IFBB Pro League athletes rep Bob Cicherillo has become a leading voice in the bodybuilding community. In a recent Voice of Bodybuilding podcast, Cicherillo examined the newly released 2023 Masters Olympia roster and named Kamal Elgargni as a clear-cut favorite.
Cicherillo, who carved out his own career as a Men’s Open pro, remains connected with the sport in a variety of capacities. In addition to his duties as an athletes rep, Cicherillo serves as the commentator for the two biggest bodybuilding shows in the world, Mr. Olympia and the Arnold Classic.
Last year, the Masters Olympia competition announced its return following an 11-year absence. The show is scheduled for August 25-27 at the BT Arena in Cluj Napoca, Romania. Following Jake Wood’s confirmation of the contest, fans immediately began eying potential competitors.
There were suspicions that four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler was preparing for a possible return. However, in a Cutler Cast podcast, he dismissed the idea. Instead, Cutler admitted that he was transforming his physique as a personal goal before turning 50. Fan speculation about entries screeched to a halt on Tuesday when Cutler and head judge Steve Weinberger revealed a complete list of competitors from a total of 10 divisions.
Bob Cicherillo Says Masters Olympia Was Created for Lou Ferrigno: ‘It Was Put Together for Him to Win’
According to Cicherillo, the Masters Olympia was first created specifically for Lou Ferrigno, who was ultimately denied by Golden Era veteran Robby Robinson in 1994.
“That [Masters Olympia history] goes back to 1994. Interestingly, this show was pretty much set up for Lou Ferrigno to make his big comeback. It was no secret that Lou was a big Weider athlete at the time, the biggest if you get into physicalities. He was very close with Joe Weider and he was making a comeback.”
“This was literally put together for Lou to win and he would have won if not for Robby Robinson, The Black Prince who showed up on game day who put it all together, looked phenomenal and when the smoke cleared they just could not deny that Robby was the best on that day and at that show.”
Cicherillo credited Bob Paris as an early influence and gave an overview of former champions who found success on the Masters Olympia stage such as Vince Taylor and Don Youngblood.
“He [Bob Paris] was an early influence in my career and a lot of other people’s, generally regarded as one of the best posers of all time but also one of the best physiques, especially if you’re into the aesthetic look and that type of thing. Interestingly enough, Bob Paris never won a pro show. Ain’t that something?”
“The highest he ever got was a couple third place finishes and he never cracked the top five at the Olympia,” added Cicherillo.
“Alright, 96-2001, the great Vince Taylor, no disputing it, Vince was simply head and shoulders above the rest. What he produced out there, I wouldn’t say a Masters physique, it was a damn good physique whether he was in the Open or the Masters; he was the winningest bodybuilder of all time to that point before that record was ecliped by the great Ronnie Coleman and then eclipsed again by Dexter Jackson. That record will probably never be beat.”
“Don Youngblood spoiled Vince’s party.”
Before breaking down the current contenders slated to compete in August, Bob highlighted the impact Dexter Jackson left on the sport. He also clarified that the Masters Olympia show fell off for several years due to a lack of interest from fans.
“It’s amazing how much his name [Dexter Jackson] seems to come up when talking about bodybuilding history. Listen, Dexter was Dexter, nobody was going to beat him. Now, that was 11 years ago. Again, why are there big gaps in time, why hasn’t the Masters sustained? Well, the Masters is an interesting dichotomy of what the fans want to see versus what’s profitable, what has an ROI, what sells tickets, it’s still business at the end of the day.”
Cicherillo Says Kamal Elgargni Can Win 2023 Masters Olympia at a Lean 215 Lbs
Given his activity levels and current physique, Cicherillo recognizes Kamal Elgargni as a big favorite. However, he also expects Josh Lenartowicz to put on a stellar performance.
“Let’s get into the Open. Now, this is what I was waiting for. I was curious because we’ve heard some names, everybody from Jay Cutler to Johnnie Jackson, my good buddy Jimmy Mentis out there, big shout out Jimmy, a lot of names were going around as possibly coming back, Kai Greene, Phil Heath even right? But the list came out yesterday, none of those guys are in it.”
“But guess who is in it? How about Josh Lenartowicz? We haven’t seen Josh in six or seven years, I don’t know, it’s been a while,” said Cicherillo. “He’s going to present a physique that’s going to be very very competitive. But, he’s got Kamal Elgargni, now Kamal is obviously not one of the bigger guys, he’s a 212 Olympia champion — that goes a long way. That means he’s obviously the best at what he does against other guys in that range.
Now, can he put on a few pounds without losing that physique, because he tends to get a little square when he goes up in weight. He doesn’t need it; he should probably come in no higher than 215 and present a package that’s going to be very difficult to beat. He’s been competing as recently as just this last year, it’s not like he’s coming back after five or 10 years. Kamal is definitely going to be – he’s got a shot at the number one spot,” Bob Cicherillo shared.
The Olympia organizers revealed that $229,000 is on the line, which will be divided among all categories. Some in the sport, such as Victor Martinez, took issue with the prize money and said it would have taken at least $250,000 to entice him to enter.
Kamal Elgargni will aim to capture his first Masters Olympia title in late August. Bob Cicherillo believes Elgargni is the man to beat given his experience and status as a former 212 Olympia winner.