by Christian Duque
2x Mr. Olympia Mamdouh Mohammed Hassan Elssbiay has a lot to be proud of. He did what an extremely small minority of men have been able to do. When you stop to think about how many bodybuilding legends have come close but never won a Sandow, it can be pretty mind boggling. There’s guys who are larger than life, who have won countless titles, and who have signed the largest contracts in the fitness industry that never won it. They’ve won the Arnold, the Night of Champions, the Iron Man but just never won a Sandow. Some years they should have won. Some decisions enraged the fans, but they just never were able to get the big win.
The fact is Ramy reached a milestone so many guys could only dream of. And not only did he hit this pinnacle of success once, but he did it twice!! The Egyptian Phenom had two titles for two consecutive years and that’s a lot more than a lot of guys who may have had it for just one or guys like Franco who won their two separately. The bottom line is that Ramy won the O twice, got two huge checks, and worked with some pretty huge companies. This will be the best he’ll ever do, however, so if he wants to continue competing out of love of the sport then I say that’s great. I think there’s going to be a place for him in the Top 6 if he comes back at his best. If he doesn’t, he’ll probably hang in the Top 10 but eventually he’ll be outside of it. There were years towards the end of his career when Samir would take 14th and he kept coming back. He was a Mr. O and no placing would change that. He liked to compete and the fans loved it. It made sense for him.
Ramy should retire now if he’s pinning the hope that he can regain his title. No ousted Mr. O ever has – except Jay Cutler. Jay lost to Dexter because Jay was way off. When Jay hit his stride again Dexter was out. It’s sad but true. If Ramy brings 2020 again, he can’t beat Hadi, Derek, or Brandon. Ramy was given a gift in 2021 – that was the year Brandon was robbed. Then he snubbed Jim Manion in 2022 and missed the Pittsburgh Pro, not giving any kind of explanation for ten days. For ten days no one knew where he was, what happened, or if he was done with bodybuilding. I don’t care what anyone says that factored into his loss in 2022.
That’s the thing. Ramy was a shitty Mr. Olympia as an ambassador. He didn’t travel, he didn’t guest pose, and he didn’t do interviews. He was a throwback to the Dorian days only back then there was no internet. There was no Instagram in the 1990’s. The fans got used to champions like Jay, Phil, Shawn and Brandon being outgoing and engaging. These guys were always social and we’re always talking to the fans. Ramy on the other hand barely said a word and when he did it was in Arabic. He looked like absolute shit at the 2021 Olympia and then he kept ignoring the public in 2022. I don’t know if someone got in his ear or he had some kind of an out of body experience, but two months out from the 2022 Olympia he dialed it in and started speaking. It was like he was a new man.
The last two months of his reign, Ramy was posting actual progress shots, he spoke to the fans, and sported the death face way sooner than most of the competition. For many Ramy looked his best in the early 2010’s and it looked like 2022 was going to be a throwback to his NY Pro days.
Sadly, something happened on his final prep that allowed the world, not just the judges, to see how far gone his physique had gotten. The weird spots looked a lot more glaring. It was all over. He got toppled by two former 212 guys and got beat by Brandon, who wiped the floor with him in 2021. Not since 1984 when defending Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout was dropped down to 6th had a Mr. O been done like that by the judges. Ronnie took 2nd in ‘06, Jay took 2nd in ‘08, Dexter 3rd in ‘09, Jay took 2nd in ‘11, Heath took 2nd in ‘18 and Brandon took 2nd in ‘20. Ramy, on the other hand, took 5th in a year where most thought he’d earn his 3rd consecutive Olympia.
Whether it was payback for Pittsburgh or the judges finally cleaning their glasses and refusing to allow for another 2021, the writing was on the wall for Ramy. He will never win the Olympia back. Some argue he should never have won it in the first place. He only got to the 2020 Olympia because of a special invite and was given the title in 2021. That’s not exactly very impressive record.
If Ramy heals, keeps giving 100%, and actually does the business of bodybuilding, then he can have good future placings at the O. He might be able to win the Arnold and some lesser titles. He can earn a great living in the fitness industry and he can command an army of international faithful. He really can have a wonderful future, but if his goal is to win the Olympia back, then I’m of the opinion he should retire.
Retirement isn’t necessarily the worst move he could make. Ramy is one of the biggest bodybuilders on the planet and may have some substantial injuries. He’s already won the biggest title in the world and could end his run in the Top 5. He could take at least 50 lbs of muscle off his frame, give his heart a break, and look into a variety of different career opportunities. Plus let’s not forget that he’s larger than life in the Arab world. Those are largely uncharted waters where he could lead the crusade. He could make all kinds of money, vastly improve the quality of his life, and avoid all the pitfalls that come with prolonged training and competing at elite levels well into his 40’s. What’s there left to prove?
With all the deaths in our sport, why add more risk? Anyone who thinks it’s healthy for a 5 ‘9 guy that tips the scales in the 340’s in the off-season and then peels down to 300 at 3% body fat and dehydrated to pose on a bodybuilding stage in his late 30’s is absolutely insane! What’s the difference between winning 2 or winning 3?
If it’s just a question of prize money, he can make $400k with a well thought-out guest posing tour for 2023. He could hit the U.S., Australia, Japan, India, China, the United States and Latin America. He wouldn’t need to be 3% body fat, he wouldn’t have to take diuretics, and he could pose for a few minutes and then speak to the audience and to millions of fans watching along IG Live and Pay Per View. If it’s about money, money can be made a million different ways. If he wants another Sandow out of pride, then he should pray on it and reflect. Pride is the root of all sins.
Ramy has NOTHING to prove. If it were up to me, I’d push for him to retire. If he wants to compete just to compete, then ok. Even if he could win the Arnold or lesser titles, what’s the point? Once you’ve won a Lambo, why fight to win a civic? To each their own I guess.
One thing’s for sure, Ramy will never win the Olympia again. Some of it is in his hands and some of it’s not. What say you? What should Ramy do next?