by Matt Weik
At the last bodybuilding interview on Valuetainment's YouTube channel, Patrick Bet-David sat down with Shawn Ray to discuss everything related to bodybuilding. As usual, Shawn Ray was asked a few questions that should stir the pot a bit, and Shawn neither stepped back from the questions nor gave the politically correct answer – which he never does. This has caused a stir on social media and I'm not sure if the shadow cast on Shawn Ray was justified.
I am sure there will be people who will automatically hate me for saying this, but (like Shawn) I am the guy who will give my opinion and you can agree or disagree and it will me don't affect a bit. So let's dive into the interview with Shawn Ray.
A tree provides shade, but does Shawn Ray care that it comes from critics?
Many people in the industry seem to have a negative opinion of Shawn Ray. In the meantime, they have never spoken to the man, let alone seen him in person. I met Shawn a few times at the Arnold Classic, and the last time I could spend some time with him he was the moderator at Arnold Amateur and I was one of the moderators who gave trophies to the winners. I could talk to him backstage and we even had a few laughs on the stage. I personally have nothing bad to say about the man. I even interviewed him for Bodybuilding.com many years ago.
Does Shawn Ray have an opinion? For sure. But aren't we all when you think about it? The only thing that matters is that the people you hang out with have the same opinion, so there is no conflict. I respect the man as homemade. Nobody gave him anything in the industry. In fact, I feel that the industry has tried to take something away from him because he is so open to giving his opinion on where he wants to see changes in both the IFBB and the Olympic competition.
While many critics beat up Shawn for the things that come out of his mouth, I feel like he made a lot of solid points. In the interview, he mentioned to Patrick that his aim was to improve the bodybuilding sport. And the points he made (which I heard) make perfect sense. But every time he opened his mouth, he was classified as negative and complained.
Shawn even raised his hand to become the "representative of the athlete" and was chosen by his colleagues. After an unfortunate event in which he was disregarded, he removed himself from his role. Did that leave a bad taste in his mouth? Absolutely. But when I look inside from the outside, I feel the same way when I want to do what is best for the athletes and the sport, and nobody respected me.
The delivery of a message is not always the most suitable
Although I agree with many of the things Shawn has said over the years, I believe that his delivery can sometimes fail to materialize. Let's jump straight into the elephant in the room everyone's talking about, which will also lead to another interview about Valuetainment that will go online soon – and that's Shawn's answer to Chad Nichols.
Patrick Bet-David asked Shawn if he had ever worked with Chad Nichols – and Shawn quickly attacked him. I would have turned things in a different direction, but that's just me. Maybe I would share my opinion privately with someone, but that's not how Shawn Ray rolls. Shawn said that he disliked the man, disrespected him, and accused Chad of many deaths in the industry. Personally, I wouldn't have released that opinion, but hey, Shawn is who he is and I'm not sure if we would expect anything less from the man.
Obviously, Chad Nichols is working with some of the best athletes in the business, and for those who don't follow him, he also has a little son who (in my opinion) will be one of the strongest kids in the world – he's an absolute beast. Does Chad have the ability to create champions, or is there more behind it? Who knows? I'm not in the middle of this pissing match. But what Shawn said raises some questions about what's going on behind the scenes, in which there are so many athletes that Chad has worked to get sick. Coincidence? Could be?
Many will argue that Shawn Ray is not good for the sport and that what he does hurts the sport. I disagree. I see Shawn looking for the sport and wanting the best for the future of bodybuilding – after all, he's still a bodybuilding fan. Since he was on stage and an IFBB Pro bodybuilder, he looks through you through a different lens compared to you and me. Most of us have never competed in our lives and are simply big fans of bodybuilding. Shawn was there, doing it, looking at things from a lens that saw what was going on and how things were handled in the past.
Do I agree with everything he says again? No. But I respect him for going out there and putting his neck on a leash, knowing some of the topics he's talking about has the potential to curl a few feathers. There are times when I wrote articles based on my opinion about how I see things, when I'm not feeling well and the people who work for the IFBB and the powers that call me and to clarify the truth.
But overall, I think Shawn (no matter what he does) will always play the role of the "bad guy" in bodybuilding. And not because he wants it. At 54, he's still on the go, still in better shape than most 50-year-olds, has no negative side effects from his competitive time, and I don't think there is anyone out there who can do the man to silence?
I have a lot of respect for guys who say what needs to be said, even though they know it's not popular, and earn a lot of hatred for them. And I'm sure that many will beat me up for being with Shawn Ray – and I agree. I can't upset anyone who has devoted much of their lives to sport and continues to do the best for sport, whether it's doing their own shows, being a presenter, or giving content to various fitness and bodybuilding outlets do. In the end, I want the best for sports and athletes.