The 2021 professional bodybuilding season may have wrapped up, but the sport’s final overall event is an annual tradition for the non-professional side. The National Physique Committee (NPC) National Championships are considered one of the most prestigious shows in amateur bodybuilding. The contest was created by NPC Founder and President Jim Manion (currently the IFBB Pro League President).
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The 40th edition of the NPC Nationals, promoted by NPC official Gary Udit, was held on Dec. 17-18, 2021, at the Orlando Convention Center in Orlando, FL — the same facility that hosted the 2020 and 2021 Olympia weekends. The competitor that wins their division earns their pro cards, and they are eligible to start competing immediately. In some cases, the runners-up get to move up to the IFBB Pro League. Across all categories, over 70 athletes earned professional status at this competition. The competitions were streamed for fans, not in attendance on Yamamoto Nutrition’s website.
Men’s Heavyweight Top Three
The first NPC champion was crowned in 1982, and that winner was South Carolina native Lee Haney, who would go on to win eight straight Mr. Olympia titles as a Hall of Fame professional. Other notable winners of this contest over the previous four decades include Mike Christian (1984), Vince Taylor (1988), Kevin Levrone (1991), Victor Martinez (2000), Evan Centopani (2007), Sergio Oliva Jr. (2015), and Hunter Labrada (2018). The 2020 overall winner was Jonathan Withers.
The headline title is the Men’s Bodybuilding overall award, and the 2021 winner of that award is super-heavyweight Carlos Thomas Jr., who hopes to make his mark on the pro scene in 2022. In total, there were seven bodybuilding weight classes contested in Orlando.
Super-Heavyweight and Overall Bodybuilding Winner — Carlos Thomas Jr.
All competitors in this division weighed at least 102 kilograms (225.25 pounds). Thomas had momentum going into this contest thanks to his victory at the 2021 NPC Battle Royale event in Alexandria, VA, on Nov. 20, 2021. Out of the 24 super-heavyweights he faced, Thomas stood out and never threatened.
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His shape and definition kept him in the center of every callout. This was his second pro qualifying event. He didn’t place at the 2019 IFBB North Americans when he competed as a light-heavyweight. Once he secured the super-heavyweight win and pro card in Orlando, he faced off with the other bodybuilding division winners. The biggest man isn’t always the best, but Thomas’ size, especially in his legs, was too much this year for the other winners to overcome. He goes down in bodybuilding history as the 40th NPC Overall National Champion.
Super-Heavyweight 2nd Place — Nathan Spear
Spear’s first attempt at the Nationals came in 2016, where he failed to place. He placed third in this contest one year ago, narrowly missing pro status. The improvements he made in 2021 were enough to bump up to second place.
Spear was one of the taller competitors in the lineup, and his physique has great shape and symmetry. Thomas’ conditioning — which appeared a bit off — is most likely what prevented him from placing higher. Nonetheless, Spear has a bright future as a pro.
Heavyweight Winner — Justin Shier
Athletes in this category weighed between 90 and 102 kilograms (198.25 and 225.25 pounds). Shier was working with coach Matt Jansen going into this competition.
Jansen’s other clients include 2021 Arnold Classic winner Nick Walker and 2020 Olympia 212 winner Shaun Clarida. Jansen’s formula for Shier paid off at the Nationals. His lower body was impressive, especially from the side where the drop of his hamstrings stood out prominently. He looked great in the front lat spread pose as well. Thanks to his heavyweight victory, he joins Walker and Clarida as a professional bodybuilder. As of this writing, there is no word on whether Shier will compete in the 212 division or try to grow and move up to the men’s Open.
Heavyweight 2nd Place — Jordan Janowitz
Janowitz had been knocking on the door of earning a pro card since 2014, but he was never able to break through to the other side. In his previous attempts, he either missed the mark or someone he faced nailed his peak perfectly. He placed second in the Heavyweights in the 2021 contest, but that placing was good enough for him to finally call himself a pro bodybuilder.
Other Men’s Bodybuilding Winners
- Light-Heavyweight: Michael Condell
- Middleweight: Justin Jacoby
- Welterweight: Jordan Wise
- Lightweight: Will Perrelli
- Bantamweight: Raymond Holguin
Other Class and Overall Champions
In total, over 880 athletes in seven other divisions were vying for pro cards and overall championships at this show. Amateur athletes are allowed to compete in multiple divisions of the same show if they meet the standards of those divisions. Examples of this rule are Amanda Kohatsu and Julia Monroe, both of whom won pro cards in the Women’s Physique and Figure divisions.
The men’s and women’s bodybuilding categories are separated by weight class only, while other divisions have height and weight requirements. The full list of pro card recipients can be seen on the NPC website. The overall and division champions for each division are listed below.
Note: The bolded names with an asterisk next to them signify the division’s overall winner.
- Class A: Joshua Langbein
- Class B: Eric Abelon*
- Class C: Cody Acree
- Class D: Jordan Carroll
- Class A: Donmarc Allen
- Class B: Christopher Casner
- Class C: Howhyne Boreland
- Class D: Jibrael Hindi
- Class E: Hunter Axton
- Class F: Tom Cox
- Class G: Raaziq Jones
- Class H: Joshua Boles
- Heavyweight: Chelsea Dion*
- Light-Heavyweight: Alexis Castro
- Middleweight: Amanda Purnell
- Lightweight: Barbi Harris
- Class A: Amanda Kohatsu
- Class B: Kim Klafczynski
- Class C: Julia Monroe*
- Class D: Christina Reed
- Class A: Sierra Jones
- Class B: Amanda Kohatsu*
- Class C: Nathalie Nichols
- Class D: Ashleigh Cogan
- Class E: Julia Monroe
- Class F: Nicole King
- Class G: Laura Ehlen
- Class H: Dominique Berridge
- Class A: Jeralyn Mesa
- Class B: Elizabeth Cunningham
- Class C:Vesna Morales
- Class D: Brittany Gillespie*
- Class E: Jordan Fisher
- Class F: Elenoa McCabe
- Class G: Adriana Izaguirre
- Class H: Micaela Cristofaro
- Class A: Rayanne Collins
- Class B: Victoria Puentes
- Class C: Mary Sherbert
- Class D: Erewa Uku*
Featured Image: @w_wittmann on Instagram