This past weekend, the NPC National bodybuilding championships were held in Miami, Florida, and it was the last chance in 2019 for amateur American competitors to achieve IFBB Pro League member status. Some pretty big stars have gotten their starts by winning this contest. Past champions include inaugural champion Lee Haney, Shawn Ray, Victor Martinez, Cedric McMillan, and Sergio Oliva Jr. The 2018 champion of this event was Hunter Labrada, son of bodybuilding legend Lee Labrada.
Heavyweight and Overall Winner – Matthew Schmidt
Matthew Schmidt not only won the heavyweight division at this show but he successfully posed down with the other division winners and was able to secure the overall title as well. The new champion and now qualified pro gives Houston, Texas its second straight champion as Labrada also calls Houston home.
Schmidt is a full-time police officer so for him to maintain a career in that field while preparing for this contest is a testament to his commitment. His overall physique was the best in the lineup but now as a pro, he will have to improve on certain areas like his lat width, hamstrings, and calves. This was his fifth time competing at the Nationals and he was able to hold off second place finisher Casey Castro but since 2nd place finishers also earn their pro cards, they will both move up to the IFBB Pro League.
Other Division Winners
Super Heavyweight – Jonas Giatras
Giatras took the title in the largest division at this show and he stood out among the rest of the big boys in the field. His lower body was superior and showed confidence from start to finish. Schmidt’s better conditioning and definition was why Giatras isn’t leaving with the overall championship. He previously placed 7th at the USA Championships so this was a great rebounding performance for him. He bested 2nd place finisher Ben Rafala.
Light Heavyweight – Fernando Bueno
Bueno wasn’t the tallest guy in this division but similar to the late Franco Columbu, he had a lot of thick muscle on his short frame which made up for the lack of height. This was his first competing at the Nationals stage, since he won his division and a pro card, it will also be his last. The runner-up here was Steven Wain.
Middleweight – Robert Wichman
Wichman and 2nd place finisher Johnny McNeal were in a tight comparison throughout this contest but Wichman will leave with the win. McNeal will also move on to the pro ranks.
Welterweight – Orlando Perdomo
Perdomo last competed in this contest as a middleweight and placed 4th. Moving down a class and focusing on being as lean as possible paid off for him and he is victorious in 2019. 2nd place went to Isaiah Hawthorne.
Lightweight – Jose Suarez
Suarez said on Instagram that he weighed in at 162 pounds for this show. His presentation onstage made him appear much larger which is the name of the game in bodybuilding. He made sure there was no doubt who would win this event. Christopher Clark leaves Miami in the silver position.
Bantamweight – Jason Imamura
Imamura had the best shape, structure, and conditioning in the bantamweight lineup. This was only his second contest in his career and he has already achieved pro status. That is a rare achievement. Curtis Cruz leaves here in second but also with a pro card in hand.
Other Overall Winners
There were contests held in five other divisions at this show. The overall winners of those events are below. All five are now moving up to the pro ranks effective immediately.
Bikini – Ariana Brothers
Women’s Physique – Lorraine Gonzalez
Figure – Rachel Shoemake
Classic Physique – Jordan Tripp Arthur
Men’s Physique – Patrick Martin
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