NPC/Pro League 2020 Review: Big Ramy starts a new era in bodybuilding.
In what could have been a disastrous season, show promoters made some quick decisions to move some of the major shows to another location. Unfortunately a number of smaller shows were postponed till 2021.
The dedication and the fighting spirit of the show promoters prevailed in a year that could have destroyed the sport and its athletes.
Every athlete should be applauded for their patience and determination to stay in shape when there was so much uncertainty.
2020 Arnold Classic USA
What started as a normal season was turned upside down, beginning in March at the 2020 Arnold Classic USA.
From the start of the 2020 Arnold Classic USA, the news that the show could possibly be held behind closed doors started to make its rounds.
With pressure mounting from government officials, the Arnold Classic organizing committee had to cancel the fitness expo and hold the competition behind closed doors with a limited amount of spectators.
The events that took place in Columbus, Ohio was a preview of what was to be expected for the rest of 2020’s competition season.
Getting back to bodybuilding, it would be William Bonac who wins the 2020 Arnold Classic title.
William “The Conqueror” Bonac of the Netherlands reclaimed the Arnold Classic title with a narrow win over five-time champion Dexter “The Blade” Jackson at the 32nd Arnold Classic at the 2020 Arnold Sports Festival.
Bonac won his first Arnold Classic title in 2018 and finished second in 2019 to Brandon Curry, who went on to also claim the 2019 Mr. Olympia.
Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay would finish in third place, but this man would return to shock the world of bodybuilding later in the year.
2020 Arnold Classic Australia
After the Arnold Classic USA, the Arnold Classic Australia was the next major competition on the schedule, but this would not happen.
Arnold Classic Australia show promoter Tony Doherty had to shutdown the entire event due to Australia’s very strict Covid-19 restrictions.
This caused some problems for the pro bodybuilders that already made the trip to Australia, including Sergio Oliva Jr. and Big Ramy.
Doherty could not find a solution for his problem and cancelled the 2020 event.
Later on in the year, Doherty also confirmed that the possibility the 2021 Arnold Classic Australia would also be cancelled was a reality.
The bodybuilding media circus continued with the Rock’s Athleticon also being postponed until 2021.
The death of Luke Sandoe
The most shocking event for 2020 was the death of Luke Sandoe. The death of Luke left the bodybuilding world in shock.
With Luke’s death being blamed on depression, the situation was made worse with the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Luke was a fan favorite and his career was on the rise after already placing in the top three at a number of major competitions.
Unfortunately, with all the great results and new champions, including Big Ramy as the new Mr. Olympia, the loss of Luke Sandoe overshadows everything.
Read More: Pro bodybuilder Luke Sandoe passes away.
Phil Heath returns
More news made the headlines with 2018 Mr. Olympia Shawn Rhoden confirming he will not be competing at the 2020 Mr. Olympia.
The Olympia Weekend organizers confirmed in a huge media campaign that 7X Mr. Olympia Phil Heath would be making a return to the stage to try to win his title back.
Phil Heath was not the only one to make the headlines, 7X 212 Olympia winner, Flex Lewis also confirmed he would be making the move up to the open bodybuilding division to compete for the 2020 Mr. Olympia title.
For Flex to compete in the open bodybuilding division, he was given a ‘Special Invite’ for the Mr. Olympia.
First change of venue for the Olympia Weekend
It was a nightmare situation for the Olympia organizers, with owner Jake Wood and President & Chief Olympia Officer Dan Solomon scrambling to find a new location for their event, after Vegas literally shutdown due to Covid-19.
The new location would be the Planet Hollywood Resort in the center of the Las Vegas Strip.
The location would eventually change again just a few weeks before the 2020 Olympia Weekend takes place.
With show cancellations continuing, finally a major show would be taking place in Florida.
The 2020 Tampa Pro was set and scheduled to take place as planned. Even with the rise of Covid-19 cases in Florida, major events were still given the green light to take place.
