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Bob Cicherillo, Shawn Ray Speak Out!


by Christian Duque

Although the magazines are long gone, bodybuilding media has never been stronger than it is today. There are so many different channels you can watch and websites you can visit. There’s a seemingly endless list of podcasts that you can listen to while doing cardio, driving to work, or simply just kicking back on an off day from the gym. I have to say though that while there are many great podcasts, there is a shortage of qualified individuals that can speak to the finer points of bodybuilding. People who have been competing for decades and that have been in the sport through various different roles. Whether that be as competitors, officiators, sponsored athletes or supplement company owners. When I tell you that there is an abundance of programs and a shortage of talented individuals, I think I pretty much hit the nail on the head. So even though there is an endless amount of these programs I am a highly-selective type listener.

Two guys that I have tremendous respect for are two of the most competent and seasoned veterans of the sport of bodybuilding. They should both be in the Hall of Fame even though only one of them is. I’m talking about the unofficial voice of bodybuilding Bob Cicherillo and IFBB Hall of Famer “Sugar” Shawn Ray. These guys together have an amount of knowledge in the sport that is unparalleled. You could call them historians, you could call them experts, but what you can never say is that they don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re also extremely well-placed people. They are very much in the good graces of Pittsburgh, they have excellent ties with Jake Wood, and in all reality they could write their own ticket and have. And that is all the more reason why they inspired this article. Because what they said about the New York Pro and the placings is nothing short of groundbreaking. And they didn’t say it behind closed doors, they didn’t say it on condition of anonymity, they were out and about speaking their mind for all to hear. And I have to tell you that is pretty damn powerful.

I think it’s safe to say that we all have heard the results of the 2024 New York Pro. If you follow me on @StrengthAddicts on Instagram or any of my other social media platforms you know where I stand. If you read my article just a couple of days ago titled Nick Walker ‘Wins’ the New York Pro – here at Iron Magazine – you know exactly what I thought about the judging and the scoring. it left much to be desired but it wasn’t just with me. And that is where I know as a writer and as a member of the media that I’m not simply being a fanboy for Martin Fitzwater but that I have righteous indignation to know that the judges pulled a fast one when they should have done the right thing.

Now we can talk about politics and we can talk about the price of rice in China but the reality of the matter is something is a foot when veterans like Bob Cicherillo and Shawn Ray basically echoed everything that I said in an article two days before they released their video on Youtube. Great minds think alike, don’t you think?
I’m really not trying to be funny because the reality matter is we’re talking about a subjective sport. Even Bob, who is 1/2 of the inspiration for this article often says that bodybuilding is a sport of apples and oranges.

For example, one panel of judges might be looking for an apple, while another panel of judges might be looking for an orange. Even if you’re the best looking apple on a given day where they’re looking for an orange you’re not going to win the show. This is the subjective nature of the sport and this is how the cookie crumbles. I am not for one second trying to argue against that very foundational point because anybody that knows anything about physique-based sports knows that that is the case with any competition, from your local level one amateur show all the way up to the Super Bowl of Bodybuilding, the Mr Olympia.

But this article and TVOB podcast deal with a different type of situation. It deals with something that is black and white. It deals with a decision that should have gone a certain way and anything short of that would have raised eyebrows. And the decision at the New York Pro most definitely raised more than just my eyebrow, it raised Bob’s and Shawn’s, and it may have raised yours as well. Let me explain.

I am well too familiar with close calls and would never argue that a close call is a bad call. But if you watch TVOB and you listen to these guys talk about symmetry, shape, structure, posing, it just becomes abundantly clear that the New York Pro is not the product of a close call, rather it was the product of bad judging.

Nick Walker may have been the more marketable guy to pick as the champion for Olympia promotions and to create buzz throughout the sport, but that is not a criteria on the score cards. He got bested in various different aspects of matters that are actually scored and the fact that the prejudging concluded with a 1 point difference between these two competitors further shows me that no matter what happened, Nick was going to walk away with the win. That is shameful if that’s the case. I personally think he has an ugly physique and I think he looked like trash. Not only don’t I think he should have won, I don’t even necessarily think he should have been in the top three.

We often hear about what can be done to make bodybuilding a mainstream sport. We hear about ways to market it, we hear about bells and whistles, light shows, but what is really necessary is some true accountability and transparency in the judging. And that doesn’t mean the head judge explaining to the competitors and to the press why a BS decision was actually a legitimate one. That’s not transparency, that’s just damage control.

What I mean by transparency is judging all competitors equally regardless of who has a bigger following or who could generate more ticket sales for a contest several months down the road. When I see decisions like the one at the New York Pro it makes me think that this isn’t a sport, rather, it’s just a modeling pageant with a twisted sense of humor.

If competitors don’t feel like they are being judged fairly and fans don’t feel they are being judged fairly, either, then what the hell are we doing here? How is this any different from WWE? This is certainly not a sport that will ever have any Olympic aspirations and will certainly not be a household name anytime soon. But then again some say boxing is rigged and you can watch that on TV so maybe we’ll see bodybuilding back on Fox and ESPN. Who knows? What say you?

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