by Christian Duque
The news that IFBB Pro Evan Centopani officially retired made the rounds very quickly throughout the fitness industry. Although he hadn’t competed in quite some time, there were credible reports that he was in full prep for the 2020 NY Pro; however, when it moved to Florida, that no longer made it a contest in his own backyard. Who knows what would have happened had Centopani taken the stage in 2020.
The fact of the matter is, he always placed well, and had a very impressive career. In 2006, he was so close to the pro card that he could taste it. A fire was lit under him and he’d return the following year, even better. In 2007, he’d win the Super Heavies and Overall at the NPC Nationals, earning pro status. From there, his ascent was nothing short of amazing. He was a hard worker, with a college education, and all the right contacts.
Evan’s star shot to the top, from how he went to pro and to his shocking the world when he won the NY Pro. The fact is everything about this pro stands out.
In fact, one of the best telltale signs of what makes him different from the pack, is how long he’s worked with his sponsor, Animal. Centopani’s run with them has been so long and fruitful, that the two are inseparable, today. Whenever I think of Evan, I think of Animal, and vice versa.
In an industry where top guys have a new sponsor almost every year, it says a lot when you have a competitor and sponsor that can say they’ve worked together for years – upwards of a decade! You just don’t see that in the industry anymore. That kind of loyalty is scarce. What’s also rare is finding someone as well rounded as Evan, today. In many real ways, Centopani should be the blueprint for all of today’s pro’s and those to come.
Contacts are huge, as is being a people-person. There’s plenty of people who know everyone in the industry, but are they well liked? Knowing people and being well thought of, are two different things.
Anytime Evan’s name comes up, it’s always accompanied by accolades. In my time covering the sport, I can honestly say that I haven’t ever heard anyone trash the guy. Sometimes fans will say that athletes are cocky, companies might say athletes are lazy, but when you hear favorable feedback from all sectors of the industry, you know you’re dealing with someone that was all about that life. When you eat, sleep, and breathe, bodybuilding, then the real people know what’s up.
There’s a reason why Evan has been with Animal for as long as he has been. It’s also why they were so understanding during the year and change he was gone. When Evan went to Prime, no bridges were burned, and all parties remained cordial. How often does that happen? How common is it for competitors that walk, to totally trash their older sponsors or vice versa? It’s not just common, I’d say it’s become somewhat the norm during certain eras. The fact is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but when you’re young, you have to experience life. The fact is, when a bond is created, people are understanding. I can’t speak to what happened internally between Evan and Animal, but when things didn’t work out with Prime, he returned to Animal and the rest is history!! Animal is home.
Evan has built a huge following, with plenty of crossover support. There’s a lot to him.
Competing is just one part of Centopani’s public persona. Over the years, he’s also been the face of sound nutrition, cooking and training videos, not to mention his extensive work in social media, print media, and public appearances.
If you were to look at an average competitor, their entire interaction with the sport would depend on whether they competed or not; they’re not out there doing anything else. Although Evan hasn’t competed in years, he’s maintained a very public profile through working tirelessly on promoting the Animal line and pursuing his own agenda with the sport. This is a guy with something to say. He’s all about health and well being, but his mindset is different from the pack. He doesn’t just cook meals or talk about training, it’s far deeper than that.
It’s hard to put into words, but I strongly encourage you to check out his content on Youtube. Whether he’s training with The Boston Mass or shooting with Jeff Sygo, it really doesn’t matter. His vibe is unmistakable – spanning the run of his career.
In fact, I just ran into Evan a couple months ago at the Natural Body Epic Block Party. There he was, at the Animal booth, shaking hands and answering the fans’ many questions. He wasn’t clock-watching or figuring out what his best exit strategy was. He was right at home, having a great time. Like I said from the onset, when you eat, sleep, and breathe bodybuilding, it becomes abundantly clear what you’re all about. And this is important with regards to the future. I know most of you know this, but for those who maybe don’t, just because a competitor quits competing, that does not mean they’re leaving bodybuilding.
Evan hasn’t competed in years, yet he’s at events, all over social media, and is as relevant as ever. In terms of respect, though, I think the retirement announcement was fitting.
I’m sure one of the most frequently asked questions Evan gets is whether or not he’s coming back. I know I asked him that in NY and we’d only talked for a few minutes. LOL. No shock there! Before anything, I’m a fan, and as a fan, I want to know when my favorite bodybuilders will compete.
When a guy like Evan thinks so much of the fans and the press, that he prefers to kill the suspense, and not keep everyone in perpetual limbo, then an official retirement announcement makes sense. Other top tier bodybuilders never give their fans an answer. Look at Kai Greene. I’m not saying he doesn’t respect his fans, but you’d think after six years, we’d have some kind of an indication as to whether he’s retired or not, but nothing. Then again, formally retiring is actually harder than keeping everyone guessing. It takes guts, but it’s the right thing to do. To each their own.
Evan is a stand-up guy for making his position clear. Could he have gone on competing into his 40’s? Sure, why not?
Although he’s had some injuries and he’s been away from the stage for a bit, I have no doubt that Evan could have given 110%, focused everything on a comeback, and done quite well for himself. But at 40yrs of age, what’s in it for him? What could possibly make it worth it? He’s had a great career, winning key titles, getting as high as 3rd at the Arnold Classic, and being on the cover of countless magazines, ad campaigns, and social media efforts. Wherever he goes, he’s known – he’s respected and he’s appreciated. That’s true success.
In many ways, Evan’s retirement announcement is essentially making the status quo a reality, but nothing changes as far as I’m concerned. If anything, now he can really move forward with other projects. The comeback questions will still come and maybe, even, at the same frequency, but it’s a lot less stressful when you can simply respond with, “I’m retired.” You don’t have to deliberate each time you’re asked and wrestle with what to say. You’re retired and that’s that. Then, perhaps, one day, if ever, you can shock the world and make a comeback – on your own terms!! That’s the way to go. And if you never make a comeback, that’s fine, as well.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish Evan the absolute best. He’s not going anywhere, meaning, bodybuilding is home for him, but he’s no longer going to be competing on stage. I think retiring at 40 is smart, he ensures he’ll have good health for years to come, and he can focus on a variety of different roles in and outside the fitness industry.