Even though Evolutionofbodybuilding.net published official facts about the possibility the event might be forced to be cancelled, the show promoter decided to attack this sites owner Kevin Grech with ridiculous accusations.
Tim Gardner went on to block this website from all his social media, but Tim did receive a backlash from a number of high profile people in the industry on the way he handled the manner in such a unprofessional way.
With all the drama surrounding the Tampa Pro, the contest still went on as planned with Hunter Labrada winning the event and qualify for the 2020 Mr. Olympia at the same time.
Second place went to Canada’s Iain Valliere. Iain presented a very dry physique. He was in great condition and he was also a favorite to win the show. But he would have success at his next show.
New York Pro
The next major show planned was the 2020 New York Pro, with a major change.
New York was also under very strict Covid-19 restrictions. This forced the New York Pro promoters to move the event to Florida.
The much anticipated event was another exciting event with Canada’s Iain Valliere winning.
The prestigious New York Pro title also qualified him for the 2020 Mr. Olympia.
Second place went to Justin Rodriguez while fan favorite Jonathan De La Rosa had to settle for third.
The California Pro was the next 2020 Olympia qualifier to be confirmed to take place.
The event have no spectators and streamed via pay-per-view.
Another Canadian champion would dominate the show with Antoine Vaillant taking the title home.
Antoine is back on track after overcoming a drug addiction and recovering from a major bicep tear just last year.
This victory also guaranteed Antoine his ticket to the 2020 Mr. Olympia.
More competitions continued to be postponed with the NPC announcing the 2020 NPC Junior Nationals being cancelled for 2020.
The focus turned to Europe with the next major Olympia qualifier scheduled to take place.
The Europa Pro took place in Alicante, Spain. The majority of athletes competing in this event were from Europe. Covid-19 restrictions made it very difficult for athletes from the the USA and Canada to make the long trip.
To make up for the few Olympia qualification opportunities, the top three at the Europa Pro qualified for the 2020 Olympia Weekend.
Second and third place finishers Lukas Osladil from the Czech Republic and Brazil’s Rafael Brandao wialso earned 2020 Mr. Olympia qualification with James.
James eventually decided that he would not be competing at the 2020 Mr. Olympia.
Big Ramy was on his way to Spain to compete at the Europa Pro, but he then announced he tested positive for Covid-19.
As everything was coming into place for an exciting 2020 Mr. Olympia lineup, Flex Lewis announced that he was pulling out of the 2020 Olympia Weekend.
The reason was due to a number of injuries that have become a problem and were making it difficult for him to train.
The 2020 Chicago Pro was another event moved to a new location. The event would eventually take place in Atlanta.
Akim Williams would go on to win the competition and qualify for the 2020 Mr. Olympia.
Second place went to James Rodriguez. James might not have won the show, but the precious points qualified him for the 2020 Mr. Olympia.
Third place went to Maxx Charles. Finally after a crazy year of competing, Maxx also qualified for the 2020 Mr. Olympia thanks to the points system.
Big Ramy Special Invite
Another change in events caused a lot of controversy in the bodybuilding world.
With Flex Lewis pulling out of the 2020 Mr. Olympia due to injury, the Mr. Olympia “Special Invite” was made vacant.
The Olympia organizers also had Shawn Rhoden and Cedric McMillan out of the show, so they had to invite another star to the Mr. Olympia.
The official announcement was made by the Olympia organizers that Big Ramy was offered the Mr. Olympia “Special Invite.”
Many athletes and some from the media, did not agree with Big Ramy receiving the “Special Invite.”
Looking at Big Ramy’s unfortunate circumstances that prevented him from competing, this site believes that it was the correct decision.
After the 2020 Arnold Classic USA, Big Ramy had competitions being cancelled, he could not travel because of Covid-19 restrictions and finally he tested positive for Covid-19.
Big Ramy immediately accepted the invitation and he immediately continued prep for the big event with Chad Nicholls and Dennis James.
