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Wayne’s Hard News - 2006 NABBA Universe Report

2006 NABBA Universe Report

On October 8th the NABBA Universe was back again in its recent home at the Floral Hall in Southport, England. Commencing in 1948 with John Grimek winning the first Universe and with no event in 1949, this was the 57th staging of the Universe competition.

My comments on the Men’s classes are first, followed by my comments on the Women.


This was not as big as last year’s class but the quality was phenomenal and one of the toughest classes of the whole Universe.  Each year this class is unbelievable and many of the guys would have placed high in the open classes, if they had not entered the Masters.

This year it was Dutch power. For such a small country they certainly turn out many world class physiques. It was a most clear cut victory for JAN De WEERD - an outstanding champion.  He was tall, had size, shape and superb condition and excellent posing.

Second was the evergreen star in UK bodybuilding DAYO AUDI. In almost any other year, this Masters title would have gone to Audi, such was the standard. Audi looked huge and fantastic but did not quite have the hard edge that his Dutch rival showed on the day. 

In third place was the fine and much improved physique of New Yorker HUGH ROSS. When Hugh last competed several years ago, he was disappointed with his placing and spoke of retirement. At that time I encouraged him to stay with it as I felt he had a special quality to bring to the stage. This time the judges rewarded that very special quality and we all enjoyed his most impressive posing routine. Hugh was born in Guyana, South America where he is a local hero.

In fourth place was Australia’s GRANT KING. I believe this was Grant’s highest placing at an International NABBA event and augers well for the future. Grant showed a good degree of hard muscle and very nice overall symmetry. 5th was the Latvian AIVARS VISOCKIS who displayed wonderful condition and is always in top shape. England’s DAVID STEELE took a well deserved 6th place and is also a man to watch in future events.


This was an emotional double 2006 victory for England’s BERNIE COOPER. Bernie won this class at the Worlds in Dublin earlier this year and this time received straight firsts from every judge. A totally deserved and very clear-cut victory.  Over the years I have watched Bernie many times in the Masters class and always he has been the bridesmaid. It was obvious to me from the very first set of comparisons that this was Bernie’s year. His back is outstanding and his overall size and condition truly remarkable for a man of his age. Bernie was ripped! He is an absolute credit to himself and the sport for his never say die attitude. He has no obviously weak body part and has a great total package. Watch for the emotion on Bernie’s face when second place is called out and he knows he is finally the winner!

In second place was the Polish marvel ANDRZEJ BRZEZINSKI. He displayed great maturity of muscle but could not match the muscularity of Bernie Cooper. Andrzej lifted Bernie off his feet when his victory was announced!

In 3rd place was the tight and very symmetrical physique of Australia’s TONY RIZZO. This was Tony’s best ever placing at the Universe and matched his recent 3rd placing in this class at the World’s in Dublin in June. Tony presently is resident in Singapore and I feel that with a little more hardness, he can take this title in the future.

In 4th place was the very neat physique of England’s GRAHAM PARK. Former champion EARL MADURO had to settle for 5th place this time.


With again 14 competitors in this class it was the best batch of Juniors I can remember in a Junior Universe division.  The very narrow winner was the handsome smiling “Golden Russian” VITALY GERASIMOV.  He had a physique literally from the Steve Reeves Golden Days of bodybuilding displaying a tiny waist, symmetrical, good condition and looks that did not hurt his chances.  He will be a young man to watch in the future as he matures into the open class. This was a second Junior Universe victory to Russia in the last 4 years, and although very close with second, it was thoroughly deserved.

In second place by one point was DAMIAN CLOETE of South Africa. He was the recent winner of this class in Dublin several months ago. With huge arms and not lacking in size, he did not display the same degree of separation and definition and it cost him the double. Two fine young athletes with nothing much between them. Last year he took 4th place in this class.  These young men are the future of bodybuilding and we need to do all that we can to encourage more young men into the sport.

