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Chris Minnes Has Big Plans for 2023 Legion Sports Fest

Roger “Rock” Lockridge

The 2023 Legion Sports Fest is taking place on October 7th and 8th in Reno, Nevada, and it’s one of the final shows of the season before the 2023 Olympia Weekend in Orlando, FL on Nov. 2nd through 5th. Besides being one of the final Olympia qualifiers on the schedule, the Legion Sports Fest has become a top tier show that has drawn several big-name athletes to the stage. One of the most famous moments from that show is Shaun Clarida winning the Open show in 2021.

The prestige of the show and popularity with the athletes and fans can be connected to promoter Chris Minnes, who proudly calls himself a bodybuilder and fan as well. He no longer competes due to an injury that ended his career but is an avid supporter of the sport and industry as a whole. From the fan standpoint, Minnes wants to put on the best show possible for those that pay for tickets or livestream access. For the athletes, he wants to put on a first-class show that will make them want to come back.

“I have been all about supporting the athletes since day one.”

Minnes has been promoting shows since 2011. He was a part of the Ferrigno Legacy show, which preceded the Legion Sports Fest. In 2018, he began promoting under the current name, and he went all in on making it as big of a show as he can. Beyond bodybuilding, his show also has an expo and various fitness events that can involve the entire family. Minnes expressed that after the Olympia and Arnold, his show could be next on that list of top shows on the pro circuit. He said,

“There is an expo and fitness event that is more like the Arnold because it has 12 sports and over 200 vendors. We just have a lot to offer beyond bodybuilding alone.”

There will be a lot for the fans to see and do in the expo throughout the weekend, including Family Fitness and Armored Combat contests. As for the bodybuilding show itself, the 2023 edition will feature eight pro divisions, including both Open and Masters contests. In a season where many insiders and experts have been talking about the lack of prize money in bodybuilding, Minnes has been working hard to put his money where his mouth is. As of this writing, He has $96,100 in total prize money for all pro contests. He’s doing his best to reach $100,000 by the big weekend. Part of that success is thanks to him working with sponsors who wanted to invest in specific divisions.

“Men’s Physique is sitting at $33,500 in total prize money, which is more than the Arnold,” he explained. “This was thanks to Alphalete, who wanted to come in big. They offered a substantial amount, and I wanted to do my part as well.”

The investment in competitors didn’t stop there. The Bikini division will see a total prize purse of $8,500 because of extra support from Global Formulas and their president, Jacob Frank. Minnes appreciated their efforts, and he isn’t shy about offering other potential sponsors the opportunity to jump in and help out as well.

“Every sponsor has an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is. They can reach out to chris@centerpodium.com. If you say you support the athletes and truly do, then let’s do this together.”

The prize money for Men’s Physique or Bikini and the final chance to qualify for the Olympia alone will make it a big show for competitors to jump in. Add in that the defending Olympia champion, Erin Banks, is going to be in the show as a tune-up for the 2023 Olympia makes it an even bigger opportunity. Imagine the possibility of beating Banks before the big show in Orlando. Banks will obviously get a lot of the early attention from fans, but he’s not the only big name entering this show. Over 50 pros have already submitted their contract to compete, including John Jewett, who will make his Men’s Open debut, and two-time Arnold Classic Physique champion Terrence Ruffin, who will be a part of the Classic Physique contest. Joining him will be Kyron Holden, the only Legion Sports Fest Men’s Physique winner, who will make his Classic Physique debut.

“It is very early, and many guys like to keep it on the DL, so I won’t be surprised if more jump in,” Minnes said.

There is also a special group of athletes that Minnes wants to see have the experience of a lifetime. He has a deep connection to athletes in Kazakhstan, where bodybuilding experiences can be few and far between. Minnes reported that some people make as little as $300 a month for income. It can be very hard to have a full bodybuilding show experience. So, he promotes shows there as well, including pro and amateur shows. Some competitors can win their pro card, compete in their new pro division later that day, and qualify for the Olympia if they win. They could literally wake up an amateur and go to bed as one of the best in the world.

If a new pro doesn’t win the show and wants to try again, Minnes and his team fly them to the Legion Sports Fest so they have another chance. Minnes feels that being able to help those competitors achieve their dreams is what being in the business is all about.

“Again, it goes back to the athletes. It’s been very fulfilling for me to do this in the United States for athletes. It’s amazing to be able to help those in a country that never dreamed that they would be able to become an IFBB Pro or even set foot on the Olympia stage,” he said. “We’re literally delivering these dreams to people who thought it was impossible.”

Whether it’s his work with the show, efforts in other countries, or offering families a chance to get their kids into fitness, Minnes finds ways to do his part. Even though there is a business aspect to what he does, he has one overall philosophy that makes what he does so meaningful.

“It about at the end of the day, people think of you and smile. I want them to think ‘this guy changed my life.’”

To get tickets for the 2023 Legion Sports Fest, go to www.centerpodium.com/legion-sports-fest. If you can’t be in Reno, then you can also purchase the pay-per-view livestream so you don’t miss a second of what may be the biggest edition of the show yet. You can also follow @legionsportsfest on Instagram.

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