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2003 IFBB San Francisco Pro Grand Prix - Video review by Matt Canning

2003 IFBB San Francisco Grand Prix DVD.

Prejudging and Show Finals

Zellerbach Hall
UC Berkeley
March 8th, 2003

The DVD started off with some brief footage of the contest as well as the expo. Will Harris who turned pro in 2004 at the USA Championships was there. He was looking very large in the off-season.

The competitors were lined up and were looking sharp. These second tier pro shows (compared to the Olympia) continue to impress me with the high quality of competitors. This is proof to me that bodybuilders in general just want to be big shredded freaks. They obviously don't care about prize money because even first place can barely cover the related costs of contest preparation such as food, supplements, and steroids. Pros just like being pros from what I can tell.

The first half of the show did the mandatory quarter turns and they were all looking sharp. When the second half showed up, they were also looking quite good. Quincy Taylor was in that lineup and he was looking very sharp. What is so impressive about Quincy is that he is HUGE - and not just muscle mass, but he has height! The man is 6'4 and as big and shredded as can be. It's ridiculous. He must be damn imposing in person. Can you imagine coming across a bouncer as huge as him? It would be insane.

The pros continued with their quarter turns. The lighting at this show was not very good compared to the English Grand Prix put on by Dorian Yates. It only makes sense that a bodybuilder of Dorian's caliber would know a thing or two about proper lighting at a show. The San Fran show was a bit dark and it was hard for me to tell who was in great condition and who should have won. Of course I knew that Jay Cutler should win.
The quarter turns went on, and the quality of the lineup continued to impress me. While the lighting was not good as I mentioned, you could still tell that the competitors came in to the show in good shape.

After the standard quarter turns were over, the pros hit the mandatory poses:

Front Double Biceps.
Front Lat Spread.
Side Chest.
Side Triceps.
Rear Double Biceps.
Rear Lat Spread.
Abdominals and Thighs.

The pros were looking ripped and you can always get a good idea on how they are going to rank when they do the comparisons together. For those wishing to get an idea of the results of a contest in advance, just take note of who is showing up in the callouts - those normally indicate who the top finishers will be.

In the callouts, Quincy Taylor was put beside Ahmad Haidar. Quincy was nearly a foot taller than Ahmad so it was crazy to see them getting compared. Moreso, it was even crazier to see Quincy Taylor being compared to Dave Henry at the Europa Show:

 Individual Routines:

Claude Groulx

Claude looked good at the show, but not as good as he later looked at the 2003 Masters Olympia. Claude has some excellent delts, but his chest and arms are not at the same level. His conditioning is very good, and considering he was 40 years old at the time of this contest, he should be applauded. He is proof that age is just a number and 40 years old is not really old at all! 40 is the new 20. Claude posed to a combination of different songs including "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice.

John Hodgson

John posed to an Operatic music to start off with and followed this up with "The Wicker Man" by Iron Maiden. His posing started off majestically and went high energy as the music did. He put on a good routine and the crowd enjoyed it.

Chris Cormier

Chris posed to "Bad" by Michael Jackson. He was in good condition, despite being criticized a lot for being off. He put a lot of energy into his routine and at 35 years old looked like he had a lot of time left as a competitive bodybuilder. Chris then posed to "X Gonna Give It To Ya" by DMX.

Christian Lobarede

Christian posed to "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige. Christian has a good physique but lacks the taper necessary for success at the upper levels of bodybuilding. He is full of muscle and in great condition, but lacks the aesthetic structure to go along with it. He looks fantastic in some poses, and not as fantastic in some others.

Jay Cutler

Although the lighting was dark, it was pretty obvious that Jay was in fantastic conditioning. He had muscle hanging off him. I'll say one thing about Jay: he is quite aesthetic for 5'8 and 1/2 and 265 pounds, but honestly, how aesthetic can you possibly look with those stats? Bodybuilders of Jay's size may be too stubborn to admit it, but having too much muscle IS a flaw in terms of aesthetics. Jay says he doesn't like it when the critics say he is blocky. Well - he may not be if he reduced his overall muscularity, but come on - you can't be as massive as him at his height and be "aesthetic". After posing to some Operatic music, Jay posed to "In the End" by Linkin Park. This was the same routine he had used at some other 2003 shows.

Fred Bigot

Fred was in good conditioning - he was hard and muscular and had a lot of the trademarks that go with it such as a Christmas Tree lower back. He posed to some Batman music at the beginning, and then posed to "The Greatest" by Everlast (From The Motion Picture "Ali").

Dexter Jackson

Dexter posed to "Fabulous" by Jaheim, something which the more aesthetic bodybuilders tend to pose to. Not that I am saying Dexter is aesthetic. Ronnie at 300+ pounds has a better shape than Dexter in my opinion. He has very high lats and a reverse V taper where his lats are more narrow just under his armpits than they are lower down his torso. He is NO Shawn Ray. Not even close. Dexter deserves props for being one of the most shredded bodybuilders in the history of bodybuilding and being a genetic freak of conditioning, but he is not pleasing to look at. Hell, you could even see his stomach distention start at this show. SMALL DOES NOT MEAN AESTHETIC. Credit where credit is due (for Dexter's conditioning, not his shape).

Tommi Thorvildsen

Tommi posed to the song "Huntin High And Low" by Coldplay. He was in great condition, especially in his glutes (something which may be overrated, but that Tommi is known for). I think it was around 2001 when Tommi came on the scene that this attribute became more noticed by the judges. Tommi is another pro who does not have the genetic structure to be a top tier pro, but he is VERY strong, and you have to admire his drive to be world class (which he is, even if he is not Mr. Olympia). Tommi then posed to "Lose Yourself" by Eminem and did a backflip!

