Bodybuilding Reviews / Videos
1999 NPC Men’s Nationals



Hans Van Der Gronden

Videotapes released by Repetrope Productions in 1999

The following videos are under review:

Prejudging, Part I: Bantam, Lightweight, and Middleweight Classes (103 minutes)

Prejudging, Part II: Light-Heavyweight, Heavyweight, and Super-Heavyweight Classes (158 minutes)

Backstage Posing, Part I: Bantam, Lightweight, and Middleweight Classes (157 minutes)

Backstage Posing, Part II: Light-Heavyweight, Heavyweight, and Super-Heavyweight Classes (158 minutes)

Evening Show (90 minutes)

The 1999 NPC Nationals contest was held in Orlando, Florida, on October 15th (prejudging) and 16th (evening show), at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center.  The evening show was MC’d by Lonnie Tepper, who offered anecdotes and bodybuilding lore to the spectators.  This show is the most important amateur bodybuilding contest in the United States, awarding pro cards to all six winners of the weight classes, focusing national attention on a new crop of competitors, and revealing trends in physique development and presentation.

As it did for last year’s Nationals, Repetrope videotaped five tapes’ worth of pump room prep and backstage posing.  Most of these tapes are longer than the ones last year.  In addition, three tapes were added this year, two for prejudging and one for the evening show.  This review focuses on the five tapes showcasing the competitors in the backstage posing, prejudging, and evening show.  It’s hard to ask for a more complete video record of a contest.  In general, this is where you can expect to find competitors on these tapes: most in each class appear alphabetically by surname in the backroom posing, done specifically for Repetrope; the general lineups are in the prejudging, along with compulsory routines and comparisons of the 15 who made the judges’ cut; the top 5 in each class are in the evening show with their full routines, after which winners are chosen.

I have described Repetrope’s approach to backstage posing in earlier reviews, and won’t repeat that here, except to note that this video is shot at the side of the pump room while competitors are getting ready for prejudging or the evening show (with a few carrying trophies after their wins).  The main difference in the new tapes is that the screen information is more complete.  For each competitor we get a caption with his name, age, weight, home city, state, and placing if he made the top five in his class.  This info is very helpful to bodybuilding fans.  I would also like to know the competitor’s height, as that lets me relate proportions to weight.  The computer graphics inserted between competitors, and at the start and end of the tapes, are sharper than before.  Repetrope continually tinkers with and improves its look.  These tapes are a joy to watch.

The NPC judges rank competitors according to muscularity, posing, and symmetry.  I judge by muscularity, posing, and overall look.  By “overall look” I mean the impact of the person’s appearance (manner, features and expressions, and projected personality).  I will cover the best competitors in this show, with the most notable ones listed at the top of each class.  I am condensing my viewing of the various tapes (backstage posing, prejudging and evening show) into a single commentary, but I'll mention if anyone is notable on a particular tape.  The NPC judges' placing is given after the person's name.  I often differ with the NPC rankings, favoring some who didn't place in the top 15; anyone in the top 5 that I didn't consider notable will get listed at the end of each class.

BANTAMWEIGHT CLASS

The top of this weight class is 143 , and virtually everyone in it is short.  As a group this class was not bad, but not outstanding.

Randy Leppala (placing: 2nd)
Leppala has great lines (waist to shoulder ratio), taut skin, thick chest, sharp abs, and poses strongly in the evening show.  He defines “mature muscle.”

Shane Prichard (placing: 9th)
Prichard has a solid torso and abs, fun expressions as he poses, and razor cuts.

Gary Passmore (placing: 8th)
Passmore has a terrific back, with thick arms and chest; he’s freaky for his 143 pounds.

George Gibson (placing: 5th)
Solid torso and arms, good poser, nice cuts and smile.

Gene Johnson (placing: 12th)
Great abs and arms, sharp posing, a compact firecracker.

Johnny McKnight (placing: 4th)
Has abs, quads, glutes, and strong effort in backstage posing.

Ricky Parks (placing: 6th)
My fave in this class at the Nationals last year (where he took 2nd) wasn’t as sharp this time in, but did have beefy arms, pecs, etched abs, and a great smile.  He's tall for this class.

Clifton Torres (placing: 10th)
Solid abs, arms, torso, well shown in backstage posing.

Marvin Ward (placing: 1st)
V back, nice lines, solid abs and arms well shown off in all his posing.

Juan Diego Ramos (placing: 3rd)
Thick everywhere, nice abs, can move, great smile.

LIGHTWEIGHT CLASS

The weight range in this class goes from 143 to 154 pounds, a tight range keeping those on the higher end of it from overshadowing the lighter ones.   This group had a number of fine competitors.  Some could easily move up to the next weight class.

 “Tricky” Richard Jackson (placing: 2nd)
Is anyone better than Jackson at this weight right now?  I don't think so.  His evening routine is fantastic, second only to King Kamali’s.

