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The Lee Thompson Interview No One Else Had the Balls To Do
- Updated: September 25, 2015
The elephant in the room – or Orleans Arena, if you will – all Olympia Weekend long was the specter of one Lee Thompson and the announcement of his new bodybuilding organization during what should have been the industry’s marquee event. But instead of reveling in the spotlight, various IFBB pros went out of their way to pledge their allegiance to the sanctioning body and the NPC before it.
No one wanted to address this other than to do everything possible to discredit Thompson. And while basic journalism rules would dictate to hear both sides of the story, that goes out the window when it refers to bodybuilding. For most media outlets, that is. Not MuscleSport Magazine.
First of all, we do not have a horse in this race and are reporting this objectively and straight down the middle. The only statement that the IFBB/NPC released was of the one-line variety:
The National Physique Committee of the U.S.A., Inc. and the IFBB have no affiliation with NPC Global.
What may have seemed like an innocuous and straightforward one does hold a lot of information that will come into play down the road, and we shall explain here.
Doing our due diligence, we reached out to Thompson for an interview and was easily granted one. Much of this was of the ‘off-the-record’ variety and we vow to keep our word and integrity intact by not divulging that information, but there is enough that was on the record to answer the majority of the questions that have been posted online about this.
As far as the names of the competitors that will be a part of NPC Global (which stands for Nspire Physique Championships), this was part of the interview that cannot be spoken about at this time due to contractual obligations and the like. But these names – male and female – are of blockbuster proportions and will blow the lid off the industry.
One of the main points being made is that Thompson has invited a lawsuit for copyright infringement for choosing the name he did, which is something that he answered without hesitation.
“I had been telling them for years and up until this past June to register and trademark the NPC name,” says Thompson. “But they didn’t do it. They registered National Physique Committee of the U.S.A., Inc. and nothing else. And I registered NPC Global. There’s no confusion; I’ve had the NPC Texas name for 12 years. It’s great vision.”
Thompson added that there are 53 different registered company names with NPC in them, as well as numerous gyms and even individuals utilizing that handle on social media. “If they’re going to sue me, then they have to sue all of those others.
“They won’t even be able to get a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) for the NPC name because they never made legal claims to it before,” continued Thompson. “How are you going to sue me when the name was never registered in 32 years?”
NEGATIVE COMMENTS FROM IFBB PROS
The press that Thompson has been getting since making his announcement has been nothing short of amazing, with allegations being made that he has been dishonest and without integrity for over a decade. But the burning question is if this was in fact true, why did nothing come out until after the separation?
“You cannot rewrite history,” Thompson says emphatically. “If I was so evil, then where was all of this until (a little over a week ago)?”
And as far as Ed and Betty Pariso being given his old territory, Thompson reminds us of how they gave him accolades for his vision, leadership and growth of the sport in Texas.
“I chose to resign and then 72 hours later, these people choose to start posting these things.”
RESIGNED VERSUS FIRED
Thompson says that he walked away and no one in charge from the IFBB/NPC has refuted that with any proof otherwise. He did receive an email from them on September 22 (a week after all of the news broke) informing him that he was in violation of their codes…but he was never given (nor signed for) any manual or code of regulations in his entire tenure as chairman.
“I left because I didn’t like the way things were being done (in the IFBB/NPC) and actually received an email from Jim Manion wishing me luck on my show this weekend (JTF Classic),” commented Thompson, who – in a ironic twist of fate – is still promoting four shows for the NPC that he contractually has throughout the remainder of 2015.
THE BODYBUILDING.COM CONNECTION
By Thompson procuring the monster superstore website as the title sponsor for the inaugural NPC Global contest in March, much can be read into that move. “They made that statement by not being at the Olympia,” Thompson says, referring to the longtime partner with AMI showing the live web cast and having one of the larger booths at the expo.
“I have a 15-year relationship with them,” adds Thompson. “And they always liked the quality of my shows and were a title sponsor, as well.”
To immediately differentiate himself from the IFBB, Thompson will be implementing a scoring system that will be posted at the venue, on the NPC Global website and on a smart phone app in live time.
“All of the judges will have an iPad using a special software program that we have that has the competitor numbers and not their names,” he explains. “And for prejudging, all of the callouts and scores will be posted. Then during the evening finals, the top five’s scores will go back to zero and there will be live judging for placement at that time.”
One of the more unique points that was brought out in the initial NPC Global video was that there will be revenue sharing with the athletes. According to Thompson, this will only effect the pros that sign up for the opt-in program.
“Those people will be compensated for us using their likeness on our marketing materials and also paid on a per impression basis,” he says, and also added that the athletes to choose to take part in this would then be exclusive to NPC Global. “It’s their choice and they can compete anywhere in the world if they don’t want to do this.” None of this pertains to amateur athletes.
There will also be a 10 percent revenue sharing of the net income for all of the competitors at a particular professional show, regardless if they sign up for the opt-in clause or not.
There will also be a revenue sharing for merchandise and the amount of this pool will be posted on their website, adding more to the transparency that NPC Global wants to convey to the public.
The most prestigious show that NPC Global will be holding will be called the Utopia and the projected time frame is November of 2016. They will have approximately 150 pro/am shows in total and the first one on March 12, 2016 will have two stages – one amateur and one pro. Talks are happening to hold shows literally all around the globe.
The annual fees for NPC Global will be similar to what they have been – $125 amateur registration fee, $100 contest fee and $250 pro card.
The million-dollar question is why did Thompson leave a high-end position that he held for a long time to roll the dice with something new and unproven?
“I walked away because I had a different vision for the bodybuilding and fitness community,” he describes. “It’s not good versus bad and I’m not bashing anyone. It’s a difference of opinion. (But) it’s the digital age versus working with crayons. I want to continue a history that is important to us going all the way back to Joe Weider. There’s a tie in with history here.
“Going way back, when Jim (Manion) was with the AAU and had a different vision, he stepped away form the brotherhood of a union to create the NPC,” he continued. “No one said anything about that but when I step away you hear all kinds of things.”
Will this all work out for Thompson unlike it did for the WBF and PDI before him? Only time will tell and much will be revealed on November 8 at Muscle Beach when Thompson and company hold a press conference, bodybuilding-style, along with business partners Charles Johnson (general counsel and former NFL player) and Jordan Woy (partner in one of the leading legal firms representing NFL players).
We welcome any feedback from the IFBB/NPC in regards to this and, as we previously stated, we are not favoring one organization over the other, but rather just putting this out there for the fans of the sport. This is an open invitation for them to retort.