-glute tie-ins. In addition, quad separation finished off his lower half. Something – lighting or skin texture – doesn’t make him appear as bone dry as needed to blow the viewer away. But nobody hits an “arm over head with face in profile while flexing a single bicep” pose quite like Anthony.

Silvio Samuel

Spain’s Silvio Samuel, 5’7″, 225 lbs., is an ABC member and walking anatomy chart, clearly exhibiting where every human muscle is located on the body – in 3-D! With A-game level conditioning, he wears striations like stylish clothes – in his quads, glutes, delts and low back. In fact, he whipped out one of the sickest lower-back “Christmas trees” ever seen. At one point, as he prepared to flare his lats over his pinched waist, it appeared there were two trees, one stacked on top of the other! Fullness and skin stretched over bursting muscle bellies are evident on Samuel including his standout abs, which literally pop and stand out from the walls in an impressive way.

Gustavo Badell

Gustavo Badell, 5’8″, 245 lbs. The Venezuelan-born bull is known for solid yet stocky build. He brings a massive look without the elegant lines of the ABC fellows. The pronounced muscle bellies he totes are offset by his actual “belly,” well, more accurately a semi-blocky waist that, at certain angles, detracts from an otherwise mighty physique. He showed up sporting good color on his skin and new color in his hair – blonde streaks that were hard to miss.

Darrem Charles

Trinidad and Tobago’s Darrem Charles, 5’9″, 235 lbs., appeared onstage with good conditioning and muscle separation on display and awesome bicep peaks. At 40, he still represents the Aesthetic Bodybuilders Club well. He had lines and cross striations etched in the right places, such as the lower back “Christmas tree” and quad “teardrop.” Charles moves and conducts himself with a sort of quiet power that does not seem to get him the attention a veteran may deserve, especially in the face of louder and/or larger bodybuilders who demand to be noticed.

Craig Richardson

USA’s Craig Richardson, 5’7″, 225 lbs., has made Olympia appearances twice before. While some stacked traps and a little lat and chest expansion wouldn’t hurt his horizon, something about this guy screams potential! Good conditioning gave him a sheet of rippling abs, pec striations, glute cuts and wood-carving-like detail in the Rear Double Biceps pose. On top of great leg shape from quads to calves, he’s got a marketable look that will hopefully get him some more face time onstage and offstage.

Moe Elmoussaoui

New Zealand’s Moe Elmoussaoui, 5’9″, 240 lbs. is new to the Big Stage. The Lebanese-born athlete brings very balanced physique to the arena. While his chest would not suffer from a little added development, the rest of him flows nicely. His tan could have been a tad darker to best show what he’s got which include muscle hardness and rear-side striations.

Fouad Abiad

Canada’s Fouad Abiad, 5’10″, 245 lbs. made his Olympia debut in his signature Mohawk and looking good on all accounts – good shape, proper build and decent conditioning, though not as bone dry as he’s been in the past, which may be attributed to the fact that this is his fourth contest this year. Abiad needs to work on creating the illusion of a smaller waist on stage and to add a tad more thickness in the quads and back to move up in placings.

Dennis James

Germany’s Dennis James, 5’8″, 240 lbs., appeared relatively sharp! On the upside, his conditioning prompted some vascularity to pop in the biceps and quads and James packs a mean upright Most Muscular pose. However, the inability to vacuum in, rein in or simply pull in tortoise-shell abs in certain poses lends itself to a bloated appearance. James is powerfully built but the lacking v-taper and x-frame does not make his super-wide back appear as impressive as it could/should with a smaller waist.

Sergey Shelestov

Russia’s Sergey Shelestov, 5’11″, 272 lbs., took to the Olympia stage for the second time, showing improvements. His height gives him a bit of presence but he must make greater adjustments to harness the full potential he looks to have hidden in that big body. Bigger forearms and traps and wider lats would add dimension. He needs greater conditioning to etch out some finer details throughout. When hitting certain poses, muscle separation appears in the quads and upper back, but the trick is to look like “beef and nails” just standing there.

Leo Ingram

USA’s Leo Ingram 5’9″ 255lbs. walked on to the Olympia stage for the first time on bulging quads full of cuts; however, those same legs were not nearly as impressive upon turning around.  Ingram needed more detail in his hamstrings to complete the “wow” of his wheels. He did reveal a heavily muscled upper back, but he needed a compressed stomach to display more complete ab detail. To a degree, Ingram maintained his grainy texture, but he didn’t appears as crispy and grainy as he customarily does.

