It’s been a while since I covered men’s bodybuilding on a regular basis, so the double-dollop of male muscularity I experienced on back-to-back weekends at the NPC Team Universe and IFBB Atlantic City Pro competitions was a welcome breath of fresh hormones, so to speak. The men’s lineup in Atlantic City last week was particularly good quality in the both open and masters categories. The judges were actually raving—without prompting—during the few breaks to be had in the full weekend of physique competition provided by promoters Ron Goldstein and Stokely Palmer.
Most of the 51 athletes who participated in one or both of the men’s contests were at or near their best, but the main show was Melvin Anthony’s to lose, according to some prognosticators—despite or maybe because of his drop to eighth at the Arnold Classic last winter. Others thought that Johnnie Jackson, the reigning Atlantic City champ, and Toney Freeman, who was coming off a pair of wins at the Tampa Pro and Europa Super Show, would have something to say about the outcome.
Once I got to Atlantic City, the word on Melvin’s condition varied according to whom you spoke with. Two people who’d seen him without his shirt on said that the marvelous one had achieved the state of peak that had so often eluded him in the past. Another source back in Los Angeles said he’d heard Anthony was off.
That turned out not to be the case. (So much for long-distance rumors.) Melvin may appear smooth when he’s standing in the relaxed position, but when he opens up—and he’s done his homework—look out. In this case it was study hall all the way; the raving panel gave him a unanimous score and his first pro victory since the ’04 Night of Champions, as well as the momentum to ride into the Olympia on the wave of a win.
Jackson was second, and Darrem Charles third, with Charles earning his ticket to the Olympia lineup. Freeman was fourth, and big Joel Stubbs picked up the last money placing.
Photos (from top):
Johnnie Jackson, Melvin Anthony and Joel Stubbs flex furiously at the finals.
Melvin gets down—and gets up with a perfect score.