by Christian Duque
Ever since Big Ramy did a recent podcast where he stated that his future in the sport was uncertain and that he was looking forward to the 2024 contest season, people have not been able to stop talking. As soon as fans got wind that The Egyptian Phenom might not be doing the 2023 Mr. Olympia it sent shockwaves throughout the fitness industry.
Another top Olympian, William “The Conqueror” Bonac went public with his decision to stop competing for 2023 and to come back in 2024. The Conqueror said he was looking forward to eating regular food, spending time with friends and family, and regrouping for next year’s contest season. This is an important reboot for a competitor that’s won two Arnold Classic titles and placed as high as 2nd in the Mr. Olympia.
While I concur that it’s very difficult for a bodybuilder to recreate their physique in their late 30’s or early 40’s, sometimes a new look isn’t what’s needed. Sometimes a simple break can be exactly what’s necessary to give an already impressive look another crack at the apple. Taking a full year off doesn’t mean that the competitor doesn’t train, it just means that they don’t have to subject their body to the rigors of contest prep.
Bonac already did the Arnold and would have had to do another prep for the Olympia. Perhaps Ramy has taken a page from a fellow competitor’s book, a fellow competitor prepped by the same coach. The fact is Ramy had a bad outing at the 2022 Olympia and the 2023 Arnold Classic wasn’t much better.
Currently Big Ramy is said to be receiving stem cell treatment and it’s still unknown if he’s dealing with an injury or if his body is simply burnt out from competing at the highest levels in the sport. Up until 2022, no one thought Ramy was beatable. He got the special invite in 2020 which many critics believed he was not worthy of and then got a huge present at the 2021 Olympia where he was noticeably off against a much-improved Brandon Curry.
I think the champ got complacent. He started to believe the hype and lost a great deal of steam from when he won the NY Pro some ten years ago. Many hardcore fans and bodybuilding commentators noted that he lacked the detail and separation from when he was winning the biggest titles in the sport all on his own. When a guy gets a special invite and gets leniency from the judges, he starts to think he can win no matter what. Fast forward to the point where Ramy is struggling to stay in the Top 5 and now you have a recipe for disaster.
Although Ramy looked far better in Columbus than he did in Las Vegas, what many people need to remember is that he nearly got beat by the lightest and shortest IFBB Pro in the world. Just one look at the 2023 Arnold Classic score cards and my point is made. The gap that separated Ramy from Shaun was far narrower than the gap between Ramy and Andrew Jacked.
What this means is that Jacked had a comfortable lead over the 2x Mr. Olympia and that the 212 Mr. Olympia was pushing the heaviest guy in the lineup for dear life. Not only was Ramy physically defeated but imagine his utter disbelief at having Clarida right next to him. There’s no question he was psychologically damaged after that outing.
Plus GK was absolutely shredded and the fans were going crazy for him. While Ramy was barely hanging on to a bad placing, Shaun was living it up. And while Ramy was able to take 4th, he might as well have been dead last because Columbus was supposed to be redemption. Had Ramy won there, he would have been a true top contender for the 2023 Mr. Olympia. Instead, he’s unlikely to get favorable treatment in 2023 Olympia promos and he runs the risk of placing outside the Top 6. Guys like Samson Dauda are only going to keep getting better, not to mention Jacked, Walker, and rising stars like Krizo are all going to be gunning for the big dance in Orlando, FL.
There is simply no reason Ramy needs to push himself to the point of no return. Once The Egyptian Phenom gets kicked out of the Top 6, his legacy will be totally shot and he will start to lose fans fast. I was very vocal about him not doing the Arnold and so were countless other journalists and commentators. Even if he wasn’t injured and even if the 2022 Olympia was just a fluke, it was still too soon.
Taking a break is probably the only thing Ramy can do at this point to have any real chance of regaining his position in the sport. And after taking the rest of 2023 off, I still don’t think he should do the 2024 Olympia. In fact, I don’t think he should do the 2024 Arnold Classic, either.
The former Mr. Olympia needs to employ some strategy and have a more clear-cut game plan. The same way bodybuilding is an illusion insofar as how to present your strengths and hide your weaknesses for the judges, the cameras, and the fans, Ramy must be smarter in terms of what contest(s) he does in the future. Right now, he simply can’t win the two biggest shows in the sport. That as much is factual. He just can’t do it. He’s tried and he’s failed. How many more times before it sinks in?
If and when he comes back in 2024, he needs to pick smaller shows, and win those. Depending on who’s there and by how much he wins, then and only then should he move up to bigger shows.
Ramy will always be a 2x Mr. Olympia, but he simply cannot be outside the Top 6 at the Olympia, the Arnold, or any other show. He needs to respect himself and his legacy more than that. I think alluding to the fact he’ll be taking a break makes sense. Next he must come out and directly state as much – like William did. After that, he needs to give his body a rest, get off the massive stacks, and maybe just make appearances and get whatever treatments are needed. If he does that and his body bounces back, then there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
If he does – for whatever reason – decide to throw his hat into the 2023 Olympia, I suspect he’ll ruin his legacy and will take a pretty bad placing. As a former Mr. O, he will always be automatically qualified, but that does not mean he should keep competing, taking worse and worse placings, and eventually running his name through the mud. Only time will tell what the big man does, but he looks to be moving in the right direction as far as I can gather.