The future of natural bodybuilding and the WNBF is bright. There is no doubt that the competitive landscape is changing with increased competition in the natural ranks and tremendous growth in drug-tested bodybuilding and figure competition. It’s truly an exciting time in our sport!
As the 2012 WNBF pro season kicks off this weekend with the WNBF Pro Men’s Tournament of Champions in Columbus, Ohio a Men’s Pro Season Preview seemed only fitting. There have been several changes in the INBF and WNBF over the past year, but it remains clear that the WNBF is positioned as a leader in drug-tested competition with over 20 years at the forefront of the natural movement. With Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness magazine transitioning to online only, we needed some hype for our season! The strength of our organization lies in it’s hard-working promoters and depth of pro athletes. Depth is exactly what we will see in this preview, but first the complete 2012 WNBF Pro Schedule:
- April 14, 2012 – WNBF Pro Men’s Tournament of Champions in Columbus, OH – $4,500
- May 19, 2012 – WNBF Pro Natural North America Figure & Ms. Fit Body in Arlington, VA – $2,100
- June 2, 2012 – WNBF Pro American Bodybuilding, Figure & Ms. Fit in Marlborough, MA – $7,500
- June 23, 2012 – WNBF Pro Universe Bodybuilding & Figure in Barbados – $13,000
- July 21, 2012 – WNBF Pro International Bodybuilding & Figure in Austin, TX – $20,000
- August 18, 2012 – WNBF Pro U.S. Cup Extravaganza in New Haven, CT – $11,400
- September 29, 2012 – WNBF Pro Masters Supernatural Bodybuilding in Buffalo, NY – $2,000
- October 27, 2012 – WNBF Europe Pro Men’s Cup in Horgen, Switzerland – $6,000
- November 2, 2012 – WNBF Pro Masters American Bodybuilding, Figure & Ms. Fit in Marlborough, MA – $5,500
- November 9 & 10, 2012 – WNBF Pro World Championships in Atlantic City, NJ – $30,000
1. Richard Gozdecki – New World Champ
Richard blazed onto the WNBF with a bang winning the overall WNBF World Championship title in 2011. He won British and U.K. titles in 2010 and 2011 earning his WNBF Pro Card, then travelled to the Worlds to narrowly edge out the former World Champ Martin Daniels.
Gozdecki sports tremendous size on his big frame calling to question the skeptics of natural bodybuilding who claim there isn’t enough size in our sport. Richard was not only big, but symmetrical with great definition. Some argued that he could have been harder, but his overall balance was just enough to earn the decision over a tough Daniels by a point. Richard is planning to take 2011 off to spend time with his family opening the door for a new champion. The champ certainly warranted top mention.
2. Shevon Cunningham – Middleweight Force
Shevon stood atop a fiercely competitive middleweight class at the 2011 World Championship including 5 pro champions. Some argued that Shevon’s hardness and detail should have earned him the Overall title. One thing is certain; his fullness and overall package impressed! He is no stranger to WNBF Pro success with an Overall and class win under his built, but the largest change was his improvement. Perhaps the only critique was that his posing could have been improved. It apparently didn’t hold him back too much.
3. Leonard Casagrande – New Lightweight Champ
With several of the former big names of the lightweight class not in attendance, Leonardo took full advantage with his incredible quad sweep and symmetry. His leg development and shape carried him to the top of the class after taking the NBFI overall title in 2011. He will be one to watch in the European and World Championship scene for years to come. Balancing out his upper body to his impressive lower body will make him tough to beat.
4. Martin Daniels – Former World Champ
Perhaps the biggest upset of the 2011 WNBF World Championships was Martin Daniels being edged out in the heavyweight class. Since hitting the WNBF scene in 2008 he has been a force tough to beat. His lat flare, quad sweep and tiny waist are incredibly impressive. He has improved his conditioning the last few years to match his formidable size. Martin has big plans in 2012 aiming for the Universe, Texas International and to reclaim his title at the Worlds.
