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Remembering the King, “Unknown” Dominates Dallas


Today is the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. Yup, been 33 years since the King passed away at his Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee. Please take a moment to acknowledge this special day. Am sure Elvis would say, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

However, just because my pick to win the Europa, Dallas– Cedric McMillan — was placed in fourth, don’t you dare think this marks the death of the Swami.

First off, I have to admit I didn’t take a close enough look at the entry sheet when I made my predictions last week. If I did, I might not have named Essa Obiad as the winner, but he would have definitely been a top three pick. Now, most people think Essa is an unknown, coming out of “no where” as Shawn Ray put it.

Hardly. I’ve emceed the Arnold Amateur since its inception a few years back, witnessing first hand the extraordinary quality of the winners who take the Main Expo Stage in Columbus, Ohio every March.

Need some samples? Okay, Tarek Elsetouchi won the Arnold Amateur in 2008. Roelly Winklaar took it in 2009. Dubai’s Obiad dominated the 2010 festivities. I predicted all three would have good pro careers, and predicted Winklaar and Obiad would be major players in the IFBB soon.

Tarek has done fairly well to date; Winklaar won the New York Pro in May after earning a disputed seventh place at his pro debut, the Arnold Classic. Roelly’s now, of course, a definite top 10 Mr. Olympia candidate in his rookie year. And you can add Obiad to that category as well after his dominating “upset” win (only because nobody other than yours truly knew he existed) in Texas.

On the topic of upsets, Mark Alvisi’s second place finish could be considered that, even though Isaac Hinds picked Alvisi to win in Dallas, and I had Alvisi right on the Mark in second. Come to think of it, I also forecasted Bill Wilmore’s third place finish (as did Hinds), so even though McMillan—at least from the photos I’ve seen—should have definitely a top three guy, in hindsight the Swami’s selections weren’t so shabby. Australia’s Mike Kefalianos—another one of those Arnold Amateur cats (and he only took THIRD in his class in 2008!) was, in perusing the photos on the various websites, the most conditioned guy on stage en route to a fifth place finish.

By the way, let’s reflect on my pre-contest blog a bit. As you know, the headline read “Yogi A Fool in His Pick of Ruhl?” To cut to the chase, YES.

Big Markus not only didn’t win the contest, he landed all the way down in seventh. One spot ahead of Grigori Atoyan, one slot ahead of Brandon Curry. The popular mass monster from Germany retired from the sport two years ago, then came back last season. Is it time for the 38-year-old to reconsider his decision? You tell me, Yogi, you were there, I wasn’t.

I did correctly pick Seth Feroce to win the 202 and under in his pro debut, but that wasn’t a hard call after seeing how sublime this cat looked in winning the Light-Heavyweight division at last season’s Nationals. Where, actually, I thought he gave Big Mac a run for his money for the Overall crown. Jaroslav Horvath finished second, Tricky Jackson third in the Europa 202.

Okay, time to listen to some classic tunes from the King. Hope you’re not lonesome tonight.

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