The process of judging has come under scrutiny following the 2023 Arnold Classic contest won by Samson Dauda. In a recent Olympia TV interview, Cicherillo discussed judging biases and named Samson Dauda and Derek Lunsford as top threats to Hadi Choopan’s Mr. Olympia title.
At the latest Mr. Olympia show, Choopan won with a blend of mass and conditioning in the finals against Evogen teammate Derek Lunsford and third-place finisher Nick Walker. ‘The Persian Wolf’ received a hero’s welcome in Iran shortly after and appears to be in tremendous shape during his off-season.
Before the Arnold Classic took place in March, the prize money soared to $300,000, which attracted a few short-notice participants, like Walker, former two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay, Patrick Moore, and Andrew Jacked. Despite entering the show as the favorite and the highest-ranking Olympian, Walker was unable to match the completeness of Dauda’s package.
Fan backlash followed and even some bodybuilding veterans disagreed with the outcome. Four-time Olympia titleholder Jay Cutler thought Walker could have won as well as Samir Bannout, who was confused by Dauda’s perfect scorecard. After the blowback, Walker encouraged his fans to be respectful regarding the outcome. With judging under fire, Master of Ceremonies Bob Cicherillo offered some clarity on the process.
Bob Cicherillo Talks About Impartial Judging and Live Shows, Says You ‘Can’t See Detail on A Screen’
Cicherillo explained that judges can see a better level of detail at live shows compared to a phone or computer screen. He added that MCs, judges, and the like, aren’t emotionally attached to competitors, and they don’t have favorites.
“First of all, people got to understand something, even though everyone is entitled to an opinion, not everyone is an expert, that’s the first thing. Number two: unless you’re sitting at the judges’ table, and I know we beat this one to death and I’ll continue to do it, yes, you have to be there. It’s a different show than what you people are watching at home on the pay-per-view, on your phone, on the computer, from the 50th row, the 100th row, the balcony, it’s a different show 15-20 feet away, and what the judges are looking at.”
“You cannot see the detail – and every athlete here will nod in agreement, Stacy as well, he’s been in more shows than probably anybody. You can’t see the detail on a screen, even on the big screen while you’re there, like, you can in person and up close. So, yes, you guys are seeing a slightly different show. The other thing you have to keep in mind in is, as commentators, MCs, judges, whatnot, we are not emotionally involved here. We don’t have favorites; we’re not fans even though we like certain people for various reasons.”
During a contest, Cicherillo underlined that judges only assess the physiques and what they can see on stage.
“We don’t look at it from a fan perspective, so we’re not emotionally attached here. We don’t know what they went through. Nobody cares about your story and your journey. No one cares what you had to jump through and jump over and overcome all these obstacles on your way to the stage. There’s no bench press around, there’s no scale on stage; you don’t get to submit a résumé of what you’ve gone through. The judges don’t care. All they’re doing is looking at your physique and giving an assessment of who they think is better, that’s it.”
Cicherillo Says Samson Dauda and Derek Lunsford Equal Threats to Hadi Choopan’s Title at 2023 Mr. Olympia
According to Cicherillo, the winner of the annual Arnold Classic ‘automatically’ becomes a favorite to win the Mr. Olympia title. Since Derek Lunsford finished second at the 2022 Olympia event, Cicherillo believes he shares the number one contender status with Samson Dauda.
“Well, listen, for many many years now, it’s been pretty much tradition, the winner of the Arnold automatically becomes the frontrunner to the Olympia. Now, there are certain exceptions to the rule. Like in this case, I’ve said Samson Dauda is the frontrunner, but you also have to give Derek Lunsford equal credit because he was second in a runner-up position at the Olympia, so I give them dual statuses as the number one contenders to try to take out Hadi Choopan,” Bob Cicherillo explained.
Over the past few weeks, Cicherillo has made multiple appearances on his Voice of Bodybuilding podcast to shed light on the fair judging process in Ohio. Some fans have suggested Ramy and Walker should have earned higher placements but Cicherillo and bodybuilding legend Flex Wheeler believe the officials got it right.
RELATED: Big Ramy Training Partner Dennis James Calls Out Bob Cicherillo for ‘Misleading’ Comparison
In addition to Cicherillo, Samson Duada’s coach Milos Sarcev took a closer look at November’s Mr. Olympia. Considering ‘The Nigerian Lion’s’ recent performance, Sarcev is confident Dauda could upset Hadi Choopan later this year. He also suggested Dauda could defeat Derek Lunsford in Las Vegas.
Check out the full video below:
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