Written by Peter McGough
18 September 2013


Is he a contender?

13peter-ramyThe biggest talking point at this year’s upcoming Mr. Olympia shindig– beside Bob Chick’s sartorial decisions – is the debut of 285-pound Big Ramy. When he made his winning pro debut at last May’s New York Pro he was the biggest thing to hit bodybuilding since King Kamali’s ego.

Stacking 285 pounds on his 5’10” frame, the 28 year old Egyptian – who now lives in Kuwait – stunned all those in attendance onstage and offstage not just with his huge muscle size but also his balance and shape and a waist taper unusual for most belonging to the mass monsters club. Quite simply we have not seen someone of this size and this complete before. But to my tired peepers there are four factors to be considered before we crown Big Ramy the 14th Mr. Olympia champ.

Factor One: Shock Value Won’t Last: There is no doubt that Big Ramy shook the Tribeca to its rafters, putting the local fire departments on earthquake alert, and stunned everyone in his pro debut. The sheer size of the guy took the breath away and backed up by his proportions and tight waist the fact that he did have some weaknesses were maybe overlooked. Going into the Olympia he won’t have that same “first impressions” shock value? The same surprise element won’t be there. Like losing your virginity, it only happens once – personally I can’t wait.

ramy3Factor Two: The Victor Factor: The main plotline going into the 2012 New York Pro was the return of Victor Martinez after nearly two years away from competition. Now let it be said that the Victor Martinez who appeared on May 25 and was runner-up to Big Ramy isn’t the best Victor (a formidable opponent indeed) we’ve seen. He was conditioned but was leaner and little flattish in some areas, but overall he had crisper detail than Ramy. The latter usually being the clinching winning factor. But to return to the question of a best ever Victor (probably his second place at the 2007 Olympia) it’s a truism that veteran competitors like the popular Dominican are judged not only on who is standing next to them but also against their former best. This probably hurt Victor’s placing. That is not a knock against the judges: It’s human nature in all walks of life to compare the past against the present. A Victor in prime shape would have probably beaten Ramy. Plus in reviewing the full line-up, of the 18 others Ramy finished ahead of only two (Martinez and Marcus Haley) have ever made an Olympia appearance. This is not strictly to say it was a weak field, more it was a field of mostly youngish talent who are still WIP.

Factor Three: Ramy’s Weaknesses: Now speaking of weaknesses at Ramy’s level of physical development is like criticizing Roger Federer’s backhand, but when there’s talk about our subject winning this year’s Olympia closer inspection is required. Big Ramy had a couple of pointed anomalies in the pec area which are usually punished. His thighs are humungous (like he’s got a bantamweight strapped to each leg) but from what was seen in New York they lacked deep separation and cross striations. Also his hams (from the back) and calves need improvement. His back while maybe being the widest around could still use a bit more thickness and certainly detail in order to joust with the Heaths and Greenes of the bodybuilding world. Chest could be thicker also.

ramy1Factor Four: The Devil’s In The Details In my opinion Ramy wasn’t 100 per cent dialed in in New York He wasn’t bone dry which made him unable to exhibit rock hard muscle: It seemed there was a slight blurriness caused by a thin film of water. We didn’t see the sort of detail that is needed for a top six Olympia spot. Some pundits are of the opinion that if Ramy drops ten pounds then look out Phil Heath. On the other hand dropping ten pounds won’t give him more back thickness, better calves and hams and cross striations in his thighs. It may be that Heathlike detail is not there to be mined out. Like most factors in bodybuilding the bottom line is genetics: you either have that feathery type detail embedded in the muscles or you don’t. Training another few years will enable muscle maturity to kick in and improve separation, but it won’t unearth crazy detail if it’s not inherent in the genes. To defeat a Mr. Olympia history proves you have to beat him at his own game or wait for his decline. Phil’s Heath game is packing his physique with more detail than we’ve seen before: He’s the Devil with the details everyone else has to get past. In viewing the top four at last year’s Olympia (in order Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Shawn Rhoden, Dexter Jackson) they all would appear to have Ramy beaten in the detail department.

This has not been a low-blowed attempt to derail Big Ramy. I think he’s livened up the bodybuilding scene like no other competitor in recent years, and we should treasure him as he develops (maybe to Mr. Olympia status) not overburden him with impossible expectations. Making the top six would be a tremendous achievement for the rookie but to expect him to win this year is liking expecting Miley Cirus to keep her clothes on from now on. Ain’t gonna happen.