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Derek Lunsford Treated Nick Walker Like A Child!

  • 10 min read


by Christian Duque

Who can forget the docudrama classic Pumping Iron that made bodybuilding what it is today. I mean sure you can point to the magazines, the dvds, the various ads for sports supplement products, but ultimately the media that really put bodybuilding on the map was Pumping Iron. And although it was not 100% factual and it was a docudrama it really hit the nail on the head.

Let’s not forget one of the classic lines from the movie where Arnold talks about the late great Franco Colombu and how Franco is essentially like a child, how he’s able to manipulate him, get him to do what he wants. Arnold talked about the ease he had in getting in the guy’s head. Now while Arnold’s interactions with Lou Ferrigno may have been staged and the interactions between Ken Waller and Mike Katz may have been staged as well.

I happen to believe that Arnold really could manipulate Franco. I think it goes back to the fact that they arrived in the United States at the same time, worked construction together, and really honestly were both very green when they both arrived here. I don’t think that they had connected very much with the industry and I don’t even think there was really much of an industry to connect with at that point. I think both guys were here at the behest of Joe Weider but I feel that Arnold had more of a claim to Joe than Franco did. I also think that if we are speaking about who spoke better English, I would say Arnold did. After all, English is a German-based language whereas Italian or Sardinian is most definitely not. In many regards, I think Franco depended on Arnold. I also happen to believe that Arnold had an emotional and psychological edge on his good buddy.

Now this article is not about Arnold and it’s not about Franco. It’s not about two guys that came to America on an adventure to take over the bodybuilding world. It’s not even about two guys that are necessarily close friends. This article is about Derek Lunsford and Nick Walker. And the reason I made the association with Pumping Iron and Arnold and Franco is because if you watch the interview that inspired this article where Australian promoter Tony Doherty interviews Derek Lunsford and Nick Walker you will see exactly what I’m talking about and why I think it’s appropriate to make the comparison of Arnold and franco.

Franco always wanted to beat Arnold’s and he never really could. Maybe he beat him on some rinky dink stage somewhere in Europe a million years prior, but moving on from where they got to in the United States forward, it never happened again. It’s just like when Frank Zane says he beat Arnold before he even knew how to pose. I mean sure Frank can have that as his bragging rights, but Arnold didn’t know what he was doing. As soon as Arnold hit his stride, Frank couldn’t hold a candle to him. And I think a similar case can be made between Derek and Nick.

Nick is a guy who exceeds all concepts of size and freakiness. He doesn’t have the prettiest physique by any stretch of the imagination and let’s be honest he’s not an artistic poser either. No one’s ever going to confuse his posing abilities with those of Kai Greene, Melvin Anthony, King Kamali or Bob Paris. The guy is just a huge ton of muscle and sort of just wanders around the stage asking people to cheer louder. He uses terms like baby in conversation which in reality is kind of silly for him to call Tony Doherty a man of 50 years of age (or older) baby in an interview. But again we’re talking about somebody with a very limited vocabulary and a limited scope of life experiences. The reality of the matter is that when Nick talks trash to Derek Lunsford – a guy who has won Sandows in two bodybuilding divisions, it’s more than Nick exhibiting self-confidence. He looks very silly. It’s a bad look for Walker, but Lunsford stayed very much in control and was unphased.

Most people would have flipped out. They would have gone on the warpath. Who can forget Phil Heath in 2017 when the late great Shawn Rhoden was signing Olympia posters as that year’s Mr Olympia. Phil was livid and snapped at the press conference. That’s the kind of bait that an obnoxious challenger sets for an insecure champion. Arguably by 2017, Phil knew that he was on borrowed time. His gut was totally out of control and people truly believed that Shawn had beat him in 2016. Phil barely held on in 2017 to Big Ramy and in 2018 got his ass handed to him by Shawn Rhoden. So Phil was walking on thin ice as it was and when Shawn set the bait he couldn’t resist. Derek on the other hand is not walking on thin ice, at all, and is very confident in his abilities. Moreover, Derek is as hungry today as he was before winning his 212 title or his open Olympia title. This is not a competitor that is bored or complacent. He understands that his real threats come from Hadi and Samson but he also is looking at guys like Hunter, Quinton, and maybe even Martin who is really coming up. He acknowledges the fact that Nick at one point in time was a threat and even though he is not one currently he still gives him the respect of a Top 6 Olympian.

