Making a huge first impression is one of the hardest things to do in pro bodybuilding. Each year a new crop of rookies joins the IFBB Pro League, still basking in their amateur success. But the moment they step on a pro stage their expectations change. Almost all of them watch veterans pose in first callouts. Many will wait a torturously long time to hear their numbers called. However, there are rare exceptions. Check out the list of the 16 men who won their debuts in professional open IFBB contests since 1978 (the first year of an expanded pro schedule). It illuminates just how rare Mamdouh Elssbiay’s accomplishments were last year and how unique Phil Heath’s two-for-two was in 2006. Spoiler alert: They’re the only two men from the past two decades on our countdown of the 10 best rookies of all time. That just goes to show you how difficult it is to make a big first impression in the big league.
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