IFBB Stories from 2000

99 Mr Olympia

One day after the 2001 Mr. Olympia, Shawn Ray was already putting his money where his mouth is. At the conclusion of a fiery exchange between competitors and judges, Shawn boldly stated, “I challenge the IFBB to pay All the athletes an appearance fee for qualifying to compete in the largest bodybuilding show in history!”

See, not since 1988, has every bodybuilder in the Mr. Olympia received a paycheck for qualifying and competing in the Main Event. That year everyone received $1,000.00 just for showing up. This would be Shawn’s first Mr. Olympia as a rookie 22 year old, as he would go to place an auspicious 13th place.

Fast-forward 14 years to the year 2002:

At the recent Night of Champions in New York City on May 18th, Shawn Ray and Shari Kamali would be Co-M/C’s for the event with 3,000 screaming New Yorkers in attendance and a bodybuilding field of approximately 29 competitors. Included in the audience were notables like Flex Wheeler, Dexter Jackson, Dennis James, Chris Cormier, and Dorian Yates!

The irony of these notable stars in attendance is that they were all there to contribute donations of prize money for the 2002 Mr. Olympia that had been raised by none other than Shawn Ray himself! After the press conference of the 2001 Mr. Olympia, Shawn drew first blood by vocally taking a stand for his fellow competitors regarding issues like;

New Judges, Rotating Judges, Judges showing their individual scores, Instituting Computerized Scoring, as well as everyone in the contest receiving prize money!

Now, Shawn brings to the contest in New York checks from the afore mentioned athletes to the tune of $12,500.00 and promising another $12,500.00 Olympia weekend for a total contribution of $25,000.00 towards the athletes not in the top 10 of the Mr. Olympia!

Shawn begins to inform the packed house of the goings on in the industry when he clearly and eloquately states:

“I have just been informed by the Pro Division President, Mr. Wayne DeMilia, that the IFBB and Powers that be have refused the monetary contribution of$25,000.00 from the pro athletes. I had $5,000.00 dollar contributions from 6-Time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates, Kevin Levrone, Chris Cormier and myself along with $2,500.00 dollar contributions from Dexter Jackson and Dennis James. They are all here to present the checks but with the refusal to accept the additional money, there is nothing they can do. However, this is only the beginning for me, the fight has just begun!”

A chorus of boo’s poured from the auditorium, as the show began to take shape. Shawn was over heard stating at a seminar the day before that he was going to be taking an affirmative stand towards the way things have been handled by the federation. Also, he stated that and those people running things needed checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the sport so he can look out for the athletes coming up behind him because they will one day be the future of bodybuilding. Strong words from one of the sports most consistent bodybuilders in the world!

This refusal of the prize money certainly raised a few eye brows, as well as a few questions like:

Why would the IFBB not accept the prize money, which surely would be a tax right off for the athletes and more prize money for the show?

How can the sport move forward if the federation refuses the athletes to work within the structure of the organization?

Who benefits from the prize money being rejected by the federation, surely not the athletes placing below 10th ?

Finally, what is the difference if the money came from competing athletes as opposed to former athletes, the money is still green isn’t it?

Now, this is where we have to ask ourselves as fans, “Do they really think we are that stupid to believe that only 10 of these guys are deserving of prize money when we all know the Parking Valet, Security Guards, Ticket Takers and Ushers are getting paid for their time during the event?”

These pro’s put people in seats, they are the reason the sponsors contribute money for booth space and why fans fly from all over the world to support them. Not everyone is here to see Ronnie Coleman win consecutive Mr. Olympia titles, no offence to Ronnie but it is true! Gunther Schlierkamf has a strong following and is a huge hit in Europe! Mike Matarazzo has a zillion fans that pay to see him compete! Are you telling me that 5-Time Masters Mr. Olympia Champion Vince Taylor didn’t have at least 20 people there to see him at an average ticket cost of $200.00! Do the math!

All the athletes have fans buying tickets to the show to see them compete therefore, all of them should get paid for competing!
This is where and why professional bodybuilding holds itself back. Simply put, the federation has a hard time dealing with free thinking athletes like Shawn because in the long run someone who can organize a thought and raise money for a cause could ultimately wind up becoming a threat to the industry as we know it. There is no Union in professional bodybuilding because every good idea coming from one of the athletes gets shot down without reason or explanation! I say fight on Shawn and continue to rattle the Chains of Change! The idea and the support of your peers are sure to be heard, as they have not fallen on deaf ears! The purpose of paying these hard training, sacrificing bodybuilders is noble.

In a Billion dollar industry you would think by now that the guy in last place should be getting a minimum of $10,000.00 and the Mr. Olympia would be the Million Dollar Man!

If this sport is to be taken seriously by the world, then I say,

“Pony up the money and let Cream rise to the TOP!”