by Christian Duque
Hunter Labrada is a bodybuilder who lived up to the hype; It not only met all expectations, it exceeded them by far. Seeing Hunter on stage alongside his legendary father is both historical and inspiring. As I’ve said many times, the aftermath in bodybuilding has a harder time than most. Not only do they need to do well themselves, but they also need to do well enough to be able to command their own following beyond that of their superstar parents. This is much harder said than done, especially when bodybuilders love the past.
Think of the Pumping Iron movie. It’s hard to believe that this film is over 45 years old, but for many fans it is timeless. Countless people see it around the world every year and its power is undeniable. The 1980s are also popular with muscle fans. They consider the battles between Lee Labrada and Lee Haney to be some of the best moments in the sport. The same goes for the battles between Sergio and Arnold. Whether Sergio Oliva Jr. or Hunter Labrada, their high-profile surnames have made climbing to the top all the more difficult. Nonetheless, they were able to find their own niches, not by duplicating their parents’ bodies, but by building their own. Hunter’s looks are completely different from Lee’s, but there are still some common denominators like the attention to great poses, the entertainment of the crowd, and the look at the Mr. Olympia. Who knows, maybe Hunter can seal the deal. The fact is, Lee fell short of just one place. In today’s sport, the future looks bright for a champion like Hunter Labrada.
How you win a competition is also crucial. The Chicago Pro was an all out fight that brought on some great athletes, all in great shape, who came to Atlanta to fight. You had guys like Roelly Winklaar, a guy who was only named Olympic People’s Champion three years ago and has long been considered the future Mr. O. You also had stage veterans like Maxx Charles who are always in top form and who know all too well what it means to be overlooked and underestimated. If you stand by a guy like that, you’d better want it because they hit through.
Hunter was on point, he was the size and the stamina. His symmetry was on point, the flow was perfect, and the look he brought with him could have stood up to anyone, including the much hyped Nick Walker (who was out of the competition). Hunter took the stage like the winner, posing hard and keeping everything in check. Though his interactions with his father are far more limited than most people think, Lee ignores Hunter when it comes to posing. There is no way you are going to be a Labrada and you don’t know how to show the judges what to see. This is very important. And that’s what many miss when it comes to presentations.
Many people, including competitors, think that great posing is judged by the amount of applause or the number of hits. No one could be further from the truth. Fans in the squares and / or fans on Instagram don’t opt for bodybuilding shows. Posing for the photographers and videographers will also by and large play no role. If you are looking for great shots and / or great clips, you might very well succeed. However, if you want to win the preliminary round and the night show, you have to take the stage like the winner. Confidence is enormous and that comes with knowing that you are the best. If you present a promising physique and seamlessly capture the poses and transitions, then everything fits together.
Though Roelly should have smoked Labrada on paper, he was actually four places below him. Some people may have been hinted at when they saw Winklaar on the list, but I can almost bet Hunter didn’t think about it. That’s not to say that Hunter dominated the competition. I would be on the verge of saying that even though other outlets like RX Muscle took up this idea and moved on with it. Maybe they were ahead of themselves or wanted to earn Brownie Points with a large nutritional supplement company that might advertise with them in the future. Did Hunter deserve the win? Yes. Was he better than everyone else I would say, but the competition was pretty tough and there is certainly room for improvement for the champion.
As I often tell my competitors that I interview, winning a competition doesn’t mean you are perfect. It just means that you were the best among these athletes that day. Hunter has his job to do with himself, particularly with runner-up Brett Wilkin, who brought with him an amazing physique that was much more in tune with an ’80s /’ 90s look than anyone else on stage. He posed hard and fought for victory. Maxx Charles, whom I have already mentioned, also strived for victory with exceptional stamina. The fact is, the size has regained, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a nail biter. In fact, Brett had won several poses.
While Hunter’s complete looks were enough, it would be imprecise to call him flawless. There’s still a lot of work to be done on his back, and as the GOAT, Ronnie Coleman, would often say, bodybuilding shows are won from behind. The fact is, I don’t think anyone has serious objections to the jury’s decision, Hunter will have to get much better on the stage at Olympia. For Chicago, however, it was enough to get into the circle of winners and collect the check for $ 10,000.
Other than that, how does Hunter fare against NY Pro Champion Nick Walker? What would Hunter have done if Sergio had been in the line-up? It’s one thing to win the $ 10k shows, quite another to fight the Superbowl of Bodybuilding. I think Hunter could be very competitive and there is still a long way to go before the big dance, but time will tell. Also a big question after this win would be whether he’s done to the O – or – is he planning to play in Tampa, Spain and / or other pro shows? Personally, I don’t get the point, but I’m not thinking of Hunter Labrada. If it were me I would duck and work in the back. That being said, the improvements he’ll need to get the O down will likely take more than a couple of months. Nonetheless, the bragging right to win the Chicago Pro will generate a whirlwind of attention, and if he can get a top six finish at the Olympics, he will be within striking distance of the title in 2022. This is a very exciting time for Hunter, Labrada Nutrition, and the sport of bodybuilding.
Congratulations on the big win you deserve!