Got back late Sunday from the IRON MAN Pro; for the first time I took advantage of staying at the host hotel, in this case the downtown Holiday Inn, since the event moved from my Pasadena hometown to the LA Convention Center.Although I don’t know finals numbers yet, John Balik said the weekend was a success, and we’ll be back at the same venue in 2009. The move was a necessity; the Pasadena Center is still in the midst of a three-year renovation, so that location was definitely out for 2008. Plus, the FitExpo continues to grow, and the Convention Center seems to be the perfect venue. Check out my video interview with Balik on the site to get his thoughts regarding the whole shebang.As always, I weighed in the guys at the Press Conference on Friday, which was not a Press Conference, as always. Thus, I am changing the name of that segment to “Meet the Pros” right here and now. It was fun, and since they get to keep their clothes on, including shoes, fanny pack with small weights, etc, the guys were all happy with the numbers.Except Will Harris, who refused to give out any numbers. No age, no standing on the scale, no predictions, etc. That Will is one funny dude, regardless.Regarding the contest itself, I knew there’d be a bunch of whining from some of the dudes that I didn’t list as top six contenders in the Swami commercial (that, by the way, has generated nearly 6,000 views in three weeks.) Glad you enjoyed it, gang.But, as always, the Swami was not salami with the pre-contest summary, as five of the top six mentioned did land in those slots. Only Toney Freeman, the 07 champ, was out of the money, finishing eighth.Heavy pre-contest fave Phil Heath was very bit as good as advertised as he muscled his way to an easy victory. Now you know why I include Isaac (Lifter) Hinds (along with Yogi (Mumbles) Avidan) as one of “The Experts”; Hinds shot video of “The Gift” a month out of the show and was telling everyone who would listen that the 28-year-old from Arvada, Colorado would smoke the deepest line-up in the contest’s 19 year history. Held appropriately, natch, on my birthday.
Heath’s win was not a surprise to anybody who was video or pictures of Phil; however, the third place finish of Mo Elmousawi was unforeseen placing. Mo has always been known for his great guns, but not much else (he took 14th a year ago), but the former Monterey Park, California resident who now calls New Zealand his home was the best conditioned guy on stage and already wins my “Most Improved” award for 2008 after his third place finish.Although I thought it was a major plus for the show when Jim Manion allowed the IRON MAN to be a top 5 Olympia qualifier, starting last year, it didn’t get much attention. It certainly should now.All five guys qualified for the Big Dance at the end of September on Saturday night—congrats to Heath, Moe, Gustavo Badell, Silveo Samuel and Johnnie Jackson. And, Desmond Miller, my pick for fifth, almost got there.
Too bad I didn’t get my reward for the evening—a happy birthday cake, presented by Balik and Muscle Beach promoter Smokin’ Joe Wheatley, midway in the contest. After the show Joe told me to pick up the cake at the will call window; well, somebody picked it up way before I got there, and it was nowhere to be found. Since my name was inscribed on the top of the dessert, make no mistake a worthless thief did the honors. Hope you enjoyed the treat, you piece of rubbish.
The highlight of the FitExpo was getting a chance not only to meet Austin Powers, but to interview him as well. Did you see the video? This is one funny cat! I invited him to join the fun at my Junior Cal on June 21 at Pasadena City College. He asked if I paid. We won’t be seeing Austin in Pasadena.On Friday night “The Experts” walked two blocks to the famous Pantry for dinner. As always, Yogi ate the most, I ate the least and Isaac didn’t eat the check, which ended up in Yogi’s hands once more. Hinds has kept his three-year record of never paying for a meal intact. He makes Shawn Ray look like Bill Gates. We got even by making sure he didn’t he paid for his seminar on Sunday (which, by the way, was very good—people trying to market themselves should listen to what the man has to say. Just don’t ask him to join you for lunch.)On the way back to the hotel, we ran into a lean, disheveled fella who calls “Street” home; I interviewed him regarding the show and, stunningly, he blurted out the words “King Kamali” when I asked who was going to win the show. See what a great job all of us did getting the word out about the event?Anyway, I’m exhausted. Check back later in the week for the real lowdown on the upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic. Or, if you can’t wait, view the video we did Sunday morning that is up on the site. You know, the one where Hinds and Avidan were passed out by the trashcan after working 48 straight hours taking pics, shooting videos and accosting homeless people on the street in their duties for bodybuilding.com.