Shout Out to Larry Powers

/ Posted 08.05.2013

LTB-im2402-1Was chatting with promoter Steve Karel about the 2013 NPC Nationals, set for November 22-23 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, when Steve asked a favor. “This is on the humanitarium side of things,” Karel said. “People who followed the sport in the 1950s, 60s and 70s would remember Larry Powers, a former Mr. America–his real name was Larry Cianchetta. Larry was one of Joe Weider’s favorite bodybuilders, and was featured on a lot of magazine covers (including the February, 1965 issue of Iron Man).

“I used to train with him in New York in the 80s. Larry now lives in Florida, and a very close, mutual friend that saw him many times recently passed along the information that Larry is having some major health issues and would love to hear from former contemporaries–or anybody in the industry who wishes to say hello.” A 1999 feature on Powers that ran in Life Extension Magazine said Larry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1990, at the age of 50.

So, surprise Larry with a phone call, card, or any type of correspondence that will surely brighten his day. I did not know Powers, but in looking at his competition resume, he surely was among the best in the game during his era. You can phone Powers at 954 785-7793, or write to him at 3305 SE 5th Street, Pompano, Florida, 33062.

Filed Under: Nationals, News

Yersky Tops Field in Atlanta

/ Posted 11.15.2012

Brian Yersky

Folks in attendance at the former NPC Junior Cal (now the West Coast Classic) may well remember the names Brian Yersky and Art Shahnazarian. Brian came all the way from Ohio to compete in the 2007 show, winning the heavyweight division (Kioshi Moody won the overall); Shahnazarian finished third in the middleweight class two years later.

Art Shahnazarian

My, have these two gents come a long way since then. All the way, in fact, to the pro stage after last weekend’s NPC Nationals, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. The 250-pound Yersky won the super heavyweight and overall titles, and Art, a lawyer based in Los Angeles, took to court the rest of the welterweight division to also earn a trip to the IFBB flex-for-pay ranks.

Congrats also to Ian Lauer, who finished fourth in the tall class in men’s physique at the 2011 WCC. Laurer’s second place landing in class E allows him to move on to the next level in 2013 as well. In all, I announced the names of 62 athletes who left the ballroom with pro cards intact. Despite Hurricane Sandy decimating the East Coast 10 days before the annual Steve Karel production, 855 contestants showed up and played to a strong audience.

For complete results, photos, scoresheets and more, log on to

Filed Under: Nationals, NPC

NPC Nationals Major Bikini Announcement!

/ Posted 09.18.2012

The Women’s Bikini Division has become a real focus of attention in current NPC events. It has become well accepted by the public and brought many new competitors and fans to NPC-sanctioned events. Since this division focuses on attractive, healthy and fit women, it has opened up a whole new world to those who compete under the NPC banner. One of the greatest potential assets of this new fan base is that mainstream products and services will look at this new area of events as a way to influence their buying public.

NPC National Media Director and promoter of the 2012 NPC Nationals, Steve Karel, has developed an avenue through his Stonecutter Media Ltd. arm, to further expose the Bikini Division and its Nationals class winners to the general public. Through his work in the boxing and MMA worlds, he has made arrangements for all Nationals Bikini Class Winners (6) to be eligible to appear on-camera as ring-card girls at a King of the Cage nationally televised MMA event, seen on MAV-TV-HD, and on a Star Boxing national cable broadcast such as ESPN, Showtime and NBC Sports Network. Additionally, these class winners will also potentially be interviewed on air and host a VIP event reception at these events because of their accomplishments.

Steve’s idea is to raise to the mass market, the commercial viability of the class winners as a group, very much like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders or a very, very high profile group of bikini-wearers known as the Swedish Bikini Team, TV endorsers of Old Milwaukee Beer. The idea here is for more of the public to see and meet these girls and their accomplishments in mainstream media and thusly raise their commercial worth. This at the same time should encourage more general market companies like Revlon, L’Oreal, Maybelline, Cover Girl, and others to get involved with the NPC and its competitions of this nature. This is a win for everyone involved.

The NPC Nationals will be held on November 9-10 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Check out some of the photos with last year’s Bikini Nationals winners!

Photos: J.M.

Filed Under: Nationals, NPC

Todd’s the Bod in South Beach

/ Posted 11.21.2011

The bodybuilding world has been waiting for Todd Jewell to finally "put in together". The wait has ended. Jewell, a 30-year-old out of Yakima, Washington, was a crisp 265 pounds (at 6′) and dominated the balloting in both the Superheavyweight class and the Overall at the 2011 NPC Nationals at the Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami Beach over the weekend.

It was quite a turnaround from last year for Jewell, who found out after the 2010 event in Atlanta he had been suffering from appendicitis. He had surgery a couple of months after the show, and almost died from the infection that had spread throughout his body.

My pick to win the contest, An Nguyen, did cop the Heavyweight class to join all the class winners who can now apply for pro status. Nguyen still could be tighter, but the 5’8", 218-pounder from Los Angeles was sharper than the USA back in July, where he placed second.

In the only class that was rejudged at the finals, Marco Rivera switched places with Benny Brantley, who led after the Friday night prejudging, to nab the Light Heavyweight division.

Also getting an invite to the IFBB are Alan Bailey (MW), JB Bartlett (WW—another LT selection, as was Jewell), Luis Santiago (LW) and Ron Hackasper (BW).

