5 Athletes to Watch at the 2022 Arnold Classic Men’s Physique Contest

Which of the nine athletes will leave as champion?

The 2022 Arnold Classic Men’s Physique competition will be the division’s seventh edition. From 2015 to 2020, only four men have won this show — Sadik Hadzovic (2015), three-time Men’s Physique Olympia champion Brandon Hendrickson (2016), Ryan Terry (2017), and Andre Ferguson (2018-2020). There was no contest held in 2021. Only Hendrickson has won Men’s Physique Olympia title (2018, 2020-21), but all of those men have had relatively great careers since they won this event. 

For the athletes that are in the 2022 contest at the Battelle Grand Ballroom in Columbus, OH on the weekend of Mar. 4-5, winning could serve as a launching pad for a successful future in the sport. The nine contenders for the seventh Arnold Classic Men’s Physique contest are below:

2022 Arnold Classic — Men’s Physique

  • Erin Banks (USA)
  • Bong Seok Choi (South Korea)
  • Riccardo Croci (Italy)
  • Terrence Teo Kok Hua (Malaysia)
  • Drelyn Hunt (USA)
  • Emmanuel Hunter (USA)
  • Daniel Leone (Italy)
  • Diogo Montenegro (Brasil)
  • Antoine Weatherspoon (USA)

Considering none of the returning champions will be on stage in Columbus in this division, it is guaranteed for a new champion to be crowned — the fifth individual to win this contest in this division. 


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[Related: IFBB Pro Kyle Kirvay Sets National Bench Press Record In His Powerlifting Debut at 140-Kilograms]

Erin Banks

2021 New York Pro champion Banks enters as the favorite to win this contest. He was the 2021 Men’s Physique Olympia runner-up to Hendrickson in his rookie season as a pro. This will be his first time competing at the Arnold, and he doesn’t want to miss out on earning a prestigious title.

Diogo Montenegro

Montenegro had a breakout year in 2021. He placed third behind Banks at the Olympia, which was his highest placing in five career professional appearances. He also won the 2021 Puerto Rico Pro. He competed at the Arnold in 2019, but he placed 16th. Many fans and experts will attest that he’s improved a lot over the last three years, so it’s likely that he’ll rank closer to the top of the standings this time around.

Riccardo Croci

Italy’s own Riccardo Croci has two pro wins so far in his career. He won the 2020 San Marino Pro and the 2021 Champions Classic Pro title. He finished 14th at the 2021 Olympia, but don’t let that mislead you. He can be a threat in a contest of this magnitude when he’s properly conditioned. His wide shoulders and small waist make his V-taper look even more impressive. If he shows up at the Arnold like he did at either of his victories, a top three position could be waiting for him.

Emmanuel Hunter

Hunter turned pro in 2021 at the NPC Atlantic States event as a Masters Classic Physique competitor. Once he secured his pro card, he switched to Men’s Physique. His first contest was the 2021 Chicago Pro, where he placed sixth. While he didn’t win, his physique is definitely shaped for Men’s Physique. Assuming he’s had a quality offseason, it will be exciting to see the package he brings to Ohio. 

Dark Horse: Daniel Leone

Leone has yet to earn a pro victory, but he’s been in contention a few times. His most recent effort was a third place finish at the 2021 Bigman Weekend Pro. He was also fourth at the 2021 Romania Muscle Fest Pro. If he’s learned from those experiences, made the proper adjustments, and peaks properly for this show, he could be facing the favorites in the first callout.

For more information, tickets, and access to the 2022 Arnold Classic pay-per-view, go to www.arnoldsportsfestival.com.

Featured Image: @riccardo_croci_ifbbpro on Instagram