Monday night I was watching “American Gladiators,” still astounded by IRON MAN photographer Roland Balik’s e-mail report that morning that little Venus Ramos, a.k.a. Venus Ramos, M.D., perennial Southern California fitness and figure competitor, who we’d last seen onstage at the Fit Nat’s, had whipped some Gladiator butt on Sunday night on the premier of the latest incarnation of “American Gladiators.”
Venus, who replaced an injured competitor, “started out slow but gained momentum throughout the events,” Roland reported. “She was in the lead, 12–11 going into the Eliminator,” where, after a tough climb to the top, “she busted through the wall for the victory.” Subsequently, Venus was so exhausted, “she could barely talk to Hulk Hogan during her interview.
“It was entertaining as far as cheering on someone I have photographed,” Roland concluded. Boy, he wasn’t kidding. Motivated by his note, I clicked on the Gladiators for the second episode. Though it’s not really my kind of TV (no law, no order), I couldn’t help being intrigued. To begin with, I was immediately LMAO watching Beth Horn trying to look mean and Val Waugaman sneering into the camera.
Once the action started, I quickly realized that the challenger who was breaking past the human gauntlet of Beth, Val, Tanji Johnson and Robin Coleman (whoops, I mean, “Venom,” “Siren,” “Stealth” and “Hellga”) was Siene Silva, who just got her pro card at the ’07 Fitness Nationals. After that there was no turning back for me.
Siene’s opponent got knocked off the pedestal into a fake body of water after only 15 seconds of “jousting” with Gladiator “Crush” a.k.a. Gina Carano, who appeared to have at least 50 pounds on her. Siene lasted longer, but I bet she could have taken Venom. Later, in fact, the gymnastics coach from Virgina did whiz past Venom on the flying rings event—Go, Siene, go!—but in the next contest both contestants were gunned down with what looked like a clown bazooka by “Fury,” whom some of us know as New York figure contender Jamie Reed.
I kept telling myself I could still switch the channel to “L&O” in time for McCoy’s final summation, but I couldn’t lift my hand to hit the remote. I had to see what came next.
For the last event the two challengers had to face each other in a bizarre obstacle course—the aforementioned Eliminator—that included swimming under fire and bicycles in the air. Siene made one stumble but regrouped and then plowed through a series of “obstacles” that made the old Ms. Galaxy course look like a Gymboree class, crawling to the top of a huge rubber pyramid to break through “the wall” and drop into a pile of huge plastic cubes.
Phew. That Siene is one fierce competitor (and her fitness routine is so graceful too). I had to catch the next episode of “Law & Order” just to relax.
Siene, meanwhile, will advance to the next level, where she could well meet Venus. I think I know how that battle would go—Siene is also a former powerlifter—but we’ll all just have to stay tuned.
Photos (from top):
Venus Ramos at the ’07 USA Figure Championships. Look for her onstage at the ’08 NPC IRON MAN Figure Championships in Los Angeles on February 16.
Siene Silva at the ’07 Fitness Nationals.