With two pro cards now being given out at next weekend’s North American Championships, even more eyes will be focused on the annual Gary Udit promoted event in Cleveland, Ohio. One of the dudes who barely missed out on nabbing that pro card last year, Abbas Khatami, will be back again after winning his class on two different occasions–including the Superheavyweight title in 2009. The pics shown here were taken at the Pacific USA Naturals two weeks ago in Culver City, when the emcee of the contest goaded Abbas into taking off the shirt and giving the fans a look of things to come. Who was that guy, anyway? Abbas said on stage the show will finally be his.
But, does Khatami enter as the clear cut favorite? I’d say co-fave, at best. Keith Williams, coming off back to back runner-up finishes at the USA, returns to Ohio after placing one spot behind Khatami last season. And then there’s Brian Yersky, who climbed to an all-time high third place, right behind Jason Huh and Williams, respectively, in the SHW at the USA.
“I feel the USA’s was a great success,” says Yersky, who sent me these photos a week ago, at a bodyweight of 244. “Granted, we went out to win the show, but the during entire prep my wife, Jordan, and I felt that a top three finish would be a goal to strive for–and we succeeded. I was pleased with my conditioning, but felt I flattened out too much. I”m a Northeast Ohio boy who is used to humidity beyond belief, so with that dry Vegas air I probably could have kept a little more water in my diet.
“I weighed in at 239 on Thursday, and was probably right around that at the prejudging. At the finals I was around 245. The North American is practically a home town show for me; no traveling and it’s in a climate I’m used to. For the show, I’m not going in with a top three goal, but we are going in with the mindset of winning the whole thing. I’m looking forward to standing next to Williams and Khatami, and battling it out for that top spot.”
Perhaps we should include Todd Jewell’s name with the above-mentioned physique stars; Jewell is the biggest of the bunch, and if Todd can show up in prime time condition, he MIGHT have a shot at the crown. Let’s call him the dark horse. Okay, a real dark horse. But, Todd’s got the bod to do it.
In any case, the Swami sez one of the pro cards will go to the winner of this class. And I can’t see anybody beating Lee (Take it to the) Banks, either in the Heavyweight division, or for that second IFBB card. Lee’s been soooo close too many times to mention at pro qualifying shows, so I’m sure the Florida-based Banks doesn’t have to be told, as Elvis once sang, “It’s Now or Never.” Hey, ain’t that clever?