There have been a lot of discussions about the 2020 Mr. Olympia contest. Past champions like Phil Heath and Flex Lewis will be on the stage as well as several top contenders looking to leave Las Vegas victoriously. There’s also several changes in the works offstage thanks to the new ownership group, led by Jake Wood and Olympia president Dan Solomon.
While these developments have been dominating the headlines, the defending Mr. Olympia, Brandon Curry, is focusing more on defending his position as the number one man in bodybuilding. Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, Curry has had a first year as champion that is different than any of the 15 in the contest’s history. He still has done his best to represent the sport and promote his own brand as well, including opening two gyms in his home state.
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Curry took a little time on a day off to talk to BarBend about not being able to take part in a recent grand opening, training to defend his title, and everything else Olympia related in this interview.
BarBend: Thanks for taking the time to talk today, Brandon. For readers that don’t know, we were supposed to see each other at your gym’s grand opening event in Tennessee, but you were unable to fly over because you couldn’t fly back to Kuwait where you prepare for the Mr. Olympia contest. How difficult was it for you to not be there and what were your thoughts about the feedback you got from that event?
Curry: Thanks for talking to me. Man, it was tough to not go. I wanted to be there so bad, but my wife reminded me what I’m supposed to be doing this for, and that second title is the most important thing right now. So she talked sense into me. (laughs). The feedback I got was good, and it’s great to have a team like those that I do from Brandy (his wife) to Brent (Laffey), my partner, and everyone that is a part of the team over there. I know that they can do what needs to be done without me. So that means I can take care of business here.
We’re currently seven time zones apart as we’re speaking. When you fly from Tennessee to Kuwait, how difficult is it to adjust to such a drastic change in times?
For me it really isn’t. I’m normally up past two or three in the morning talking to the family and I stay up late usually anyway. Over here, there’s a lot of people who normally go to sleep late anyway, so it really isn’t that different.
Of course, you’re over there to prepare for the Mr. Olympia contest like you have the last few years. I imagine this year’s prep is a little different because of the lineup you’re going to be facing, including the return of Phil Heath and the Open Olympia debut of Flex Lewis. How much does the idea of facing a lineup like this affect your mindset?
Man, occasionally it does enter my mind when I need a little extra motivation or when I do interviews like this. But as far as day-to-day, I focus more on doing what I have to do and making myself better. I need to bring that 3D look with the wide delts and tight waist. That has to be on the forefront of my mind if I’m going to be where I need to be on that stage. So while it’s cool for the fans and even all of the athletes, I really don’t think about it that much.
When it does come to your own preparation, what is your priority as the weeks pass and the contest gets closer? What are you wanting to do that will make the 2020 version of Brandon Curry better than the 2019 version?
Conditioning, man, conditioning. If I can achieve the conditioning that I had during prejudging of the 2019 Arnold Classic with a little more size, then that would be good. My coach and I are checking out how I look every day and we adjust accordingly. We haven’t had to make many adjustments with cardio at this point because I’m pretty lean already. What we’re noticing is that I’m actually a little bigger. Some people here are actually telling me I don’t need to be bigger, and I actually agree. I think my muscle is maturing and I’m just growing. If I can hold on to this extra size but keep my conditioning, I like my chances.
Does hearing the criticism of the past champions and greats from the 1990s era make you work a little harder on that conditioning and controlling your waist? Several of those men have talked about how the guys from this era wouldn’t compete against their time because they’re not in shape.
I’ve heard it, but I’m working on what I need to do so I can be at my best regardless. Someone brought me a waist trainer to wear, and it was supposed to be a medium. All they had was small. It was tight, but I was able to get it on. To be able to wear one that size was a good sign, I think.
Let’s talk about the offstage aspect of this year’s contest. The Olympia promotion and brand is under new ownership and there have been several changes in the works. As the man who will be going into this contest as the defending champion, what are your thoughts on all the changes?
I got to fly out to their headquarters. I talked to Jake (Wood) and Dan (Solomon) about what they’re doing. I also talked to Tim Gardner while I was out there. That whole team is all in on making this event something special. It’s going to be a big deal to have it right on the strip of Las Vegas. And for it to be around Christmas time this year, that makes it even better.
To be the champion going in, with all the new developments, and the lineup that’s going to be on that stage, it’s definitely cool to think about. There’s a lot of hype about it, which is definitely good. Obviously I want to be the champion at the end too. I’m doing all I can to make that happen.
Do you ever remind yourself that it was only four years ago that rumors were going around that you were considering a move to the 212 division, and your presence on the Olympia stage was an afterthought? Then three years later, you become the third man ever to win the Arnold and Olympia in the same year.
I do. I remember that and to look back on that journey is definitely crazy. I kind of knew about winning both contests in the same year. To be on a list that includes Ronnie Coleman and Dexter (Jackson) is awesome. It shows that you never know what you’re capable of until you go for it. It’s all about putting in that hard work and believing in your vision.
I appreciate talking with you, Brandon. Anything you want to share as we wrap this up?
We have a bag line in the works. You should be able to see it on my social media soon. It holds up to five pairs of shoes, a laptop, and it’s a good looking bag too. My wife makes sure that everything we do, it looks good and professional, and I think these are, so check that out. Other than that, hopefully I see you at the Olympia and I appreciate all the support I get from everyone that supports me.
Featured Image: Instagram/Brandon_curry