2023 Bodybuilding Recap

2023 Bodybuilding Recap

2023 was a huge year for the sport of bodybuilding. Nothing tops the list more than the spectacular win of new Mr. Olympia Derek Lunsford. From the point he took 2nd at the 2022 Olympia to The Persian Wolf Hadi Choopan to the point he was crowned at the 2023 Mr. Olympia, there was an undeniable electricity throughout his prep. Derek was everywhere – doing interviews, keeping super active on social media, guest posing, promoting his sponsors and DOING THE BUSINESS OF BODYBUILDING. The Tampa local wasn’t cutting any corners and no one knew it more than the defending champion. Although Hadi held the title and should have been promoting himself and sport while on top, he just couldn’t get out of Lunsford’s shadow. No amount of warning shots, sneak peak releases, and/or downright jabs would rid himself of the constant comparisons to the #1 contender. Even when Samson Dauda won the Arnold Classic, the comparisons to Lunsford just wouldn’t stop! The battle lines for the 2023 Olympia were drawn on the 2022 Olympia stage. Derek lived up to the hype and won.

The 2024 Arnold Classic seems like déjà vu. In 2023, Big Ramy tried to redeem himself from a huge loss at the previous year’s Olympia at that year’s Arnold. Ramy placed 5th in what was to be his second title defense at the 2022 Olympia. Many pundits and commentators (yours truly included) thought it was too soon for the Ramy to compete at the second biggest bodybuilding show. He not only didn’t win the Arnold, but again placed 5th (arguably against lesser quality guys). As a result, The Egyptian Phenom skipped the 2023 Mr. Olympia.

Now, going into 2024, Hadi Choopan plans to compete in his first-ever Arnold Classic. Why now? Well the thought is, he wants to redeem himself from his unsuccessful Olympia defense in 2023. The danger is that a guy like Samson Dauda defeats him in his first Arnold Classic title defense. Other fears include Hadi falling out of the Top 3 in Columbus, OH. If that happens, we may also see him skipping the 2024 Olympia in a carbon-copy repeat of Big Ramy’s run in 2023.

Chris Bumstead won again in 2023 with little to no effort. Although Classic Physique has become a driving force – largely due to C-Bum’s efforts – I don’t think he’s being pushed by anyone. If I had to guess, I’d say the champ is getting bored. Moreover, Bumstead gave a very telling interview on the PBD Podcast. Chris said what many of us have been saying for years. There’s no incentive for him to win the Classic Physique Olympia. The prize money is nothing to write home about, the win does nothing to promote him, and he doesn’t see any substantial benefit to his sponsors in terms of ROI (return on investment). I think Patrick Bet David did a fantastic job with the interview and I encourage everyone to check it out.

Lastly, the C Bum reiterated his intentions of starting a family and wanting to preserve his health. Will he retire in 2024? I highly doubt it. While he says he says he’s not interested in winning 8, 9, or 10 Olympias, I have a feeling that while Chris may want to retire, I doubt that he will. I think his heart is in retiring, but there’s just something in his whole mindset that will prevent him from doing so. I suspect he’ll win more Olympias than he claims he wants to. I just don’t think he can walk away from competing.

In the 212 we saw a change of the guard as 2x 212 Mr. Olympia Shaun Clarida narrowly lost the title to 2023 212 Mr. Olympia Keone Pearson. Many fans were up in arms, insisting Shaun was totally flawless. Other fans were ecstatic to see Pearson emerge victorious.

Unlike The Open where a certain guy walked off stage, you would NEVER see that kind of poor sportsmanship in The 212. This is a division with guys from Flex Lewis to Jose Raymond to Shaun, Keone, Derik Farnsworth and others. It has a history of professionalism. Even when the Men’s Physique guys were at each others throats and The Open guys were elbowing each other on stage, The 212 had exemplified good sportsmanship and camaraderie.

Shaun was congratulatory of Pearson and Pearson showed all of his fellow competitors the respect they deserved. That being said, the stage is set for a rematch of epic proportions at the 2024 212 Olympia Showdown in Las Vegas, NV. I hope Jake Wood, Dan Solomon, and the whole Olympia team invest a good chunk of time and resources into building The 212 Olympia Showdown around the Clarida/Pearson rematch. That’s going to sell tickets!

With regards to 2024, there’s growing speculation as to whether we’ll see the return of 2x Mr. Olympia Big Ramy. By skipping the 2023 Olympia, we hope he addressed whatever health issues were play. There’s been talk the champ received extensive stem cell treatments and/or other therapies. This would also mark the first time Ramy’s body has had a real rest. Sometimes rest is just what the doctor ordered.

Perhaps this downtime will give Ramy the ability to hit the reset button. He’s no spring chicken, but he’s also not over-the-hill. It’s still possible that he may reinvent himself. I’m also glad not to see him on the 2024 Arnold posters, whether for the US, UK, or Brazil versions. These are going to be epic contests, but if Ramy is to do any show, it should be the Olympia. And it should only be when he’s 100% healed. At least that’s my opinion.

2024 will also be a big year for 2019 Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry. The Prodigy would have undeniably been in the Top 3 in 2023 but for the fact he was rushed to the hospital at the 11th hour. Although he did compete, the whole ordeal undeniably took a toll on his Olympia performance. What’s crazy is that if that had not happened and given his impressive road to the stage, who would he have been knocked out at the top? Hadi, Derek, Samson?

I truly believe Brandon could have won his second Olympia in 2023, but that’s the past now. I noticed Curry wasn’t included in the 2024 Arnold Classic poster. I did take a little exception at the notion proposed by Nick’s Strength And Power. Nick suggested that if Hadi couldn’t get a visa, Brandon might be a suitable back-up. Maybe I misunderstood. I really hope I did.

Brandon is a past Mr. Olympia and multi-title-holding Arnold Classic champion. He’s not a back-up.

Christian I. Duque

That being said, I predict a huge year for The Prodigy in 2024! Derek should definitely keep this guy on his radar – maybe even more so than Samson and Hadi. Curry is not someone you want to sleep on!

Leaving the best for last, I’m very excited about what 2024 could bring for one of my favorite bodybuilders William “The Conqueror” Bonac. William skipped the 2024 Olympia in order to give his body a much-needed rest and to spend time with friends and family. That’s very important considering how hard he’s been working during his very impressive career. William is one of the hardest working professional athletes in the sport. And much like Brandon Curry, Bonac is hugely overlooked. This Mr. Olympia runner-up and 3x Arnold Classic champion is one of the most dangerous professional bodybuilders in the world. If he’s able to bring his best in 2024, he can win the Olympia in Las Vegas, NV.

And it doesn’t matter who The Conqueror stands next to. This is the guy who beat a shredded Dexter “The Blade” Jackson and an absolutely massive Big Ramy at the 2020 Arnold Classic. You know how they say bodybuilding is all apples and oranges, well William can beat them all!

If William Bonac comes back in 2024; this will be his year!

In summation, 2023 was a great year! Titan Medical Center title sponsored the 2023 Tampa Pro, Mike O’Hearn joined Team Titan, and we’ve covered some real battles on the pro and amateur circuits the world over. We have a new Mr. Olympia, the anticipation of spectacular Arnold Classic, and a 2024 Olympia that will be one for the record books. I’d like to wish everyone an early Happy New Year full of many blessings. Thanks as always for keeping it tuned to StrengthAddicts and all of our social media platforms. I’d like to send a huge thank you to our title sponsor Titan Medical Center for always believing in me and StrengthAddicts! I’m super excited about 2024 and connecting with as many of you as possible in the new year.