Getbig2004 Ironman Notes

Notes & Reports from the Ironman Pro Compettion
By Ron Avidan

  • It was a cool Saturday morning as I arrived from the Ironman Pro in Pasadena, California. Yesterday, at 3pm, the competitors had a mock weigh in at the Ironman press conference, and the buzz that I heard from it was that it was most definately an event that was entertaining and fun. It also let the audience, the fans and some members of the press see which competitors will be competing in the Ironman, including lots of new names. It was interesting to note that only 2 competitors from last years Ironman were back. All the rest did not compete in 2003 at the Ironman. The two that were back for a repeat performance were Ahmad Haidar and Johnnie Jackson.

    This years competition was held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Along with the Fit Expo, and the Seminars going on all day, this was, by far, the best Ironman and Expo in its history. They really outdone themselves over the last few years, and everyone I talked to was pleasantly surprised at how nice the venue was, how great everybody was treated, and the quality of the expo, seminars, and shows. The host hotel was the Sheraton in Pasadena, right next to the expo / auditorium, which was great. Hats off to John Balik, the Ironman crew, and the people who organized the event, especially Helen Yu, who works for Ironman, who looks like she is one of the hardest working people in the business.

    Prejuding started promptly at 10am in the morning, an hour before the Fit Expo opened up. The lineup, drawn randomly in the morning, was as follows

    1. Tom Prince
    2. David Henry
    3. Craig Titus
    4. Ntuk Ntuk
    5. Ken Jones
    6. Dragan Paunovic
    7. Mohamed Amouti
    8. Bob Cicherillo
    9. Ronny Rockel
    10. Lee Powerl
    11. Ahmad Haidar
    12. Rod Ketchens
    13. Jason Arntz
    14. Lee Priest
    15. Paul Baker
    16. Gustavo Badell
    17. Johnnie Jackson
    18. Idrise Ward-El
    19. George Turmon
    20. Clifton Torree
    21. Dexter Jackson

    When the competitors came out in round one, there was one competitor missing. Tom Prince. It was pretty obvious because Tom drew position #1, and David Henry strolled out first. Rumors started as to where Tom was, and it was overheard that Tom had to drop out of the show at the last minute backstage due to illness, as he was having trouble breathing.

    When all 20 competitors were on stage, the round one callouts began. The calls out were as follows for Round One.

    1. Ahmad Haidar - Craig Titus - Dexter Jackson - Lee Priest
    2. David Henry - Ahmad Haidar - Craig Titus - Bob Cicherillo
    3. Ronny Rockell - Bob Cicherillo - David Henry - Johnnie Jackson - Idrise Ward-El
    4. Bob Cicherillo - Ronny Rockell - Idrise Ward-El - Gustavo Badell - Jason Arntz
    5. Mohamed Anouti - Lee Powell - Rod Ketchens - Paul Baker - George Turmon
    6. Mohamed Anouti - Ken Jones - Rod Kethcnes - Paul Baker - George Turmon
    7. Ntuk Ntuk - Dragan Paunovic - Clifton Torres

    It was apparant from the beginning that Dexter Jackson was the man to beat. He looked unreal, and he knew it too. Lee Priest kept to his word, coming off a major transformation from his dismal 15th place at the 2003 Olympia to an incredible physique here at the Ironman. This show would be between Lee & Dexter, with Ahmad Haidar, Craig Titus and Gustavo Badell battling for the coveted 3rd place qualification for the Olympia.

    One things that was interesting was that the judges did not notice Gustavo Badell until the 4th round. Gustavo had come to the Ironman in the best shape of his career, but with 20 competitors on stage, it was hard to notice him standing in the back. They did reward him in the latter rounds though.

    The second round had each competitor doing the seven mandatory poses, and then the second round callouts began. They were as follows

    1. Ahmad Haidar - Craig Titus - Dexter Jackson - Lee Priest - Gustavo Badell
    2. David Henry - Ahmad Haidar - Craig Titus - Gustavo Badell - Johnnie Jackson
    3. David Henry - Bob Cicherillo - Johnnie Jackson - Idrise Ward-El - Jason Arntz
    4. Mo Anouti - Bob Cicherillo - Ronny Rockell - Lee Powell - Jason Arntz
    5. Mo Anouti - Rod Ketchens - Ronny Rockell - Lee Powell - Paul Baker
    6. Dragan Paunovic - Ntuk Ntuk - Ken Jones - George Turmon - Clifton Torres
    7. Craig Titus - Ahmad Haidar - Gustova Badell
    8. Lee Priest - Dexter Jackson

    The evening rounds started at 7pm, or actually around 7:30, because they started with the figure competition first. The first round of the figure competition was at the expo earlier in the day around 2pm, which was free for everyone to see who was at the expo, and it was pretty packed around that stage. The third round started with instead of all of the competitors coming out for everyone to see, they started coming out one by one by their presentation routine. The crowd definately loved it, and the most entertaining routine was Ken Jones Michael Jackson routine, for good or for bad.

