This weekend the bodybuilding world will turn its attention to the 2009 NPC USA Bodybuilding, Figure & Bikini Championships, held at the Artemus W. Hamm Concert Hall on the Campus of UNLV, July 24-25. The USA‘s bring with them high hopes, for exciting competition and the elevation of hard working athletes from the amateur ranks to the pro‘s.
In honor of this most hallowed of amateur events we thought we‘d bring you some fun facts, stats and figures regarding the show, as a way of getting you in the mood before your sojourn to Vegas this weekend. And don‘t forget to check in with flexonline.com for our up to the minute galleries and reports following prejudging and finals.
IN THE BEGINNING...
The inaugural NPC USA event was held in 1982. The overall winner was Dale Ruplinger, who competed as a middleweight. It was the first of the two times in the contest‘s history that the Middleweight class winner took home top honors. The second was 1983, when Ernie Santiago won it all.
It wasn‘t until Mike Quinn won the overall title at the 1987 USA‘s that a heavyweight would take top honors.
THAT‘S EVEN HEAVIER
Through 1997 the heaviest class at the USA‘s was the heavyweights. The following year a super-heavyweight class was added with a cut-off between the two classes at 221-1/2 pounds. In 1998 Jason Arntz won the heavies while Dennis James took the supers and overall title.
Promoter Jon Lindsay turned up the heat for lighter competitors by adding a welterweight
class at the 2005 USA‘s. The class debut was won by Jose Raymond.
Only three USA‘s overall winners also won their IFBB pro debut:
Eddie Robinson (1989) - 1990 Niagara Falls Pro
Flex Wheeler (1992) - 1993 Ironman Pro
Phil Heath (2005) - Colorado Pro
At 6‘4” Quincy Taylor, the 2001 superheavy and overall winner, is the tallest man to have competed in the USA‘s.
...AND THE SHORT
A number of bantamweights have scratched past the 5‘ mark, including currently active Rafael Campuzano and Bleu Taylor, both of whom claim to stretch the tape to 5‘1”.
WHAT A CROWD!
The 2007 USA‘s featured a whopping 135 male competitors.
Winning the USA‘s overall title was often a portent of good things to come in the pro ranks. Here‘s a listing of overall winners who have gone on to success, in order of number of wins.
Flex Wheeler (1992) - 17 wins
Chris Cormier (1993) - 11 wins
Phil Heath (2005) - 3 wins
J.J. Marsh (1986) - 2 wins
Melvin Anthony (1999) - 2 wins
Dennis James (1998) - 1 win
Bob Cicherillo (2000) - 1 win
Eddie Robinson (1989) - 1 win
Phil Williams (1984) - 1 win
Even without winning the overall title at the USA‘s, a few men did manage to graduate to the IFBB and have successful pro careers.
Lee Labrada (1984 light heavyweight, 2nd)- 7 wins
(1982 heavyweight, 4th)- 5 wins
Gary Strydom (1984 heavyweight, winner)- 4 wins
Mike Francois (1993, heavyweight, 3rd) - 4 wins
Orville Burke (1998 super heavyweight, 3rd)- 2 wins
Johnnie Jackson (1995 light heavyweight, winner) - 2 wins
Troy Alves (2002, light heavyweight, winner)- 1 win
Art Atwood (2001 super heavyweight, 3rd)- 1 win
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