Winning isn’t everything. Contest placings are always dependent on the opinions of fallible judges as well as the physiques of other competitors. Sometimes the best bodybuilder doesn’t win. And sometimes someone superb is simply defeated by those who are even better.
The 15 men on our alphabetical honor roll never won an IFBB pro contest or cracked the Olympia top three. Six of them failed to earn pro cards. Still, all 15 of these contest underachievers were developmental overachievers. We emphasized those who were slighted on score sheets or bottled up in talent logjams, as opposed to those who never lived up to their immense potential. And in the spirit of this celebration, we’ve included seven routines and training tips focused on overlooked body parts and techniques. At long last, the losers get their due, because, ultimately, bodybuilding isn’t about contest results. It’s about physical results.
BEST LOSS: 1995 MR. OLYMPIA, 9TH
Despite enough shapely muscle to hang with anyone, Baker had only one significant win over an NPC and IFBB career that lasted more than two decades. That was the 1990 USA Championships, and it only came after six pro-qualifier top five finishes. The big league proved even more frustrating for this Californian. In 25 contests over 11 years, Baker cracked only five posedowns. Though he had enough density to contend for Sandows, his conditioning was frequently muddled, and he got lost in the stacked lineups of the ’90s. That wasn’t true in 1995, however, when, at 34, the 5'8" 240-pounder twice pushed a less-than-optimum Flex Wheeler to the brink. Controversially, Wheeler got the nod in both shows. Baker’s photos still wow physique fans today, but he rarely wowed judges during his long career.
BEST LOSS: 1996 ARNOLD CLASSIC, 7TH
This 5'8" Polish-born German was on no one’s radar screen when he made his pro debut at the 1994 Mr. Olympia. He placed 18th. Still, FLEX noticed his incredible density and details. “Why Was This Man Overlooked at the 1994 Mr. Olympia?” we asked on the cover of our February 1995 issue. By then, he had been given some due, placing fifth in three Grand Prix contests after the Mr. O. Cziurlok was only 26 when he burst onto the mid-90s pro scene, but that scene was already overcrowded with an ever-expanding gaggle of legends jockeying for the biggest prizes. A decade later, he could’ve collected professional titles. Instead, in 14 pro contests until his 2001 retirement, his highest placing was fourth. Returning in 2011 for the Masters Pro World at 44, he was high-def but landed out of the money yet again. Despite his mediocre placings, there was never anything average about Cziurlok’s physique.
CZIURLOK’S GLUTES ROUTINE
Standing Lunge, 4 sets, 15–20 reps
Machine Glute Kickback, 4 sets, 15–20 reps
BEST LOSS: 2002 SOUTHWEST PRO CUP, 4TH
Four years passed between Dawodu winning the 1992 British Championships and his pro debut. Thereafter, he barely made a ripple during his 18-contest, eight-year professional career. His best finish was fourth—four times—and he was 17th out of 21 in his only Olympia (2001). But don’t judge a physique by a record. This 5'7", 235-pound Englishman sported a striking V-taper and two of the best guns ever flexed—a combination that spawned a superb front double biceps. He lacked ab clarity, and his conditioning was sometimes cloudy. But, nevertheless, Dawodu always seemed to land a few spots too low. He should’ve won at least one of those times he was fourth—the 2002 Southwest Pro Cup. He never got much love from judges, but in the early ’00s, J.D. Dawodu displayed one of the world’s densest bodies.