What is FIBO? It’s the world’s largest bodybuilding and fitness expo, now dubbed as “FIBOlympia in Essen, Germany” There was a real touch of the Olympic spirit with German Winter Olympics Ice Queen Anni Friesinger adding a touch of gold to the FIBO 2002 scene. She exchanged her golden skates for training shoes to talk about her fitness regime.
Mr Olympia runner up FLEX WHEELER also made his comeback to bodybuilding after his 2000 retirement and was the star guest poser in Weider’s “Best of the Best Posing Show” on the main stage. He announced he will be competing in this year’s Olympia, training with and coached by SHAWN RAY. Shawn also appeared on stage but did not pose.
This year’s event from April 18 to 21 was held in 11 separate halls and attracted a crowd of 70,000. I would rate the Sunday’s crowd the largest I have ever seen at FIBO. It made quite a challenge to move and relocate our 2 video teams from hall to hall without missing any of the action. Of the 450 exhibitors, the ones promoting hard core weight training and bodybuilding were the most popular with European Women’s fitness athletes from Germany and Slovakia in particular enjoying a very high profile. More on this later as I believe we recorded some new young bodybuilders and fitness competitors who will be pro superstars of the future.
THE WEIDER POSING SHOW
The Weider posing team posed 3 times on both Saturday and Sunday making a fantastic feast of muscle for their fans to enjoy. Highest profile poser was FLEX WHEELER who looked very good and in about 90% contest condition. He got better and harder each time he posed. Definitely a threat come October to the huge and off-season JAY CUTLER who sold his photos at FIBO, but didn’t pose or remove his tank top for the many fans.
GUNTER SCHLIERKAMP was without doubt the crowd favourite and got the largest applause from his thousands of fans. As a special treat Gunter goes to the edges of the circular main stage and hits most muscular poses right in the faces of his fans such that they can often touch his massive biceps if they are quick enough. The crowd just loved it.
ERNIE TAYLOR, Mr Triceps from England, and often known as just “ET” was also a huge hit with the fans. They never seem to tire of his “fast guns” flexing and tensing of his biceps and triceps. Ernie was needling Gunter much of the time such as coming out to pose when Gunter’s name was announced and later playfully pulling down Gunter’s posing trunks at the rear as he hit a back shot during the posedown! Right in front of our cameras. They will be close rivals at this year’s Olympia, so watch for the sparks.
TOMMI THORVILDSEN, also known as “GLUTZILLA’ was a real surprise package as he posed with added zest and confidence now that he has qualified for his first Olympia this year. He was in superb condition, as was Gunter, and thrilled the huge audience with 2 totally different posing routines, plus the backflip. Tommi has great charisma and along with the 2 other famous blond stars, Lee Priest and Gunter, is one of the world's most popular bodybuilders.
STEVEN ‘SIGGI’ SEGERS is a new Belgian pro and gym owner and the training partner of TOMMI THORVILDSEN. I will be shooting poolside video with both of them on the Olympia Weekend Sunday in Las Vegas. Siggi has a very good, tight hard physique and was in outstanding shape having just won a contest to obtain his pro card.
MUSTAFA MOHAMMAD from Austria was the final male pro bodybuilder to pose and this was only at the final show on Sunday. He had a great routine and was in even better condition that when we last taped him in the 2002 English GP. He won his overall NABBA Universe title back at Croydon, England in 1992 .
THOMAS BUNGARTEN of Germany was another guy who only posed at one of the 6 Weider shows as far as I can recall. He posed his massive physique in the classical style of Thomas Scheu.
THOMAS SCHEU - now known at the World’s Greatest Poser, being a title he has long held in my opinion. He was in the BEST CONDITION of any bodybuilder on any stage at FIBO. One would think he had just won the overall World Championships title several days ago rather than several months ago. In fact it was some months ago that he won it and qualified for a Pro Card.
Thomas told me he probably won’t go onto the pro GP circuit as he prefers to make his career as an amateur and the world’s most sought after guest poser. It will be a shame if he never graces a pro stage with his flawless physique and dynamic posing. Thomas performed his 3 best routines including the famous Conan one with giant sword and blood stained body.
As Thomas guest posed at the 1983 Mr Olympia in Munich I guess he must now be close to 40. He is a modest super star and seems to under rate his ability to place high on the pro scene.
MC of the Weider Show was the wonderfully loud and exuberant Harry De Jonge of Holland. He even took his top off and posed in one of the shows. Harry helps make FIBO the vibrant, exciting, unique event that it is. The only small negative was the ridiculous pink and /or blue lights used to light much of the posing. This is bodybuilding and not a disco or rock concert. The strobing and flashing lighting was somewhat insulting to both the pro bodybuilders and the fans during their posing routines on the main show stage.
NASSER EL SONBATY and JEFF ‘BOX ‘ LONG were also present selling their photos but they didn’t appear on stage. SHAUN DAVIS was introduced and said that he was recovering well from his chemotherapy. Vince Taylor was not sighted at FIBO this year and he has attended almost every FIBO since year one, back in the mid 80’s.
Before I describe the final 2 show stages being ALLSTARS & UNIVERSAL, there were some notables we taped who posed for our cameras at their booths. They included KLAUS DOEHRING, Germany’s answer to GREGG VALENTINO. Klaus has 23” arms that are truly unbelievable. He was a sight to behold.
