by Christian Duque
Big Ramy is Mr. Olympia and as such he is the ambassador of bodybuilding to the world. This title should have spelled out duties and responsibilities but previous champions have been able to read between the lines and do their best to grow the sport. As I’ve stated on a number of occasions I think the time has come to seriously consider implementing a promotional clause to whoever accepts the title in the future. Ramy is the reason for this.
While he’s known by nicknames like “The Egyptian Phenom” and others he might as well be known as “The Ghost.” Dorian was The Shadow and Ramy is The Ghost. This is because the guy has the distinction of being the most absent champion in the title’s nearly six decade history. He rarely does media appearances unless it’s during the Olympia weekend, his social media is on life support, and perhaps the biggest nail in his proverbial coffin took place when he missed the President’s show in Pittsburgh. Not only did he skip the event but he didn’t bother to tell anyone he wouldn’t be there.
Imagine the utter insanity this must have created for the organizers of the competition. After all, the President’s show is comparable to the Arnold Classic and Olympia in terms of star power. Everyone who’s anyone in the sport of bodybuilding is there. It’s a sign of respect to Jim Manion – a man who has committed his life to growing and raising the bar for the sport. There’s Joe and Ben Weider and then there’s Jim. The fact that the reigning Mr. Olympia missed the show is an almost unforgivable act. It shows a general disregard for the contest and some might argue disrespect for the man himself. Even if he was busy on a movie set or fulfilling other obligations there is a way he could have mitigated his absence. He did nothing. And to date it doesn’t seem like we’ll see or hear anything from Ramy or his camp. In fact, not even Dennis James can speak to him and Dennis was supposed to host the champ for that appearance.
For the record, I like Ramy. I have always been a fan and I have always been super grateful he gave me an interview for StrengthAddicts / IML back in 2017. He promised us [Hector Mendoza and myself] that he would chat with us after dinner and he was a man of his word. I have always given him major kudos for that. I also give him major kudos for being great with the fans. That is when he’s around.
The fact is this guy is even more reserved than Yates was in the 90’s. Back then the internet wasn’t a thing. It existed but the masses were still buying magazines and actually going to shows. There also wasn’t social media. You simply can’t do what Dorian did in the 90’s or what Ramy is doing today. And this isn’t his first year holding the title either. The pandemic is also largely contained. There’s no more room for excuses. For all intents and purposes Ramy is vying for his third consecutive Sandow and we don’t even know what’s going on with him. When you look at champions like Ronnie and Jay and the example they set you’re left scratching your head when it comes to the current title holder’s approach. Not only does he seem disinterested with being the top bodybuilder in the world, some argue he may not even compete in 2022!
How crazy would it be if Big Ramy didn’t even take the stage at the Zappos Theater? The O has changed owners and changed direction. The host hotel and the venue are back on the Las Vegas Strip. We have a whole new generation of heavy-hitters like Nick Walker and Blessing Awodibu pounding on the Top 6 door. They join established heavy-hitters like Brandon Curry and Hadi Choopan. This could be one of the biggest Olympias in the history of the sport. We still don’t know if Phil Heath is totally done. We might see the best Hunter Labrada ever. And at a time when everyone is wondering what Ramy will bring, he misses the President’s show and his whereabouts are unknown. He’s done a movie with Jean Claude Van Damme. Earlier reports had suggested that Ramy was working with Mike Tyson. The fact is maybe bodybuilding is no longer what drives him. Could anyone imagine the utter chaos that would ensue if the champ missed the Olympia check-ins? If he was absent from the press conference? When’s the last time a Mr. O simply skipped the event?
Some might argue that I’m jumping the gun. They’ll say there’s nothing to suggest the champ is retiring or that he’s walking away from the sport. That’s all fine and dandy, but YOU DO NOT MISS THE PRESIDENT’S SHOW!! You just don’t. There’s no way that disrespect will go unpunished. It may or may not cost him the title because there are no politics in judging but it’s a very bad look.
It’s a bad look for Ramy and it’s a bad look for the Olympia Weekend. After all Ramy is the face of the contest and he’s (supposed to be) the driving force of the sport. I mean look at what champions like Dexter Jackson and Brandon Curry did with just one year as title holders. In one year Brandon has doubled or tripled what Ramy has done in two. Moreover Brandon has improved weaker parts of his physique and made gains all the while staying true to his aesthetics. I mean just look at Curry over the years. You’ll see a steady evolution and progression. When you look at what Ramy brought to the 2021 Olympia, you can’t tell me that that was better than his 2020 look. The guy made no improvements and was holding water. Nonetheless he was given his second Sandow.
Is Ramy bored? I’d say so. At this point all he would have had to have done was go with the motions. Show up at events and smile. That’s pretty much it. He was taking benefit of the fact that you can’t just beat Mr. O, you have to knock him out. And who’s going to knock out a 300lb+ mass monster who defies human genetics. He’s a crowd pleaser just by being the size he is. Even though he doesn’t do headstands or splits, no one can deny he knows how to work the crowd. It can be a few hundred or millions around the world. So what if his English is bad. So what if he’s MIA 361 days out of the year? People just want to see the freaks and he’s king of the freaks!! Bodybuilding might have been about flow and balance once upon a time but the verdict’s been since 1992!! The fans love the monsters!! He’s got the look but he may have committed one too many blunders.
Will Ramy missing the President’s show be the needle that broke the camel’s back? If it’s another 2021 where Ramy “leads” Brandon by the skin of his teeth, will his poor track record as the sport’s ambassador to the world be enough to tip the scales in The Prodigy’s favor? What say you? I say Ramy’s reign is over and he could care less.