IRON MAN PRO 2008 Report by Wayne Gallasch
This year I had the pleasure and privilege to shoot the Iron Man Pro and NPC Figure contest from a special TV platform 7' high, erected at the back of the main seating section. It was a perfect view and an ideal angle being exactly in line with the bodies on the posing platform. My camera pictures went out to the 2 big screens mounted on either side of the stage to bring the bodies closer up for those fans not sitting in the front rows.
As usual the lighting by Mike Neveux and his crew was outstanding. It is always the best lighting I see at any contest every year.
2008 proved to be not only the biggest IM in years regarding competitor numbers, it was also the best year ever for the IRON MAN Pro and FitExpo. The new venue of the LA Convention Centre was huge, the crowds were huge and the competitors on stage were mostly HUGE and RIPPED!
The evening finals started out with the Iron Man NPC Figure event where Overall Winner was Danielle Edmonds. Next it was the Iron Man Pro guys on stage and what an amazing lineup of talent from around the world. It was mind boggling in this the first pro show of the year.
I should mention that at the prejudging which ran for 2 hours, every single athlete was fairly treated and got an even chance to put his best package forward for consideration by the judges. I hate to see athletes come all the way say from Siberia and not get a single call out.
This year was the 19th year for the Iron Man Pro contest, one year less than the Arnold which will be 20 years old this year.
I feel sure that the much larger venue resulted in a larger attendance this year, plus a greater number of exhibitors at the LA FitExpo.
Before I talk about the top 5 I did feel that several guys who looked fantastic were perhaps slightly overlooked for higher placings. One was the huge and symmetrical Spaniard Alfonso Del Rio. I know you have never heard of him but look for him in the DVD when it comes out. He had arms and calves over 20" and was in great condition as well. Being completely unknown does not help!
I felt Armin Scholz looked a bit flat at the prejudging but he looked fantastic when he posed at the Finals. Another guy in incredible shape was Troy Alves. What amazed me was his placing which seemed pretty harsh considering he was shredded, had good size - and I have never seen him look better.
Now a few comments on the top 5 who all qualify for the Olympia and yes Phil Heath swears he will do the Olympia this year!
When Phil Heath first appeared on stage at the Prejudging, and after seeing Gustavo, even before I saw all the other guys, I had him in first place. I must admit I was seeing him in closeup through a very long lens and could clearly see the striations in his much improved and much larger physique since last year's Arnold Classic.
His shape is superb as is his symmetry and he also knows how to portray a winning manner on stage at all times without being cocky. He has great genetics and is now adding hard work and maturity to what was God given.
It will now be interesting to see if he can slightly improve for the Arnold where he will have no Victor Martinez to contend with. No disrespect to Dexter and the other great physiques at the Arnold, all of whom fighting for the Arnold title. We are again proud to be covering this event at GMV.
Gustavo Badell was also a very clear winner of second place over the pocket dynamo from New Zealand, Moe Elmoussawi. His condition was almost perfect and the only real difference that I could spot apart from the sheer class and charisma of Heath was the mid section.
Gustavo always presents a wonderful posing routine and this was no exception. He could be a dark horse to win at the Arnold if any of the other contenders slip up!
In 3rd place this wonderful result for Moe was a surprise to some people but not to those who attended the prejudging. He has promised so much for years and this time he really delivered the goods. He has perfectly shaped, huge full arms with the rest of the physique shredded and ready to rumble this time out. I think living in New Zealand really agrees with him.
No doubt Moe's placing was the biggest surprise of the whole show and now he is looking at his first ever Olympia appearance later this year.
The condition and package Moe presented allowed him to clearly edge out the highly fancied and hugely popular Silvio Samuel. Silvio was a very worthy 4th placed finisher and is always a threat to the top guys with his amazing physique and incredible abs and arms.
In 5th place it was Johnnie Jackson. I have seen him sharper but overall he was a worthy 5th placegetter over a slightly unlucky Desmond Miller who came in 6th. Johnnie has great thickness and muscle density and maturity from his years of heavy lifting.
Miller had the most amazing legs, and boy did he know how to pose them well. With a bit more size in his upper body he will be on that Olympia stage in the very near future.
Biggest disappointment was last year's Iron Man winner Toney Freeman not being able to place higher than 8th this year. Toney posed beautifully but did not have the fine condition he displayed last year when he did so well. I should also mention Eddie Abbew of UK in 7th place. He placed higher last year but in my opinion, the field was much tougher this year. Eddie has a great package too for a tall man and is the former training partner of Charles Clairmonte.
Here are the complete Results for the men:
2008 Iron Man Pro
1. Phil Heath USA
2. Gustavo Badell USA
3. Moe Elmoussawi New Zealand
4. Silvio Samuel Spain
5. Johnnie Jackson USA
6. Desmond Miller USA
7. Eddie Abbew UK
8. Toney Freeman USA
9. Troy Alves USA
10. Shahriar (King) Kamali USA
11. Will Harris USA
12. David Henry USA
13. Khalid Almohsinawi Lebanon
14. JoJo Ntiforo USA
15. Charles Ray Arde USA
16. Alfonso del Rio Spain
17. Mehmet Yildirim France
17. Neset Icli Holland
17. Troy Brown UK
17. Vincent Liu Canada
17. Sergey Ogorodnikov Russia
17. Dragan Paunovic Serbia
17. DeShaun Grimez USA
17. Paul Baker Jamaica
17. Rodney Davis USA
17. Rusty Jeffers USA
17. Ken Jones USA
17. Omar Deckard USA
17. Nathaniel Wonsley USA
17. Gian Enrico Pica Italy
17. Armin Scholz Germany
NP. Jimmy Canyon USA
2008 Olympia Qualified Athletes
Vince Gironda Posing Award
Shahriar (King) Kamali
Lifetime Achievement Award
Reg Park, accepted by Jon Jon Park
Bodybuilding.com Online People's Champion
Unofficial Guest Poser
ALL PHOTOS BELOW BY RICHARD ROSSAN.