May 25. Circle that date on your calendars for the hottest ticket in town as the 2013 IFBB New York Pro Bodybuilding, 212, Figure, Bikini, and Men’s and Women’s Physique Championships takes center stage at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York. IFBB NY/Metro district chairman Steve Weinberger knows exactly what hardcore NYC fans want, and with the defending champions in all divisions returning, it’s sure to get hot in the big city that night.
It’s early in the game and the competitor list is far from being finalized, but we got an advanced look at some of the names already in the mix and IFBB pro and Team AMI/Weider athlete Dennis “the Menace” James gave us his take on whom to keep an eye on at the biggest pro show on the East Coast.
2013 New York Pro Open Men Bodybuilding
FLEX: First, let’s talk about Victor Martinez. He’s had his share of ups and downs throughout his career. In 2011, he placed fourth at the Olympia, won the Arnold Classic Europe in Spain in October, and then, due to immigration problems, couldn’t get back into the country and was detained until late April of last year. This is his first contest since October 2011 so a lot of eyes will be on him to see what he can bring.
DJ: Victor will be ready. This is a homecoming for him. He will definitely be a crowd favorite. He won his pro card at the NPC Nationals the year it was in New York (2000), and he won his first pro contest here as well. He loves competing in New York. I think being forced to miss the Olympia last year and just being away from the stage for so long will make him hungrier than ever. This is the perfect opportunity for him to make a statement and let everybody know that he is back. And Victor will need to bring it because this is in no way a walk in the park for him. There’s a lot of young muscle to contend with and there will be a few surprises, that I can guarantee.
FLEX: There have been a lot of great past champions, like Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Branch Warren, and Evan Centopani, to name a few. But as you said, you can also expect big surprises at this show.
DJ: Right, like in 2007 when Dennis Wolf was the guy everybody was talking about even though Branch won. Very few people knew Dennis then and what he was capable of. Then he just blew people’s minds when he stepped onstage. That set him up to win the Keystone Classic a week later, and we all know what he did at the Olympia that year (Wolf placed fifth). That same year, Kai Greene got sixth. That was the highest he ever placed until then. He wasn’t the Kai we’re used to seeing now, but everyone was talking about him, too. And he won his first show a couple of weeks later at the Colorado Pro.
FLEX: The list can go, with Roelly Winklaar, Lionel Beyeke, and others, but let’s get back to Victor for now.
DJ: Victor will need to be on, but he doesn’t need to be the best Victor we’ve ever seen. I don’t say that to disrespect the other guys, but we’re not talking about guys who have the size of a Kai or Jay (Cutler) or the conditioning of a Phil Heath or Dexter Jackson. At least they haven’t shown it yet. Victor’s got a lot of weapons at his disposal. He’s got size with great shape and structure. His back remains one of the best in the sport for width and thickness, and when he’s on, his rear double biceps is right up there with the best of them. If he shows up like he did at the Arnold Europe, he will pose a lot of problems for the rest of the lineup. That’s a lot to deal with.
FLEX: Let’s talk about last year’s winner, Cedric McMillan. He didn’t bring his best to the Arnold Classic earlier this March and placed sixth in a show that some people, including you, said he could win.
DJ: He wasn’t on but he still had the best combination of size and shape at that show. He was hard from the back but just too soft from the front and in the legs. I’ve been saying all along that Cedric has all the gifts. He’s tall and wide with full muscle bellies, he has all the body parts, and his back double biceps looks great—even when he’s not 100%. But Cedric will need to be harder and drier than he was when he won here last year. If he can do that, with his height and overall size, I see him fighting Victor for the top spot.
FLEX: What about Juan “Diesel” Morel? He made his pro debut here last year and placed fourth. Then he tightened up considerably to win the Europa Battle of Champions a few weeks later. He also won the 2012 FLEX Rookie of the Year award.
DJ: I was at Juan’s wedding, and I’ve gotten to know him pretty well so I can tell you that this kid is a very hard worker. He’s very dedicated to making improvements in the off-season and that has shown in the progress he’s made over the past three years. He’s putting on size slowly so he’s been able to keep his nice lines, which is one of his strengths. He has a very full chest, and those wide shoulders and small waist really set of his front poses. He’s got a good back and he’s working his ass of to bring his legs and arms up. Conditioning is something that will get better with more time, too. Very few guys are like Phil Heath, who just blow right out of the gate, so I expect to see a better version of Juan at every show he does. At this point, I don’t think he has the experience or muscle maturity to topple an in-shape Victor, but he will definitely be in contention for top three or four.
