by Geoff Roberts
It was late August, 2016, when I officially got it on very good authority that Kevin Levrone was in fact making a comeback, after several years of teasing us bodybuilding fans with the idea, but failing to ever follow through. It had became clear to most bodybuilding insiders and die hard fans that in the months leading to this point, that Kevin was putting on size again and starting to look more like the perennial Olympia bridesmaid Kevin, then he was Kevin the business man. With Kevin’s seemingly booming business in mind, I figured my source was only referring to the fact that Kevin was back on the sauce, maybe for a new photo shoot, or to help sell products. However, when I was sent what was claimed to be a very recent picture of Kevin, it caused me to question whether or not Kevin was in fact, just trying to sell products.
I was sworn to secrecy, and was told that I was not to share the photo with any person, no exceptions. At first glance, it seemed that somebody was trying to pull the wool over my eyes by sending me a Phil Heath hands-clasped most muscular shot from 2013 with a heavy filter. The picture displayed a most muscular seemingly made of flesh colored concrete. Shredded to the bone, face more gaunt than I have ever seen, huge arms with fire hose veins, midsection a bit thicker than his younger years, but still etched with deeply cut, vascular abs, quads not overwhelming, but dense and separated beyond belief, and of course, massive cannonball delts, rippling with detail. Despite this excessively impressive photo, I still did not fully believe Kevin would return, nor did I believe that he could place top five if he actually did come back, largely due to the fact that the pre-2016 Olympia photos of guys like Phil, Kai, Ramy, Rhoden, and Compton were also pretty impressive. Kevin’s ability to keep this comeback under wraps was uncanny to say the least, especially considering how vocal he was about all of his “fake” comebacks. The fact that these photos of Kevin were a secret, lead me to believe it would be safe bet to assume that a large number of fans or even athletes, would not be aware of the comeback until the athletes meeting.
When Kevin did in fact show up to the athletes meeting, boy oh boy did the rumblings begin. Most of them, at least when Kevin was not around, were of a very shocked and or negative fashion. Statements such as “he must be delusional”, “out of the top 10”, and “what does he have to prove?” spread like wildfire before the meeting had even come to a conclusion. As I sat there at the meeting I had to chuckle at these negative notions, for I had laid eyes upon what very few had yet to see. As far as Kevin’s appearance and demeanor at the athletes meeting, Kevin was classic Kevin. He was very calm, cool and collected, looked slightly bigger in his clothes than what I would have expected, while at the same time, as mentioned above, sporting the most gaunt face he probably ever had. Of course when his sucked out face was brought up to naysayers, they simply claimed it was due to him getting older, which in theory is a fairly justifiable statement. Hard to explain this fact combined with him looking ready to explode out of his clothes any minute, however.
Justin Compton and Shawn Rhoden both come out in the prejudging before Kevin. Compton is beginning to put together one of the most cartoonish physique in our sports history. He appears a few pounds bigger than he was at the Arnold, but his shape is beginning to suffer just a bit, at the hands of putting on so much size at such a rapid rate. To the hardcore fans, he looks nearly untouchable. Unfortunately, Shawn looks too similar to last year to make any real impact here. Upper body has come up slightly, although he is still lower body dominate, especially in the back shots. Shawn also looks to be a little flat, probably caused in an attempt to bring his lower abdomen in, a problem that may have cost him the Sandow in 2015. He will have a lot of trouble with Compton, who he has never lost to in his career.
Kevin comes out two spots after Shawn Rhoden and it is obvious that he means business. He does not stop and ask for crowd approval soon out of the curtain as most competitors do, but instead wastes no time in getting to center stage, with an almost evil grin stretched across his bony face. You can almost taste the extent to which he is focused. The crowds reaction is one of silence, only broken by frequent gasps. Kevin appears five to ten pounds bigger than he was in his heyday, but with equal condition if not better. Although he is wider in the waist than we all remember, he has no distention to speak of. He is unbelievably dense. Almost like Branch Warren with a much better structure, and his width even seems enhanced from his 2002 runner-up version. To be completely honest, I can barely believe my eyes. That said, even though Kevin looks to potentially be at his all time best, it will still be a dog fight.