Johnnie Jackson

USA’s Johnnie Jackson, 5’8″, 240 lbs., has been called “The World’s Strongest Bodybuilder” and verified this by setting a record-breaking lift at a powerlifting meet in June. He borrows from the physical requirements of the powerlifting world and brings a solid muscular physique to the bodybuilding arena. However, the way those muscles are arranged don’t automatically lump him into the ABC. Jackson suffers from genetically small calves. The quads lacked flare. The lower back was not thoroughly dehydrated and, when not completely flexed, the hamstrings and glutes took on a slightly smooth appearance. Did he peak at his qualifying show, the Atlantic City Pro?

Ronny Rockel

Germany’s Ronny Rockel, 5’6″, 225 lbs., is giving the Olympia a fourth go.  A nice, safe package, all the items on the basic checklist are there: good shape, symmetry, conditioning, musculature, balance, etc. He was stone hard and improved from his qualifying contest, the New York Pro. Detail was visible in the lower back and hamstrings.  Full, round pecs and delts. Separated, brick-wall abs. A stellar physique. So, what’s the problem? Nothing. But without the pre-contest hype of a rivalry or a special attribute, it’s easy for one to look at Rockel, be momentarily impressed and quickly move on, waiting for controversy to hit the stage.


The first Call Out included front-runners Toney Freeman, Dexter Jackson, Jay Cutler and Phil Heath, but not Dennis Wolf, who was summoned in the second Call Out, and, eventually, got his long-awaited comparison to Cutler in the third Call Out.

The judges did an excellent job of mixing and matching the Call Out formations with enough variety to give the crowd in attendance and the athletes on stage the sense that the right competitors were being fairly compared to others on their level.

Following a series of about 10 Call Out comparison rounds, that ended, again, with Freeman, Jackson, Cutler, Heath and Wolf, spectators were left in suspense. Who would emerge as the man at the pinnacle of the sport? The next day would answer the mystery.

OLYMPIA WEEKEND 2008: “TOP 3 OLYMPIA FINISHERS”

Expanded Event Coverage/Contest Results
by Andrew Oye

THE OLYMPIA 202 SHOWDOWN: 9/27/08 10:30 am

HENRY WINS BATTLE OF THE HUMBLE GIANTS IN OLYMPIA’S FIRST 202 SHOWDOWN

At the Las Vegas Convention Center, during the Olympia Weekend Expo, there was a battle of epic proportions – proportions being the operative word. Bodybuilders who are smaller in stature but not heart or muscle warred like giants for the title of champion of the Olympia’s inaugural 202 Showdown.

The competitors, who weigh 202 pounds or less, pre-qualified at 202 Division contests at the various pro shows throughout the year. They included:

Top 3 Finishers:
David Henry, 5’5″, 202 lbs., was crowned the 1st place champion. He’s a crossover competitor who also faced off with the big boys at the main Mr. Olympia contest (where he would finish 15th).  Henry overwhelmed his competitors in the 202 Showdown with his mountainous Most Muscular pose and top-notch conditioning that resulted in striated glutes that feathered all the way up through his hips. Though there was a technical difficulty with his posing music, the routing was salvaged by the fact that he nearly did a full split on stage.

Kevin English, 5’4″, 202 lbs., 2nd place, is another crossover competitor in the Mr. Olympia contest (where he would place 16th) Flexing at the previous night’s prejudging for the Mr O. must have helped, because definition was deeply cut into all the muscles on his body. “Beef and nails” with an invisible waist on an ABC (Aesthetic Bodybuilders Club) member. He also does a nice Victory pose a la Sergio Oliva.

James “Flex” Lewis, 5’5″, 198 lbs., 3rd place, has big delts in his Most Muscular pose. Flex possesses great leg development and incredible calves. He made it a point to show off his striated glutes several times during his routine.

The remaining Top 6 Placers (in alphabetical order):
Jason Arntz, 5’5″, 202 lbs., rolled in the joint on thick wheels. He has an impressive V-taper and etched abs on a tight midsection. He could use glute striations, but the guy knows how to hit the perfect smile on each pose, making it appear he’s having fun.

George Farah, 5’6″, 200 lbs., has been competing as a pro for eight years. He appeared lean, but a tad more thickness in the back and shape in the shoulders might have made him more memorable.

