by Christian Duque
Everyone is looking at the 2023 Arnold Classic with a great deal of interest of a number of different reasons but one of the most commonly talked about aspects to the competition is the showdown between Big Ramy and Nick Walker. The Egyptian Phenom is hell bent on revenge. He received a pretty substantial wakeup call at the 2022 Mr. Olympia, a contest most thought he had in the bag. Let’s forget how ready he was way before everyone else. Let’s not forget how depleted he was, how he was sporting the death face, and how he had really come out of his shell on social media. Nick Walker, on the other hand, has been on the ascent. Ever since he won the Arnold in 2021 his star has been rising.
The Mutant went from 5th at the 2021 Olympia to 3rd in 2022. And at third place, a lot of people thought he could’ve won the competition. Many thought he should’ve placed higher than Derek, and quite a few people thought he could have beat Hadi. The fact that The Mutant was being discussed as a guy who could have one at all was validation for all of those years were people said that, even though he was a gifted bodybuilder, that he would never be the best. He proved them all wrong in a question of just a handful of years. After all his trajectory has been one of the shortest in recent history. The fact is we are also dealing with the old guard versus the new.
I hate to make this about age, but it really is. One guy is in his 20s and another guy is in his late 30s. Although they are both in their prime and they will both put on a great battle in Columbus, Ohio, it would be extremely naïve to think that this would be a rivalry that could last more than a few years. Once The Egyptian Phenom reaches the age of 40, he will more than likely begin to decline. And I already can hear it, I can already hear people making the comparison to Dexter Jackson, but there is only one Dexter Jackson. There was only one Al Beckles. There was only one Toney Freeman. There was only one Darrem Charles. While it may seem like there’s a lot of guys, you have been able to defy the age factor, that really is not the case. Age has a way of shortening the career of top-tier bodybuilders. There’s always the Masters, but forget about winning open shows.
And then there’s of course the issue of injuries. Now I know that a lot of people are thinking that I am really putting the former Mr. Olympia on the ropes but I am just being objective and I’m being honest. I know that a lot of people are saying that last year’s Olympia was a fluke because of carbs. They are saying he was not injured, they are saying that he was not dealing with any health issues, they are saying that it was just a skip of the beat. And while that may be the case, we do know that most bodybuilders in their late 30s and early 40s are dealing with injuries, whether they want to admit it or not.
A lot of bodybuilders even Ronnie Coleman, the greatest of all times, was dealing with horrendous back pain throughout his entire reign. Nobody knew anything because he didn’t share it with anyone. That does not change the fact that there’s a very high likelihood that Big Ramy is suffering from a number of health issues and/or training-related injuries. After all, he has been competing at the top-tier of the sport for well over 10 years. And let’s also not forget that while he has been competing at this level, he has probably been using, or abusing, a number of performance-enhancing drugs. He is one of the all-time, biggest bodybuilders that has ever hit the stage. He is a man that in the off-season can reach as much as 340 pounds while still looking relatively lean and relatively in condition. This is not a man who has been able to achieve these freakish gains naturally. It is just not physiologically or scientifically possible.
Nick Walker on the other hand, while much younger is also susceptible to many of the issues of the older champion. From the training, to the eating, to the drugs. There have already been a number of comparisons between him and the late, great Dallas McCarver. The young champion has been able to put on enormous amount of size without losing his signature crispness and condition. Although he does not have one of the prettiest physiques, not by any stretch of the imagination, no one can deny that he delivers 110% on the freak factor. If anything, that is his calling card and he’s been.
Similarly, Big Ramy also does not have what I would call an aesthetic physique. He is large with slabs upon slabs of muscle. So for fans of mass, this will be an epic showdown of two giants.
Although Nick is not quite as big yet, he is definitely getting there. Both of these guys will stick out like a sore thumb. Then of course there is also Sampson Dauda.
Sampson could throw a monkey wrench into the whole apple cart. However, he does not have the level of popular interest that Ramy and Nick have. That’s not to say that he is going to not be Invited to the party. He is also a larger than life mass monster, with incredible definition, separation, and vascularity. There is no doubt that he could actually dwarf Nick and hold his own against Ramy. That being said, I don’t see many people talking about that particular showdown just yet. I think Sampson is going to surprise a lot of people in Columbus and after this year, I can definitely see him being discussed as a potential winner of the second biggest show in the sport.
When it was down to six guys, Dauda was certainly being discussed as a potential winner, but with the addition of Walker and Ramy, much of that conversation has diminished. That’s not because they are substantially better bodybuilders, but once again, it’s because they have so much popular interest and Sampson still as of yet does not.
We like to give the people what they want. Like I said, Sampson could more than likely defeat both of the guys we have been talking about here today, but public opinion is centered around the showdown between old and young, American and Egyptian, Ramy and Walker.
Could Sampson come in and steal the spotlight? Absolutely. Who knows this may be the beginning of a mass rivalry amongst the three. But between Nick and Ramy, I would have to say the odds favor the younger champion. We have already seen a number of media outlets talk about the potential win of The Egyptian Phenom in Columbus, as some sort of a revenge angle and as a springboard for the 2023 Mr. Olympia. While that is certainly a possibility, I am of the opinion that Romy will not win in Columbus. The question is, will he beat Walker?
Let’s NOT FORGET William “The Conqueror” Bonac who’s going for #3!! He is incredibly dangerous and especially when no one is talking about him. Both Nick and Ramy have lost to him before – and they may lose to him again.
But what say you? Between Ramy and Nick? Between Ramy, Nick, and Sampson? Between all of them and Williams, who wins?