by Christian Duque
Everyone around the world is excited about the return of women’s bodybuilding to the 2020 Olympic weekend. When the department was first removed, many of us tried to find ways to keep it. When all hope seemed lost, some of us even wrote a petition thinking that the owners at that time (AMI) would reconsider if enough people signed it. The bottom line was all about dollars and cents. The division didn’t bring them the returns they wanted. The problem is that AMI didn’t know anything to properly support muscular women.
If it made money, great, they would keep it. If it failed, they would scrap it. That’s what the old owners did. Bodybuilding was not a priority for her; The Olympia was simply part of the deal they had made to get the magazines. I don’t think anyone was particularly enthusiastic about this organization, who won and / or what the fans wanted. It was just a business for her. If they had been interested and familiarized themselves with the fans a little more, the division would never have left us. At this last woman Olympia, Iris Kyle, the greatest bodybuilder of all time, won her 10th title. Ten Olympic titles surpass everyone. Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman each have 8, Iris has two more than one of them, which makes her the undisputed best athlete in the division. And while she retired, she looks as good as ever, and there seems to be a lot of interest in getting back on stage. Born in Las Vegas, she has her own café and supplement shop in the prestigious City Athletic Club, and her presence would undoubtedly increase the competition hype, tell the media a lot, and of course sell more tickets. Having Iris Kyle on the bill is a breeze, the question is, will she compete?
If you don’t think women’s bodybuilding has changed since Iris Kyle’s last win, you’re crazy. The current champions know this because they have helped set the standard for the new look. I wouldn’t say today’s looks are absolutely superior to what they were half a decade ago, but the sport has gone in a different direction and anyone who wants to win today should almost follow suit. Bodybuilding is a sport with apples and oranges, but there were times when the sport changed gears. In 2005, the 20% rule aimed to govern the division. WBB was believed to be getting too big and too hard and they wanted to reduce it. Who knows, if the 20% rule was really stuck, there might never have been a need for women’s bodies. What differs from today at that time is that the 20% rule lasted at most one year and the current appearance of WBB has been consistently maintained for years. It is this new direction, coupled with the vision of Jake Wood and his Wings of Strength empire, that triggered a renaissance. Women’s bodybuilding doesn’t come back quietly, it comes back with class, rides a wave and shoots straight up. It is definitely the hottest department in sports today.
Can Iris beat the current champion given the current direction of the sport? I think so. It’s all about the game board. Nobody surpasses Iris – nobody. As early as 2005, when she was defeated by Yaxeni (who is also retiring to take part in the 2020 Olympics), Iris returned to the drawing board and was ready to bring a victorious physique to the new rule. When this rule was essentially abolished, it stayed on its normal course and won a handful of other titles. The point, however, is that 20% less or not, it would have been just a matter of time before she was back among the winners.
Some might say that Iris has won enough and that it is the current women’s time. I find this point pretty absurd, especially for the Olymipa. At the Olympics, the best athlete in each division is crowned. If you want to be number 1, you have to hit anyone who shows up. Imagine a woman crowned Ms. Olympia on a stage just a car drive from Bodi Cafe. That would be kind of silly. How can someone say that they are the best when the greatest bodybuilder ever lives and works? If Iris were really retired and not interested in the competition, it would be a different story. Otherwise, I would think that the competition winner wants Iris there, she would want to fight with her, and she would want to hit her. Not too many women know what that feels like. And some women would be afraid to share a stage with a 10-time champion, but well, that’s the MS. OLYMPIA, this is the crown jewel of physical sport. The real battles take place here. If you can’t handle the heat, you’d better go out of the kitchen !!
If Iris took part in a competition, you can be sure that she would get everyone out of the concept. Yaxeni also has a little bit of it. You see it in men too. Watch Dexter Jackson through the years, even when Phil Heath competed, his presence was always felt. It’s one thing to compete against other champions, but if you have an Olympic champion in the mix, the stakes get much higher. One of the biggest things new champions lack is the confidence of an Olympic winner. They don’t know what it’s like to win on the biggest stage in the world to be the person the entire division is looking at, and they don’t know what it’s like to have a goal on your back. Even if Iris didn’t say anything, even if she didn’t put on facial expressions, even if she wore a cloak, her presence and her 10 wins go everywhere. From a psychological point of view, this can be a disaster for the newer women she has never fought against. For another champion like Yaxeni, seeing Iris is a combination of a walk through the past and the adrenaline to fight again!
Women’s bodybuilding is cool! Do not forget that. It’s as cool as the men, such a fight, and in the pose down the women really fight for the wire. Imagine the whole world has its sights on this stage, with light shows and camera flashes across the entire venue. It’s like I can see Iris up there and some women pose with her and others avoid her like the plague. And how could I forget the press conference?!?! Could you imagine women doing it while men are no longer posing? And why not? It’s their first year back, so why not show everyone how it’s done?!?! The marketing potential of Iris is a total game changer.
I don’t want to suggest that the show wouldn’t be great without Kyle. There are so many talented women up there, so many great champions, but when it comes to bringing the fans back, giving the fans what they want, giving the media what they want, and really right with the sport deal, then I say pull back do everything from all stops so this title really means everything it has always done.