by Christian Duque
William “The Conqueror” Bonac is going for his 3rd Arnold Classic title in just a few short days at the 2023 Arnold Classic. Just four years ago, he was 2nd in the world, battling against the great Brandon Curry at the Mr. Olympia and also battled with Brandon at a number of Arnold Classics. In 2020, he won the title besting Dexter and Big Ramy.
The Conqueror faces stiff resistance from guys like Big Ramy, Nick Walker, and 212 Mr. O’s in Kamal Elgargni and Shaun Clarida in 2023. The reality is every man on the stage is going there hoping to walk away with the title and the huge $300,000 paycheck being offered. That said, this contest – unlike the Olympia – this contest is viewed by many people as one that values aesthetics over mass. This really helps guys like Bonac, Kamal, and Clarida.
Bonac has tried playing the size game before but I think if he’s come to the realization that when he comes in streamlined and ripped he’s his most dangerous. It’s one thing to try to bring 5-15lbs of extra mass when up against slightly larger guys but it’s quite another when you’re up against guys like Dauda, Walker, and Ramy. That extra bit of muscle isn’t going to make a difference when standing next to the aforementioned giants. That said no matter how ripped Walker comes in critics will still point to his midsection as being too blocky. A similar argument can be made for Ramy. They can come in peeled and tight but not by Bonac’s standards. And that’s where The Conqueror needs to really hit hard.
If William comes in ultra shredded and separated he’s going to make the less aesthetically pleasing big guys look like trash. There’s also a high likelihood that the bigger guys might spill over as they tend to overdo everything in the final 48. I’m not sure why this is but the bigger guys seem to have a lot of issues when it comes to the last couple days before hitting the stage. It’s not like they have a weight cap to deal with, but some of these guys, and more particularly their coaches, tend to hit the diuretics hard. Instead of this time being the less stressful part of what’s known as “hell week,” it becomes the most disastrous. It’s been argued that it was precisely during these last two days that Big Ramy sabotaged one of the best Olympia preps of his career last year! What could he possibly have done? Who knows?
What I will say is that William is in a very unique position right now. Whereas he has largely been ignored in Olympia promotions over the past few years he is now for the first time in a long time, flying under the radar going into an Arnold Classic. What the competition may not realize is that William is his most dangerous when he is ignored. This is one of the most decorated champions in the sport of bodybuilding, and when he is overlooked, it develops a fire within him that is extremely dangerous. He takes it quite personally, and he will hit the stage with an incredible amount of passion and drive.
Not only has Bonac been ignored as a top contender, but there has been more talk about his health than there has been about him winning his third title in Columbus, Ohio. Believe you me, William would not do a show if it meant that his health was on the line. He is not wired like that. He understands the long-term game, and if he is competing, it’s because his body can do it. That being said, I have not seen a single media outlet talk about the monumental impact of him winning his third title and what that would mean in terms of buzz for the 2023 Olympia. This is not a bodybuilder who is on his way out. William is still very much in his prime.
I think one of the main reasons why William does not get more love from writers and influencers is because he does not give them a lot to work with in terms of trash talk and pettiness. Unfortunately, we have come to a point in time where you only get coverage if you’re negative and toxic. After all everyone wants hits and very few people know how to generate traffic by talking about the finer points of the sport. This champion has pretty much done everything except win the Mr. Olympia, yet most content creators are at a loss for words when it comes to writing about him or discussing him as one of the greatest bodybuilders of his day. That is a sad reality for fitness journalism.
This is where reporting in Bodybuilding has been for the better part of the last 10 years. It’s where we have gone from the glorious days of print to the days of social media. It’s a completely different animal now. If you’re not attacking your peers or making outlandish statements – it doesn’t matter how great your physique is – you’re going to be ignored.
Even when William wins, the buzz around that victory seems to be a lot more short-lived than it is when dealing with other guys. The media just doesn’t value William’s accomplishments in the same light as others. And for some reason promoters also do not give him the love, or the exposure, that they do for lesser champions. I really honestly cannot put my finger on it but we have seen it happen over and over again as of the last three or four years.
Even if William were to win his third title, in Columbus, Ohio, I have a feeling that he would still get cast to the back of the line when it comes to Olympia promotions. Even the year where he took second and was headed to the following year‘s O, he was not marketed as a top contender. And even though he has two Arnold title, he is not being marketed as a top contender for the 2023 Arnold Classic, either. Why is that? And even when they were down to just six guys, he still wasn’t marketed as the favorite to win! Doesn’t anyone find that just a little bit mind-boggling?!?!
I’d like to encourage everyone to keep an eye out for The Conqueror at the 2023 Arnold Classic. If he wins, it would not surprise me in the least, but I think a lot of people would be absolutely shocked. This guy has beat every single person on that stage, and he can do it again!
Where do you think William will place?