Rashid “Roc” Shabazz, 5’5″, 202, wisely utilized his connections to have 8-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, in a surprise appearance, escort him to the stage “Rocky-Balboa-style.” When he removed his boxer’s robe, he revealed a super-dense physique.

In a major slight, one of my new favorite bodybuilders personality-wise, for the way he handled my interview at the Meet the Olympians event, Charles Ray Arde was not part of the first Call Out or the Top 6. This, despite appearing massive, with tremendous calves and glute-hamstring tie-ins. Other honorable mentions include: Tricky Jackson (great quads; incredible, exciting posing) and Jaroslav Horvath (good V-taper; nice, classic posing).

All in all, the so-called “little men” put on a big show, setting the stage for a likely return of this new event at future Olympia Weekends.

MR. OLYMPIA FINALS: 9/27/08 7:00 pm

DEXTER DETHRONES THE DOMINANCE OF DIEHARD MASS
By Andrew Oye

September 27, 2008 marks the 10th consecutive year that the Olympia has been held in Las Vegas, and the first contest in 14 years where 8-time champ Ronnie Coleman was not a competitor in the Mr. Olympia contest.

The show opened with usual pomp and circumstance. Host Bob Cicherillo launched into speeches about champions and valor and whatnot. After all, the theme for the 2008 Olympia Weekend was “Where Legends Are Made.” Indeed a legendary, and according to some – long-overdue, moment was made when Dexter Jackson was crowned Mr. Olympia.

A contest that had come to be known as a Giant’s Territory or a Mass Monster’s Domain had, finally, recognized a member of the ABC (Aesthetic Bodybuilders Club) again. With certain faces (and bodies) missing from the lineup, the event seemed poised to bring about change. With the lingering vapor of change in the air, given the constant reference to the concept in the upcoming presidential election, it seems both the nation at large and the bodybuilding nation are ready for change.

The arena’s big screens featured cool, hardcore, music-video-style clips that displayed the personalities of the competitors and introduced each athlete as he took to the stage.

Red seemed to be the color of the night. The stage was set with backlighting that illuminated big letters that spelled OLYMPIA with a fiery glow. About half of the competitors wore posing trunks in various shades of red, perhaps representing the blood shed to make it to the Big Show; meanwhile, sweat and tears rolled off their bodies under the heat of the stage lights and the press toward victory.

The blood, sweat and tears were all poured into the routines that were performed that night. Highlights included: Darrem Charles dazzled with his usual grace during his classy routine. Marvelous Melvin Anthony put on a pulse-pounding routine that included his signature “Matrix-style” backbend. Big Sergey Shelestov did a full split in his posing routine. Phil Heath did numerous fist pumps to rile up the crowd. Navy vet Leo Ingram ended his routine with a salute. Kevin English, Ronny Rockel and Dennis Wolf all opened their routines with sweeping, heroic, film-soundtrack style music. With a smile, Jay Cutler ended his routine with a clip of the song “Three is a Magic Number” – a hint about a possible “three-peat” performance?

Following the crowning of Jennifer Gates as Ms. Figure Olympia, the fans got the answer to the burning question. Was change possible? Could there be a shift back to rewarding the ABC physique?

After nearly a decade of pounding at Joe Weider’s door, opportunity finally answered and she had a Sandow with Dexter’s name on it in her hands. At 5’6″, 235 lbs., Dexter “The Blade” Jackson was crowned 2008 Mr. Olympia. Jackson defeated a field of 18 other competitors – only three of which (English, Henry, Rockel) were shorter and weighed less than him (note: Samuel weighs less but is slightly taller). The land of slain giants included 5’9″, 270-pound, two-time champ and incumbent title-holder Jay Cutler, who placed  2nd in the big show. Crowd favorite Phil “The Gift” Heath finished 3rd at his Olympia debut.

The remaining Top 6 roster included Russia’s Dennis Wolf in 4th place, USA’s Toney Freeman in 5th place and USA’s Melvin Anthony in 6th place.

Prior to the show, many forecasters and fans had predicted that Cutler would take the crown for a third consecutive time, for no other reason than the formulaic, ritualistic pattern of “re-crowning” incumbents regardless of other competitors’ physical reflection of, or resemblance to, the ideal male bodybuilder physique. Following a dominance of diehard mass that lasted 16 years, (through the reigns of Yates, Coleman and Cutler), Jackson represents the first Mr. Olympia in 23 years to weigh less than 250 pounds since Lee Haney.

In his acceptance speech, Jackson thanked his parents who had never been to the event before and for giving him the genetics that made him a champion.