Romania Muscle Fest
Canada’s Regan Grimes was not done yet with competing, even with his 2020 Mr. Olympia qualification secured.
The Romania Muscle Fest was organized just a few weeks before the 2020 Olympia Weekend.
This show was a qualifier for the 2021 Olympia Weekend.
Regan Grimes traveled to Romania from Canada to bring home the title and secure his 2021 Olympia qualification as well.
Second change of venue for the Olympia Weekend
As everything was ready for the athletes and fans to focus on the 2020 Olympia Weekend, some big changes were being discussed behind the scenes.
Covid-19 was still very problematic and the new venue in Vegas was at risk.
Olympia Weekend owner Jake Wood and Dan Solomon decided to move the venue again and not risk the entire Olympia Weekend being cancelled.
The new location was announced as being the Orange County Convention Center, located in the heart of Orlando, Florida.
With previous contests running smoothly in Florida, it was the best decision by the promoters for the event to take place.
What usually takes almost a year to organize, now had to be done in less than a month.
With the new venue confirmed for the 2020 Olympia Weekend and athletes already arriving for the big event, one major star was still missing.
Just days before the Olympia Weekend was set to start, Roelly Winklaar announed that he will not be traveling to Florida to compete at the Mr. Olympia.
Many rumors started to spread that he was injured or even had visa problems, but non of this was true.
Roelly finally confirmed himself that he had to pullout of the Mr. Olympia contest as he tested positive for Covid-19.
2020 Olympia Weekend
The big weekend finally arrived for the NPC/Pro League with the 2020 Olympia Weekend opening up to the public.
The organizers managed to exceed everybody’s expectations by putting together a great expo and stage setup.
It was evident the expo was a cut down version from previous years due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
Putting aside all the great events and features at the 2020 Olympia weekend, the focus was on the Mr. Olympia contest and who would walk out as the winner.
The line-up had three Mr. Olympia title holders competing, defending champion Brandon Curry, 7X Mr. Olympia Phil Heath and 2018 Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson.
This contest would be the final competition for Dexter Jackson as he announced his retirement from competitive bodybuilding. Dexter holds the record of having 29 pro wins.
Getting back to the Mr. Olympia, it was evident who the top five were. The judges and crowd already identified Big Ramy, Brandon Curry, Phil Heath, Hadi Choopan and William Bonac.
The star of the show was Big Ramy. The more he was compared to Brandon Curry and Phil Heath, it was becoming more evident that he can actually win the title.
Phil Heath, who had to settle for third spot, still had some slight problems controlling the midsection. Returning to the stage after two years was not easy task.
Phil had to have major surgery after the 2018 defeat to Shawn Rhoden and placing third is a great accomplishment for the 7X Mr. Olympia winner.
The big question is if Phil will return in 2021?
What was unfortunate for defending champion Brandon Curry is that he actually improved from his victory in 2019.
Brandon placed second to Big Ramy, but promised he will be back in 2021 to win his title back.
It has been discussed on every bodybuilding media outlet that if Big Ramy comes to the Mr. Olympia in his best condition, he will win the show.
Chad Nicholls and Dennis James made sure that every detail was covered when it came to Big Ramy’s prep for the 2020 Mr. Olympia.
Dennis James even invited Big Ramy to live with him so he can watch him 24hrs a day.
The hard work showed as Big Ramy stepped on stage full of confidence with his eyes on the top prize.
In the prejudging and comparison rounds, Big Ramy was the first to pose and the last to finish. The strict posing sessions with Dennis James paid off.
When Big Ramy was announced the winner, it was the moment a new era has begun for the Mr. Olympia.
As many believed the monster era has ended with Phil Heath starting a new era after defeating Jay Cutler. Big Ramy came along and pushed the Mr. Olympia to a higher level.
As we write this article, if Big Ramy continues to improve and keeps his freakish size, it looks like the Mr. Olympia title will be staying in Egypt for a number of years.
Evolutionofbodybuilding.net‘s full coverage of the 2020 Olympia Weekend
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