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The Romano Factor

John Romano
John Romano’s name is synonymous with “no bull-crap,” “candid,” and “hardcore.” He’s worked tirelessly to build up an ironclad reputation in the fitness industry through his work as senior editor of Muscular Development magazine and co-founder of Rx Muscle (see also: Heavy Muscle Radio and Muscle Girls Inc.). He’s been consulted as a steroid expert on HBO, ESPN, and ABC’s 20/20, as well as the movie Bigger, Stronger, Faster. Most recently, John worked as director of Internet media at VPX (and host of Shotgun Radio). In his spare time, he is a contributing author for countless blogs, magazines, and articles, including authoring the Muscle Meals cookbook.
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The Olympia is to Big Ramy what South beach is to miami

Does this mean that I’m predicting Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay will be Mr. Olympia? It does. I just can’t tell you when. If I could do that, I wouldn’t be doing this; I’d be at the track with a mojito in one hand and a stack of trifectas in the other. But I will tell you this: Bodybuilding is in need of the next big thing, and so far, the biggest thing there’s ever been is Big Ramy.

He’s 5'9" and weighs almost 300 pounds onstage. His legs are giant trees, his arms are from another planet, his back is so wide that it casts enough shadow to send people home from the beach, and his waist isn’t out of control; he’s big as a house, but with some flow. He looks good. He’s got a great story, and he’s a heck of a nice guy. Big Ramy has “Mr. Olympia” and ambassador to the sport written all over him.

It could be this year; if not, then the next, or maybe the one after that. But it’s gonna happen. He’s a freak, yet still somewhat aesthetic, only in the very early stages of his career. The guy came out of nowhere and got his pro card by winning the overall at the 2012 Amateur Olympia in Kuwait City. Then he muscled his way onto the IFBB pro scene, knocking down three of his first five shows: he won the NY Pro twice and the Arnold Brazil. The other two were the Mr. Olympia, where he placed seventh and eighth. Amazing, considering, if the story is true, that prior to 2009, he’d never picked up a weight. Even more amazing considering that he’s almost 300 pounds onstage. He’s the closest thing to Rico Mac Taco I’ve ever seen.

But, is bigger necessarily better? Let’s look at the famous 1998 Night of Champions duel between Levrone and Coleman. The answer is, in some cases, yes. One could look at Levrone and say that his overall aesthetics were more pleasing than King Ronnie’s, but Ronnie simply outmuscled him. And, in his very own words, “This is bodybuilding, ain’t it?” So, from Yates to Coleman to Cutler, for 18 years (the reign is actually 19 years because Dexter got in between Jay’s run from ‘06 to ‘10 in ‘08), mass ruled the day.

But now, with a toned-down freak of sorts in the manner of Phil Heath on the throne, some are saying that several of the guys trying to muscle him out of there have taken it too far and the mass game has ruined the physique; guys look out of proportion, their stomachs stick out, they have lost the beauty of aesthetics in favour of mass. I can agree with that, but this is still a sport of giants. They just need to work on the packaging a little.

Like it or not, pro bodybuilding is a freak show. I mean that in a good way. If you want to see aesthetics, go watch men’s physique. The Mr. Olympia is the biggest of the best of the biggest. And, there’s no shortage of people wanting to see it. The biggest freak with the sickest body parts today is Big Ramy. He’s got a bit of work to do to fine-tune his physique and do something about his poor conditioning. But, as far as I’m concerned, if he puts it together, you’re going to be seeing a long Olympia run for Mr. Ramy, until the next even bigger thing comes along.

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