Here’s my final analysis.

Jay Cutler displayed better conditioning than he did last year, yet something about his physique reads as hulking and cumbersome. For my taste, Toney Freeman and Dennis Wolf possess ABC physiques with a flow that reads as imposing yet refined. It’s a distinct structure with action-figure proportions: broad, round-capped shoulders; full, delineated pecs; narrow waists decorated with rippled abs. In profile, their upper and middle back thickness protrude, forming a sway in the lower back that is further enhanced by bulbous glutes, strong haunches with flaring quads.

These are the athletes one wants to see in tights and a cape with an S (or, in Toney’s case, an X) on their chests. These are superheroes. The prototypes for the action-hero toys you grew up with. The model for the Sandow trophy that is the ultimate prize of their sport.

Indeed, the height of Freeman and Wolf adds to this combo of svelte frame with swollen muscle in just the right places. Yet, Phil Heath, Dexter Jackson and Silvio Samuel represent a somewhat similar ideal bodybuilder physique in more compact packages.

That is why these men rank high among bodybuilding’s best. They are the now and the next, the future of the Muscle Stage. One shouldn’t begrudge any champion his title. For that night, he earned it.  But on a new night, in a new time, when a new man emerges with the new standard, gladly step aside and allow him to take his victory throne…which Cutler did with grace. Congratulations, Blade. (By the way, now that change has come to the Olympian arena, is Washington’s Oval Office next?)

Gym Pickin’s

By Mike Berg

article 2008 gym pickins 01 Gym PickinsLooking for the perfect place to work out? This five-step checklist will help you easily choose a gym that fits your needs.

Finding a health club is a bit like dating. Sure, the first night out may be memorable — great looks, interesting conversation, completely compatible in your interests. Next thing you know, you’re on a second date, and a few weeks later you’re exclusive.

Then the real test begins. You find out your schedules don’t quite match up, her friends are a pain in the butt, and all that fun stuff you did on the first few dates were just a ruse. Action movies? Nah, really don’t like them — and bowling or the bar, forget it! Can’t we just stay in and watch “Sex and the City” reruns?

Now, picture this: You need a place to work out, so you open the phone book and head to the nearest club. You’re offered a quick tour around, and all the equipment looks shiny and new, the weight area isn’t really too crowded, and it seems to be everything you need. Before you know it, you’ve signed a year contract. Flash forward a few weeks. You realize the facility closes too early on weekends. Your workout is spent maneuvering around gabby nitwits on cell phones. On chest day, you’re often fighting for the one (and only) bench press station. That damn contract all of a sudden looks like a deal straight out of a Bear Stearns portfolio. We hope this doesn’t sound familiar, and we’ve caught you in time to offer you this five-pronged checklist on finding the right gym for you. Because where you work out is not only as important as finding the right significant other, it may be more important. After all, you could be a member of a gym for years — compared to that, how long has your average relationship lasted? Yep, that’s what we thought.

#1 LOCATION: While you don’t want to settle for the nearest gym to your house if it’s otherwise mismatched with your needs, the general rule is, the closer the better. Convenience is a huge consideration for your gym choice — there may be a spectacular club an hour away, but realistically, unless you’re a pro bodybuilder whose job it is to work out, how often can you give up two hours of your day just for your drive to and from the gym?

#2 HOURS: It would be nice, but not all fitness centers are open 24/7. A quick glance over the hours of operation isn’t enough: You’ll want to try the gym for at least a week so you know firsthand the hours are not only attuned with your schedule, but that the traffic on the gym floor isn’t overwhelming during the time you want to go. While at any club, the crunch times are usually 7-10 in the morning and 5-8 at night, some get much more congested than others, a simple equation of too many members converging on too little space. If it’s irritating for you at the start, imagine how over it you’ll be by month three.

#3 EQUIPMENT: If you’re an experienced trainer with a workout plan, bring it with when you visit, or at least make a list of the equipment you require. If you use a lot of free weights, make sure the weight area isn’t just some afterthought, tucked in a dank corner to make way for row upon row of all manner of machines. If you have specific pieces you swear by, take a close look — for instance, some gyms have phased out barbell military bench stations. Others may only have one Smith machine. Believe it or not, more than a few only have either a standing or a seated calf machine, not both. If you have a choice between two gyms that are otherwise similar, equipment may indeed make the difference between which one you ultimately select.

