The 35th edition of 2023 Arnold Classic takes place from March 2-5, in Columbus, Ohio. Weeks before the contest, Hunter Labrada discussed the lineup and Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay‘s chances after finishing fifth at the 2022 Olympia.
“He just won the Olympia three years ago, but we’re talking about someone who has decades of bodybuilding miles on them at this point,” Hunter Labrada shared.
Last month, the IFBB Pro League Men’s Open division endured a huge shake-up in Las Vegas. While Ramy was a massive favorite weeks before his scheduled title defense, he entered 2022 Mr. Olympia looking off and injured, according to head judge Steve Weinberger. By the end of the night, Ramy finished fifth with Hadi Choopan emerging as the new champion.
Days after losing his title, Ramy promised a better version of himself at his next competition. And while fans thought he might take some time off to rebuild his physique, the Egyptian native made a surprise entry into the 2023 Arnold Classic. Before he announced the news, Nick Walker, Andrew Jacked, and Patrick Moore also jumped in after organizers boosted the Arnold Men’s Open winner prize money to $300,000.
With the next major bodybuilding competition on the horizon, Hunter Labrada joined the MD Muscle Talk podcast to discuss Big Ramy’s potential and future in the sport.
Hunter Labrada on 2023 Arnold Classic: ‘If Everyone Is On, It’s Going to Be Apples and Oranges’
Labrada predicted the judges will have a difficult time determining who should win in Ohio. He explained that officials will be tasked with comparing mass monsters like Samson Dauda, Nick Walker, and Andrew Jacked with 212 Olympias like Kamal Elgargni and Shaun Clarida.
“I’ve been talking about it more and more as it gets closer. I boiled my thoughts down to a single statement and that is — if everybody is on, I feel like the judges are going to have to decide between an apple and an orange.”
“The top three or top five even in my opinion, they are a lot of different shapes and sizes. What they look like and what they bring to the stage. You got Shaun Clarida who is going to be 5″2′ and 180 pounds but look like he’s carved out of granite,” says Labrada. “You got Samson Dauda, if he improves on that look he had at the Olympia and comes in a little dryer and a little more conditioned. That dude man, he is something to see in person.”
Labrada expects his former rival Nick Walker to come into the 2023 AC looking peeled.
“Obviously, Nick Walker at this point has established the fact that he’s going to show up fuc**ng peeled, and he’s got a lot of muscle. If everybody shows up on, I’ll be really excited to see the show in person.”
Hunter Labrada Breaks Down Big Ramy’s Chances at 2023 Arnold Classic, Talks ‘Quad Holes’
Initially, Hunter thought Ramy would win 2022 Olympia easily after seeing him backstage. However, he mentioned Ramy’s back didn’t match the detail he displayed from the front.
“Obviously, my first view of Ramy posing was in the lineup. I saw his backside, I was staring at his ass basically, right when he hit a pose, I was like, ‘well that’s that.’ I’ve never seen that. His glutes were so dug in from the back but from the front it wasn’t the same. Typically, it’s vice-versa. Guys can look really hard and dry and put together from the front but then they turn around, and it’s like, ‘oh.’ But it the opposite this year.”
Labrada is unsure what happened to Ramy’s quads, but suspected an injury might be the culprit.
“Call it what it is [Father Time]. It happens to everyone eventually,” said Hunter Labrada. “Your eye is drawn to it [Ramy’s quad holes] in some of the front shots. I have no clue what it is. But the fact that it is so symmetrical to me, it almost seems like there’s some muscle peeling off the tendon or something.”
“If they weren’t exactly symmetrical, yeah, I’d be like yeah had abscesses, or cut them out or they got scarred or knotted up. But the fact that they’re so symmetrical it makes me curious what’s going on. I have no clue; I don’t want to speculate.”
If Ramy fails to improve at his next Mr. Olympia contest, Hunter believes fans will start counting him out moving forward.
“That’s what I was going to say. I think he kind of scooted up that do or die moment in his career. He qualified, so he placed fifth. So, it could have been next year’s Olympia taking a full year to take a step back and address what can be addressed. Taking on the Arnold at short notice is definitely setting yourself up with a do or die moment of your career.
Despite his accomplishments, Hunter maintains Ramy is in a ‘do or die’ situation at the 2023 AC.
“You’re coming off fifth place at the Olympia. You show up and you do really well. Okay, cool, the Olympia — can’t wait to see him in November or whenever the hell it is this year. If he shows up and doesn’t do well again, yeah people are going to start wondering,” says Hunter Labrada.
“So, a decade [since he won his first pro show],” Labrada shared. “He’s not a small aesthetic guy, he’s huge.”
Labrada and his coach Ben Chow have also discussed his seventh-place finish at 2022 Olympia. They both agree that Hunter was off and missed his peak. Furthermore, they highlighted that he was holding too much size throughout the contest prep.
Check out the full video below:
Since coming up short at 2022 Olympia, Labrada has dedicated himself to a new training regimen and diet. While he won’t be competing in Ohio, Labrada plans to attend the 2023 Arnold Sports Festival as a guest.