3rd place went to the brilliant young Mexican, GIOVANNI AZPEITIA. Some of you will know him from his appearances in Musclemania in USA. This was his first time competing in UK and he showed great potential and excellent condition.

4th place went to England’s NATHAN de ASHA. He is a young man with great potential. 5th went to another South African in GRAISON HOM with Australia’s LUCKY HATZIPANTELIS doing very nicely to round out the top 6. He probably took the award for darkest tan in the whole competition!


It was finally a Universe victory for long time English top competitor, PAUL SUTTON. He has a wonderful overall physique coupled with a very pleasing posing style.  Small in stature he is big in every other way from his superb symmetry to his shredded condition. He has fought hard and long for this title.

MARILANDIO PONCHET of Brazil made it two years in a row in second position with a clear cut win over 3rd placegetter LEONARDO FLORES of Mexico. I felt that Marilandio showed nice improvement this year but not enough to topple Paul. His time will come and his condition and size should win through in the very near future.

In 4th place was a real cool dude by the name of JERRY KOOLHOVEN. Not surprisingly from Holland with a name such as that, he showed great potential and I was impressed by his condition and energetic posing style.


What a tough, close class this was with only a few points separating 1st from 3rd place. This seems to happen each year in this class.

In 1st place was a Dutch bodybuilder once again in NESSET ICLY replacing last year’s Dutch champion KHALID ALMOHSINAWI.  Nesset was huge, extremely muscular and in great shape such that he edged out ALEXADRE NATAF of France. Nataf had a more esthetic physique but was out-muscled by the sheer size and density of Icly’s physique. If there had been an award for most muscular man, I feel sure it would have gone to Icly.

In his usual ripped, outstanding condition was England’s own PHIL CARLON.  He was only a few points behind the 2nd place guy but again had to settle for a 3rd place finish. Phil has been coming up every year in both size and condition and always presents a totally professional physique on the day. In particular he has great calves – an area often lacking with many of his rivals.  However it was again not to be “his day”.  I still feel that he can take this class.

FERNANDO ALMEIDA of Brazil was only a few points behind Carlon proving again what a tight class this was. Australia’s ever popular CHARLES DUCA (formerly of Malta) was 5th with a very neat and hard physique with outstanding arm development. He has several World titles under his belt and is a true competitor.  FABIO DOS SANTOS of Brazil rounded out 6th place with a most pleasing physique.


This was another outstanding class with a brand new star emerging in the shape of Czech Republic’s TOMAS BURES.  It was not just size.  This guy had class stamped all over him and there were no weaknesses in his physique. He was totally impressive from every angle and in every aspect of physique display. From his outstanding calves and overall leg development to his small waist to his superb upper body. Great rounded delts, wonderful arms, superb abs and most impressive of all – shredded condition. When he posed side chest, all the striations were visible in his delts through his paper thin skin. Not surprisingly he got straight firsts from almost every judge. I felt at the time of the prejudging of his class that I was probably looking at the overall winner of the 2006 Amateur Mr. Universe, he was that impressive.

In second  place was ALISTAIR SMYTH from Northern Ireland. Alistair showed great potential and presented a very symmetrical package which in any other year may have very well taken this class. This class 2 was certainly a class of new faces with many of the guys being quite unknown to me. 3rd place went to BABAK MOAERI of Dubai, UAE. He is another outstanding Arab physique in a similar mould to Sami Al-Haddad but with not quite Sami’s degree of density of muscle.

4th place was garnered by BRUNO MATIAS of France. He was another strong member of Olivier Ripert’s French team. These French bodybuilders seem to be on the upswing again and are a team to be watched. 5th place went to SAMUEL VIEIRA of Brazil. He had great muscularity but was not able to place any higher this time in such a strong class. Darren Smith of UK rounded out the top 6.


These were the tall guys, the biggest physiques in the amateur competition and the last class to be judged.  Their presence is always keenly anticipated and not simply because they signal ”food time” at the end of prejudging! The big, humorous Russian ALEXEY NETESANOV finally proved he had what is takes to be number one after near misses in the past. Last year he placed 3rd. He came in leaner and tighter this year and it was what the judges wanted to see from him. He is a very funny guy, wiggling his head from side to side like a “bobble doll” when he hits his most muscular poses and pulling some great faces as he wrings every ounce of muscle tension and emotion out of himself. He was a popular winner with the audience too.

