There were plenty of talking points following the 2023 Arnold Classic, which took place last weekend from March 2-5. In a recent The Menace podcast, Dennis James, Milos Sarcev, and Chris Cormier gave their opinions on the Shawn Ray/Dominic Nicholls confrontation that happened during the Arnold Expo.
“You can’t blame a coach for any bodybuilders because whatever they’re doing, they’ll do it regardless, and without a coach, they’ll probably do it even worse,” said Dennis James.
At the second-most prestigious event of the year, chaos erupted at the expo when a disagreement between Shawn Ray and Chad Nicholls’ son, Dominic Nicholls, reached a head. Dominic took issue with Ray’s assessment of his father’s training styles.
As a coach, Chad Nicholls was responsible for guiding one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, Ronnie ‘The King’ Coleman, who owns eight Mr. Olympia titles (tied for most with Lee Haney). Months ago, Ray took a shot at Chad Nicholls on social media in cryptic fashion by sharing the pictures of a few bodybuilders that died after training with him.
It’s no mystery that bodybuilding comes with risks. Over the past three years, some believe athletes are dying at a higher rate. Shawn Rhoden and George Peterson died from heart problems in 2021. The trend didn’t let up in 2022 as the bodybuilding community mourned the deaths of Tonya Knight, former Arnold Classic winner Cedric McMillan, and many others.
The 30-45-second Nicholls/Ray incident has gone viral online. Recapping the confrontation, Dennis James, Milos Sarcev, and Chris Cormier discussed who was at fault.
Milos Sarcev Says Shawn Ray Got Jumped at 2023 AC, but ‘Nobody Has It On Camera’
Milos Sarcev revealed he had a front-row seat to the altercation a week ago.
“I didn’t see exactly what it is, somebody got in between them and separated them. But I know there was something going on. Shawn texted me, ‘hey, they jumped me.’ I texted him back, ‘I’ve seen it.’ Nobody has it on camera. The next day, Chad’s son, Dominic, he came to me and showed me the video. He went there. I mean, you know, they are sick and tired of hearing these kinds of accusations, which is very very bad. He just said, ‘Don’t talk about my dad anymore,'” said Milos Sarcev.
In James’ opinion, he thought the encounter looked staged. Sarcev added that Dominic wanted to speak with Shawn Ray behind closed doors, but the bodybuilding great refused to comply.
“It kind of looked like somebody knew this was going to happen and video’d it,” added Dennis James.
“Nobody had the video from the day before. I’m sure this is why they want to capture that video. So, they probably, said, ‘make sure to tape it.’ Of course, it’s staged. Yeah, you can ask – well you don’t talk to Shawn. There was 30, 45 seconds of commotion,” said Sarcev. “They wanted to push him out, you know, behind closed doors and he didn’t want to come out. Of course not.”
Chris Cormier Details Dominic/Shawn Ray Fight: ‘It Was About Shawn Saying Chad Nicholls ‘Has Blood on His Hands’
Cormier said Shawn took issue with Chad Nicholls because his coaching style has resulted in bodybuilders dying.
“I hit up Shawn and was like, ‘Hey man, do you have anything to say about what happened? I said, ‘We’re going to be talking about it. If you want to tell me your side.’ He said Chad was looking at him, rolled up on him, said, ‘Hey let’s go outside and talk,’ and he [Shawn] said, ‘I can hear you just fine.’ Then, he was taking photos with fans and everything and then he [Nicholls] got really close, like a chest-bump type close, and he [Shawn] said, ‘Dude, do you want to go to jail tonight?'”
“Then his son, was like, no one likes you. And Shawn is like, ‘Everyone likes you?’ He said Chad said let’s go outside and talk. He said ‘I can hear you just fine bro, do you want to go to jail tonight?’ He was saying Ramy was going off stage and I guess Erin Banks got in between them. Then, they kind of separated and went their own separate ways. It was [about] Shawn saying he has blood on his hands.”
Before ending the discussion, Dennis James supported Dominic’s actions and said he would have done the same if someone was leveling those accusations at his dad.
“If someone talked about my dad continuously like this, I would probably do the same thing. I probably wouldn’t talk. I’d probably put hands on him you know. I’ll be honest,” said Dennis James. “It’s so easy to let this shit go and stop. You know what I’m saying. If you’re going to talk about coaches, why do you continue to pick on Chad. There’s other coaches killing people supposedly.”
“It was going to happen sooner or later. I’m glad no punches were thrown. It’s a ticking time bomb, I think. I don’t know if Shawn takes this serious.”
This isn’t the first time that Shawn Ray went after Chad Nicholls and his coaching skills. He revealed in 2021 that Nicholls was a ‘lying guru,’ who was killing the sport with ‘Dr. Death protocols.’ At the time, Ray underlined that Nicholls’ training procedures were responsible for killing a number of athletes.
Nicholls, who is one of the most decorated bodybuilding trainers ever, recently led Big Ramy and William Bonac at the 2022 Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic. While Big Ramy wasn’t able to win either contest, many fans believe he looked improved from the Olympia last year.