Top 5 Bodybuilding Stories of 2016
1. Maryland Muscle Miscalculation
In 2016 we saw one of the best bodybuilders of the ‘90s and 2000s (and arguably ever) make a comeback to the big dance—the Olympia. Kevin Levrone inspired aging bodybuilders to new heights when he claimed he would walk onto that famed Las Vegas stage and do battle with the best of the best. By all accounts a hero in the bodybuilding world, Levrone actually was much more candid and open with his progress leading up to the show than he was in his prime years.
Dave Palumbo’s official prediction list had Levrone winning The Olympia, something he hadn’t been able to do previously in his career. Palumbo said he had an inside track on exclusive pictures Levrone was sending and because of this he believed he would take home the Sandow trophy. Hype was definitely built as a consequence of the bold forecast.
However, at the athlete’s press conference it was a much more reserved Levrone than had been played up. An impromptu posedown with Cedric “Big Mac” McMillan and Josh Lenartowicz allowed the audience to come back down to Earth, even if they chose not to. The reality was that Levrone clearly would not challenge these two and thus probably not be a factor as a winner, or even a top callout guy.
At the end of the day, Levrone graced the stage and gave the audience a nostalgic show. His physique was good for someone in his situation, but not quite Olympia-calibre. In fact, his physique may have been the least impressive thing about the entire feat. He showed dedication, perseverance, and discipline to get back up on the stage. He posed to “Who’s Got My Back?” by Creed, the same song he used when he gave Ronnie Coleman a run for his money at the 2002 Mr. Olympia contest.
Looking forward, Levrone has overcome injuries that limited his progress in 2016 and is back to squatting 405+ for reps. Can the Maryland Muscle Machine get those quads, hams, and glutes back and be a legitimate contender?
2. Frony Business
As with any industry, the supplement industry isn’t all lollipops and rainbows. It’s not uncommon to hear athletes disagree with certain business strategies and subsequently there being a falling-out of sorts. The biggest story of this sort came from Blackstone Labs—and boy, was it entertaining.
In straight mud-slinging fashion, P.J. Braun called out former sponsored athlete John Meadows in a live Facebook video for a disagreement that involved their monetary exchange and the ingredients in their product Intra-MD that Meadows had helped formulate.
A clearly bewildered Braun tossed insults at Meadows, accidentally leading to the slip-of-the-tongue where he called Meadows “a frony.” This lead to an outpouring of Braun and Meadows supporters bickering across all social media platforms. Memes started surfacing where a photoshopped image of Blackstone Labs product “Fast Food” was altered to read “Frony Food.”
All in all, both participants in the situation made it out without losing everything. Meadows of course is known foremost for his Mountain Dog training and being one of the most conditioned athletes in the IFBB 212 division, and Braun has a plethora of high-profile athletes still under contract for BSL. For now, it seems you’ll have to wait to get the popcorn ready as these two seem to have extinguished the intensity of the feud.
3. Father Time Held at Arm’s Length
The seemingly ageless Dexter Jackson proved in 2016, as he has for multiple years now, that if you count him out, you’re wrong! Dexter finally added a win from the New York Pro to his list of victories, doing so in emphatic fashion. The ever-classy Jackson left all the action behind him as soon as he hit mandatories for prejudging. In trademark “Blade” trend, Jackson was conditioned better than arguably anyone else in the show, with nearly perfect proportions and utterly professional effortless posing.
Dexter brought an even better package to Las Vegas, where he pushed Shawn Rhoden and Phil Heath for the Olympia title. I had Dexter in at least second place, but the judges awarded him a third. As it would go by accepted standards, that would make “Dex” the world’s third-best bodybuilder. Well into his late 40s, Dexter shows zero signs of slowing down. It’s well documented that Dexter has actually put on mass in the past three years!
The Blade is freshly back into the gym now, after a seven-week layoff. I’ve been mistaken before by writing his name off the “elite players” list, but I’ve learned from my mistakes! I look forward to another year where Jackson makes more bodybuilding history.
4. Lone Wolf
Perennial Olympia contender Dennis Wolf was removed from action through the entirety of 2016. “The Big Bad Wolf” had major surgery in May last year and as a result was sidelined from even training at all until late June. Wolf stayed active through social media during this time and was quite revealing about the amount of size he had lost, which almost didn’t seem possible.
Post-surgery checkups continued into August and it thereafter became apparent that the totality of 2016 would be Dennis Wolf-less. However, as expected, Wolf did make an appearance on Olympia Weekend. He attended the press conference, prejudging, and finals. He made it known through interviews that he, of course, was disappointed not to be on the stage.
Luckily, Amix Nutrition has been with Dennis to help support him every step of the way during the tough time. According to his updates via Facebook and InstaGram, Wolf plans to make a comeback in 2017. In recent photos, you can certainly see that he is doing well to add mass to be able to battle it out with the best of the best once again.
5. Camel Crew Cruising Along!
In 2016 the biggest name that didn’t already call Kuwait home base visited the Camel Crew to try to find the missing link in his performance. Victor “The Dominican Dominator” Martinez went to Kuwait to train at the famed Oxygen Gym in search of the formula to find his old form. What we were given was a markedly improved Martinez at the 2016 IFBB Baltimore Pro. Victor was finally reminiscent of old “Vic”—crazy wide flaring lats, sweeping quads, and sinew-splitting chest fullness.
Of course, Big Ramy brought his best ever form to 2016 and I would argue that Roelly Winklaar did too—but that’s old news! In 2016, Nathan De Asha went off to Kuwait to prepare for the New York Pro and his Olympia debut, and many people thought he was the most overlooked athlete of the weekend. Another name that popped out of the Kuwait desert who served notice in 2016 was Ahmad Ashkanani. Ashkanani was runner-up in the 212 division behind James “Flex” Lewis, but originally qualified by winning the 2016 IFBB Tampa Pro in stunning fashion.
Right now, Brandon Curry is overseas training with the best in Kuwait to bring a special package to the Arnold Classic stage in Ohio. Akim Williams has also enlisted the Camel Crew’s services after a somewhat disappointing year’s end in 2016. Akim showed the IFBB glimpses of fulfilled potential, but failed to make conditioning a consistent strongpoint in his outings. The real test of the Camel Crew will be judged by these two who routinely come in “soft” to the stage.