Kai Greene won the New York Pro twice, in 2008 and 2011. On May 17 at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Mamdouh Elssbiay will attempt the same feat. If he succeeds, his will be back-to-back wins over two consecutive years. Not only was the 2013 New York Pro Big Ramy’s first pro win, it was his pro debut. This year’s show will be only his fourth bodybuilding contest. But, as in life, there are no guarantees on bodybuilding stages. Other New York Pro winners have attempted to defend their titles, only to fail. Ask Darrem Charles. Ask Roelly Winklaar. Ask Cedric McMillan.
On paper, it might look like Big Ramy has a lock on this contest, but there will be no shortage of IFBB Pro League bodybuilders gunning for the No. 1 position and the Olympia qualifcation that goes with it. New Yorkers Juan Morel, Jon Delarosa, and Neil Champagnie will all be back from last year. Victor Martinez traveled up to Canada last May and relegated Fouad Abiad to second in his own city at the Toronto Pro Supershow; now Hoss is coming to Martinez’s stomping grounds to throw down. Likewise, Steve Kuclo, third in the Big Apple two years ago, is heading north from his native Texas to represent. Also throw in the mix a couple of mass monsters named Max Charles and Akim Williams, who are both making their pro debuts.
There will be others. Behind the Olympia and the Arnold Classic, the New York Pro is the most hotly contested show on the IFBB Pro League calendar. It always attracts a bevy of talent, much of it international. Inevitably there will be disappointed guys returning from the Arnold Brazil three weeks before and the Dallas Europa the week prior, all looking to redeem themselves. FLEX got on the horn with IFBB pro Dennis James to find out what the Menace thinks about some of this year’s front-runners.
MAMDOUH "BIG RAMY" ELSSBIAY
WEIGHT: 288 lbs
EARNED PRO CARD: 2012 Amateur Olympia
NY PRO HISTORY: 2013 Winner
DJ SAYS: “If he brings the condition he had last year or even better, he’s the favorite to win this show again. From the pictures we’re seeing of him online at a hard 340 pounds, it looks like he’s going to be so much better than last year. He’s expecting to be at least 10 pounds heavier with the same symmetry, the same flat stomach, everything the same. If he does that, it’s potentially game over. As his body matures we’ll see more detail and separation in his physique.”
WEIGHT: 260 lbs
EARNED PRO CARD: 2011 North American Championships
NY PRO HISTORY: 2013, 3rd; 2012, 4th
DJ SAYS: ”Juan has been working very, very hard, and he’s very, very dedicated. If he nails it and comes in a little fuller this year, especially in his legs, he’ll be fghting for a top spot again. His height and his frame make him dangerous. He’s won a pro show; this guy is no joke.”
WEIGHT: 245 lbs
EARNED PRO CARD: 2006 Canadian Championships
NY PRO HISTORY: Rookie
DJ SAYS: “Here’s a guy who isn’t particularly on a lot of people’s radars, but he’s going to do damage. Fouad knows that this is his year to put up or shut up. He’s determined. He got up to 300 pounds in the off-season and kept it for a while until he started his contest diet. If he can bring the Fouad that I think he can, then he stands to be the most muscular guy on that stage next to Ramy. He’s a veteran, so he knows what to do up there. He’ll need to bring the condition with the fullness. He fattens out in certain areas, but if he corrects that, he’ll be battling for a top spot.”
WEIGHT: 225 lbs
EARNED PRO CARD: 2011 NPC USA Championships
NY PRO HISTORY: 2013, 4th; 2012, 5th
DJ SAYS: “Jon impresses me a lot. I saw pics of him 9½ weeks out from the Arnold Brazil. He has all the size in the world, beautiful shape, a very small waist, and two big quads. If he nails his condition, he’s top three or four for sure. Jon needed a couple of years, but now he’s starting to come alive and we can all see how it’s starting to come together for him.”
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