by Christian Duque
The 2024 Arnold Classic is shaping up to be one of the biggest contests of the year and fans are starting to get restless. Unlike other contests – the Olympia included – all of the top guys are taking to social media and posting updates in real time. Even Hadi has put out his fair share of photos and videos which is very unlike him. I think he might be coming to the realization that we’re in the 21st century and that’s not even cutting edge. It’s simply what everyone else is doing. That being said we all come around at different times. Perhaps now he’s understanding why when he was Mr. O so many fans got bored with him. They got bored with wondering “where’s Hadi?” and/or “is Hadi training?”
As of the last ten or so years people want constant updates. Whether it is just rambling while doing cardio, posing in the mirror, or eating some meals, people want that fly on the wall kind of feeling. Some athletes choose how much they share. Meaning it doesn’t have to necessarily be physique updates but the fans do want to see as much as they can. And at the end of the day that’s all the media has to work with anyways.
Athletes no longer have exclusivity deals and there’s no longer a print media section that’s able to have a roster of guys and gals just sitting around collecting checks. Most of the media today gets their news from the same places the fans do. They may put collages of photos and videos together and talk over them but that’s all they’re really doing.
All of the guys doing the 2024 Arnold Classic are pushing out the content. They’re working hard to post as many physique updates as they can and the leader of the pack is none other than Samson Dauda himself. He’s looking all kinds of jacked and he’s been posting since at least 11 weeks out. The fact is he’s showing pretty much everything. And not a lot of guys can do that. They’d be way too self-conscious to share as much as Samson.
Some guys might show some arms, others might hit their wheels, but to actually strip down and show the complete physique, like Samson has, that’s a pretty bold move. Most guys show off their dominant body parts in an effort to create buzz for themselves without showing any weaknesses. In bodybuilding the illusion plays for a huge role, but you can’t really hide lagging muscles in 4K these days. It’s different when you have lights on stage, shadows, and ways around hiding imperfections even to a panel of trained judges who might ask for a number of comparisons in hopes of seeing through the competitors best efforts at hiding body parts.
Bodybuilders in particular are very particular about how much they show. To some guys you’re only as good as your last best placing. Imagine if this happens with an IG update? What I mean by that is imagine if a competitor happens to show a remarkable look on Instagram and perhaps looks the best he ever has there, and then shows up to the stage looking less conditioned or proportioned. That could be undoing.
While you don’t win shows on Instagram you can certainly lose ones that way. Because if you look a certain kind of way, you may be judged against that. All I’m saying is too much transparency can also bring about your demise because if people are expecting a certain look and you don’t bring it on contest day, then some might say you have dropped the ball. And dropping the ball suggests you have not worked to your potential. Physique-based sports are not about beating the guy next to you or even about being the best out of the group. It’s about being the best you possible. Usually this can be gauged by your last best placing, but I would argue that it could also be based on your last Instagram posting. It just shows what you’re capable of and if you can do better on IG than on stage that might be an issue.
You won’t find a single judge anywhere, in any federation, that will corroborate what I’m saying. Because what I’m saying is groundbreaking and could seriously throw a monkey wrench into everything that we know about judging. That being said, do I believe it’s a factor? Absolutely.
Plus what Samson is doing is also revolutionary because he’s not using any goon lighting and he’s not hiding in the dark. Everything is done with daylight and probably just a smart phone. Who knows? Maybe Samson is forcing Hadi to post.
For the first time in a great many years, we have a true showdown between two formidable competitors in Sampson and Hadi. Sampson placed top three at last year‘s Mr. Olympia and won last year’s Arnold Classic. He is going into Columbus to defend his title and that has tremendous marketing value. Hadi, on the other hand is a former Mr. Olympia doing the Arnold for the very first year of his career. That also has tremendous marketing value. At the end of the day both of these competitors are giving the promoters plenty of substance to work with. It’s up to them to really make this contest into a showdown between two tremendous champions.
And I think it’s important how this contest gets sold to the public. So far we have seen a lot of activity from the various media sites but to be honest with you I don’t know how hard the promoters are pushing on social media itself. We should see ads all over the place popping up, but that really comes down to whether the promoters are paying to boost the posts or not.
I would imagine after last year’s near fumble that they would be doing such a thing. Not only is this contest looking like it’s going to be one of the biggest of the last 20 years, but it also seems like it could be a blockbuster event, if marketed, the correct way. For example VIP packages to the expo and contest should be sold out by now. I don’t have access to those numbers but for a competition of this caliber, the good seats should be long gone by now. If tickets aren’t selling like hotcakes, that means that something is wrong at the promotional level. The main event should be something drawing fans from all over the world.
With regards to the actual showdown, it’s going to be a nailbiter, because you have two competitors that have completely different physiques. One guy is a towering giant, while the other guy is a compact ankle biter. One guy has a gnarly-looking physique where you couldn’t add another pound of muscle, while the other guy has a flowing more aesthetic look that would more than likely be embraced by the namesake of the competition.
As we stated in previous articles, it doesn’t really matter what Arnold wants or doesn’t because he is not a judge, but if we are talking about what he prefers on a personal note, then Sampson has an undoubted advantage over Hadi. It may be a moot point, but it’s still one worth mentioning in my opinion. And for whatever it’s worth, if Hadi ends up winning, you can expect to hear Arnold go on and on about it post contest. I mean that is pretty much a foregone conclusion lol.
Another interesting factor will be which guy works the audience better. Samson has a great look and gives his all in a prep, but Hadi is a former Mr. O and he’s a guy who’s won the People’s Award. I have no doubt Iranian fans will pack the house and buy pay per view like crazy. Hadi also has a truckload of U.S. based fans and that’s going to make the live show all the more exciting. I hope Samson works the stage like a confident defending champion and won’t get lost in the mix. He needs to think of that stage and that venue as his house. While the promotions should center around Samson and Hadi and both those guys should have each other in their sights, they can’t focus on each other while on stage. They can’t limit themselves like that or they might fail to take other threats at arise on game day seriously.
There’s no doubt we’re in for an epic showdown in Columbus and expect plenty more articles, here, at Iron Magazine. There’s tons of possibilities and endless comparisons that can be made. We’re going to give you all of our insights and ultimately give you our Top 6 which has become a reader-favorite over the years.