by Christian Duque
Nobody can stop talking about how much work Derek Lunsford has done as the new Mr Olympia. Here’s a guy that in the last 45 days has done more guest posing appearances, more interviews, and interacted with the fans more than his predecessor did in an entire year. This is why so many fans and officials alike are so excited with the new champion. I mean, the fact that he’s young is a plus. The fact that his English is fantastic because he was raised in America, that’s another plus.
The fact that he lives in Tampa, Florida, one of the biggest hotbeds of bodybuilding in the country, if not the world, is yet another plus. Here is a guy who is expecting a child with his wife, he’s newly married, and he’s somebody who could easily be enjoying the benefits of all of his hard work, but there he is out and about pounding the pavement. This is the kind of champion we have needed since the days of Phil Heath and Jay Cutler. He is exactly what those guys are all about. It’s all about how much you can work, how much you can grow the sport, and how much of a difference you can make in people’s lives through health and fitness.
When I stop and think about what Big Ramy or Hadi Choopan did in 3 years while they held the title collectively it really isn’t very much to write home about. They didn’t travel the world, they didn’t do events. In fact, neither one of those guys posed at the president’s show.
I have taken a lot of flak from a lot of different media outlets because I keep harping on that one point, but how can I not? For the entire history of the sport of bodybuilding while Jim Manion has been at the helm – every champion and top guy goes to that show. They appear on the contest poster. They are part of the draw that gets fans from all around the country and all around the world to go to Pittsburgh. And let’s face it, that’s the leader’s show. You don’t go there to make money, you go there to show respect. And when I stop to think about the fact that both Ramy and Hadi skipped that show like it was any other show, it speaks to me why they are not currently the champions. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe it’s politics, maybe it’s Maybelline. I don’t know, but I will tell you coincidences like that are noteworthy in my book.
But it isn’t just the president’s show or how many times these guys guest pose, it’s about the totality of the circumstances. When you have media outlets and pundits agreeing that Derek has done more in a month and a half than his predecessor did in the year, that’s a pretty powerful point. So even if Hadi goes and wins big in Columbus in a few months and even if he brings the best physique of his life to Las Vegas at the end of next year that may not be enough to reclaim the title.
Let’s not forget that the only person in the history of the sport that has ever lost the title and won it back was Jay Cutler. And Jay Cutler did so much for the sport that I don’t think very many other champions could hold a candle to that. Maybe Lee Haney, maybe Ronnie Coleman, but certainly not the champions of the last 10 years. I mean let’s not kid ourselves here. Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman, Lee Haney, these guys ate, breathed, and dreamt bodybuilding. They weren’t part-time champions and they certainly weren’t hermit champions like Hadi and Ramy.
Derek Lunsford is a throwback to the old school.
Not only that but let’s talk about the kind of physique that Derek is bringing to the stage. Just last weekend he was at Mel Chancey’s Holiday Classic. I’ve been to that competition and I’ve covered it for StrengghAddicts.com and for IronMag. That is a really good show at the very end of the contest season. Mel puts in a lot of effort and brings in some great judges and gets a great venue. It’s also very important for him to have a great guest poser to entertain the audience. Because at the end of the day that is a large part of what a guest poser does. They’re supposed to bring some life into the intermission. they’re also supposed to draw interest and sell tickets and help sell vendor booths.
A great guest poser can add a tremendous amount of value to a competition and that’s exactly what Derek does. But by adding value he didn’t just appear and mope around the stage. He brought a really good look and some people say he even gained more size. And not size in the sense of fat, but size in the sense of quality muscle mass.
That’s another sign of a great champion. it’s not just showing up looking like a pile of shit. He showed up looking good. He had good color, he was in condition, at least in condition to guest pose, and he really gave the audience their money’s worth. You know that that’s the case because all of the footage that we have seen from all the media outlets shows that.
I cannot speak enough to how important it is for a champion to really work. Yes you have to work hard to get the title but then you have to work equally hard to spread the gospel of muscle throughout the world. You can’t go back to Egypt or Iran and stay there indefinitely. You’re not going to grow the sport like that, you’re not going to get new fans, and you’re not going to generate any buzz for any of the shows on the circuit.
In fact, I didn’t even think Hadi guest posed at all last year. I don’t think Ramy did in the two years he was Mr. Olympia, either. These guys were hermits in the social media age and not just that, but they were hermits in countries where there is no sizable amount of fans. it’s one thing if they were in Europe, or Asia, or some random state in the USA, but to go to countries that have practically no bodybuilding scene and on top of that to be recluses is unacceptable. How can you compare that to what a hard-working young bodybuilder like Derek is doing? The answer is – you can’t.
I’m telling you folks, if Derek continues the way he’s going and he continues to make improvements, nobody is going to beat him in Las Vegas – especially not hermit champions from the past. The judges are not going to go for that, the fans are not going to go for that. It’s just not going to happen.
But as always, I like to end these articles asking you what you think? Do you think Derek is a better champion? Do you think Derek can grow the sport more? As always I hope you enjoyed reading my article here at Iron Magazine and I hope that you will share this article on your social media feeds. I guarantee you, it’s going to generate some lively conversations.