by Christian Duque
Nick “The Mutant” Walker will be the People’s Champion; the vote itself will be just a formality. The fact is, it’s been a year since the much-hyped amateur earned professional status in a tent in Pittsburgh. I say that with the utmost respect to the North American Championships, but the reality is, the fact that contest even happened, was a godsend. In reality, whether it happened at the Sheraton, a tent, or in a parking lot, Nick Walker planned on getting on the stage, planned on earning his card, and planned on winning it all. And guess what, that’s exactly what happened.
Although his rookie debut was impressive, he didn’t win his first pro show. Nonetheless, he made an indelible mark in Chicago, earning a lion’s share of fans. In 2021, he was able to score major wins at the prestigious New York Pro (the 3rd most important contest) and then at the Arnold Classic (the 2nd most important contest). With the Olympia men’s prejudging just hours away, Walker made sure to throw the fans a major curveball, by posting a physique update that sent shockwaves throughout the fitness industry.
Oddly enough, 7x Mr. Olympia Phil Heath, told Patrick Bet David on Valuaintment, that Walker had no shot of winning the contest, but that’s exactly what may be the case. Guys like Phiil don’t want to recognize Nick’s lightning fast rise to the top and they want to go on record saying so, hoping to break his spirits. And it’s not just Phil. Arnold made disparaging remarks about Walker’s veins – and Arnold is the namesake of the contest Walker won. Other old farts from yesteryear, acting more like grumpy old men, than the legends they are, attacked The Mutant, totally unprovoked, simply because of his hard-earned successes on stage. That’s powerful. It’s sad and pathetic, but it’s also powerful. The fact that big names from the 80’s like Berry Demey and guys like Robbie Robinson from the 70’s, felt the need to strike first blood, speaks to the fear in their hearts. Instead of being happy for the young champion, they hate on him, because they see he can go all the way and maybe they have sour grapes that they can only dream of having, what Nick has.
Nick Walker is the People’s Champion. The fans love him because he literally came out of nowhere and, along with the support of his coach, Matt Jensen, he’s been able to make haters into fans. He’s been able to force the media into comparing him to guys like Brandon Curry, Hadi Choopan, and reigning Mr. Olympia, Big Ramy.
One of the first people to assert that that was even possible, was my friend Dan Dillon (aka The Mayor Of Bodybuilding). Dan is a driving force on the Muscular Development message boards and has been saying it for months. He’s always believed that the Olympia would be a fight between The Egyptian Phenom and the young rookie; however, he’s no longer the only guy saying it. Something has happened since Walker turned pro. His ascent has been one marked by a combination of hype and reality that’s seldom seen in the sport. Every single critic has come to the realization that Walker will, simply, not be outworked. He’s a young man that’s already demonstrated an incredible work ethic and dedication to his craft. A growing number of people have made the comparison to Dallas McCarver; they see great potential and the titles speak for it. Moreover, Walker isn’t an introvert, he’s ok being vocal and he’s ok putting his money where his mouth is.
To put out a physique update shot just hours before hitting the stage, is a huge gamble. Other guys like, William Bonac and iain Valliere have already done so, but the difference there is, these are veteran bodybuilders. Bonac has been an Olympia runner-up and practically lives in the Top 6. Valliere, who took 2nd place at this year’s Arnold, was 7th place last year at the O. Although both of these guys run some risks in letting the competition know what’s up their sleeves, this isn’t their first rodeo. In many ways, their years of experience give them a psychological edge.
For Walker, this is his first ever Olympia; however, he’s not going to hide until the prejudging. He will not be upstaged. And as a result, when Walker put out his ab & thigh update just hours before taking the stage in Orlando, FL, it was enough to make the media go haywire and light up social media.
The fact is, for as great as Bonac and Valliere looked, Walker again surpassed them. In a very real way, you have to act like the champion 24/7. While Big Ramy is boasting of weighing 303lbs, Walker is ready to take it to him – and everyone else – whether in pre-contest update shots, on stage, or in the court of public opinion on social media. This is the age we’re in. It calls for a champion ready to throw down at the drop of a hat.
I have a feeling that when it’s time for the fans to choose their People’s Champion, that Walker will win by a landslide. It will be a throwback to Ramy in ‘20, Hadi in ‘19, and Roelly in ‘18. And when ti comes to taking the stage, I have a feeling the judges will reward Nick for the massive amount of support he enjoys. Although fan support shouldn’t factor into the scorecards, I believe it can make a difference in close calls.
Earlier today, I released my official predictions at StrengthAddicts. In those predictions, I put Nick Walker at 3rd, along with the People’s Champion award; however, what happens if Brandon and/or Ramy is off? What happens if there’s an opening in the Top 3 and Walker charges through?
While guys like Phil Heath may say that Walker doesn’t have a shot in hell of winning the Superbowl of Bodybuilding, what happens when it’s Nick Walker and Big Ramy – or – Nick Walker and Brandon, or Nick and whoever else, as the two last men standing, what happens when the world of bodybuilding comes unhinged? At that point, all bets are off. And while we may not know if that’s the case Friday night, we may have a far clearer picture, come Saturday night. It may be the beginning of the Nick Walker era. Maybe it’ll take seeing it to believe it, but can Nick Walker beat Big Ramy? I’ll say this, Nick Walker can beat anyone! I think that much is irrefutable.
Where do you see The Mutant placing? Anything is possible in bodybuilding. Never forget that.