Called in for the obligatory jury duty assignment this weekend (yes, I’m ONE of the people who don’t complain about being called, or try to get out of this) and was told “no need to report” on Monday morning. So, will be phoning in tonight after 5 to see about Tuesday. Thus, the jury is still out on whether I’ll be heading into downtown Los Angeles this week.
The jury is also out on Dennis Wolf after Wolf’s shocking non-15 placement at last season’s Mr. Olympia. Some folks had Dennis a legit Olympia title contender after finishing fourth in 2008, fifth a year earlier. The 6-foot, 260-pounder moved from Germany to Las Vegas recently after inking a huge deal with BSN. And, the big, bad Wolf also traded places in another arena, signing with AMI rather than renewing his contract with MD. As you might know by now, Kai Greene did the exact same thing a week ago. Of course, Jay Cutler did just the opposite in February, switching from AMI to MD. Will any of this affect the outcome of the ‘Olympia in late September? Some people think so–I don’t. But, stay tuned for this intriguing drama, which I’ll discuss at a later date.
So, who is the Swami picking at this weekend’s New York Pro? Well, I figure Wolf has so much to gain with a victory–like putting him back in the running for a top 6 slot at the Olympia–and so much to lose–like not being considered a title contender any longer–that I’ll go with Dennis. But never count out Toney Freeman, 43 1/2 or not, if Freeman is competing. The guy still has a terrific physique. I also really Roelly Winklaar, the 2009 Arnold Amateur champion who made his pro debut an impressive one with a 7th place finish at the Arnold Classic. Does this cat have some guns or what?
Three other standouts to keep an eye on for a top 5 finish: Ben Pakulski, Erik Fankhouser and Hide Yamagishi. For calf lovers, you’ll see two of the game’s best in Ben and Erik. Hide has been terrific this year. Can veteran Gustavo Badell break this field up? What about Jeff Long, who looked so sublime in winning his pro card at last year’s Nationals?
Actually, I think Kevin English could have battled for a top five finish in the main event, but the defending Mr. Olympia 202 and Under winner is staying in that division on Saturday. Too bad..Kevin, at 215 or so, is one thick bodybuilder who gets in great condition. Show ’em the “little guys” can do just fine with the “big boys”, Kev. If you see this blog before the event, am sure I’ve changed your mind.
On another note, ran into Alex and Nga Azarian at the Farmer’s Market in Montrose Sunday morning. I was with Elsa and Oliver Timmy Teper, 11; the Azarian’s had their kids Alexis, 4, and Steven, 1, in tow. I’ve always admired Alex for his dedication to the sport despite tough odds: the man is a full-time special ed instructor and drives an hour and a half to work each day, is a home owner, loving father–and is also called “Pop” by his two dogs and four cats. Nga is a sweetheart, and one of the top photogs in the industry. Check out her work at musclecontest.com.
Out for now.