by Christian Duque
To quote the great Charles Barkley, “I haven’t seen a robbery like that since we stole everything from the Indians.” I mean Good Lord! What on Earth were the judges looking at when they gave Regan Grimes the win against Nathan “The Prophecy” DeAsha at the 2023 Europa Pro? I mean it had to have been a superstar judging panel consisting of the resurrected souls of Ray Charles and Helen Keller. Nathan was far freakier, he was harder, and he was far more separated.
I know what the talking heads are saying they’ve done a fantastic job of parroting their marching orders, but I just don’t see it. I have nothing against Reagan, even though he’s had me blocked since the days when he decided to take a crap on the Oxygen crew and I thought his sentiments were unfounded. I first met Reagan about a decade ago at the BPI booth at the Arnold Classic. He was considered a future Mr. O then, and he’s heralded as such to this day by his legions of diehard fans. Interestingly, not too long Nick “The Mutant” Walker basically told the guy – publicly – that he just didn’t have what it took to be a top tier bodybuilder. That seemingly lit a fire under him and he went on to present this much-improved look. But how improved is it? Again, I don’t want to take anything from Grimes. He’s one of the greatest bodybuilders to emerge from Ontario and is known worldwide for really great social media content. That said, I would not put him in the same category as DeAsha.
What does that even mean? Well, what it means is, if I were a judge and I was looking at shape, structure, condition and presentation, Reagan wouldn’t be in Nathan’s zip code. While any IFBB Pro could, in theory, be Mr. Olympia, DeAsha actually has the ability to be the top guy in the world. What’s held him back? Well it hasn’t been work ethic, that as much I can tell you.
He comes from the land of Dorian Yates and when you’re talking about how hard the guys across the pond go, it can only be paralleled by the guys in the American northeast. No disrespect to the many hardcore lifters on the West Coast, but leg days aren’t optional. The fact of the matter is that if Nathan signs up to compete, he brings it, and he’s earned some very prominent accolades. Grimes, on the other hand, has had the misfortune of basically finishing last at the Olympia and getting his ass handed to him by Shaun Clarida at an open show. Again, I’m not knocking Reagan and I’m certainly not knocking Shaun, but when you’ve got 40-50lbs on the guy next to you and he takes your lunch money, you can’t exactly walk around like you’re the shit.
Did Grimes improve? Sure. I’ll give him that, but was it enough to beat Nathan on game day? I think not. Now I already know what the go to rebuttal is going to be. Was I there? Was I at the contest and if so how close was I to the stage? The only way to defeat this rebuttal would be if I was sitting center stage in the first three rows. I’ve sat in that spot for more contests than I can count and I’ll be among the first to tell you that that vantage point you can’t get even from 8k videos and the highest resolution photos. You’ll get no fight out of me when it comes to that. However, if you’re dealing with a contest that pulls out all the stops – like the Europa Pro, then you’re looking at photos and you’re watching videos that are just about the next best thing. It’s not being there, but it’s pretty close to the truest representation of what was seen from those choice seats. And to be honest, if it were close, I wouldn’t be writing this article and I wouldn’t have sounded off an Instagram Reel at 5AM from the treadmill at Planet Fitness. The fact that only one point separated Nathan from Reagan amounts to a bunch of bullshit if you ask me. And maybe you’re not asking me, but I’m the lucky bastard who’s writing this article that you’re reading. So I guess you’re getting a healthy serving of my opinion – like it or not.
That’s the beauty about physique-based sports. We all have an opinion and seldom, if ever, will everyone be happy. I won’t go so far as to say that DeAsha was robbed. That would be to suggest that Reagan looked like trash and still got the W. That wouldn’t be accurate. I don’t care if the guy has me blocked and thinks I’m the worst troll on the planet, I don’t pen retaliatory articles. I take pride in my work and believe it or not, I do my best to keep any biases or resentments I may have away from what’s sent to my editor.
Usually I’ll do one or two read-throughs and proofs. If you remember the early days of my writing in bodybuilding, you’ll know that I was never too keen on editors revamping my articles. Writers can be very picky about that. The trouble is, in hindsight, if you don’t edit and you don’t proofread your articles as a writer, then you have only yourself to blame. I hated when my articles were worked on or touched up so now I do at least 1-2 read-throughs. Truly great writers must strive to be neutral, but like the judges who score a contest, we’re only human. It’s very difficult to tow a completely disinterested line. In my humble opinion after looking at every photo I could find and watching countless videos from a number of different angles, I still believe that Nathan won. So why did Reagan walk away with the win?
I know that Nick’s Strength And Power, as well as many other YouTubers have held to the theory that politics couldn’t have been at play. They make the case because Grimes placed last at an Olympia and that the Olympia really wouldn’t stand that much to gain by having any one bodybuilder on their stage. They also speak to the fact that the promoter of the O and the leaders of the federation in question have nothing to do with each other.
That’s true to a point, but I’m not so quick to shoot down the idea that politics were involved. That could be manifested subtly or blatantly and/or anything in between. It could be something as lowkey as a longer comparison to moving someone to the first callouts all the way to give someone the tie-breaking point. When you look at the scorecards, only 1 point separated 1st from 2nd place. That’s about as close as it gets in a bodybuilding contest. For there to be a one point decision it would have to be so tough that the most seasoned judges in the land would be stumped. They might need to call for additional comparisons and/or they would have to scrutinize each guy’s routine at the nightshow. It would have to be something that split the media and the fans down the middle. We have only seen this phenomenon happen in a handful of situations. The 2023 Europa Pro was not one of these one in a million showdowns. In fact, the lion’s share of the fans believe DeAsha was robbed.
So if the majority of the fans believe something’s up, why is the media, namely YouTubers throwing water on any possibility of show decisions having political motivations? Well, what they don’t tell you is that many of the most popular YouTube channels out there rely heavily on reposting contest footage. They not only need the promoters’ permission to do this, they basically need their blessing. If they started to get strikes, their channels would be toast. So happy promoters make for successful channels. And these YouTubers don’t just post content out of the love of the sport. For many, views account for a nice chunk of their income.
For a select few, creating and rebranding content is how they make a living. They’re not about to call bullshit on how one particular contest is judged for journalistic integrity. They want ad revenue, they want sponsors, and they want to gain hits. This is not to say that politics are or aren’t a factor, rather, it’s merely to put it out there that many YouTubers aren’t totally impartial. They most definitely have a dog in the race and they’re not about to give up a pretty lucrative income stream just to report on how any one particular contest was decided. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Europa, the Arnold, or even the Mr. Olympia. They’ll criticize to a point, but they never come anywhere near crossing the proverbial line. I’m not sure if you’ve ever noticed that. And if you haven’t, look to see any channels that are openly suggesting that politics was at play. You won’t find any.
To reiterate, I’m not saying politics was or wasn’t the deciding factor. I’m just saying it’s mighty suspect when YouTubers totally dismiss this angle. I’m also here to say that Nathan beat Reagan and I scratch my head at the judges’ decision. But more importantly what say you? Who won the 2023 Europa Pro in your opinion? And do you think politics played any kind of a role?