2003 IFBB English Grand Prix
Wembley Convention Centre
1st November 2003
The line-up was called out and this looked like your typical awesome pro show. The top five or so were top tier pros, with the remainder of the line-up being the pros on the way up who come out of the woodwork for shows like this in hopes they qualify for the Olympia or get a special invitation to the Arnold Classic - in my opinion a show on the way to becoming the greatest show on earth in the bodybuilding world and one which many of the bodybuilders already say is.
For the next line-up of pros, Rodney St. Cloud had to stand on a portion of the stage at a lower level than the other pros. This almost made him appear shorter (if you didn't notice where he was standing). I think that would have worked to his disadvantage, but hopefully the judges realized this.
The next line-up had Gunter who was looking large at 6'1 and about 300 pounds. Troy Alves took Rodney's place and also looked short because of it.
Mustafa Mohammad was in the next lineup and was showing his high quality physique as usual. Johnnie O. Jackson was present as well and was looking hard and dense at around 5'7 or 5'8 in height. This show actually had more top tier pros than I thought. Aside from Jay Cutler and Gunter Schlierkamp, we had Art Atwood, Claude Groulx, Johnnie O. Jackson, Mustafa Mohammad and Rodney St. Cloud, all of whom had competed in the Olympia at one time or another.
I find that bodybuilding is sometimes a height competition, since the medium height guys always perform the best. When you are too short you don't have the stature necessary to do serious damage at shows, and when you are too tall, gaining the muscle mass required to be competitive is very difficult. 5'8-5'10 seems to be the ideal for bodybuilding. Art Atwood is by no means short at 5'11 and is just huge as can be. I really don't know why he doesn't place higher at shows. Gunter at 6'1 is very tall for a bodybuilder and has managed to fill out his frame quite well. Amazingly, he probably even has the space on his frame to add a few more pounds. Showing up in contest at a competitive 320 pounds would not be impossible for Gunter. However, his showing at the 2005 Olympia at a body weight of 295 pounds was his best ever performance and he looked great.
Next up, some pros were called to perform the mandatory poses:
Front Double Biceps.
Front Lat Spread.
Rear Double Biceps.
Rear Lat Spread.
Abs and Thigh.
When Jay Cutler performed his mandatories, you can really see how he's packed an incredible amount of mass on his 5'8 and 1/2 frame while keeping decent lines. There are lots of mass monsters in bodybuilding today, even in second tier shows you will see some, but what separates the mass monsters who show up and compete from the ones who get the recognition of doing that as well as being the top in the world, is their ability to hold the crazy mass they have. Jay does this quite well. Not as well as Ronnie in my opinion, but pretty darn well!
I have to say, one of the second tier competitors who stood out in my mind would have been Oleg Makchatsev. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he is probably closer to first tier in terms of pro calibre. He goes unnoticed, likely because of his lack of competitions, or possibly inability to speak English (many of these foreign pros do not speak English), but in any case, I could easily see him qualifying for the Olympia one day if that's what he set out to do. He eventually placed 13th out of 22 competitors in this line-up, and that definitely has at least something to do with (lack of) name recognition. In addition, 13th is really not all that bad, since he was only a few spots away from a top 10 finish. Congrats Oleg!
When Gunter was called out, you could see how excellent his conditioning was. However, I would not say it looked as good as from his performance at the 2003 Mr. Olympia Contest just a wee bit earlier in the year. While there have been times where many of the competitors have come in to the post Olympia contests in even better shape than at the Olympia, it all depends on how their cutting cycles are planned out. There are other factors at play as well including travel time (jet lag) and so on.
Mustafa looked incredible in the side poses - side chest and side triceps. His thighs were huge and were highlighted in the abs and thigh pose, and his arms were huge as well. His most muscular was shredded and he was muscular everywhere quite frankly.
Next up, lots of the pros lined up to do the mandatory poses. Gunter was a lot taller than most of his nearest competition which is very impressive that a tall man can place so high at a show. Art Atwood also looked very tall at 5'11, towering over some of those around him. Bodybuilding seems to be ideal for the medium height man. In fact, there are some who take up the hobby to begin with due to insecurities with their height. Not all of them of course, but certainly a lot of people will take up hobbies to better themselves due to insecurities of some kind (this is definitely not isolated to bodybuilding alone).
