Wayne's Hard News - 2006 PDI Night of Champions Men's Bodybuilding Report
September 15-16, 2006 in New York.
After a one year break the Night of Champions returned to New York with a bang - this time under the new PDI banner. Conceived and promoted by Wayne DeMilia with partners Charlie and Gavin Blake, this was the 27th staging of this famous event.
It was held in the Town Hall Theatre on 43rd Street where Arnold Schwarzenegger won his first ever Mr Olympia title in 1970. Many more NOCs were held in this wonderfully intimate theatre in the 80s. The stage was spectacular with a large Night of Champions stage dressing designed and built by Charlie Blake of Olympia stage fame. Charlie is the greatest stage innovator and designer in the field of bodybuilding shows. The audience was pleasing to the promoters and the staging and lighting were excellent.
This year the event kicked off with an amateur contest on the Friday night as a pro qualifier to the NOC next day. The qualifier had real quality rather than quantity with 14 top guys battling for their pro cards. The top
2 in each class received their PDI pro cards and thus were qualified for the next day's pro show. The 4 sets of class winners were all in excellent shape.
For a full list of pro qualifier competitors and results, please click here.
NOC prejudging commenced at 2PM Saturday with every guy getting a very good shake from the judges, both with individual poses and endless comparisons so that no one was overlooked or felt they had not been compared sufficiently.
I estimate prejudging took approximately 2 hours to judge all 23 competitors.
The evening finals commenced with the free posing round and many innovative and entertaining routines were presented, some with amazing props. The use of props was optional and added to the entertainment value which is an important focus of the PDI. What specially pleased me was that all 23 athletes got to present their complete posing routines for the appreciative audience.
The PDI's stated aim is to put far greater emphasis on entertainment value in their events. This was carried out to perfection. As the event flyer said "See the hottest, sexiest best-built men in the world" - "The ultimate in Professional Bodybuilding Entertainment". Those words pretty well summed up the tone and the mood of the contest.
Now for a few random comments on some of the competitors who impressed me, in no particular order.
Tom Jiminez, a local area gym owner from New Jersey posed superbly and presented a very tight and symmetrical physique. Tom placed 10th.
Geoff Hargreaves from UK was making his pro debut and posed with great maturity, confidence and style and presented a well balanced and very hard physique. It was obvious to me that he has guest posed at many events in UK.
He placed a well deserved 8th.
Georgie Maiorano was one of the class winners from the qualifier and although he is short, he has great thickness in his physique from years of heavy training. He is especially huge in the arms and shoulders.
Billy Bourne from Ireland and current World Champion gave a determined posing display without quite achieving the degree of muscularity and separation he displayed several months previous when winning the Worlds. It is hard to peak twice in 3 months! Most find it near impossible to achieve.
While the judges' scores were computed, 74 year old guru Sri Chinmoy lifted Bill Pearl plus various other people in different lifts. It was an amazing display of strength. This was quite a highlight and provided good entertainment. 75 year old Bill received a lifetime achievement award as did the guru.
My thoughts on the top 7 physiques start with Sean Allan who placed a creditable 7th in a tough field. Probably the biggest man in the contest at about 6'5" and sporting huge 25" arms, this was the best I have ever seen Sean look. He certainly posed the longest of anyone, but it never became boring as he moved from side to side hitting arm poses for the cheering crowd. Sean was big and hard and can certainly break into the top 5 next time with a little refining and tightening of his physique.
In 6th place was Valentin Jabes of France, now living in USA. He is symmetrical and has good lines and excellent stage presence. A real showman.
5th place went to Steph Sinton from UK. Steph is an overall NABBA Amateur Mr Universe and Mr World winner and presented a most polished, symmetrical and tight physique. Coming on in a kilt and with Scottish sword as Brave Heart, he gave a spectacular presentation. I felt he may have taken 4th place but it was not to be. I understand that the judges felt that Steph probably needed a little more size to place higher. He was hard as a rock and in superb condition with excellent abs. His uncle is former Mr Universe winner Ian Lawrence of Scotland. (Steph won the 2006 NABBA Universe Pro-Am in UK one month later.)
In 4th place it was the huge and good looking Hungarian star, Zoltan Voros.
I had not seen Zoltan before and his physique was very impressive in every way. With his size and symmetry, he could quite easily win this event in the future with slightly harder condition and better separation. His posing was entertaining without being memorable. This is an area in which I feel he can really shine in the future. He had great appeal to the ladies in the audience, one of whom called out that she would like to see him after the show!
3rd place went to the classy and best conditioned man in the contest, Sami Al-Haddad from Bahrain. This man is a real pro with his superb condition, attention to detail, near perfect symmetry and the air of a champion when ever he is on stage. His posing was also top class as he moved from pose to pose and worked all parts of the stage. I felt that he would probably take 2nd place, but it was not to be as the judges preferred the massive size of the German Andreas Frey. (Sami did take 2nd place to Lee Priest last weekend at the UK NOC event.)
2nd place went to the tall and massive German star Andreas Frey. I first saw Andreas guest posing at FIBO in Germany about 5 years ago. At that time when we shot a pumping and posing segment with him, I predicted he would later become a pro bodybuilder. I recall at that time that Andreas laughed saying he would never be good enough for that! Seems I was correct after all as he nearly stole the whole contest in this his pro debut. He is a former Mr Universe winner in Europe and a greatly experienced guest poser.
At a height of about 6'4" with very broad shoulders he truly is a huge man.
He was probably the youngest man in the event and has years of improvement ahead of him. His overall package was very good and the only place where Lee Priest was clearly ahead of him was in the legs department.
Lee Priest stormed to victory or should I say flew to victory after his Superman act in the posing round. Marcellus DeMilia came on stage as Clark Kent, went into the phone booth, lights went out and out stepped Lee Priest in his Superman costume. It was all carried out perfectly to the great appreciation of the crowd.
I saw Lee win the IronMan Pro earlier this year and he was in similar brilliant condition. He thoroughly deserved the NOC title and this was certainly not given to him on past reputation. Lee's leg development made him stand out from the rest of the competitors, not to mention his amazing arms and "myth" pose. His overall package, size and condition made him a most worthy winner of this the first PDI NOC title.
Lee has now won 5 pro shows, 2002 San Francisco GP, 2005 Australian GP, 2006 Iron Man Pro and now the NY and UK NOC shows. I have been lucky to have been present at all of Lee's pro victories except the latest one in London. Thus ended a great night of pro bodybuilding entertainment in the "Big Apple".
Special thanks to my pump room cameraman Wolfi and photos by Ray Cassar, both of Muscletime.com; and my NY helper David Mills (The pump room DVD will be released in November.)
For a complete set of NOC results, please click here.
For full details on the 2 disc DVD set, please click here.