Muscle men had universal appeal

Bodybuilders from all over the globe descended on Cayman last month for the.,

On Saturday, April 19, the Lions Centre came alive for the Mr. & Ms. Universe Bodybuilding & Figure Championships along with the Natural Caribbean Grand Prix Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.

Countries represented on stage in the fight for the titles included the USA, Canada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Antigua, South Africa and the Cayman Islands.

All athletes who participated in the event were subjected to intense drug testing prior to and after the competition.

The opening of the event saw the various countries display their flags, followed by the presentation of the Cayman Islands flag by the Cadet Corp, who also displayed their talent with an impressive marching routine.

Opening remarks were made by Alden McLaughlin, Minister of Sports.

The first men to hit the stage to flex their muscles were the competitors in the Masters Over 40 Class.

For anyone in the audience who was thinking that they were ‘too old’ to begin a fitness routine, these men were living testimony that it’s never too late.

First place went to Jim DiGiovanni, 59, of Kansas City who displayed a sharp physique. His dynamic posing routine seemed to transfer an energy to the audience that would set the mood for the rest of the night.

In second place, and only three points behind DiGiovanni was the very symmetrical Marvin Mayo of Maryland, followed in third by Mark Choice of Colorado.

When the amateur lightweight men took the stage there was a look of determination and conviction in their eyes to see who would be the one to win a professional card from the WNBF.

The men went through two rounds in the war of muscles, performing quarter turns and muscularity rounds.

After the battle, one of Cayman’s finest, Marlon Birch aka ‘Mr. 2 per cent’, who showed off a balanced and striated physique, was the winner of this class, followed by Dimitri Williams from St Vincent and the Grenadines in second and another of Cayman’s finest, Herman Charlerly, in third place.

Fourth and fifth place finishes were achieved by Dwight Campbell of Jamaica and Mark Whorms of Cayman, respectively.

In the amateur heavyweight men’s class, another of Cayman’s champions, Anthony Reid, displayed a sharp and muscular physique which enabled him to clinch first, with Kurt Dunn from Jamaica, who displayed great symmetry and muscle tone taking second.

With a massive physique, Tito Dudley of New York City was able to capture third while fourth place went to Alex Schultz of Cayman and fifth to Jim DiGiovanni.

The winners of each of these classes, Birch and Reid, then had to battle between each other to determine the overall best athlete of the Natural Caribbean Grand Prix.

After competing against each other in the symmetry and muscularity rounds, Birch emerged as the Overall Winner. Pending the results of the mandatory drug testing, pro cards were awarded to both Birch and Reid.

During the championship and to the delight of the audience, Dominic of Body Sculptor Fitness Center demonstrated an exciting, new aerobic workout, Step Dance.

Another well received item on the agenda was a video presentation of three dynamic bodybuilding posing routines by Mr. Universe, Tiger Wilson.

By the end of the presentation the crowd was on the edge of their seats, clapping and cheering.

Even though the athletes were the stars of the night, the promoters were also cognizant of the fact that without their sponsors the event would not have taken place.

In a show of appreciation, awards were handed out to PricewaterhouseCoopers, C.I. Department of Tourism, Chris Johnson Associates, Ministry of Sports, Webster’s Tours, GNC, Island Paving, King’s Sports Centre, Andy’s Rent-A-Car, Body Sculptor Fitness Center and Peacemaker Charters.

Then it was time to bring the big guys to the stage: the 10 professional men who would vie for the coveted title of Mr. Universe.

As these natural professional athletes hit the stage the crowd went wild in appreciation.

Each athlete performed a posing routine to display their artistic abilities as well as their fine physiques, following which the they were all brought back on stage to go through the muscularity rounds and comparisons.

As time progressed muscles became bigger, harder and more ripped and the audience was kept in anticipation of who would triumph in the end.

After the dust settled it was Clarence McGill, followed in second place by rookie professional, Richard Scotchman of Jamaica, competing for the first time as a pro.

Third place went to Robert Johnson of Kansas City with Cayman’s own Hugh Cotterell taking fourth and Johnny Jones of Georgia rounding out the top five.

Event Promoter, Tiger Wilson, himself a Mr. Universe title holder, expressed that he was extremely pleased with the show.

‘It was great and I am most grateful to all of our sponsors,’ he said. ‘Without the sponsors it would not be possible for us to promote this international championship here in Cayman.

‘For the past five years my wife Susan and I have been pushing this event and I can say that, despite the many obstacles in our way we did not give up.

‘We took our licks and just kept moving on, hoping that one day everyone would see what we are trying to do.

‘We think that it is finally coming to light that this type of event is good for the islands, especially from a sports tourism aspect.

‘Our goal is to give all of our local athletes the opportunity to become a professional athlete and to also enable them to compete more regularly at the international level. They deserve to be recognized around the world for the great athletes that they are.’

Even as they still work at wrapping up the 2008 event, the Wilsons are already planning next year’s event.

‘As inconsequential as the event might seem to some people, it takes a whole year of planning and commitment to actually make it happen,’ said Tiger.

Anyone wishing to become involved in the 2009 event can contact the promoters by phone at 916-5662 or by e-mail at [email protected]