In Men’s Physique, New York’s Matthew Acton took both class A and the Overall, besting Miguel Aguilar (B) and Anthony Scotti (C) in the process. Michael McFall (A), Colin Humphrey (B) and Joe Herr (C) also earned pro status, as the top two competitors in both men’s and women’s physique are allowed to apply for acceptance to the pro level.

The event was a tremendous success for promoter Steve Karel as a record 943 competitors signed up to enter the fray. With the addition of the physique categories, that number shattered the previous high of 509, set last year in Atlanta.

For a more thorough look at the show, check out the results, and thousands of Roland Balik photos from the event on this site.

Filed Under: Nationals

Excalibur Set for Saturday

/ Posted 12.01.2010

The competitive year will end, as always, with a bang at the Excalibur on Saturday at the Vets Auditorium in Culver City. Promoter Jon Lindsay told me Tuesday night he had 240 competitors on hand (not counting crossovers); that means the line-up should swell to 260 or more by game time.

Speaking of game time, former Whittier College football standout Anthony (Kid Kong) Pomponio will be making his first appearance since winning three classes at my Junior Cal (now West Coast Classic) in 2009. Pomponio played pro football in Europe last year, and is also an Olympia Games powerlifting hopeful. He weighed in at 172 at the Junior Cal; Kid Kong told me a couple of weeks ago he’ll be around the 185 mark as he jumps up to the light heavyweight class.

Pomponio will be one of a slew of standout bodybuilding, figure and bikini competitors showing up; Texas stand-out Brian Barth, coming off a sixth-place finish in the Heavyweight class at the Nationals in October, told me a while back he’s jumping into the show, and has to be considered one of the pre-contest favorites.

I’m sure the auditorium will be filled, as always, with many top luminaries of the industry. I’m going to the event, natch, but not sure if it will be the pre-judging, the finals, or both.

Check back next week for a follow up report on the night, er, contest before Christmas.

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Attitude Ladies, Attitude!

/ Posted 10.24.2010

As we all know, J.M. Manion wears many rugs, er, hats: Chief Photographer/Senior Writer for the NPC News since 1986; manager of many of the top ladies in the industry and the creator of Iron Siren Comics ( Over the weekend of the Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia, the father teen sensations Tyler and Cassie took on yet another role. Posing instructor.

A few hours prior to the Friday prejudging, I saw a glimpse of J.M. adjacent to the hotel pool area. There he was, personally giving posing instructions to a variety of figure and bikini competitors. I was stunned to see how fluid his moves were. A real natural at this, which should be expected after 25+ years in the business.

On Sunday morn’, at the obligatory NPC News photo shoot by the pool with the champions, J.M. were really in a groove. Since everyone was pretty ragged after the long, hard weekend, Manion had to fire up the troops, So, in the best Jay Manuel imitation I’ve seen yet, J.M. shouted to the gals, “ATTITUDE, ladies, ATTITUDE!”. His hands-on-hip gesture, with eyes fluttering, was classic. Speaking of classic, note pro bodybuilder PD Devers in the background of my photo. Did J.M. get PD excited, or what, with Manions instructions?

Then, a wired J.M. suddenly leaped into my lap as “The Experts” (me, “Yogi” Avidan and Isaac “Hardbody” Hinds) were trying to film our wrap-up videos on the lounge chairs. IRON MAN videographer Roland Balik was there to get all the action on film.

Now, J.M., did we have “ATTITUDE” or what?


Hester the Jester

/ Posted 10.19.2010

That’s what the headline read in my cover piece on Danny Hester in the September issue. Those who know this amazing 41-year-old will tell ya the former RN, who once worked in a mental institution, beats to a different drummer much of the time himself. Probably the effects of the job, eh Danny?

He was eating the same breakfast I was at the Firehouse in Venice a week before the Nationals: chicken breast, egg white and PANCAKES! I didn’t know he was planning to compete. Actually, he didn’t either, not making up his mind until the night before his Wednesday flight out of LAX.

Now, about that flight. Had a bit of trouble getting on the plane. See, he left his ID at home. But, in a stroke of genius, pulls out the IRON MAN cover, and it gets him on the big bird to Georgia. You’re welcome, Mr. Hester!

Of course, he didn’t realize the late fee would cost him double the trouble, going from $175 to $350. And, to top off the zany week, Hester falls asleep waiting for his class to take the stage during the finals, and barely made it in time for his posing routine. As a matter of fact, expediter Tracy Greenwood told me that Hester was nowhere to be found, so we had to move everyone up a slot (except for winner Dr. Victor Prisk, natch).

Travis Rogers, who was listed in sixth place, was told to join the other four finalists. Then, at the last minute, I spot Hester backstage from the podium. His eyes were nearly shut; you know, the way your’s look when you first wake up in the ‘morn. I heard him say he overslept. Say what, Danny?

No oil. No posing music. He says, in my honor, he had the music man play Elvis’ “Burning Love”, which happened to be one of the disks lying on the table. I smiled as I told the crowd, “This is the best music of the night.”

So, I do his intro, once again. Hester and I, you see, share quite a long history together. I was the emcee of the USA for the first time in 1992 (in Santa Monica), the same season Hester made his initial appearance in that event. A year later I hosted the Nationals (in Ft. Lauderdale), which ended up being the first of 18 consecutive shows I’ve presided over; Hester made his Nationals debut in that one.

Hester finished third in the Middleweight class at the USA, and was second to Prisk in the Welterweight division in this one. So, despite all the wackiness of the previous seven days, the year ended up on a great note for Danny.

‘ On second thought, maybe “wacky” ain’t the proper description in this case. What was the name of that drummer, Danny?