What’s interesting though is that Derek is neither amused nor offended by Walker’s attempt at getting a rise out of him. If this had been Phil Heath or even the goat himself Ronnie Coleman, I suspect Nick would have received some kind of a response. Imagine how powerless and impotent Nick Walker must have felt as he threw this highly offensive charged statement at the reigning champion and the reigning champion gave him no response, but instead talked about being on top, growing the sport, and how proud he was to be a new father. That totally disarmed The Mutant and made him look so insignificant that Tony actually turned to talk to Derek exclusively, leaving Nick to stand there like an idiot waiting for a bus that never arrived. Study his body language. It looks like he was trying to connect with the camera person or maybe make eye contact with others out of sight. There was no reason for him to be there, but he couldn’t just walk off. The poor guy must have felt smaller than a GI Joe action figure.

People often say that there should be a manual for how to deal with trolls and hecklers in the bodybuilding world. No such manual exists, but I think every bodybuilder should watch this interview because nobody could have handled it better than reigning Mr Olympia Derek Lunsford. And I don’t know if Tony was trying to be cute or was maybe trying to get under Nick’s skin, but when he asked him who was going to win the New York Pro it really set Nick off. And when Nick answered that it was him and that it wasn’t even a question Derek’s composure was also perfect. He didn’t laugh at Nick, but he also didn’t agree with him 100%. Why didn’t he?

Well he didn’t do that because he wanted to show respect for the other competitors doing the contest and because I believe that he did not want to make it about Nick and the New York Pro – rather – he wanted to make it about bodybuilding and the New York pro. This is why Derek used the segway of how much he enjoyed watching bodybuilders on stage battle for the top titles. He talked about bodybuilders instead of any one particular body builder. And then he included himself in the discussion, stating that all bodybuilders are hungry and all bodybuilders are striving for being the best. So while Nick was trying to make it about himself, Derek was making it about everyone.

Once again this is what every competitor should strive for – whether amateur or pro – and especially Pros that are winning big shows like the Olympia, the Arnold Classic, the New York Pro and others. Derek showed us all what being a true champion is all about. Meanwhile Nick showed us everything else.

I want to stress that this article is not about trashing on Nick Walker. I’m sure that some of his fans may interpret it that way because anytime he is criticized, whether constructively or otherwise, they get in an uproar. The reality of the matter is I’ve drawn a lot of historical parallels over the course of many different eras of the sport in this article. I have been able to draw commonalities that quite frankly should make some of you at least question whether or not what I’m saying holds water.

In a very real way I kind of feel bad for Nick at this point in his career. By this point he probably thought that he would have been battling for the Olympia without being asked whether or not he could win the New York Pro. At this point in his career I don’t think that he thought he would be in a situation where he isn’t even in the conversation to be in the Olympia Top 5. Because quite frankly he is not. Every single spot is accounted for. You have Derek, Hadi, Samsung, Andrew Jacked is looking insane, Martin is coming up, Quinton is coming up, Akim is looking better than ever. And then you have other guys that are really coming up the ranks and I just don’t think that Walker is in a position to shut them out as easily as he thinks. Take Tonio Burton, for example. Nick doesn’t even consider Tonio to be on his level. But the reality of the matter is Tonio could wipe the floor with Nick given the right conditions. He’s another former 212 guy that has just blown up in size while keeping his signature symmetry and lines. And if we’re talking posing, Tonio blows Nick out of the water. So why does Nick not consider Tonio to be on the same level? Or what about Rafael? What about Beef Stu or what about Martin? There’s just so many guys. Nick Walker is not this unbeatable legend. He’s very much a guy who is standing on the ropes at this point and did not impress me with his guest posing in Pittsburgh. Moreover, he certainly did not impress me with his interview with Derek and Tony, either. So like I said, I really feel bad for the guy, but what say you?

In the end, I have to tip my hat to Mr. Olympia Derek Lunsford. The way that he handled this interview and the way that he handled a mouthy challenger to his crown was absolutely perfect. He could not have done a better job.