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V-173: Monstrous Men at FIBO 2001

V-173DV  MONSTROUS MEN AT FIBO 2001  For more information or to purchase the DVD, click on the link.

The largest fitness expo in the world happens each spring in Germany.  FIBO (FItness and BOdybuilding, pronounced "fee-bo") outclasses other expos by its sheer inclusiveness: it showcases up and coming, as well as established individuals and companies in the fitness industry, from bodybuilding to powerlifting to martial arts, and everything in between.  This year's FIBO took place in Essen on April 26-29, 2001.  Wayne Gallasch was there with his cameras and crew to bring the expo to life on video.  If you couldn't get to FIBO in 2001, this tape is the next best thing -- and it's cheaper than a plane ticket to Germany.

The tape promises to show us some monsters, and it delivers just that.  We also get a look at new guys who aren't monsters (and some with no desire to be -- see Tom Voss below), but all are worth seeing.  Established monsters like Schlierkamp and Coleman are on extended display, but many bodybuilders unknown outside of Europe get their moment in front of Gallasch's cameras.

First, a general description of the tape.  Each bodybuilder is shown either posing or working out, with a screen label identifying him when he first appears.  Some get interviewed by Clive Jaques, some not (a number don't speak English).  Each guy gets a few minutes devoted to him; then the tape jumps to someone else.  Several reappear later on, though.  The posing occurs in two venues: the guys sponsored by Universal Nutrition pose at its booth on the trade show floor, and others pose at a center-stage event, although it's not a formal competition.  The Universal booth is outfitted with workout stations and free weights, where competitors demonstrate exercises.  Pump room and backstage scenes also appear, with scenes of previous contests mentioned in interviews edited in.  The pace of the tape is brisk and upbeat -- it's fun to watch.

The opening credits show an off-season Ronnie Coleman (at around 315 pounds) posing before a screaming crowd.  Like many of the guys we'll see later, he's got a shaved head and goatee.  That's the "in" look this year at FIBO.  Not everyone is in competition shape, but some look better off-season anyway.

The first showcased bodybuilder is Thomas Devant.  He starts posing at the Universal booth fully dressed, and in sunglasses, but gradually undresses down to a black posing suit.  He has a thick chest and shoulders, and a pleasant smile.

 Next up is Manuel Petrykowski, who's verging on being a monster.  He has a huge back and shoulders, and poses well to live music, eating up the attention of the crowd.

 Hubert Morandell follows, with a fitness build.  He has a thick chest and cut quads, and mixes dance moves into his posing at the Universal booth.  At one point he hops on a table right in front of fans, and they stare up at him as he hits his shots.  FIBO is known for close interaction between posers and fans, who expect it there.

 Tom Voss gets an extended interview.  A Danish junior-level bodybuilder (he was twenty at this point), he's competed since age sixteen, and already has a polished presentation.  He wants symmetry and quality, not just size, and has no desire to get big, although he would like to go to America, since "the sport is much bigger over there."  Jaques asks him to take his tank top off and pose -- and he gives us a full routine, which segues to his routine on center stage.  Voss has great legs, abs, shoulders, the works.  He's certainly a threat in future contests.

 The great Hamdullah Aykutlug comes next, in center stage posing.  A world-class bodybuilder in his best competitive form, he has some of the best lines on any bodybuilder alive.  Known for his ripped glutes, he has no weaknesses and is deservedly well-known.

 Now for a real monster: Johannes Eleftheriadis, a difficult name worth remembering.  Posing center stage, he's an inhumanly large android apparently in need of a bigger planet than ours to live on.  He plays up the goateed bald piratical look, with hoop rings in his ears.  I doubt anyone stands in this man's way.

 Next up, British bodybuilder Ernie Taylor gets a nice interview.  An IFBB pro, he promises to "kick Ronnie Coleman's ass" at the next Mr. Olympia, saying he's training with Dorian Yates at the Temple Street Gym in Birmingham.  Renowned for freaky triceps, Taylor pulls up his shirt sleeves to show them off.  He had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders, and was out of training for seven months of rehab, something too painful to ever go through again, he says.

The Uncle Sam Sportswear Show now hits the stage, with four young men doing a video-style hiphop dance in the black outfits their employer is selling.  They aren't bodybuilders, but they deliver the moves to a revved-up crowd.

Newcomer Robert Kastner now appears on center stage, showing off great abs and a solid torso.  He likes doing back poses for the crowd.  He's followed by Serkan Cetin, a Turkish-German competitor who starts with a dramatic routine in the dry ice fog, shifting to dance moves for Irene Cara's "Flashdance (What a Feeling)."  With a solid chest and arms, he's got a good overall look.

Jay Cutler is next, and he defines the "monster" look.  Off-season here, he still has cuts and is massive everywhere.  Despite the urging of an excellent announcer (who mixes German and English), the crowd stares at Cutler indifferently.