FLEX: This is turning into a true hometown battle with Victor, Juan, Jon Delarosa, and Anthoneil Champagnie, all NY guys who know each other very well. At any given time, you’re likely to see them at Bev’s Powerhouse in Syosset, NY, sometimes training together. Let’s move on to Delarosa.
DJ: The crowd is going to go nuts when these guys line up. Jon has a very complete physique. Nothing stands out as a liability. That being said, he will have to focus on being dialed in 100%. He’s very thick for his structure, but he’s shorter than the other guys so he won’t be able to outsize them. He will have to be all the way dry to dial in the deep separations and details if he is to stand pose for pose with his larger opponents. That’s how Dexter beats the bigger guys. He’s complete and big for his frame and then he brings that conditioning to out-detail everybody.
FLEX: A couple of other names that are expected to compete are Jef Long, Anthoneil Champagnie and Antoine Valliant. Champagnie and Valliant are making their pro debuts.
DJ: This will be a very tough show for a rookie to crack the top five. The list is not complete yet, so I know there will be more names added. Jef will need to be harder than ever before to do well against the firepower of the bigger guys. And Anthoneil and Antoine, I’d say at this point it will be a good experience to see the areas they need to work on to be fighting for a top spot at pro shows.
FLEX: Now this next guy, Mamdouh Elssbiay, is a bit of a dark horse. Not many people know who he is. You’ve known him for the past few years so I’ll let you introduce him.
DJ: I call him Ramy. When he steps on that New York stage, expect thunder and lightning. New York crowds love the freaks, and you can’t get any freakier than Ramy. He won the 2012 Amateur Olympia last December at 286 pounds! He’s been training for only three years! I have never seen genetics like this. He has every body part. He’s got so much size it’s unbelievable. His quads remind me of Mustafa Mohammed. Obviously he hasn’t been doing this long so he still needs seasoning, but for sheer conditioned muscle, I don’t see anybody standing with him.
FLEX: Where has this guy been hiding?
DJ: He trains at Bader Boodai’s Oxygen gym in Kuwait. He’s coming to New York a week before the show and the plan is to give the bodybuilding world a proper introduction to the new super freak. He’s getting his feet wet here , and then it’s on to the Mr. Olympia (Elssbiay earned his pro card and a qualifying spot to the 2013 Mr. Olympia). I guarantee you that people will know who he is after New York. I’m looking forward to a great show. There will be no shortage of freaks. I expect Victor to make a statement, as he has a lot to prove. And Cedric will want to erase the disappointment of the Arnold Classic. Juan and Jon finally get the chance to compete with Victor, which they’ve been talking about for years. And Ramy will be the talk of the show. It’s going to be a battle!
2013 NEW YORK PRO 212
After winning last year’s New York Pro 212 title, Kevin English decided to sit out the rest of the season to allow his body to heal from years of wear and tear. Now fresh and ready to resume battle, English returns to the stage where he won his first pro contest, the 2008 New York Pro 202. English won again in 2009–10. As he goes for a fifth title, he will have to go through Jose Raymond (who won it in 2011), Marco Rivera, guy Cisternino and others.
2013 New York Pro Figure
Newly crowned 2013 Figure International champ and last year’s NY Pro Figure champ Candice Keene finished the 2012 season with a third at the Figure Olympia and the Sheru Classic, and a fifth at the Arnold Europe. With last year’s second- and third-place finishers, Heather Dees and Ava Cowan, returning, and other contenders like Candice John, Aleisha Hart, and Allison Frahn, Keene will have to be at the top of her game if she is to be a two-time champion.
2013 New York Pro Bikini
India Paulino will try to become the first repeat winner in the four-year history of the New York Pro Bikini. With three wins, a third at the Bikini Olympia, and a pair of seconds at the Bikini International and Sheru Classic last year, Paulino, who won the 2013 Bikini International in March, certainly has the heat factor. But Jaime Baird, who placed second to Paulino here and at the Pittsburgh Pro last year, and Yeshaira Robles (last year’s third-place finisher) will also be on hand, and with Diana graham, Julianna Danielle, and others standing in her way, Paulino has her work cut out for her.
2013 New York Pro Men and Women Physique
Physique has proven to be the fast-rising division in the IFBB. Mark Anthony Wingson and Juliana Malacarne will try to become two-time champions, but with the Olympia Men’s and Women’s Physique Showdowns making their big-time debuts at this September’s Olympia Weekend, you can bet on a fierce fight to grab the win and a qualifying spot. FLEX