    After the 4th round posedown, the top five were on stage, and the 5th place winner was called. Craig Titus. Titus. Now I think that while may of us were not surprised, we were suprised that the judges made the decision to put Titus in 5th place. Haidar in 4th. Badell in 3rd. Priest 2nd. Dexter Jackson wins the show.

  • Notes on some of the competitors:

    Dexter Jackson: It was clear from the start of the show that Dexter Jackson had come here in excellent shape, a great physique, almost complete, and no one could step up to the plate to compete against him. Dexter is considered 3rd in the world right now in terms of pro bodybuilding rankings, and rightly so. Dexter, in the last few years, has brought himself up to a new level. Dexter, last year started to work with Joe McNeil, who together helped him to the pinnacle of his career with the win at the 2003 Show of Strength.

    Lee Priest: Lee looked great, his upper body back in the shape we all know it to be, his legs, still just not perfect, but in some poses, looked quite awesome. Lee came to the Ironman to win the show and qualify for the Olympia, and would of won the show, if it had not been for Dexter Jacksons late entry into the show, something which Lee was not happy about. The loss to Lee. $6,000 (the difference between the $10,000 first place prize money and the $4,000 second place prize money.) Still, Lee accomplished what he wanted to do, and even though he received a special invite the the Arnold Classic, declined it, and said that he would not be in superior shape either for the San Francisco show, because all he wanted to do know in 2004 is concentrate for the Olympia.

    Gustavo Badell: Clearly, to everyone, this was Gustavos day to shine. Gustavo, a day earlier at the press conference, said that he was in his best shape ever, thanks to Milos Sarcev, who had worked with him. And that was the case at the Ironman. In the first round, with 20 competitors on stage, the judges missed his superior physique, and placed him 7th. By the second round, after his seven mandatory poses, they immediately fixed that error. Milos was in the first row also, telling Gustavo to get out in front so the judges can see him instead of staying in the back. Once he did that, the judges noticed. Gustova kept getting better by each round. By the night show, the talk was how Gustavo was the most improved bodybuilder so far of the year (hey, its the first show). And Gustavo earned his qualification to this years Olympia. He was very, very happy backstage! Some even though that he could of placed in second place.

    Ahmad Haidar: The deepest abs in the business. No doubt about it. Ahmad is known for the amazing abs that he comes into the show each year, and even the other competitors say that they are amazing. Ahmad also comes in with a great package, and this year was no difference. The only problem this year was that Dexter, Lee, and Gustavo were also in the show. But on stage when you had the second round callouts with all of them being compared side by side, it was a very difficult decision on who could be in what position.

    Craig Titus: Craig came into the show looking great, the first round had him in second place. But like the Night of Champions, he spilled over and bacame smoother in the second round. And the judges saw that. And Craig knew it too. Back in the evening round, Craig did well again in the 3rd round, but during the final comparisons in the 4th round, the judges saw that Craig was not as muscular than the other competitors. And Craig, in that 4th round went from 3rd place in the standings to 5th place. If anyone tells you that the last round doesnt count for anything, it cost Craig is qualification for the 2004 Olympia. Craig did know that he screwed up, like he did at the NOC, and he stated if will correct in for the Arnold and the San Francisco show, an it will not happen again.

    David Henry: David is a military man, I think still an active member at this moment. This was his pro debut. Very nice, very quiet guy, very respectful. His dad was in the audience, and for his first pro show, he did very well. His physique was great, and David is considered one of the smaller competitors in the show.

    Johnnie Jackson: One of the strongest competitors in the show, the man rivals Ronnie Coleman in the amount of weights he lifts. Johhnie looked very good, in terms of size, muscle and depth but did not have 100% conditioning. I liked it when Lonnie Teper, emcee, asked Johnnie how many plates he bench presses, and Johnnie said 8 plates, to which LT said, I do 8 plates too, at the Hometown Buffet.

    Bob Cicherillo came in soft at the show. He had tried something new, but he just was not tight, and it should, both and stage, and later on, when he was compared in the pictures. Bb knew it too, and was planning on something different for the Arnold Classic.

  • Notes on late entries: A number of competitors brought up the facts that promoters are letting in competitors after the contract deadline. Every athlete is supposed to sign a contract before the due date stating that they will do the show, and if they pull out, they will be fined $5,000 by the IFBB. If they are sick, then that is another story. However, concerns are that some competitors, at least top competitors, get special consideration if they enter late in a contest. With Craig Titus and Dexter Jackson, both major contenders, came in to the show past the due date, it created some problems. Others like Mo Annouti who came in at the last day was not a major problem because no one thought they would place for the money anyway. The question is: Is it fair for a competitor to enter after the due date. It is in the promoters best interest to get the top guys because then they can promote a more competitive show, but dos that matter two or three weeks before a contest. This debate is one that has been discussed before, but the answer is not clear. There are opinions on both sides of the story here.