by Christian Duque
2x Arnold Classic Champion and Mr. Olympia runner-up William “The Conqueror” Bonac published a timely and well thought out post on Instagram just days ago. In it he covered his contest record over the last few years, including his 7th place finish at the 2023 Arnold Classic. The champ has been getting less and less love ever since he took runner-up at the O and very few insiders can explain why.
Although he’s been largely given the cold shoulder for Olympia promotions he’s always been given a good amount of spotlight headed into the second biggest contest in the world. After all, he has won the title two times, including 2020 when he defeated a very impressive Dexter “The Blade” Jackson and an equally impressive Big Ramy. In fact Ramy was so good in 2020 in Columbus that just a few short months later he’d win the Mr. Olympia, a title Bonac has chased, but come up short with. The following year, Bonac took 2nd place at the ASC, but the 2023 Arnold might be the cue for the break Bonac has been looking for.
In his post for Instagram, William said he wants to focus on family and taking care of matters outside of bodybuilding. He also said he wouldn’t be missing the bodybuilding diet. In fact, Bonac made headlines when he stated that his 2023 Arnold prep would require him to get off certain medications in order to be ready for the stage. While I never had a doubt in him and I know full well he would never compromise his health to do a contest, many in the media used the news tidbit as the basis for a mountain of coverage allegedly aimed at looking after William’s best interests. In reality, it was nothing more than clickbait. It was people looking to trash The Conqueror, stir up fear talk, and try to milk it for hits and clout. The fact of the matter is that while I’m sure WIlliam has seen healthier days, he was fine to compete.
The rest couldn’t come at a better time though. His body needs it and I think it’ll be a great mental reset as well. While champions don’t normally take breaks to clear their head I think this would be good for William because he’s a guy who always gives 110% to the stage and to the sport and hasn’t been reaping the rewards as of late. I was shocked at his placing at the 2022 Olympia and even more shocked by his placing at the 2023 Arnold Classic. I’m not used to seeing him take these kinds of placings and I honestly don’t think he was off. If you listen to the commentators you know I’m not just being a fanboy here. He looked impressive at the Arnold and held his own. Was he a mass monster like Samson Dauda, Nick Walker, or Big Ramy, no, but he held his own with the guys who brought aesthetically pleasing looks with streamlined muscle and sharp condition. Nonetheless, a guy who won two ASC titles placed 7th. That’s mind boggling considering the fact that the Arnold has always been a show that rewards shape and structure. Nonetheless, William is not going to take to social media and burn bridges over it.
Part of the reason the media ignores The Conqueror is because he’s all business. He doesn’t talk trash about his fellow competitors and even though I’m sure he realizes politics is part of the reason why his placings have plummeted, you’ll never hear him throwing shade at the judges or any federation. His mentality is to just go back to the drawing board and figure out what he needs to do in order to place better. We have seen him push the condition card, we have seen come back with as much as 20 lbs of lean muscle gains, and we’ve also seen him mix it up. Even though he’s won two Arnolds and placed second in the world, he still takes time to hear the judges out and tries to work to make those critiques a checklist for the journey to come. Even still the judges don’t give him props for it. If only he was negative and outspoken, only then would the media give him more exposure, and in so doing speak about all the positive aspects of his great physique.
A lot of people fail to recall that William started out in the 212. While everyone is singing the accolades of Hadi Choopan and Derek Lunsford, William set the groundwork for this very kind of move years ago. He not only rose to the top of the ranks, but he won the second biggest contest during years when there were stacked lineups. Even in 2022, he took 2nd only after he made Nick “The Mutant” Walker fight hard for the title. There’s no giving up in him and he won’t stop fighting until the show is over. He knows that even if a competitor is in a deficit they can make up for lost ground. As long as the show is going, there’s the chance to snag the win. While this makes it harder for the judges, it’s just the kind of entertainment the fans love most. People want to see their favorite bodybuilders battle it out. That shows that their heart is truly in it. If the athletes fight hard, that ups the entertainment value more than any light show or soundtrack ever could. Guys like William keep things fun and interesting so it makes me happy that 2023 isn’t the end of the road for him. And I can say I’m not in the least bit surprised. If and when Bonac does retire, it won’t be as a reaction to a less than stellar placing. That’s not who he is and it’s certainly not what he’s all about.
And for all the people citing his age – stop! He’s in his 40’s and his physique looks fresh. After a year off, his mindset will get a much-needed recharge, his body will be rested, and he will have spent some quality time with his family and friends. That’s very important for a guy who hasn’t seen a break in years. He’s always working, whether prepping for contests, making improvements in the off-season, or working on behalf of contests and sponsors. This is a man who eats, sleeps, and breathes the business of bodybuilding. Some downtime will surely give him the chance to turn a whole new page and come back in 2024 with renewed vigor and passion.
Don’t be the least bit surprised if William hits the Arnold Classic stage in 2024 and wins it all. For everyone who underestimates him – keep it up – because if there’s anyone who can turn skeptics into believers and who can make the collective bodybuilding world’s jaw drop – it’s William “The Conqueror” Bonac!