#4 CLIENTELE: If you’re a hard-nosed, serious trainer, trust us: You’re gonna hate working out among a bunch of WASPs and wannabes who spend more time chatting (while lounging on the equipment) than curling. When you try the gym, take a look around — no, you don’t have to make friends (although it helps when you need a spot), but if you’re ready for some good old-fashioned heavy lifting, complete with a grunt or two and maybe even a touch of chalk here and there, who wants to deal with the dismissive eye rolling and complaints to the manager?

#5 EXTRAS: Does the facility include a basketball court, pool, and cardio classes? This can go one of two ways: If you’re going to use them, then by all means try to find a place that has them. However, if cost is a principal concern, remember your membership is priced to pay for these amenities, whether you exploit them or not. There’s no need to sign up at a full-service, upscale health club if all you really want is a weight pit and a loud stereo, so keep that in mind.

Take this list and go into your tours armed with the questions and observations to make a smart buying decision. As a final hint, we urge this: Don’t ever sign up for a long-term deal on your first visit (and don’t ever sign up for more than a year). As suggested in #2, if the membership agent is unwilling to give you a pass to try out their place for a week or so, move on — any reputable club won’t apply a high-pressure sales tactic, and should gladly offer a test run. That way, you can find out firsthand, with no strings attached, just how compatible you and the gym really are before you make the commitment. Ahhh, if only your dates had the same policy.

MO GETS MO’ COVERS AND WANTS MO’ RESPECT FOR “NATURALS”

2008 04 28 thm MO GETS MO COVERS AND WANTS MO RESPECT FOR NATURALSThe Item: Career Updates/Highlights

The Scoop: Athlete to Andrew: The May 2008 issue marks the second time the pecs and biceps of Musclemania Pro Morris “Mo” Mendez have emblazoned the cover of Muscle & Fitness Magazine. I hit up Mo for his reaction. “The new cover is hot! I look full, cut and symmetrical. Friends and fans in different countries say it’s a fresh, appealing and obtainable look for the general public. ‘Action hero quality.’ Ha! Show me the money!” The future action hero (with four international covers to his credit) pumps iron at Gold’s Gym in Bloomfield, CT, and earned his pro card at the 2000 Fitness Atlantic/Musclemania in New Haven. His last competition was the 2005 Musclemania Worlds In Hollywood. “If time allows me to train mentally and physically, my next competition will be the Superbody in Miami.” Mo plans to hit Africa and Argentina for appearances. “I like guesting in different countries because they appreciate you more, especially where they find it impossible to look like a Ronnie Coleman or a Jay Cutler. I’m proof you can look just as good with patience, time and dedication.”

The “So What?”: The 198-pound, model-athlete expressed frustration being a big man in a giant man’s world. Even with a rising profile and a marketable physique, Mendez currently has no sponsors. “It’s tough to get a sponsor to pay you what you want for your hard work,” he laments. Then he laughs. “As a natural bodybuilder, your competition is those monsters. They want you to look like that, but I’m a suit-and-tie man. I like to look good in my clothes.”

* Photo courtesy of Muscle & Fitness

KEEN GREENE REDEEMED WITH TEAM “MD” DEAL

2008 04 24 thm KEEN GREENE REDEEMED WITH TEAM MD DEALThe Item: Magazine Contract Signing

The Scoop: Just announced: IFBB Pro Kai Greene inks a multi-year contract with Team MD. This week on “No Bull” Radio, Kai said he signed with Muscular Development over other suitors, because “MD has gone a long way from the beginning to extend a wonderful resource for me to reach out to the fans and tap into a readership that is unparalleled. I deeply appreciated that, particularly at a time when I wasn’t getting a lot of love.” Following his first victory at the 2007 IFBB Colorado Pro Show, Greene packed on 30 pounds of solid muscle and now hits nearly 300 pounds in the off-season. Last month, the flexible and ferocious force I dubbed the “Lion Slayer” in “The Art of War,” my posing and presentation series, placed 3rd at the Arnold Classic. The posing phenom is now keenly focused on slaying competitors in his hometown at the IFBB New York Pro (May 10).

The “So What?”: Kai, who admitted to being moved to tears by his latest MD cover, was in a crew left contract-less when Pinnacle/Kemistry cleaned house and released all of its sponsored athletes at the end of 2007. Recently, day-in-the-life videos posted online showed Kai still surviving on humble means while continuing to chase his pro bodybuilding dreams. With other endorsement deals also looming, has the gravy train finally rolled into his subway station?

* Photo courtesy of Muscular Development