 In second place was JULIO CESAR DE FREITAS of Brazil. Julio was also very big and impressive but not showing the degree of separation that enabled Alexey to take the title away from his grasp. In 3rd it was the Dutchman GINO BARIOS. I felt Gino had slipped back a little in size this time from the last time he competed in the Universe 2 year’s ago. He has superb shape and when he gets it all together he can take this class easily.    NEVEN CORAK of Croatia dropped to 4th this time and still posses a most pleasing physique.  I would like him to come in with his tan a little darker as he looked rather pale under the excellent lighting.

RADEK LONC from the Czech Republic took out 5th place from the “Golden Greek” ELIAS TRIANTAFILOU.


The Overall Amateur Mr Universe judging took place at the evening show.  In my opinion it was primarily a battle between the Hercules NESSET ICLI and the super refined quality of TOMAS BURES.  No disrespect to the other 2 class winners. They were all outstanding. However the judges preferred the total package of shape, size, density and muscularity of THOMAS BURES – 2006 Amateur Mr. Universe. He was a worthy champion and could hold his own in any lineup in any Federation, amateur or professional.


As the Overall Amateur Mr. Universe, BURES now joined the other 6 competitors in this class.  The final result with victory to STEPH SINTON produced a Universe double for the Scottish star. Steph has won the Overall Amateur Mr. Universe in 2004 and has also won the Overall NABBA Worlds that same year.  Steph has the complete package and there is not a lot more I need say about his outstanding physique. His posing, his superb condition and his abs are all worthy of special mention.

Runner up was Overall Amateur Mr. Universe TOMAS BURES, with PETER ELVIS BROWN taking 3rd. Brown had the most massive and dense physique in the whole event.  All he needs now is more refining and tightness to give this title a real shake.

As usual the judging throughout the whole Universe was excellent and accurate and I had no disappointments with any of the decisions. The others in the Pro-Am class were CHARLES MARIO and JOAO BISPO DE ANDRADE both of Brazil, GOFF HARGREAVES from UK and BILLY BOURNE from the Republic of Ireland. Placing were only announced down to 3rd place at the event.

A very large and appreciative crowd was in attendance this year with a number of sponsor’s stands in the Floral Hall. Be sure you put next year’s event on your calendar for Southport! When we have the exact date confirmed we will publicise it. Special thanks go to all of the hard working officials too numerous to mention. A special mention to NABBA Chairman Brian Robinson who attended under the most stressful of situations and also a special mention for Val Charles. As secretary she takes much of the strain for the smooth running of the event and looking after all the various pressures that come her way.



ANDREA CARVALHO of Brazil missed out on making it a sensational Universe double by one point as she narrowly lost to her great rival from Brazil, SILVIA FINOCCHI.  This was a somewhat costly defeat as Sylvia subsequently went on to win the overall Figure Miss Universe title.   Back in June this year, Sylvia won the overall figure title at the Worlds.  She now has the Figure Class double for 2006.

Silvia had the complete package.  She displayed excellent symmetry, beautiful shape, and a considerable degree of hardness with no real weaknesses.  Runner up Andrea was possibly a touch down on the fine condition she displayed last year. When it comes down to one point between two outstanding competitors, a fair degree of luck, and a judge’s personal preference for body type is all that separated these 2 champions.

In 3rd place and proving quite a surprise package was CHRISTINE HAJJAR from Australia. Last year in her 1st Universe, Christine placed 6th and then promptly retired. Talked back into competing she came back with a vengeance placing not far behind the 2 champions from Brazil. This was am amazing effort for a relative newcomer. Christine presented what many felt was the best and most enjoyable posing routine of any woman in the whole show. Her physique was hard, well balanced and beautifully symmetrical and showed great potential for higher placings in the future. I hope she will be back next year.