Dennis Wolf comes out looking absolutely massive and full, but almost immediately begins to look watery. Not shocking, due to the fact that Dennis was very flat on the post-Olympia tour in 2015, and he was more than likely afraid of this happening again. This curse that Dennis has dealt with his entire career will hurt him as the prejudging continues. Dennis’ physique also appears older than its years, like it has been through wars. Big Ramy steps into the light and it may just be our imagination, but with every step the Orleans arena seems to shake under his orbit inducing weight. The Chris Aceto and Big Ramy team was a raging success. Ramy is slightly harder than his former best conditioning at the 2013 New York pro, which at 305 pounds, is remarkable. He is still not what you would call peeled, but pretty darn close.
When Dexter walks out you swear you’re looking at Phil Heath. He is bigger than ever, round as can be, and shredded to the bone. His midsection is slightly distended in some shots, and is getting wider as he ages, but his abs are granite bricks, and he appears skinless as usual. Kai Greene comes out late and the crowd loses its mind as he throws up his stellar front double bicep in true Kai fashion. He is more streamlined than last year, but is still not displaying the type of jaw dropping condition that won him the Arnold classic seven years earlier. Speaking of seven years earlier, we are beginning to see the negative effects of father time in Kai’s physique. His muscle bellies are shortening and he no longer has the same pop to his muscle as he once did. Appropriately enough, the champ comes out right behind his arch nemesis. Phil is certainly better than 2015, but that is not saying much. His physique has officially gotten to a point that makes it impossible for him to ever be the Phil of 2011 again. This version is similar to his 2013 rendition, but his body looks a bit tired.
The first call out is Phil, Kevin, Ramy, Shawn, Justin and Dexter. No Kai Greene or Dennis Wolf, much to the audience’s dismay. Boos fill the arena. Justin is just enormous. He appears almost as big as Ramy, but interestingly, Ramy has better shape. Kevin is the most dense guy up there, bar none, and Phil, while he is very impressive, does not appear as confident as we have come to expect from the ex-D1 point guard. As the prejudging continues Ramy, Justin and Kevin begin to make both Phil and Dexter look a bit small in many shots. Kai is not 100% and Compton is just not as pleasing to look at as Dexter and Phil, so although these two are making Phil look a bit small and narrow, they do not have enough to overtake him. Kevin has made a miraculous comeback and is now going shot for shot with Phil and Ramy. Phil appears narrow next to Kevin and downright tiny next to Ramy, and what aesthetics he still possesses are of very little help when standing next to these two mutants. The final call out is an exciting one. Kevin Levrone, Phil Heath, and Big Ramy. Phil is now clearly pissed off that the show is close, and Kevin seems to be having his way with the entire arena.
At the finals, Dexter falls from second place last year to fifth place this year. Justin Compton, who simply out sized The Blade, lands in an impressive fourth place at his Olympia debut. Phil Heath is visibly upset with third, and for good reason, a la Dexter in 2008. Kevin and Ramy come to center stage. A truly unique final two. The ultimate battle of outstanding genetic gifts. Gifts so great that they have both relegated the man referred to as The Gift, to third. Ramy has a smile across his face almost as wide as his watermelon delts. Kevin on the other hand, sports an intense look of controlled aggression, lightly bobbing his head up and down and talking to himself under his breath. Bob’s voice booms over the arena “The next voice you hear, will be your 2016 Mr. Olympia champion. Please take the first place place trophy and the check for 400 thousand dollars too… suddenly Bob’s voice is blocked out by the loud annoying buzz of my alarm clock. I reluctantly wake up and I am half tempted to immediately check Kevin’s social media, but I soon come to the unfortunate realization that this was in fact, only a dream.