Written by Peter McGough
14 January 2016


Shawn Ray - Did His Outspokenness Hurt His Placings?

Throwback Thursday: 1996


In a recent post (Questions for Peter McGough) I was asked if I had ever advised Shawn Ray to not be so vocal in airing his views about judging. I did not, but the question caused me to go over some old files and I discovered this conversation with Shawn after he finished fifth at the 1996 Arnold Classic – the last occasion he competed in a non-Mr. O contest.

 FLASHBACK: March, 1996

In the wake of Shawn Ray’s surprising fifth place finish at the Arnold Classic, I asked him if he thought his consistent outspokenness ensured that he is rarely given the rub of the judging green in a close contest (witness Shawn being edged out of fourth place by Vince Taylor at this year’s show) and wouldn't he be better advised to button it in the future?

 The fastest lip in the west replied, "If you ask me a question, I will give you an honest answer, my gut answer, with no thought of toadying for some favor down the line. I have always been that way, and I won't change.

“Throughout my nine years as a pro, I have been the guy for controversy. It was me who failed a drug test (1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic) and had 60 grand taken away. The previous year, I was suspended for failure to compete even though I had a doctor’s verification for a neck injury. I was the one who had the guts to publicly question the validity of Lou Ferrigno and Flex Wheeler’s calves, while others kept their heads down even though they agreed with me.

 “Other guys have broken the rules and not been penalized, I have tried to live by the rules and have been penalized. I'll continue to say what's on my mind. I figure if it hurts me, it can hurt me only by affecting my contest placing. It won't affect how I prepare for a contest; it won't make my physique look worse. It won't hurt me as a person. It may deny me a place in bodybuilding history, but from me, it's more important to be judged on the strength of my character than the strength of my physique. I know my outspokenness is not something that helps me, but, hey, I can sleep nights.

 Love him or loathe him, Shawn Ray showed a lot of class the first week of March as his career went into a tailspin. He didn't run, he didn't hide and he didn't bitch – well, no more than normal -- instead, he stood his ground, had his say and went on with his life.

 The afternoon following the Arnold showdown, he sat at the contest hotel bar cracking jokes – a demeanor in sharp contrast to some who had finished ahead of him who were seen moping around was if rice and chicken has been made banned substances. As regards his fifth place finish, the Shawnster laughed, “For me yesterday was just a bad shift at the office. Today is another day. Want another beer bro?”