Larry Morten (placing: 14th)
A seasoned athlete who makes the most of what he’s got; his backstage posing may be the best in this class.

Randy Fahrenbach (didn’t place)
Well built, solid poser with a nice look.  Great front double biceps.

Brett Campanella (placing: 7th)
Had solid pecs, arms, legs, V back, fine skin tone.

Carlen Charleston (placing: 13th)
A BB with a great look, thick everywhere.  Best shown in prejudging.

Franky DiCicco (placing: 3rd)
Fine torso and quads, nice smile, with an old-school routine projecting dignity and pride.

Derik Farnsworth (placing: 4th)
Freaky arms and chest for his size; great poser.

Johnny Ferreri (didn’t place)
Has killer abs well displayed on backstage posing tape.

Also placing in top 5 lights: Joseph Pacello (1st), Silvio Schillin (5th).

MIDDLEWEIGHT CLASS

This was a strong class of strength trainers.  At 154 to 176 pounds, middles can be big enough to show impressive size.  Some of them are potential giant killers.

Pablo Mills (placing: 2nd)
Mills is a freaky monster, just scaled down a bit, and has onstage charisma.  His flashy evening routine was the best in his class by a long shot.

Randy Jackson, Sr. (placing: 10th)
This mature 'builder has the body and the moves.  When he turns 40, I hope he’ll try the Masters Nationals.

Hans Van Der Gronden (placing: 8th)
An insinuating poser who flashes his eyes at us as if to say, “Yeah, really.”  Has a hang-glider back and great calves (not common at this show), with a piratical look (bald, goatee, earring).

J. B. Bartlett (placing: 4th)
Freaky back and shoulders, heavy pecs; a fine poser with a strong evening routine.

Tommy Brown (placing: 9th)
An aesthetic build and solid back, great lines, strong poser with the cuts.

Sammy Segarra (placing: 13th)
Solid everywhere, especially shoulders and arms, poses abs well, looks better oiled.

Craig Torres (placing: 14th)
Good lines, huge back, very good poser with a hungry look.

Jeff Cook (placing: 7th)
Good lat spread and an appealing older look.

Jay Crotty (placing: 11th)
Sinuous moves and good cuts, fine skin tone, nice smile.

Mark Dugdale (placing: 6th)
Solid body parts with no weak areas; at 176 on the nose, he might do more as a light-heavy.  Has great potential.

Eric Otero (placing: 5th)
This promising 'builder was top middle at the '99 USA show, so this was a disappointment for him.

Also placing in top 5 middles: Vladimir Senatus (1st), Brian Chamberlain (3rd).

LIGHT-HEAVYWEIGHT CLASS

The light-heavies range from 176 to 198 pounds, and so many good builds were on display that some got lost in the lineup.  African Americans dominated this class, a trend in recent top amateur and pro shows in the U.S.

Robert Russo (placing: 9th)
Putting Russo out of the top 5 in this class was a regrettable oversight.  He has one of the finest aesthetic builds in the country – perhaps the finest among top amateurs.

Rodney St. Cloud (placing: 1st)
St. Cloud has good lines (huge back and shoulders, tiny waist) and a fancy evening routine that knocks ‘em dead.

Troy Alves (placing: 7th)
Solid everywhere, with amazing crosshatched muscle on his pecs.  If he brought everything up with his back and chest, no one could beat him in this class.  A potential pro.

Ronnie Adams (placing: 14th)
Great torso, incredible arms, solid legs and back, classic build.

Scott Demers (placing: 8th)
Big chest and back, great abs, flawless skin on a man who presents himself well.  Also has the guns.

Johnny Jackson (placing: 11th)
A bit short for this class, which bulks him up.  He has great lines, packing it on in the quads, back, and abs.

Robert Lopez (placing: 10th)
Good build, sharply detailed movements in his posing, especially using his fingers.  On best display in the prejudging.

T. J. Hewitt (placing: 15th)
Solid everywhere but quads, which likely cost him a higher place.  Can pose his arms well.  Only shown in prejudging – he’s the fourth guy in the class, wearing purple trunks (prejudging isn’t captioned and no names are announced, only numbers for call-outs by the judges).

Warren James (placing: 5th)
A middleweight last year who successfully bulked up.  He’s freaky, especially in quads and delts.  His routine is just that, and could step up.

Vinnie Galanti (placing: 3rd)
A familiar face in national shows, and a potential pro.

Also placing in top 5 light-heavies: Craig Richardson (2nd).

HEAVYWEIGHT CLASS

Until recently this was the heaviest class, but now runs 198 to 225 pounds.  Some major beef was on display.  A strong group of competitors, well worth seeing.

