by Christian Duque
The world of bodybuilding was rocked to its very foundations when word hit that British sensation Nathan De Asha was denied a visa to travel to the United States. While popular YouTuber Nick Miller (aka Nick’s Strength And Power) speculated over the course of the last months that Nathan would likely not get in, we dismissed that as purely clickbait. Maybe he was onto something, but why be a naysayer? I’ve always been someone who prefers to look at the glass half full.
You need to be upbeat and hope for the best. At least that’s what I think De Asha was doing as well. The fact of the matter, however, is that international bodybuilders are at a substantial disadvantage when it comes to traveling for the O. In years passed, the contest was far more international. There were years it was held in South Africa, Finland, and various other places throughout Europe. As of late there’s been talk of the contest changing hands and moving to places like Dubai or Kuwait. If that happened, then guys like Nathan would have no problem traveling. But who knows if that’s even in the cards. For now, it’s all about the United States. The contest has not left the country since well before the turn of the century. It’s either been in Vegas or Orlando, but it’s never been anywhere outside the continental U.S. That’s interesting considering how many countries send athletes to the U.S. to compete. It’s also interesting that the Masters Olympia was held in Romania, but the open remains in the U.S.
The Pro League would have a hard time having the O anywhere but the U.S. The other IFBB has the ability to put shows just about anywhere on the globe. They’re not tied down to the U.S. That said, the Olympia brand would do well anywhere. The athletes will go wherever and the venues will sell out. The companies would follow suit as well. I mean there’s no shortage of U.S. based companies that don’t fight for booth space at FIBO and Bodypower. That said, the Olympia isn’t going anywhere, not at least while Jake Wood owns it. Rumor has it he’s losing money, but I doubt he got into bodybuilding to make it. There’s far better ways to make a profit. It’s great the sport has a real fan as owner of its Super Bowl. And Jake and his team have done one heck of a fantastic job, but that’s not what this article is about. This article is about the substantial disadvantage international athletes like Nathan De Asha suffer.
What’s the alternative? Moving to the United States? I mean I happen to think we live in the greatest country in the world, but do you have to actually move here in order to be a top tier pro bodybuilder? That just seems a little too extreme for me. But that might be the only guaranteed way to compete. I mean even if reigning Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan had years when he couldn’t compete for the very same reason De Asha can’t. Imagine being 100%, looking your absolute best, and then you’re informed you can’t travel. You didn’t do a thing wrong, you had all your paperwork in on time, got all your shots, but you happen to live in a country that the U.S. doesn’t care for that day. Hadi hails from Iran. There aren’t too many countries in the U.S. like less. With the exception of maybe North Korea, Iran is at the top of the United States’ shitlist. And whether we’re talking about some random pro or even Mr. Olympia himself, customs don’t care. Does anyone think anyone over at the State Department would rethink the U.S. Iranian relationships so some halfpoint could board a plane to get in a thong and battle it out against 10-15 other muscled guys in fake tans and sporting several layers of oil? I think not.
I hate the fact Nick Miller was right and I’m sure he’s all too eager to let everyone know “he told us so.” Good for you Nick. You predicted something that wasn’t all that hard to predict. Guys like Nathan put the work in and they promote the sport year-round. He had a tremendous 2023, winning contests and even taking a tough placing, but putting on his game face. Nathan knew this could happen, but he didn’t whine and he certainly didn’t sit around hoping for a special invite to fall from the sky. Even with the far stricter Olympia qualifying system, he rose to the top. It breaks my heart to see such a driven athlete be sidelined for something totally out of his control. It should make competitors who don’t have to suffer the uncertainty of getting a visa or not, really be thankful for the fact they never have to worry about this.
Bodybuilding isn’t the bad guy here. This isn’t the promoter’s fault or the federations. It’s just how it is when it comes to international competitors. And it’s not always for guys living in places like Iran or North Korea. It’s happened to Brits like De Asha, French citizens like Beyeke, and many, many others. Sometimes the countries couldn’t be closer to the U.S., but the reason isn’t valid enough to get a visa. Perhaps if bodybuilding were bigger? Maybe if it was more mainstream? Who really knows. At the end of the day you have guys who have spent 10, 20, 30 thousand dollars and put in upwards of ten or eleven months of doing qualifying shows, giving their all in the gym, going to massage therapy, getting stem cell treatments, just doing anything and everything to keep their bodies in tip top shape. It’s all done with one thing in mind. Every pro bodybuilder strives to make it to the Olympia stage. And when that’s not possible because of something like this, it really, truly stings.
We will all miss The Prophecy NATHAN DE ASHA at the 2023 Mr. Olympia. This could have been his year. Unlike so many other pro’s – even pro’s who qualify – Nathan has what it takes to break into the Top 6. He’s the kind of guy who could WIN IT ALL!!
What’s your take on the fact that one of the most outspoken and most fun guys to watch won’t be able to compete amongst the best bodybuilders in the world? Should he just move to the United States – or – do you agree with me that that’s just too extreme? How well do you think De Asha would have done if he had been able to compete? I hope you enjoyed reading my article, here, at Iron Magazine. Be sure to share the link to this article on all your social media feeds. It’s sure to drum up some great conversations.I guarantee it!