Some guest posers showed up to the contest including Simon Robinson, who had only one leg. It was very inspiring to see somebody come back after a car accident and still develop such an outstanding physique. Vinnie Graham also guest posed and was looking very good.
Towards the end of the first disc of the DVD, there was a photo gallery which showed shots of the pros both in contest and backstage. They were all looking sharp which was very impressive for a second tier pro show. It always amazes me to see how many high quality competitors will show up to these shows and compete for peanuts. To me it's obvious that pros just want to be big and jacked and would do this no matter what. Since they are already huge and ripped, why not compete and make a few bucks while they're at it? This is why they are seemingly ok with competing for very little money.
Claude looked very good, especially given that he was a 40+ year old competitor at this point (and the winner of the Masters Olympia just a few months earlier). His conditioning was not as good as it had been at the Masters, but was still quite good. He posed to a Nellie song and was pretty in to his routine.
Lee posed to the song "U Got It Bad" by Usher and then put on a robotic routine. He also posed to "Smash sumthin'" by Redman. He looked good, but wasn't able to stand out in this highly competitive line-up.
Mike started off his routine with "I'll Make Love To You" by Boyz II Men before picking up the speed of his routine with some faster beats. Mike looked good, but didn't have the goods to break the top placing’s.
Dorian Yates and Milos Sarcev then announced Jay Cutler's individual routine:
Jay was big and shredded with cross striated thighs which had had the separation you would hope for on a world class professional bodybuilder. He posed to some opratic music in a routine he had used before. He then posed to "In the End" by Linkin Park. The very end of his routine had the voice of Arnold in Pumping Iron saying "That's what I call posing." This was the same routine he used at the 2003 Ironman.
Oleg posed to the Terminator music - posing music that has been around the bodybuilding world for two decades now. I'll tell you that Oleg looked quite good. His tan was very bronze, but he was big and shredded and had a good deal of muscle maturity. He is also 6'0 in height and that is very impressive in itself in that he is very imposing. He could probably stand to put a few more pounds on his frame, but he is very impressive no matter how you look at it. He ended his routine with a very solid most muscular pose.
Atwood is one of the modern day freaks of bodybuilding. He is pure modern mass. Not to say his lines are terribly bad or that he is just a collection of large muscle groups or any of the other criticisms he's received, but it is pretty well impossible to enter a contest at 285 pounds and expect to show up with pretty lines and aesthetics. There comes a point where simply having too much muscle will make a person look out of proportion. Ronnie Coleman is one of the very few massive freaks who can still look aesthetic at over 280 pounds - and honestly, Ronnie should never compete under 280 pounds. Art is an absolutely huge and shredded freak. He must be quite an amazing sight to see in person.
Rodney St. Cloud
Rodney pose to "My All" by Mariah Carey. He has a slender enough physique to pose aesthetically to slow songs. After the song was over he upped the pace of his posing music a little and put on a fairly well put together routine.
Miguel is one of those lesser known second tier pros who looks to have a great deal of potential but probably does not have the funds or sponsorship necessary to travel the world to compete in bodybuilding regularly to make a name for himself. He had a more moderately muscled physique compared to some of the mass monsters at the show and great lines. Hopefully we hear more about Miguel in the future.
Milos Sarcev then introduced Gunter Schlierkamp and explained that he beat Ronnie Coleman at the 2002 GNC Show of Strength and also stated that he "dethroned" Ronnie. This is not the case since in order to dethrone someone, you have to take away their title, and Gunter did not. In any case, that is a trivial error, but Milos pointing out Gunter is probably something which would have offended Ronnie had he heard it. He really didn't agree with Gunter's victory over him at the 2002 GNC. However, Ronnie has had his share of undeserved victories as well (e.g., the 2000-2002 Olympia’s were all pretty debatable). But 2003, Ronnie came back stronger than ever.
Using the same posing routine as he had at the 2003 Olympia, Gunter's conditioning was good, but not quite up to the level as it had been previously in the year. He looked good and was very large, but the cuts weren't there which were just a short period earlier, and he was definitely not at the level he was at for the 2002 Olympia or 2005 Olympia (his best showing to date). Gunter posed to "Stand up and Shout" by Fozzy.
