The men’s masters lineup at the Atlantic City Pro, which took place on September 12 and 13, was so strong, the first three placers—Darrem Charles, Toney Freeman and Joel Stubbs —also made the top five in the open. On a more frivolous note, it also included three of the greatest hunks currently flexing in competition, IMHO, two whose names I just mentioned.
In my Olympia predictions interview on “Living Beautiful Radio” I guess I let the cat out of the bag regarding my affection for X-man Toney F’s physique (and hunkiness—click here). It’s also no secret to those I girl-talk with that I’m a longtime admirer of Darrem Charles. Hunk number three, however—and I never thought I’d get to see him compete again—is one of my all-time crushes in the sport, Pavel Jablonicky of the Czech Republic.
Yabloneetski—the correct pronunciation of his name—is an old-style flexer in physique as well as posing style. I’ve never actually met him, not even when I was in Prague covering the ’98 Ms. Olympia—he doesn’t speak English—but his fourth-place finish in the masters was a real day-maker for me. When he came out to pose, I was calling his name so loudly (“Yabloneetski! Yabloneetski!”), I thought the member of the judging panel who turned around to speak to me was telling me to be quiet. Turns out she was agreeing—she’d always liked him too.
The things you learn about people.
Money prizes went to the top five, with the last check going to Marcos Chacon of Spain, who made such a strong impression on the judges, they placed him seventh in the open. While he didn’t break through on my hunk meter, he was sporting an excellent physique and is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2009.
There have been been rumblings as to whether the notion that masters starts at 40 years old should be rethought. If 40 is indeed the new 20, it’s something to consider. There’s also been conversation about changing the rules that allow pro athletes to cross over at an event, entering the masters—or the 202-and-under class—as well as the open, and, possibly, winning money in both, as Charles, Freeman and Stubbs did in New Jersey. Both sides of those arguments have their points. Right now I just want to send a huge thank you to Atlantic City promoters Ron Goldstein and Stokley Palmer—for giving me the chance to see Darrem, Toney and Yabloneetski pose twice.
Photos (from top)
Darrem is a smooth mover onstage.
Toney prays to the bodybuilding gods.
Pavel shows his triceps and quads and looks wistful.