by Christian Duque
No. Ok, so I just killed the suspense of a question I could have milked for all it’s worth in a long, drawn out three or four page read. I could have cited that Weider/AMI would have been doing right by the fans, by giving them what they want.
I could have made the case that giving Ramy the special invite might create added buzz for the contest and that perhaps this could be the year that Ramy won the Sandow. I could also have posited that by including The Egyptian Phenom, that that too would bode well for the promoters, vis a vi higher ticket sales, higher expo attendance, and perhaps even more media spotlight. These are all fine points, but they wouldn’t be my points.
I really like Big Ramy. I’ve interviewed him, I’m conversed with him, and I most definitely consider myself a fan of his. Unlike with Phil Heath, I know that I can write an honest article, that’s a true reflection of my thoughts, without worrying about whether or not Ramy will take offense. Nonetheless, I do feel it necessary to state, for the record, that this piece isn’t a troll story, it’s just an objective one.
In 2017, Ramy was on fire, particularly with his runner-up to Phil Heath at the Olympia. 2018 was supposed to be his year. Everyone, even his loudest critics, had jumped on the bandwagon. If anyone was going to stop Phil from tying The Totally Awesome Lee Haney and The Big Nasty Ronnie Coleman, then it was going to be him. For the diehards, Phil barely escaped in one piece from 2017. To be totally honest, I thought Phil’s victory over Ramy was a fairly decisive one, I didn’t think Ramy was anywhere near 100%, but I was very impressed with what he’d brought to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, shit happens, and I don’t know of a better way to put it. 2018 could have been the year Ramy tied it all together; however, we all know that wasn’t the case. After the Olympia, he’d leave The Camel Crew, link up with Neil Hill, and the plan was to see him at the following Arnold.
Well, we also know that Ramy didn’t do the Arnold, citing a shoulder injury.. We next expected to see him at the Tampa Pro. Now, I’d like to hold on here for a moment, because Tampa is where Dexter “The Blade” Jackson earned his 29th pro win. That’s significant, because you have a Mr. Olympia opting to win a show to qualify (just like everyone else), despite the fact all Mr. Olympias are automatically re-qualified. Ramy, for whatever reason, didn’t do Tampa, either, and also walked from Neil Hill.
When you’re not competing, you don’t effectively have a coach, and you’re landing movie roles, it would appear that you’re taking the year off. And that’s totally fine; however, I don’t think these are extenuating enough circumstances that rise to the level of getting a special invite. In fact, there’s no hardship here at all.
Also, this whole concept of “doing right by the fans,” shouldn’t trump the qualifying process. I’m sure some of the fans would like to award victories based on applause rather than scoring. Does that mean we should scrap the mandatory poses? Of course not.
I really like Ramy and for the record, Ramy isn’t the one asking for a special invite; rather, it’s his fans that want him to get one. The special invite is a unique practice that I think should be used when appropriate. Giving Cedric McMillan the invite this year, makes all the sense in the world. Here’s a top tier athlete who serves his country in the military and because of that service, may not have been able to qualify as conveniently as others. Kevin Levrone got a special invite after a nearly a decade and a half hiatus. Kai Greene received one out of a courtesy, given his stellar achievements on stage. Is Ramy a bad candidate for the special invite? No, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that, but there are more deserving ones, like Cedric, so I’m not one championing the call for The Egyptian Phenom to be able to cut to the head of the line, get into the biggest contest in bodybuilding, and potentially walk away with a Sandow, when quite frankly, his head hasn’t been in the game all year and he truthfully didn’t have a valid reason for sitting out key contests that could have put him in the contest.
Could you imagine if Ramy did get the special invite and won the Olympia? While that might make the fans happy, it seems like a royal disservice to Ramy’s fellow competitors.