In 4th place it was the slender and gorgeous SVITLANA OLIYNYK from the Ukraine. In 5th place it was the seductive and experienced FLAVIA CRISSOS from Brazil. Last year she took 3rd place but this year she could not reproduce the same condition. Flavia still has had one of the best posing routines going around. Rounding out the top 6 was FEDERICA ORTU from Italy. She was a pocket sized bundle of dynamite.


The winner of this class came as no surprise to me. A beautifully shaped and perfectly conditioned MALIKA ZITOUNI of Northern Ireland took this class in great style while celebrating her greatest victory to date.  Her total presentation was outstanding in every way and she was a clear winner over second placed YANA VLADIMIROVA of RUSSIA. Malika’s posing routine was perfectly constructed to displayed her lean physique to perfection. YANA had to settle for 2nd for the second year in a row.

3rd place in this very tough class went to the very popular and incredibly built KAREN BRICKLEBANK of England. Her abs were quite outstanding and she presented a very strong package that I felt might have gained her second place. The difference was only a couple of points between 2nd and 3rd. Karen had the best physique in the whole figure section.

IRA MAYAN of Israel, now living in USA, was a real surprise package in 4th place, only one point behind Karen. She showed amazing condition, with wonderful abs and back. Needing just a little more size in the arms and legs for perfect symmetry and more stage experience, she could take this class in the future, based on the potential shown this year. Her coach and mentor is the famous gym owner Bob Bonham of Strong & Shapely Gym in New Jersey.

5th place went to Sonia Chiarabini of Italy. She is a seasoned competitor with a symmetrical figure physique. 6th place went to Reyna Chavez of Mexico. It is pleasing to see the number of Mexican competitors in the Universe increasing each year.


The battle was between MALIKA ZITOUNI and SILVIA FINOCCHI with the current World Champion Silvia from Brazil having a little too much experience, size and thickness for Malika on this occasion. Malika looked absolutely beautiful and I feel sure she will go on to take this overall title in the very near future. She represents the ideal look for figure class in my opinion.


Once again it was a most convincing victory for OLGA TIKHONOVA of Russia. It was her 3rd Universe title to go with her 2 World titles. She was a class above the other competitors, not that this is in any way putting down the outstanding young runner-up SASKIA SALEMINK of Holland. Last year Olga had to settle for 2nd place in what was a surprise decision to me. This time she scored firsts from every judge. Her physique is near faultless and she carries herself with grace, style and dignity. The mark of a true champion. Olga told me she has been competing for 12 years and will now retire. I mentioned that with her 3 Universe titles and 2 World titles she should continue on for one more Worlds so that she could make it 3 plus 3 double by winning the Worlds in Malta, June 2007! We will see what happens.

In 3rd position was SIMONE SOUZA of Brazil with 4th place going to RIANA BEECH of South Africa. In 5th place it was IEVA GASUNE of Latvia rounding out the class. The top 2 in this class were definitely in a class of their own. The rest were somewhat behind them.


It was a first victory in this class for South African PHILIPPA LAMONT WILKIE. She took the class with style! Philippa performed an awesome routine and with her very lean and lithe body she won the Swimwear and Aerobic rounds. In 2nd place was the powerful and very impressive HELEN HEANEN representing UK. Helen performed an incredible strength routine featuring hand balancing. I liked her strong physique but suspect the judges may have judged her down a little in this area. Although she produced an amazing fitness routine, quite lean athletic physiques seem to be the norm for this class. 3rd place went to ELENA NOSOVA of Russia. This class had 5 top competitors and is getting bigger and better each year. 

NB. Many of the names are quite complex and I may have some spelling errors above. Let me know at if you spot any errors.


Our 2 men’s DVDs from this event are now available, please click here.

For a complete set of UNIVERSE RESULTS, please click here.

To see our video on the complete history of the NABBA Universe, please click here.

For the Women’s Universe DVD GMV-652DVD please click here.


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