by Christian Duque
With all of Midas Hotel and Casino's celebrations for the worldwide NPC Shawn Rhoden Classic 2019 in the Philippines beginning this weekend, a world-class production will be delivered to Asia. This event in the capital of Manila has raised the bar and told legendary NPC News online photographer J.M. Manion and director Tim Gardner staged.
The event was aggressively marketed on all major websites, print media and largely on social media. The fans could not wish for a better competition and the competitors are thrilled, because this is a key qualifier for professionals. That's right, each winner of the six divisions present (men's bodybuilding, men's physique, classical physique, female physique, female figure and women's bikini) will receive an IFBB Pro League Pro card. This great opportunity is the key, because as soon as an athlete has his card, he can participate in IFBB Pro League competitions around the world – and there are many!
Although the Pro League is relatively short on the ground, but spreads like wildfire. In competitions around the world, the proven NPC model has been introduced, improving games and opening up tremendous opportunities in each country. A contest like the Shawn Rhoden Classic is a perfect example of how the bar is being raised around the world to give more men and women the opportunity to start successful careers in the fitness industry. The NPC model is a completely new approach that many of these countries were used to a few years ago. If there is a clear path to gaining pro status, and if that path is free of bias, inconsistencies, and smoke and mirrors, athletes can concentrate on doing their best on stage, being rewarded accordingly, and then to take the next step. Anyone who really earns pro status in the Pro League gets their card and there is no ifs and buts.
The fact that 2018 Mr. Olympia Shawn Rhoden is the organizer of the competition also means a lot for the bodybuilding sport. After all that has happened in the mainstream media, and even after some disappointing comments by some of our experts, the fact that the champion has made his 2019 show a further success proves that Rhoden loves and will be in bodybuilding continue growing it, whether he still has a Sandow or not. This competition appeals much more than a great event, I think it means more than that.
As we all saw in 2019, no matter what the fans had to say, no matter what the negotiations took place, Shawn was excluded from participating in the most important sport competition. He was denied the chance to defend his title for 2018, and the winner for 2019 was denied the chance to fight the winner of the previous year. It was really a very bizarre, very disturbing situation. Even when the fans circulated a petition that received over 25,000 signatures in just two days, it directly addressed the helplessness of millions.
Just six weeks ago, when an official poster from Arnold Classic 2020 made its rounds on the social media and talked about the return of Rhoden and Big Ramy, the fans were thrilled. The message boards lit up, people talked about the big event in Columbus in their gym, on YouTube videos and other social media platforms. Suddenly, as fast as the graphics appeared, they were suddenly gone. When the staff of the event were pressed for answers, they gave the same answer as the Olympics. They stated that Rhoden could not compete until his case was cleared and he had been acquitted. If so, why publish the poster? Who knows? I guess they made a mistake. There are other theories, but there are always theories. I tend to think they were wrong and tried to correct the mistake as soon as possible. Apart from that, it crushed the already crushed fans on.
As you can see, no one knows when Shawn will be back, but the fact that his contest is taking place gives many fans a lot of hope. Shawn Rhoden is not just a bodybuilder. He fought for years against the great Phil Heath, claimed himself and wrote history in 2018 by denying Heath the chance to tie Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman. He also denied Heath the chance one day to beat the records of Haney and Coleman. If you win seven times in a row and then eight times in a row, the chances of winning are almost certain that you will win the ninth. Had this ninth victory taken place, Phil would have been the undeniably greatest bodybuilder ever to have lived. If you thought his ego was great during his reign, imagine how big his self-esteem would have become with the difference of 9. Maybe he would want to tie Iris Kyle at 10. Maybe he would have gone for a dozen. Why not?
Imagine that attendees attend this show, that you get your pro card at a Mr. Olympia contest, that Mr. Olympia congratulates you, and that you have the chance to follow in his footsteps one day at the Olympics to step! Rhoden's rise to the top, like that of Cutler, Coleman and even Curry, was not without many stumbling blocks. These guys have not won everything in sight out of the gate. Many of them almost gave up the sport until something dramatic happened. Some met a great coach, others drastically changed their training approach, others just did not feel like bad placements and did everything to become the best. All in all, Shawn Rhoden was and still is a fighter. So if you win your professional card at his show, you should have as much heart as he does. If you do this and work hard, the sky is the limit.
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