by Christian Duque
Literally three days after my article “Should Big Ramy Do The Olympia” was published at Iron Magazine did the 2x Mr. Olympia tell RxMuscle (on Saturday, September 23rd) that he would be pulling his name out of the Olympia lineup. This is proof positive that while we largely commentate on bodybuilding current events, our insights are second to none.
As I stated in my article last week, whatever’s going on with Ramy more than likely could be best addressed with some down time. The fact that he was toppled in the fashion he was at the 2022 Mr. Olympia should have sent the big man for some much needed ROR. Instead, and contrary to the press and diehard fans’ opinions, he came back to another major stage in less than three months time in Columbus, OH. And while he made significant improvements from his previous year’s Olympia outing, he was by no means the Ramy of old.
I think Columbus served as a very important wake-up call for the champ. Not only did he take the exact same placing as he had in Vegas, but he took 5th in a lineup that was less stellar than that at the Olympia. In my opinion he was lucky to have received 5th at the ASC. I had Shaun Clarida beating him and the points that separated 4th from 5th were far fewer than those which separated 5th from 6th. The Egyptian Phenom beat out Clarida by the skin of his teeth. The Giant Killer nearly succeeded in slaying the biggest giant of the sport. That probably resonated with the near 300lb bodybuilder more than perhaps even the Olympia.
As I stated in my article for Iron Magazine, I believed that Ramy should have taken a page from William “The Conqueror” Bonac. When William didn’t manage to achieve his usual Olympia placings and when he failed to convert in Columbus, OH, he opted to take a full year off. He knew his body needed a break, but he also wanted a break for mind and soul. The downtime would give him the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family.
These guys don’t get much of that. Unlike guys in the national amateur ranks or even those winning pro shows, the top 10 Olympians work nonstop for the most part. These select few athletes are constantly working, always looking over old contests and studying their own progression. They’re in a league all their own, chasing that illustrious carrot that is the Sandow. They want to be the best and unlike 95% of other pro’s, they’re actually on the cutting edge. When you look at the guys that are usually in the top 6, the stakes are that much higher.
I mean take guys like William or Ramy. They’ve won major titles and they know all about being on top, having the press hound them, and having the longest lines of fans waiting to meet them. If you don’t think that that’s alluring you have never been a superstar. I know I’ve never experienced that but I can tell you after writing articles for nearly two decades that being a household name as a bodybuilder is reserved only for the best of the best. Guys who reach this level of success don’t just walk away from it. Most can’t put it on hold, either.
To look like one of the guys that belongs in the Top 6, you have to eat big, train hard year-round, and more than likely hit the supplements hard as well. It’s all one giant process. There’s no taking it easy. Such sentiments don’t exist.
These guys have tunnel vision year-round, but when an athlete hits their early to mid 30’s that’s when reality tends to set in. By the time guys are in their late 30’s and early 40’s that’s when things start to get really crazy. Some will be strategic in what shows they do. This is probably the most common way to preserve a physique. Others just can’t slow down. You’ll see them competing with the same frequency as they did when they were 10-15 years younger. Sadly, a lot of these guys tend to burn out. Their career will either end due to bad placings, burn out, injuries or a combination that includes all of the above.
Look at the GOAT himself, 8x Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. What are all those huge deadlifts and mind boggling squats doing for him now? After ten back surgeries he can barely walk. Was it worth putting his body through all of that agony? He may say if given the chance to relive his life that he wouldn’t change a thing, but that’s sad. And it’s true. Guys at Ronnie’s level – then or now – will do whatever it takes to outwork the next guy. They will leave no stone unturned. They’re in a constant pursuit to be #1. All they live for is to be the best, but there comes a point in time when something needs to change. Guys like Bonac make it easier for guys like Ramy to hit the brakes and reassess.
Ramy could easily have done the 2023 Mr. Olympia, but what if he placed outside the Top 6? The same way once you lose the Sandow the odds are stacked against you regaining it, so too, when a former Mr. O places outside the Top 6, he’s all but written off. One year you’re the best in the world and the other fighting tooth and nail to be in the Top 10. It’s both humiliating and can spell a total loss of morale.
If the ‘22 Olympia had been an 11th hour freak occurrence then the 2023 Arnold Classic should have been redemption. If Ramy had won in Columbus, then the ‘22 Olympia could have been written off as nothing more than misfortune. One wrong carb meal, maybe nerves on the fritz, maybe just a touch of bad luck. The Arnold confirmed that there was more going on and the fact Ramy was even prepping for the 2023 Olympia seemed alarming to many. It was so upsetting to me that I decided to write my thoughts down on an article.
If you had any idea the big numbers Iron Magazine commands you wouldn’t think it presumptuous of me to believe Ramy may have read my article and that my article may have been the drop that made the bucket overflow. It may have been the needle that broke the camel’s back. I wasn’t the first to urge Ramy to take a break, but I certainly may have been the last one he listener read that got him to really consider the idea of sitting out this year’s Olympia.
Assuming Ramy sits out the 2023 Olympia and the 2024 Arnold, he may very well come back guns blazing for the 2024 Mr. Olympia. And you know what? He might just win it! His body will undoubtedly bounce back but if in fact he rests it, comes off a lot of the compounds he’s running, and actually slows down and enjoys a normal life, I think that might be the recipe for his success. Ramy hasn’t stopped since he took 2nd at the Olympia in 2017. He went all the way to #1 and held the Sandow for 2yrs. Now he simply needs to rest up and take a moment to smell the roses. If he’s able to truly slow down, he could have another handful of very promising years from 2024 and beyond. But what do you say? Did Big Ramy make the right decision by skipping the 2023 Mr. Olympia? Why or why not?