Muscle Sport Magazine

2012 Arnold Classic Competitor-by-Competitor Wrap-Up: Men’s Bodybuilding

Although lacking some of the big names that have competed in Columbus before, the 2012 Arnold Classic had enough excitement and drama to make up for the noticeably thinner line-up. Competitors such as Toney Freeman, Roelly Winklaar and Ronny Rockel did not enter the show, and Victor Martinez was forced to pull out due to immigration issues. But the men who did don the posing trunks at the Veterans Memorial more than held their own.

The crowd did not agree with the decision and let their feelings be known that Dennis Wolf should have been named the winner. He apparently agreed and the disappointment was clearly on his face as his name was announced as the runner-up for the second consecutive year in Ohio.

Here’s our take on every competitor:

1 – BRANCH WARREN – A great comeback story had a happy ending for the big Texan. The quad tear and subsequent surgery to repair the injury is in the books now and although he had less than a perfect physique, Warren was hard as nails and as grainy as we all expect him to be. He had enough to make it a hard call and being the defending Arnold champion does hold some weight. Winning the other two trophies of the night is kind of overlooked considering everything else that went down, but a clean sweep is an incredible accomplishment for Warren. The Most Muscular Man is tough to argue against, but there were others that could have been the recipient of the Most Entertaining Poser.

2 – DENIIS WOLF – He came in looking perhaps his best ever, but Wolf had to ultimately settle for second place again. The fans in attendance and the various online forums consider him the real winner, but that provided little solace to Wolf. He has been previously quoted as saying you’re not a great bodybuilder until winning at least one Arnold Classic or Mr. Olympia.

3 – EVAN CENTOPANI – Moving up one placing doesn’t usually hold much meaning, but breaking into the top three in only his second Arnold is a huge springboard placing for the young Connecticut native. Centopani received a boisterous ovation during both prejudging and the finals, and showed confident exuberance during his time on the stage.


4 – BEN PAKULSKI – He finished as the runner-up two weeks prior in Santa Monica, California and cracked the top-six here, so Pak Man is climbing the ranks quickly in 2012. He has a very impressive lower body (including his calves, a body part that many pros struggle with) and delts, but his back needs to get wider if Pakulski is to break into that next level.

5 – DEXTER JACKSON – The Blade looked good, as usual, but he is 42 years of age and it would have been a tough task even for him to get a win here. Jackson did not seem thrilled with his placing, but he was fourth, at best, with the three monsters at the top.

6 – LIONEL BEYEKE – As with Pakulski, Beyeke is also enjoying what appears to be a breakout year. A win at the FLEX Pro and now making the top six at his first Arnold Classic are certainly feathers in the Frenchman’s cap. His fullness is impressive and he will only get better with Hany Rambod’s guidance.

7 – BRANDON CURRY – Finally starting to come into his own, The Prodigy continued his streak with another top-10 placing. Since turning pro, Curry has competed seven times and never finished lower than tenth, including eighth at the 2011 Mr. Olympia.

8 – SHAWN RHODEN – When emcee Lonnie Teper compares you to Flex Wheeler in your intro, you’d better be able to back it up. And Flexatron didn’t disappoint with a classic posing routine that was worthy of the Most Entertaining award, as well as having the narrowest waist of the line-up.

9 – MICHAEL KEFALIANOS – The Australian’s diminutive stature made it difficult for him to stand up against some of the more massive competitors here, but his conditioning was spot on and that allowed him to crack the top-10.

10 – EDUARDO CORREA – Definitely took a step back from his conditioning at the FLEX Pro, and that is why he fell this far in a wide open area from place seven down. Correa also lacks size when comepeting in the open class and is better suited for the 212.

11 – FOUAD ABIAD – Akin to 2011, Abiad again fell out of the top 10 at the Arnold after placing third at the FLEX Pro.

12 – BEN WHITE – A tough line-up for White to do much damage in.

13 – GUSTAVO BADDELL – The Freakin’ Rican competed for the first time since 2009 and although he did not place well, just being back on stage was an accomplishment.

14 – MATTHIAS BOTTHOF –  The 2011 Arnold Amateur champion had nice round shoulders, but severly lacked in the lower body.

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