Shari "King" Kamali (placing: 1st)
A monster.  Huge everywhere, he can pose like a pro – and as of this contest, is one.  His jaw-dropping evening routine (wherein he “terminates” the NPC and infiltrates the IFBB) is a classic, proving you don’t need Hollywood’s millions for eye-popping special effects – just a body and mind like his.  We’ll see much more of him.

Chuck Sanow (placing: 5th)
Not quite as big as some in this class, he still has a freaky back and great lines.  While his compulsory posing is very good, the evening routine could rev up.

Joseph Carlton (placing: 9th)
Not tall, so his 209 pounds are freaky.  He has an outrageous back double biceps pose.  Moves well, has heavy forearms.

Michael Costa (placing: 14th)
This guy has a huge back and delts, laddered abs, and moves well, with a piratical look (bald, goatee).  If he brought up his other parts, he’d be a threat.

Allen Fortney (placing: 10th)
With a huge torso front and back and freaky arms, Fortney has quite a look.

Tony Dodd (placing: 8th)
A knockout back lat spread, and solid everywhere.  A promising BB.

Arthur Fickling, III (placing: 6th)
Massive, especially in pecs and quads.  Nice grin.

Doug Jabalee (placing: 3rd)
Has a balanced build with good lines, posing brilliantly in the prejudging (better than in the evening).  Beefy quads, tight abs.

David Watson (placing: 12th)
Big guy just under the limit at 225, with huge traps and quads.  Lower back could sharpen.

Bob Cicherillo (placing: 2nd)
Has great shoulders, solid abs and quads -- he even has striations under his arms.  A potential pro.

Robert Colacino (didn't place)
Has the cuts, a thick torso,  solid biceps, and outstanding traps.  Has promise.

Walter White, Jr. (didn’t place)
Has solid delts and pecs, freaky arms, a tight waist, and was overlooked.

Also placing in top 5 heavies: David Hughes (4th).

SUPER-HEAVYWEIGHT CLASS

The super-heavyweights start at 225 pounds, and go up and up.  The biggest guy that Repetrope captioned was Fred Tarani, who did not look that bulky at 276 pounds (he didn’t place).  We are not far from super-heavies at over 300 pounds with good cuts; I expect it within a couple years at this contest.  Many of these guys stay over 300 pounds off-season, but when they dieted down some lost bulk in their pecs and arms.  Almost all have enormous torsos, and most but not all are tall.  Last year's superheavies at the Nationals were more impressive overall.

Stokely Palmer (placing: 4th)
Palmer was the revelation of this show.  He had the freakiest torso in the contest, best displayed in the opening lineups of the prejudging, when he’s not posing.  He looks better at a distance, where the thickness of his chest and abs comes clear.  His arms and legs are amazing.  A BB on the cutting edge of muscle density.

Aaron Maddron (placing: 1st)
This guy aced the contest with a huge build and fine lines.  His quads are impressive.  He poses very well and deserved the pro card he won here, but I prefer the freakier look he had at last year's Nationals.

Sean Allen (placing: 10th)
This freak of nature towers over Jeramy Freeman – yikes!  Still new to the national stage, without much of a routine, Allen is all potential.  He has huge pecs, immense shoulders, great quads, and lats that could block the sun.  This guy could hold the stage at 300 or more – he is the future of bodybuilding.

Matt DuVall (placing: 2nd)
Well-known BB who came in with no weaknesses.  Has immense size, but also balance in all parts.  Poses and projects himself well.  A potential pro.

Jeramy Freeman (placing: 5th)
At 268, one big guy.  Freeman came in with more shape this year, showing some lines.  Posing is not his forte, but he does pretty well with a bagpipe routine in the evening.

Rico McClinton (placing: 3rd)
This freaky BB is deservedly well-known.  He can pose very well – his  evening routine starts powerfully to rap music, but ends too soon.  Has size, balance, great pecs and arms.  A potential pro.

Harold Irby (didn’t place)
Big, built, great lines, nice trim beard, can pose, could have better cuts.

Harry Johnson (placing: 13th)
He has an immense torso with craggy pecs and hard glutes, good cuts.  Overlooked.

Jesse Schwiers (placing: 14th)
A monster who fulfills the potential of the super-heavyweight class.  He should have placed higher.  The fifth poser in the prejudging, he isn’t on any other tape.


The final posedown on the evening tape was between Kamali and Maddron.  The other class winners had no chance – Ward looked like a midget next to Maddron, in fact.  It was Maddron’s year, but I would have given the contest to Kamali for a superior routine and a freakier build.  Since both got pro cards, it hardly matters.

Forget TV broadcasts of men's BB contests.  Repetrope is where the action is at for top amateur competitive muscle.  All of Repetrope’s tapes are available online at http://www.repetrope.com.  For photos of competitors in this show, as well as miscellaneous backstage and stage shots, see http://www.mostmuscular.com/natlpost/index.htm.

Mike Emery
April 2000, revised June 2001


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