 Francisco "Paco" Bautista now offers the first workout on the tape, at the AllStars Lab booth gym. A Spanish bodybuilder with outstanding potential, Bautista demonstrates exercises in rapid order -- lat pulldowns, alternating bicep curls, straight-arm pulldowns -- then stops and poses the body part when he's done.  The scene shifts to center stage, where he's about to go on.  We can see his massive calves as he chats with a friend.  Just before walking onstage, he puts on a pair of sunglasses and poses in an aloof, impersonal way.  The German heavy metal he poses to conveys force and attitude.

Next we get a short interview with Nasser El Sonbaty, who hasn't gotten the Olympia rankings he wanted the last couple of years.  He complains about inane fan questions about his training and diet, saying he feels like a zoo exhibit on display at FIBO.  Even in a sweatshirt, his traps are impossible to miss.

A slim Guido Kessler comes on next with a complicated martial arts display.  He enjoys showing off tricky hand moves to the crowd.

A few unidentified bodybuilders with "Universal Nutrition" shirts now demonstrate the exercise stations, trading off on a pec-deck, shoulder press, and one-arm curl machine.  Between sets they stop and pose the body part they just worked for us, and manage to get a good pump before they're done.

A French champion of African descent, Alan Bilegue, poses next at the Universal booth.  He has big arms and lats, and projects well.

 He's followed by a shocker: Joe DeAngelis, in an executioner's masked hood and loin cloth, looking like your worst Halloween nightmare.  Recently DeAngelis has looked better in off-season shape than in competition, and he's incredible here.

 Still at Universal, Giovanny Thompson poses in cutoffs.  From the Netherlands, he's a big guy who plays to an appreciative crowd.

The bodybuilders Universal sponsors now come on together in a free-for-all posedown.  DeAngelis appears without his hood; like so many others, he's bald and goateed, looking like a laboratory-bred muscle beast.

Francis Benfatto's low-key interview follows.  He's selling his line of bodybuilding products for the first time at FIBO.  Although he hasn't competed since the 1992 Olympia, he says Weider is doing a photo shoot of him next June.  He would consider competing in the Masters Olympia, and he can now that he's forty-two.  Asked to pose, he will only pull up a sleeve and show off a bicep.

The scene shifts to a workout with Aykutlug.  He does sitting and standing pulldowns, and dumbbell flys and curls, then poses for us nonchalantly.  Meanwhile Eleftheriadis wanders in and sits down behind him, wearing a shirt ready to burst at the seams.  The whole episode is mind-boggling.

Exciting new pro Tommi Thorvildsen hits the stage now, another good choice for a monster tape.  He's huge everywhere, especially his legs, posing to the theme from the film "Lost in Space."  He has a boyish grin while posing, and gets cheers for his trademark backflip -- so much for being muscle bound.

 Upcoming competitor José Botet F. Chappotin is next, chewing gum as he poses at the Universal booth.  Not a monster, he has nice arms, good lines, flawless skin, and an attractive smile.

 Germany's most successful pro, Günter Schlierkamp, starts out being oiled by a couple helpers backstage.  Then he's center stage, doing a polished routine in front of smoky blue lighting.  Graceful but imposing, Schlierkamp has posing down to an art, knowing exactly when to shift from projecting to the crowd to an inward self-regard.  He makes it look easy, a giveaway on how difficult the art of posing is.  One of the most liked men in bodybuilding, he's a show in himself.

Much smaller by comparison, Bernhard Künze is cut to the bone, and has that bald android look.  He moves around the stage, engaging specific people in the crowd and smiling at them.  With great abs and a sharp lat spread, he has real presence.

Now for Eleftheriadis' workout, at the AllStars Lab booth gym: he demonstrates lat pulldowns, standing dumbbell lateral raises, bent-over dumbbell rows, and alternating dumbbell curls.  When he's done with a set he stretches, shakes out the muscle just worked, and poses it.  His shoulders are unbelievable, with immense traps shown in closeup photography.  He finishes with a biceps pose, grinning like a (very) overgrown kid.

 The tape concludes with ten minutes on Ronnie Coleman.  As we see him getting prepped backstage, we hear his recorded interview with Jaques.  Coleman is taking his career year by year, not planning beyond the next Olympia.  "I really know how it feels to be at the bottom and at the top," he says.  After pumping up, he hits center stage, posing to hiphop music, and often directly to our camera.  He doesn't have much timing, but his size is startling -- immense legs, arms, back, chest, neck, the works.  He's the monster among monsters at 2001's FIBO.

I finished watching this tape excited by the variety of talent on the rise in the bodybuilding world.  For a survey of the best the sport currently has to offer, this tape is hard to beat.

Mike Emery  June 2002

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