by Christian Duque
Ok, so by now everyone has seen the Instagram video of Hadi Choopan – allegedly from eight weeks out – posing in front of some curtains, by himself, for all to see. The champ certainly looks super conditioned and has that tunnel vision that one gets before taking the stage. I’m not about to sit here and tell you that that’s easy to fake. It’s not. Hadi looks like he’s beyond ready in this video and it’s more interesting than he posted a video that’s some 5-6 weeks old four or five days ago.
One of the few things that was true about Pumping Iron is that bodybuilding is very much a psych out sport. It may be super subjective and that might leave a lot of guys wondering what that means, but it’s also very much about the competitive side of the sport among the guys.
When bodybuilders take to social media or to the various podcasts and tear each other down, that usually falls into the category of big barks and no bites. On the flipside, when guys drop training footage or posing content, that’s the kind of warning that’s more in the mic drop category. It’s a lot more about what’s been accomplished during the year since the people last saw the champ.
With Choopan that’s especially true because he’s been largely out of sight. Choopan and Ramy are throwbacks to the Dorian era where the guy would win an Olympia, do a few European Grand Prix shows, and then descend into his underground dungeon in the UK. He’d be seen partying at the Sound Factory from time to time or maybe resurface for his sponsors, but we’d never see training footage, him eating, or much less him posing. If you wanted that, you had to buy the magazines and/or you had to get that year’s DVD. In 2023 no one releases DVDs anymore and magazines are basically relics. So it’s all about appearances, guest posings, in-stores and competing. Hadi doesn’t appear anywhere, he doesn’t guest pose, he doesn’t do in-stores and he only competes at the Olympia. This is why this small clip means so much.
There’s something to be said about Hadi posting this video as well. Believe me that it probably is not something he wanted to do. The fact of the matter is that not a lot of people are talking about the reigning Mr. O. From the moment he was crowned, everyone was wondering why Derek didn’t win, how impressive Derek looked, and how impressive he will look in 2023.
In a very real way Hadi’s reign can be compared to that of Dexter Jackson in 2008-09. From the moment The Blade won everyone was asking the same questions. They were shocked Dex beat Jay, they wondered what was wrong with Jay, and everyone wondered what Jay would bring in 2009. It wasn’t a huge surprise that Cutler reclaimed his title – even though it had never been done in history before. That didn’t really matter. Everyone knew that 100% Jay beat everyone including the current champion. Imagine how that must have made Dexter feel. Imagine how Hadi must feel being ignored for guys like Derek, Nick, and Samson all year long. He’s been relegated to underdog status his entire reign. That’s not a good feeling.
Hadi is making bank with Evogen. Does he justify the money he’s getting? If Choopan isn’t being talked about, it stands to reason that his name and likeness isn’t moving many tubs of product, either. Even though Evogen is a trusted name and it’s really high-end stuff, it’s not cheap. If you’re buying Evogen you’re ready to spend the big bucks. If you’re a Lunsford fan you pay for it gladly just to hang with the 2022 Olympic runner-up and former Mr. USA. On the flipside, if you’re a Choopan fan who never sees the champ, maybe you’re a little less inclined to dig deep into your pocket and shell out hard-earned cash to buy supps from a ghost.
There is some truth to what I’m saying. Let’s compare Hadi to Ramy. Both guys maintained a very low profile in the fitness industry. Ramy’s profile was so low that even being the biggest bodybuilder on the planet, guest posing at an unbelievable 340 lbs he somehow managed to lose a deal rumored to have surpassed $1 million from Tony Huge’s company Enhanced Labs. We don’t know the specifics, but the then-champ was always MIA, didn’t make appearances, and ultimately didn’t even guest pose at the Pittsburgh. He got the deal while he was Mr. O and lost it while he was still Mr. O. That doesn’t happen, ever, but there comes a point in time when the money can’t be justified. I highly doubt Choopan would ever get dropped from Evogen, but you never know. Just because the owner of the company happens to coach the athletes doesn’t mean much.
Just look at the relationship between RAW co-owner and coach Matt Jansen and 212 Mr. O Shaun Clarida. Shaun got let go while he was Mr. O and even though his longtime coach was a part owner of the sponsoring company, The Giant Killer still got left out in the cold.
At some point, there may come a time when Choopan gets dropped. We, of course, don’t wish that upon the guy, but he’s so far removed from the scene, that he’s forced to make statements and drop warning videos on his Instagram. The fact he has to remind people to be scared is a little weak.
When you’re Mr. Olympia, everyone should be gunning for you, and everyone should have you on their mind. That’s usually a given. The fact Hadi has to continuously remind his fellow competitors that he’s #1 makes me think he’s yesterday’s news.
This video from Hadi shows us more than just a dialed in physique and it’s more than a mere warning to his fellow competitors. That may be what he put in the description, but it represents something significantly more. To me it says that even though the champ is probably annoyed by being overlooked and even though he feels as if he was wronged by the bodybuilding media this is his time to shut everyone up. And that’s why this video makes me very excited about the Olympia because it tells me that Hadi wants this. He wants to be Mr. O and he’s going to fight like there’s no tomorrow. It’s a first when a Mr. O is an underdog, but I think The Persian Wolf has embraced it. What choice does he have? Quit? At least that doesn’t seem to be an option for the champ.
If a reigning champion trains and competes like he’s the underdog, I’d say that makes him pretty unstoppable. It could be argued that Ronnie got a little too cocky when he lost; the same could be said for Ramy on his 3rd attempt. Others could say that towards the end when Dorian was falling apart he could have been toppled. I mean pretty much everyone believes Yates got beat by Sonbaty in ‘97.
In any event, it’s very seldom that a reigning champion goes into the show as hungry as a runner-up or Top 6 guy from the previous year. No one wins a contest by looking good on Instagram, but maybe this warning is just that. Maybe it’s the one warning shot that’s actually backed by the big guns. Only time will tell.
Should the competition fear Hadi? What say you?