The Arnold Sports Festival has officially announced the lineup for the 32nd edition of the Arnold Classic, which will take place on March 7th in Columbus, Ohio. Fourteen men are currently listed as the athletes that will pose down for the title and chance to be interviewed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Among those competing will be four past champions (including the most decorated winner) and three men who will make their Columbus debuts. Here’s a look at the lineup in its entirety.
This one is a shocker because even though he announced he will be at the 2020 Olympia, he wasn’t believed to compete until then. Jackson isn’t only the record holder for most pro wins overall with 29, but he also holds the most Arnold Ohio wins with five. He won the show in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2013, and the most recent victory came in 2015. This will be his first show after his 50th birthday but he placed 4th at the 2019 Mr. Olympia so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he wins Arnold Classic number six.
Bonac is the 2018 winner of this show but was second in 2019 to winner and eventual Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry. Bonac was the runner-up at the Olympia as well but Curry won’t be in Columbus so he should still be considered the favorite in this lineup. He will have to be better than he was in Las Vegas because everyone in this field is motivated to win early in the year and look their best. If he is on, it’s over. If not, he could drop in the placings quickly.
The 2017 winner may have the most memorable victory speech out of any winner in the show’s history but that is also his only win in Columbus. This will be his eighth straight year competing in this show. He placed 4th in 2019. He was 7th at the Olympia this past September but has won two shows since then.
This competitor announced his entry recently himself but the Arnold organizers confirmed it with his name on the list. He won this show in 2007 and has competed here on nine previous occasions in all. He placed 10th in 2019. His last IFBB Pro League win came in Kansas back in 2017.
First Time Competitors
Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay
Big Ramy didn’t compete at all in the 2019 season and this will be his first time competing at the Arnold Ohio. He has won Arnold events in Europe and South America so adding the big one will be a big step in his road back to the Mr. Olympia. While he hasn’t competed on this particular stage, he is a former Olympia runner-up which automatically makes him a top contender.
Sergio Oliva Jr.
Oliva Jr. has a personal connection to this contest even though he never competed in it. His father and Schwarzenegger competed against each other in Columbus in 1970 which was won by Schwarzenegger. He would go on to dethrone Oliva Sr. as Mr. Olympia later that season. That show is where Schwarzenegger and promoter Jim Lorimer agreed to be partners in the future which is what led to the creation of the Arnold Classic itself. For the younger Oliva to stand onstage with Schwarzenegger 50 years later would be a moment felt across multiple generations of the sport.
Moore made a big splash in 2019 with his win in California followed up by his surprising 10th place finish at the Olympia. He hopes that placing high at this show would be another stepping stone on his road to bodybuilding stardom. While he may have flown under the radar in the past, the rest of the field will be well aware of him in March so he needs to be at his all-time best.
The 2018 Olympia “People’s Champion is a former Arnold Amateur winner but hasn’t won the pro version of the contest as of yet. His highest placing in five previous showings is 4th in 2018. He was fifth in 2019 but has beaten every competitor in this field so he is certainly capable of taking the victory if his prep goes as planned.
The Australian sensation was the 2019 “Best Poser” winner but finished in 8th place overall. He has placed as high as 3rd in this contest back in 2016. He has been dealing with a tumor on his scalp and issues following his recovery but is in good health now and all in to make his return to the stage in 2020.
“Kingsnake” was 6th at this contest last year and will be making his third career appearance at this show. He won the Indy Pro last year and was 6th at the Mr. Olympia which was his highest placing at that contest. The crowd always pops during his presentations and routines so he will be a fan favorite which can create a positive vibe for him.
Jackson announced he is ending his retirement in a video interview with Ron Harris of Muscular Development. He has won the Arnold in Africa in 2017 but never took the Ohio version in his 16 year career. His highest placing in six efforts was 4th place back in 2013.
Williams competed several times in 2019 but was never able to secure that second victory in his pro career. He placed 9th at this show last year which was his first time on that stage.
The native of France wasn’t in the lineup last year but has competed here four times. His highest finish was 4th place in 2017. He has also finished as low as 12th so it can be hard to predict how he will fare in this lineup. He looks amazing when his prep is successful but he has had events where he was way off.
Charles is another who is inconsistent onstage. He was 3rd in this show in 2017 which was his highest ever placing. In 2018 he was 13th which was next to last place. This will be the 4th time the six-year veteran competes at this contest. His last victory of any contest came in Tampa back in 2015.
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