by Christian Duque
The waiting is over! Shawn Rhoden has announced on Instagram that he and Big Ramy are ready to return. In the post you can see that both men officially compete in the Arnold Classic 2020. This happens even in the first week of March in Columbus, Ohio.
The big news has spread like wildfire online, through social media and even in gyms and supplement stores. We were flooded with news, and frankly, I would be a mystery if I did not write an article here in Iron Magazine about the big news.
Bodybuilding fans are excited about the prospect of the return of Mr. Olympia Shawn "Flexatron" Rhoden 2018 to the stage. They are also very excited to see how the Egyptian phenomenon of Big Ramy does the same after an apparent eternity. Although we would have liked to see it at the Olympics last year, I feel that the Arnold Classic has a more pragmatic leadership and is willing to break the norm.
Although the case of Rhoden remains open, those accused of crimes in America are innocent until proven guilty. The fans were really disappointed with Olympia in the past, and some have even brought a petition in the final stages to save Rhoden from the historic misfortune of being the first reigning champion to be eliminated from the competition. That was then and that is today.
The Arnold is the second most important bodybuilding competition in the world and one can only hope that he can compete in Las Vegas, if Rhoden may compete there, even if his case is not clear until next September. The news of these two great champions will also be of great interest to the event as more tickets are sold, more sellers are likely to want stalls and the media will have a big day in the coming months and weeks to become the event. The fans want to see Rhoden, Ramy and a real battle in Columbus. Those who win there next March will also drive an undeniable wave to Vegas in September 2020.
Shawn Rhoden's way to the Olympics was not an overnight success, but he rose steadily over the course of five years. His path to greatness was also present in Columbus, in historic battles with Dennis "Big Bad" Wolf and others that ranged to second place. For Rhoden, it was always about hanging with the best, being competitive, and finally winning his first Sandow. The fans respect those bodybuilders who like Shawn who have really paid their fees for the sport. So everyone in Orleans was on their feet when Shawn finally got his big win and applauded enthusiastically. After a long, perhaps painful, seven-year tenure by Phil Heath, there was finally a new champion. Unlike some of his other 13 predecessors, there was no arrogance in Rhoden, as there was no arrogance in the new champion Brandon Curry. Champions like Rhoden (and Curry) have successfully narrowed the gap between fitness celebrities and fans. This is very important, especially in a niche sport that desperately wants to grow. The more accessible the champions are, the more new fans will come to bodybuilding. If you say that bodybuilding is a sport that's about being underground, you probably have brain stones. We ALL would like to watch bodybuilding on TV again, we would like to see more mainstream acceptance and we would like to see more mainstream companies sponsoring events, athletes and competition reports.
Rhoden was also a new kind of champion, one in his forties and one who tasted the bitterness of the industry. Let's not forget that his longtime sponsor Pro Supps dropped him after a hard Olympics. Boy, you must have felt crispy when Rhoden won the Sandow not long afterwards. Nobody wants to feel alone. In difficult times your real friends have their backs free. But imagine Rhoden's shock, if only for a moment. If he had a bad trip, not long after losing one of his main sources of income, but does that stop him? Absolutely no way!!
The fans respect a champion who has had bumps on the road and overcome them. Without going into his lawsuit, I will say that it excluded him from the Olympics and caused some companies to leave his side, but he highly praised Olimp for helping him. Many fans have also stayed in his corner. Without going into the case, all I can say is that it's great news fans will see the best bodybuilder in the world compete. Shawn was denied the chance to defend his title, and Brandon was also denied the opportunity to compete with Shawn. He is still Mr. Olympia, but was denied the opportunity to defeat the defending champion.
With regard to Big Ramy, many fans (including myself) had the impression that he was done with the competition. He never suggested hanging her up, but last year was just so disappointing. He left The Camel Crew basically, went to Neil Hill and was supposed to make Arnold 2019. Later, he would leave Hill, not compete in Columbus and then should compete in Tampa. Tampa did not happen either. For many, it looked like he was embarking on the Kai-Greene route.
Like Kai with Stranger Things, Ramy played a major role in a movie alongside Iron Mike Tyson. It just does not happen that way. You do not just land roles in big movies. The film was shot for Egypt, but what do national lines and borders mean today, especially when it comes to art? A great movie will go all over the world, and once that happens, everyone associated with the movie will be famous.
At the moment, Kai Greene is celebrating a similar fame as Lou Ferigno in the 70s. It took almost two decades for Big Lou to return to a bodybuilding stage. Kai has been absent from the Olympic scene for half a decade, with no credible chance of a speedy return.
Having Rhoden and Ramy back is exactly what the fans want, and trust me, they will express their approval for more ticket sales.
The Arnold has always done well, thanks in large part to his larger-than-life exhibition, but the competition itself has taken several years, which, frankly, were easy to forget. The last two years have been very competitive: William Bonac won in 2018 and Brandon Curry won in 2019.
The Arnold of 2019 was indeed so competitive that the fight between the top two in Las Vegas was repeated in Mr. Olympia (with the same results). That is exciting and that is also very topical. Now, with this announcement, fans may not see a curry / bonac rematch, but they'll see the return of a Mr. Olympia and the return of a man around the world many believe will be a future Mr. Olympia becomes. The Arnold will set the bar very high, not to mention a precedent with Rhoden. Will it be more pleasant for Weider / AMI to let Rhoden compete, if Arnold did that first? Who knows?
All I know is that fans and the media are excited to see Flexatron and Big Ramy again. With the announcement history was written and with the competition (more) history is written. I can not wait any longer !!