|Muscletime Report: 2008 Houston Pro Bodybuilding Contest|
|Written by Millard Baker|
|Tuesday, 08 July 2008 01:46|
The 2nd annual ALR Industries 2008 IFBB Houston Pro Show added men's bodybuilding this year after the incredible success of the Houston Pro Figure competition last year. The State of Texas has produced some great professional bodybuilders in recent years and has hosted the amazingly successful Betty and Ed Pariso Europa Supershow for several years. So, promoters NPC Texas Chairman Lee Thompson and Khalid Tibari expected top names to sign up quickly for the new "Pro Men's Bodybuilding" and "Pro Men's Bodybuilding 202 & Under" contests with plans to celebrate with fireworks on the July 4-5th weekend.
The Olympia caliber veterans did not materialize as anticipated with only a few big name bodybuilders coming on board in the last several weeks. This made it easy to look past the Men's bodybuilding portion of the Houston show and look ahead to the deeper, more competitive fields in Tampa and Dallas.
This would have been a mistake.
It was impossible to overlook the first-class accommodations, venue, treatment of the athletes and efficiency of the event by the promoters of the Houston Pro Show; attention to detail was evident with the selection of the host hotel (Sugarland Marriott Town Square) and the facilities at the venue (Stafford Centre Performing Arts Theatre).
In addition, the competitors, for the most part, were in their best condition of the year. The quality of the competition at the show made it interesting and enjoyable even if it lacked the number of big names that have signed up for the Tampa Pro and Europa Pro shows in August.
And to top it off, the judging (at least for the men's bodybuilding) was excellent. It is rare that we are almost in complete agreement with the judging. It was refreshing to see such consistent and fair judging especially after the poor judging at the New York Pro Show. However, I must admit we do not understand how "202 & Under" class winner Ray Arde could have placed behind Richard "Tricky" Jackson in the overall men's standing. This is puzzling.
1. Silvio Samuel
We have missed Silvio a lot this year! In previous years, we had grown accustomed to seeing him compete at practically every pro show. So, it was wonderful to see him on stage at least one more time before he competes in the Mr. Olympia this fall. It may be too early to tell if his less rigorous competition schedule will ultimately result in an improved physique when the Olympia comes around. All indicators tell us it will!
Silvio Samuel was the clear winner of the 2008 Houston Pro Show. Silvio's conditioning placed him in a class by himself.
2. Craig Richardson
Craig Richardson was a very deserving second place. He made some adjustments and fine tuned his physique displaying some improvements over his presentation at the New York Pro (where he also should have placed second).
3. Leo Ingram
Leo Ingram continues to impress. His physique has a hardness and "graininess" that is unique among the competitors on stage. We noticed this in New York; but Leo clearly dialed up the intensity of his physique for Houston. When Armin Sholz was announced as the fourth place finisher, Leo Ingram could not contain his excitement as he began jumping up and down. The hard work and perseverance manifested in Ingram's physique earned him a third place finish and an automatic qualification for his first Mr. Olympia. As I write this, I am pretty sure Leo has not stopped smiling! When I interviewed him backstage after the show, he was overwhelmed with emotion at living out his dream of competing on the Olympia stage. Nice.
4. Armin Scholz
This man is huge! Armin Scholz dwarfed every other bodybuilder on the stage. If bodybuilding contests were judged by size and muscle mass, Armin would have walked away with the show. As it were, Armin was very impressive and continues to improve his conditioning. He looked spectacular at the 2008 Iron Man Pro but was overlooked by the judges. He looked even better in Houston - and he was rewarded accordingly.
He was thrilled with his placing telling me that he felt redeemed after placing ahead of competitors who beat him in Los Angeles at the Iron Man and could not help feeling gratified at placing ahead of top veteran bodybuilder Darrem Charles. That is an accomplishment even when Darrem is off his best shape.
I think we can expect great things from Armin Scholz in the future as he is starting to fine tune and perfect his contest preparation!
5. Bill Wilmore
Bill Wilmore looked fantastic. If Craig Richardson, Leo Ingram and Armin Scholz did not show up in their all time best condition, Bill could have easily moved up a few places. He has a good combination of size and conditioning and he was the only competitor who even approached the mass of Armin Scholz.
6. Darrem Charles
Quite simply, Darrem was off his usual condition for this contest. He was clearly a precontest favorite along with Silvio Samuel to take the top spot. Darrem Charles has won at least one pro show every year for the past six or so years. It was surprising to see Darrem place so low in a smaller show. Speaking with Darrem afterwards, he was admittedly not quite ready yet he was unperturbed by his placing. He pointed to his slow start last year and promised to redeem himself when the pro circuit goes to Florida. After all, Florida is home to Darrem and the other pro bodybuilders will be visiting his "stomping grounds."
Darrem made no excuses for his poor placing in my post-contest interview with him. But we expect his motivation to compete at the Houston Pro Show was not so much to seek a victory for himself but merely to accompany his son and share the competitive bodybuilding experience with Renel as he competed in the amateur competition held in conjunction with the Houston Pro Show (NPC John Sherman Classic).
The proud father admitted that a victory for Renel was a victory for him!
I was generally satisfied with the judging, although I was not sure where to place Canadian Fouad Abiad who placed just outside the top six. He was in great condition and brought together a great overall package that likely beat Darrem Charles and put him in contention with Bill Wilmore and Armin Scholz. I think he could have placed as high as fourth with few objections. He had some disruptions over the course of his trip to Houston. It will be interesting to see how he does at the Tampa Pro show when his precontest preparations and travel go smoothly. He could surprise a few of the veteran bodybuilders as it would not take much improvement for Fouad to jump up through the ranks.
I want to also congratulate Ray Arde who, in only his second pro contest, won the "202 & Under" class. He looked great at the Iron Man earlier this year and looked perhaps even better in Houston. Ray is definitely a worthy pro competitor as he proved with his victory in Houston.
The addition of the 202 & Under class promised to open up the sport of pro bodybuilding to a greater number of competitors. Yet the "202 & Under" competition only had six competitors entered in the class. This is extremely disappointing by any measure.
The Houston Pro Show will undoubtedly continue due to the record turn out for Fitness and Figure. The future for Men's Bodybuilding competition in Houston is also promising but maybe not assured. Perhaps the 2008 Houston Pro Men's show did not attract as many competitors as possible because it coincided with the 4th of July weekend? Perhaps, we need to do a better job advertising the show and getting word out among competitors?
At any rate, Lee Thompson and Khalid Tibari have created the groundwork for a top notch professional men's bodybuilding show that speaks quality in every aspect of its implementation. It is just a matter of getting more pro men bodybuilders to come next year to keep the IFBB Houston Pro Men's Bodybuilding event permanently on the IFBB calendar!