The Return of "The Cleveland Creation, MIKE ELY
by Christian Duque

Mike Ely is a friend, a coach, a pro and a champion.

There's at least a couple of different ways I could have started this article, both of which would have done
justice by the man. For starters, he's proof positive that giving up, simply isn't an option. Bodybuilding is an
incredibly demanding sport, more so, perhaps, than any other. I see this from the media standpoint and
I'm sure those who can call truly call themselves physique-based athletes, will echo this in a heartbeat.
From the rigorous preps, to the intense training, to the posing and tweaking of minor details, it's enough to
send athletes in mainstream sports running for the hills. Despite all the hard work, mental fortitude
required, and all the sacrifices, bodybuilders are perhaps one of the most injury-prone groups there is.
Unlike sports where particular muscles are employed, physique-based athletes must train them all - at
least weekly, no less. Injuries can really run the gamut and Mike has had his fair share; however, each
athlete sets out their own destiny. Some will bow out gracefully, others will never quit. Guess which one of
these categories The Cleveland Creation falls into?

Another way I could have started this article deals with Mike as a contest prep coach and his commitment
to his team. In fact, there was one person with Mike backstage in Baltimore. She was always with him,
always showing her support, and always keeping his head in the game. I'm talking about IFBB Pro Ashley
Howells. As Ashley will tell you, Mike has always been there for her, for the whole team, and she was
ecstatic to be able to be there for him. Although Mike would never stop competing because of an injury,
inconvenience, or lack of heart, he would if it meant shortchanging his team. This is a guy who puts his
clients before himself and gives each person who hires him, his undivided attention AND support. In fact,
guys like him, Brian Hoydic, and Adam Atkinson are so committed to their teams, that them competing is
almost entirely out of the question. There's simply no time!!

Despite his extremely demanding schedule, I'm glad Mike competed. He told me some time ago that he
would and I'm glad he made it happen.

I'm really proud of Mike and can't thank IFBB Pro Nicole Phinney enough for having introduced us, four
years ago at World Gym Sheffield Village. In the time since, we've done several interviews, a training video,
and run into each other a bunch of times at contests. Although he looks like a straight up MONSTER,
there's only a handful of people with a heart as noble as this guy's. He's always been nothing but kind to
me and I have never heard him be negative. In an industry such as ours - that says a lot!

Mike's physique is also one that gets BETTER with time. For a lot of writers, the term
muscle maturity is
often thrown around to sound fancy, but rarely is it ever, truly,  fitting. Muscle maturity has nothing to do with
an athlete's age, rather, with how long they've had the muscle and how that muscle has evolved over the
course of years of sound training, backed by solid nutrition and supplementation. All factors play a key
role. And yes, genetics do factor in. There's no supplements - food-based or hormonal - that will give you
Mike's signature grainy look - that's just God's way of making him all the more unbeatable!

Sacrifice is also a key component. You can take all the supplements in the world, but if you're not willing to
suffer, you're never going to be a champion.  When I saw Mike at check-ins, something was really different
about him. Did he change his hairstyle? Maybe it was his wardrobe? What was different about him? I
couldn't figure it out at first,  I just kept looking at him, until it hit me. HIS FACE!!

His face was totally drawn, yet, he looked totally alive! What I mean by that, is he had totally done his
homework. He wasn't there
just to have fun, he was there to win, and in that feeling of having left no stone
unturned, there was an aura of happiness around him. He might have been exhausted and depleted, but
the vibe around him, was one of a man who set out his own destiny. Winners have this look about them.
It's hard to articulate in words, but if you're in press and have done as many interviews as I have, you just
know it. I don't mean to sound like Miss Cleo, but I knew the guy was going to win.

I know that everyone on Mike's team and all his friends in the sport were ecstatic to learn of his big win. If
he continues competing, this win in Baltimore will be a fantastic springboard for the 2020 season. If he
should retire - what a way to go, winning big, looking incredibly impressive, and not letting injuries or
obstacles decide when and where the ride would end. Whatever happens next, we'll have to wait and see,
but what matters most, is that Mike returned to the stage and totally killed it!!!

Congrats brother!
IFBB Pro Mike Ely with
IFBB Pro Ashley Howells
IFBB Pro Mike Ely with
IFBB Pro Brian Hoydic
IFBB Pro Mike Ely with
IFBB Pro Chuck Mauceri
IFBB Pro Mike Ely with
Prep Coach Adam Atkinson
IFBB Pro Mike Ely with
NPC Competitor Brian Warner