Bodybuilders and body painters HOLGER SPREER and his lady, the beautiful fitness competitor ESRA KARGA certainly opened my eyes! Both topless, Holger wore just trunks, and for Esra just a bikini bottom, with their upper bodies painted to represent tank tops. They are known as “Human Eclipse”.
I also taped German bodybuilder and kick boxing champion ISSA FADI. He was one tough dude in fantastic condition. Also selling photos was DAWN SUTHERLAND, fresh from her recent Ms International Pro debut at the Arnold Fitness Weekend. It was a shame she was not booked to perform on any stage.
We spoke to DORIAN YATES who was promoting his 2002 Dutch Pro GP with partner Papa Mike. Next we taped 4 top Dutch bodybuilders thanks to Papa Mike and they were STEVEN DE WINDT, PHILIEP VAN NUFFEL, and 2 women MARJOLEIN SCHILPEROORT and SANDRA WATERSCHOOT. Philiep actually represents Belgium in contests.
Another star find was SERKAN CETIN. He posed and worked out for us being in top condition as he prepared for the German Championships. We had swapped links for our sites some time ago so it was good to meet in person an old internet friend.
GMV also shot a feature at FIBO (workout, posing in various outfits and interview) with LIZZY TAYLOR. Lizzy is quite a star in Germany and we first met at my Legends Reunion in October 2000 in California. On the SVH video stand I spotted WFF World Junior Champion POLI MOUTEVELIDIS, just as we were packing up the equipment after 4 exhausting days. I also spotted WFF female star SUZI MALEKPUR-SHIRAZI. Oh well, you can’t capture everyone and this year was a record haul of bodybuilders that we did manage to tape.
THE ALLSTARS STAGE
My old friend and co-owner of AllStars, Stephan Korte, always gives us every assistance from our front of stage, on stage and rear of stage taping positions. He also provided a small gym area where we could shoot workouts and pumping up. PACO BAUTISTA was a late withdrawal due to his pneumonia. He later qualified for the Mr Olympia from his 3rd placing at the NOC. The many stars on this fabulous stage were as follows:
TOMMI THORVILDSEN Norway
JOHANNES ELEFTHERIADIS Germany
HAMDI AYKUTLUG Germany
TOMM VOSS Denmark/USA
IGOR KOCIS Slovakia
ANDREAS POPOVIC Germany
STEFAN HAVLIK Germany
SIGGI SEGERS Belgium
MUSTAPHA BELLAHA France
HEIKO KALLBACH Germany
Now a brief comment on the stars above who most impressed me. TOMM VOSS is headed for the top as a physique star and model in the Tito Raymond type mould. Tomm now lives in USA. He was in excellent shape. IGOR KOCIS was also in superb condition and is the training partner of new guy in the Olympia, JAROSLAV HORVATH. Igor is a current IFBB World Champion.
ANDREAS POPOVIC of Romanian descent is a physique champion of the future. At 22 years of age and around 6’2” tall, he is a very big guy. His condition was excellent. He won a top title in Germany just a week ago. MUSTAPHA BELLAHA, formerly from Morocco and now living in France, impressed me with his great shape, posing ability and unique style with multiple back flips during his routine. Did a great interview.
Also spotted at the AllStars booth was UMBERTO MORANDELL who unfortunately tore his pec warming up and was unable to pose for AllStars this year.
THE UNIVERSAL STAGE
This stage was superbly MC'd by 1998 Fitness Olympia winner MONICA BRANT, always in very good condition and excellent on the ‘mike’. Her star posers were JOE DeANGELIS, GIOVANNY THOMPSON, THOMAS DEVANT, ARNAUD PLAISANT, DANNY HINDALOV, ALAIN BELIGUE plus current NABBA Universe Women’s physique champion ANJA TIMMER. This show is always fun to tape and a little less formal than the other show stages.
A special thanks to my hard working team of Clive Jaques and my two sons Sean and Justin Gallasch. Also thanks to Willy Zdenek, Harald Kohler, Thomas Klose and Dennis Schaeffer for their help and support.
Just 15 minutes walk from my hotel is the famous old ESSEN SAALBAU Theatre, scene of the 1972 Mr Olympia contest. That was the Olympia where ARNOLD defeated SERGIO OLIVA by one point. Highlights of this contest are included in our Arnold the Early Years DVD which is GMV-250DVD. It so happened that 2 days later Sergio made his famous posing films for me in London at Wanstead Flats, now part of our Sergio Oliva The Myth DVD, GMV-690DVD.
The wonderful SAALBAU theatre is now being refurbished and was closed for repair in March this year. The work is major such that it won’t open again till the early summer of 2004 when it will be a modern World Class Philharmonic Concert Hall.
I mentioned to the SAALBAU theatre manager that I had filmed famous bodybuilding events held on their main stage in the years 1970 , 1974, and 1978. He kindly gave me a tour of the building and with a large degree of nostalgia I checked out the stage where Arnold scored possibly his most memorable Olympia victory 30 years ago this year.
I certainly hope that major bodybuilding events will return to this beautiful theatre from 2004 as I rate it as one of the top contest venues in Europe from historic, size and location reasons. Plus the Arnold-Sergio connection!