Gianluca was big with a fairly small waist for his size. He had very big lats from the front, reminiscent of Edwardo Kawak. His hamstrings and glute tie-in didn't really exist and that is something that judges are very critical of these days. He posed to "Take A Look Around" by Limp Bizkit. He then posed to "Practice What You Preach" by Barry White.
Troy posed to the song "At Last" by Ella Fitzgerald. He has the physique for this type of music since he is very streamlined and moderate compared to the mass freaks. Troy is without question a very excellent poser and I'm not sure what exactly was holding him back before. It may have been his lack of shredded glutes which has since been improved. If he came in with the hardness of Richie Gaspari, I wonder how well he could do? My guess is he could do pretty damn well. Troy then posed to "Anywhere" by DMX and picked up the speed of his posing routine. He did an excellent job overall with his posing.
Mustafa posed to the "Back to the Future" theme music. He was typical Mustafa and looked sharp as can be. His delts were hue and striated and his abs were deep cut. His thighs were as huge as can be and he had the best side triceps and side chest poses in the show. I wonder what's keeping this guy down? Is it something racial as Mustafa says or is it lack of name recognition, or something else? It seems to me that he has really nailed his size and conditioning.
John's posing routine started off with some narration. He is from UK, and the narrator had a British accent lol. I've seen these narratives at the beginning of various routines, always made by someone in the country of the bodybuilder involved (which only makes sense). Bodybuilding definitely has world appeal, as niche as it is. John looked good but would need more mass and conditioning to be competitive. That is just the nature of bodybuilding. He did look pretty damn good though, there is no denying that.
Johnnie O. Jackson
Johnnie posed to "One Last Breath" by Creed. He then changed the music to "Soldier" by Eminem and went back to slow music again which actually sped up (the song was "My Sacrifice" by Creed. Johnnie looked excellent with the exception of his gyno, which did not look good at all. That is something which I consider to be unprofessional at a bodybuilding show - similar to coming in to the contest in poor conditioning. It is something he should definitely try to have fixed.
Next up the whole line-up was out on the stage posing down and then the top six were called out to pose. The group did the quarter turns to compare with one another. Gunter at 6'1 towered over the line-up with the second tallest being Jay Cutler at 5'8 and 1/2. Ernie Taylor - who I don't even feel should have placed in the top 10 due to his ridiculous and horrible looking triceps - was teasing Jay the whole way through - he grabbed his nipples and his ass. Presumably this was to show that Jay had gyno and soft glutes? Because neither of those are true, I don't see the point of it. Jay, like the good sport he is, played along, but I really wonder what the hell Ernie meant by all that. Oh well.
The top six hit the mandatory poses before going on to a posedown. They posed down to your typical club music - the kind which people like to dance to when rolling on recreational drugs. The only drug I would personally consider doing is steroids - I honestly believe they can help a person's self esteem in a genuine way and make their social lives more positive. But then again, every drug user or any given drug will justify it in some manner. I am not a drug user, but am exposed to everything from where I'm from.
The top six were then announced:
6 - Troy Alves, USA
5 - Johnnie O. Jackson, USA
4 - Mustafa Mohammad, Austria
3 - Gunter Schlierkamp, Germany
2 - Ernie Taylor, UK
1 - Jay Cutler, USA 2003 IFBB English Grand Prix Champion
There were a lot of boos when Mustafa was announced in fourth place, and also some boos when Gunter was placed third. Ernie had no business in the top 10, let alone being runner up to Jay Cutler! If I had promoted the show, I would have probably disqualified him for having triceps which look so terrible. Oil or not, they suck (and I have historically been a pretty nice guy in my comments, but no more). He was from UK and this was a UK promoted show, so it makes sense that he won, if you know what I mean...
Jay went up to say a few words and to thank Dorian and Milos. Jay was definitely very professional with his words and came across as a world class champion. Jay then went on to do a few poses for the crowd with his trophy by his side and an invite was given to attend the show next year at October 30, 2004.
This show was a very high calibre. I think that is in part thanks to Dorian Yates promoting it. He obviously knows how to put on a show since he was heavily involved in bodybuilding for years. The lighting was perfect and the top guys looked great!!!!!. This is a great contest to pick up. It may not be the Mr. Olympia, but you will be surprised how good it is.
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