Melvin Anthony

Melvin posed to "Don'tchange" by Musiq Soulchild. His enemy is definitely conditioning. Marvelous Melvin has one of the best structures in bodybuilding today - a very small waist and wide deltoids. Could you imagine if Melvin came in as shredded and bone dry as Dexter Jackson, or with the hardness and density of Rich Gaspari? He could quite possibly be Mr. Olympia.

Johnnie Jackson

Johnnie posed to "We All Die Young" by Steel Dragon. Johnnie was looking very dense and muscular, the obvious result of his hard and heavy weight training. He is a genetic freak of strength and one of the few competitive bodybuilders who can make it as a competitive powerlifter. He had a thick chest, huge traps, deep cut abs, and lightning bolt triceps, just like Rich Gaspari. He looked fantastic.

Quincy Taylor

Quincy posed to "When You Believe" by Whitney Houston. At 6'4, this man was a complete freak and looking big as a house. I could only imagine what this guy would look like as a bouncer at a club. Talk about huge. His delts were wide as can be and his thighs were showing excellent separation. He had pipeline veins running down his biceps and his chest was huge (if a wee bit "bottom heavy" much like Dave Henry's).

Ahmad Haidar

Ahmad posed to "I'm Alive" by Celine Dion. He is another small pro who is therefore considered "aesthetic". While I consider his structure to be better than Dexter's, he still has delts and arms lagging in order for him to be truly balanced. Sure, I would rather look like him than a lot of these mass monster pros, but that is not to say he is more balanced. He simply isn't overly muscled to the point of being disgusting. He is more moderate and has a healthier look as a result. He looks like he would be able to run a kilometre for example (without keeling over and dying).

Tevita Aholeilei

Tevita posed to "Beautiful" by Christian Aguilera. He was another pro would not be able to do any damage at this show due to the higher caliber pros who were competing. He did come in to the show in great condition and looked very good - he just didn't have the goods to beat the best of the best that day.

Troy Alves

Troy posed to "Lifetime" by Maxwell. Troy looks every bit the classical sculpture and is one of the pros who I would say is truly "aesthetic". His lats originate very low on his torso, he is in excellent conditioning and has no overwhelming body parts, yet at the same time, no weak ones. He deserves his pros for being in excellent shape. Troy then posed to some faster hip hop music before ending his routine.

Stan McCrary

Stan posed to "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys. He was definitely huge, but had some stomach distention. His conditioning was good, but not perfect. Mostly, his flaws are in the structural realm and beyond his control. He did have a respectable showing though, there is no question about that. Stan is someone who I haven't heard much of lately and I'm wondering what is up with him. Stan then posed to "In Da Club" by 50 cent.

Kevin Levrone

Kevin posed to "Is this the World We Created?" by Queen. He posed slowly at the beginning and looked great except for his conditioning which seemed to be somewhat off. Kevin says he is clean (of steroids) these days, but I doubt that. He also says he is doing cardio like mad and only eating one meal a day. If he was, I'm sure he would look like a starving man just out of a concentration camp. He is quite buff these days. Kevin's showing at this show was good, but not quite what it could have been (due to his conditioning).

Next up, Gunter Schlierkamp showed up on stage and Lonnie Teper spoke with him. Gunter was very humble in his words and said he was on Cloud 9 when he beat Ronnie Coleman at the 2002 GNC Show of Strength. Lonnie then announced Ronnie "The Big Nasty" Coleman. Ronnie said a few words and was also extremely humble in his speech. Ronnie said "I just look like this" and that he is actually very intelligent. It's unfortunate that bodybuilders are typecast in this manner. Lonnie announced that Ronnie had an honours (Cum Laude) degree in Accounting from Grambling University.

Lonnie suggested that Gunter take off his shirt, but he was not in favour of this idea, citing that he was not shaved or tanned. Lonnie joked that that is the reason why he doesn't pose either, lol. Gunter did unbutton his shirt and hit some poses. He was definitely in fantastic condition even at 325 and I think he should have done full posing (his abs were visible so he couldn't have been that out of shape). Ronnie took off his suit next, even though he stated beforehand that he didn't shave or tan either. These guys were both huge and Ronnie was definitely under 10% body fat, even being well over 300 pounds at 5'11 (he had visible abs). Gunter said Ronnie was pretty impressive.

Back to the show, the lineup did the mandatory quarter turns and poses and were looking very good. Jay's quads were deeply separated and striated. His legs are definitely freaky.

Next the group posed down to "Get this Party Started" by Pink. The pros were looking sharp and this was a good lineup for sure, and a good group of top finishers.

The placings were announced next:

5 - Troy Alves, USA
4 - Melvin Anthony, USA
3 - Dexter Jackson, USA
2 - Chris Cormier, USA
1 - Jay Cutler, USA 2003 IFBB San Francisco Grand Prix Winner

Jay's wife Kerry Cutler came up to congratulate him on his victory. Lonnie Teper announced Kerry to be the owner of the "Unsung Hero" award. Lonnie said a few words to Jay and apologized for some comments he made to Jay in Dallas in 1996 (Lonnie didn't say what he said, but I believe he was referring to the "blocky white guy" remark he made).

Jay gave a speech and was very humble in his presentation. He is definitely the consummate professional as Lonnie said.

Overall Review:

This was another good production by GMV. It's nice to have them around filming these second tier pro contests when no one else does. My only beef with the DVD is that the stage lighting was poor. This is something which the promoters should address for future shows in order to achieve better results with both the film production and quality of photos which will be derived from the show. If only all contests were promoted by Dorian Yates (or John Balik), there is no doubt in my mind that the lighting would be excellent for each of them.

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