The Ninth Annual Joe Weider's Masters Mr. Olympia
Held in Charlotte, North Carolina with the 2003 Jan Tana Classic
August 15, 2003 (Prejudging)
August 16, 2003 (Evening Show)
The evening show started Saturday about half an hour late, at 8:05, to a reggae rendition of "Under the Boardwalk." Jan Tana began a night of frequent remembrances with a tribute to "a special friend of bodybuilding" who had just passed away: Gregory Hines.
Then MC Tim Wilkins took over, dapper and silver-tongued as ever, announcing the women's fitness routines for the next hour. Wilkins was unobtrusive till the judges needed him to buy them time, and then he came alive. His jokes are like a fitness routine themselves, bouncing off the walls and cracking everyone up. At one point he stopped and said, "I love this gig," and being a BB himself, he matched the crowd in the room. Unlike the judges, he had no problem with the exotic names, nailing them exactly. He said he'd practiced one name for two days.
Last year, all competitors were ranked from 1st to 26th; this year, the rankings went from 1st to 17th, with everyone after that being given an unranked 18th place. I will indicate the rankings as I go.
Alberto Bistocchi (Varese) went first with a
graceful, old-fashioned routine directed strictly
at the judges. Not huge, Bistocchi
("Bee-STO-key") had balance and hit shots well.
He was noticed, taking 7th.
The music for the second competitor, Josef Rac, wouldn't play, so he was shifted to the end of the list.
Next was Lawrence Marshall (Trinidad),
a monster who's big in all key bodyparts.
Never still, he posed sharply and quickly to
heavy metal music. He projected what he
had well, and was ranked 13th.
Leon Brown (US) followed with a brief routine.
A veteran BB who "trained with Arnold at Venice
Beach," as Wilkins noted, Brown has some beef
and is still living his dream. He earned 17th place,
well up from last year.
Mauro Grosso (Italy) had a bald android look,
with sinuous moves and a tight build, strong in
the abs. He's a masters champ in his native Italy,
and was an unranked 18th here.
Joe Palumbo (US) returned after a top-ten
showing at this contest last year. Always playing
on his New York SWAT-team work, Palumbo
did an extended routine complete with sirens,
whistles and policeman's band radio bulletins.
His thick back is his main virtue, but he's too
stationary onstage. He took 9th, just like last year.
Cristian-Ovidiu Mihailescu (Romania) was
the best new bodybuilder I saw at this show.
Not big, he had a strong build and a great look.
He posed in geometric patterns, playing to the
crowd. I think he has potential in the over-50
category at this show. He was unranked at 18th.
Behnam Samimy (US, but previously in Iran,
Denmark and Canada) returned with improved
legs. A natural in front of a crowd, Samimy has
timing and flexibility, always bringing the roof
down by performing the splits. He went up to
16th this year, the most improved of anyone who
carried over from last year's show.
Dayo Audi (UK) followed, another monster
with excellent legs, arms, and waist. He was
exciting to watch as he played to the crowd,
and is a serious contender for BB awards.
Here he took 11th, but I would have said higher.
Jim Pedone (Australia) returned after last year's
debut at this show, looking even leaner than before.
He offered a straightforward routine, projecting a
fitness build to the crowd. He was unranked at
William Leonard (Australia) looks like a
munchkin who found the Wicked Witch's
whey protein stash. Shorter than Flavio,
Leonard still packs on the muscle and has
tight abs shown off with slow, smooth
moves. He was unranked at 18th.
Flavio Baccianini (US, previously in Italy)
is a crowd favorite. His routine was new
this year, but he brought the house down
with his usual striptease moves. While very
short, he has no distortion of body parts;
he just looks reduced, like a "Fantastic
Voyage" experiment stopped in progress.
He's gone as high as 2nd in this show two
times, but managed 10th this year (with a
posing award noted below).
Honore Cironte (Spain/Canary Islands)
is a trademark over-60 figure at this show.
As he came out, Wilkins quipped, "The
man started lifting at the Flintstones gym."
As usual he had a solid upper body (with
striated pecs), but his legs suffered. The
pounding music he used was headache
inducing. He was unranked at 18th.
Roy Menig (Holland) was an exciting new
competitor at this show. With the sharpest
shoulder-to-waist dimensions onstage, he
also had fantastic arms and abs, hitting poses
hard and getting the crowd to support him.
He was worth flying in to see, and took 8th.
With more size, he could be top five in this
Greg Dwyer (Australia) was new to the show this
year, with a dramatic and highly choreographed
routine. A middleweight, he was outsized by
others, but had solid shape. He took 12th.
Nicolae Giurgi (Hungary) took 6th in this
show in 2000, and 16th last year. He
didn't look good during prejudging, but had
his shape by the evening show and, as always,
offered a terrific routine. He enjoys being
onstage as much as anyone I've seen up there,
never losing his smile and always playing to
the audience. Instead of bouncing his pecs
like last year, this time he dusted off his quads.
He took 14th place.
Lee Apperson (US) looked like he'd just
walked out of a "Men's Fitness" magazine
cover photo shoot. He posed well, but his
toothpaste smile and model looks lost him
any distinctiveness. He took 8th in this
show two years ago, falling to 15th this year.
Darryl Stafford (US) was great to see
in a dramatic routine. Clearly a contender
from the moment he hit the stage, the
question was only how high he would go.
With great shape and dramatic posing, he
easily placed in the top five. I liked him
Dave Hawk (US) returned after taking 4th
in this show last year. He brought with him a
large red-T-shirted cheering squad that
screamed whenever he moved. He dedicated
his routine to his father, who died eight years
ago to the day. His routine was somewhat
flat, mainly projecting some very good abs.
I thought he looked a bit sharper last year.
He was in the top five.
Emeric Delczeg (US, previously in Romania)
has been in this show several times, going as
high as 7th in previous years. He was one of
my favorites in last year's show, but he didn't
peak this year and we had to be satisfied with
his excellent routine. He was unranked at 18th.
Continue on to rest of Evening Show, including the phenomenal Claude Groulx