5. Clarence McGill – Size & Symmetry
Clarence has won pro titles including the 2009 World Overall title and the 2010 Pro Masters Overall before going down with an injury leaving the World title up for grabs. Taking last year off to recover, he has set his sights back at the Worlds and is feeling great with his training. Clarence sports a physique that has very few flaws and we look forward to seeing what he says is a much improved package over his previous best.
6. Brian Whitacre – Back on the Scene in 2012
Brian Whitacre has been one of the most consistent champions since winning his first pro show in 2006 and claiming 3 lightweight World titles. After taking last season off to become a father, look for him to have taken full advantage of his first extended offseason since his Pro career. Brian sports paper thin skin that shows some of the best conditioning in the World and fullness to match. His back shots sport tremendous detail. Look for him to jump back in full force with some improvements in 2012!
7. Francisco Monteleagre – Undefeated Lightweight
Francisco is the first on the preview without a world title. With two Pro lightweight wins, many are watching to see what he can do after a year off from competing as he rolls into the Universe. Francisco has some of the nastiest leg development in our sport, incredible arms and overall shape. The only thing that holds him back against other names in this lineup is his back, but that is relative to the freaky size of his standout parts.
8. Miles Stovall – Mr. Aesthetic
Miles Stovall has been on a roll since coming out of retirement a few years back. This WNBF veteran sports no sign of weakness and continues to only improve with a middleweight World title in 2010 and an overall win at the Pro Texas show last year. His aesthetics, size and detail are hard to rival versus any size competitor. Top this off with great artistic posing and watch out for Miles as he preps for a great 2012 season.
9. Greg Rando
Greg Rando shook up the natural bodybuilding scene in 2010 by leaving the IFBB as a former Team Universe winner, and has lived up to the hype since in the WNBF. He has wins at the Universe and Pro Masters, but has yet to take home a World title. Greg’s overall size, hardness and balance prove that muscle-maturity is indeed needed in the sport of natural bodybuilding to rival such veterans. In a sport where looks are crucial, Greg performs without sight as he is blind and carefully gauges the thinness of his skin to prepare for competition. He will be at the top of any lineup he chooses this year.
10. Anthony Langevin
As one of the newest pros in this preview, remember the name Langevin. He busted onto the scene with a Pro Card overall win at the INBF Naturalmania Nationals in September, then followed it up with a Pro Masters lightweight win and a runner-up in the Worlds lightweight class. Anthony has grainy hardness, balance and packs great muscle on his frame. Watch out for him as looks forward to follow suit in 2012.
11. Hayzer Cayli
This South Australian busted into the runner-up spot at the Worlds two years ago finishing behind Martin Daniels. After an extended offseason, look for Hayzer to rival for a top spot at Europe Cup and mix it up at the Worlds. Leg development and size are his assets as he will have a rematch against the x-frame of Daniels.
12. Isaiah Southward
Isaiah is one of the youngest heavyweights with tremendous potential that hit stride with an overall win at 2010 Pro American. He was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, but his condition has improved allowing him to hit the stage early in the 2012 season. Isaiah has both tremendous size and symmetry. Additional hardness and muscle-maturity will round out his already impressive physique.
13. Trevor Sajdak
Trevor had a hot rookie season last year with a win at the WNBF Pro Tournament of Champions and landing a Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness cover. He slayed heavyweight giants in Robert Peacock and Rodney Helaire (below) with incredible detail, symmetry and size. As he approaches his sophomore season, Trevor is eyeing the Pro Masters and Worlds.
14. Vaughan Twigger
Vaughan made his presence known in the 2011 WNBF bodybuilding season. With incredible taper and shape he knocked off the former World Champ Jim Cordova to win his class at the Universe. Then he took the overall title at the Mid-America Pro. Vaughan has added size and separation since his WNBF debut in 2008. If Vaughan hits the stage in 2012, he will be one to watch!
15. Jim Cordova
You know the sport of natural bodybuilding has evolved when a name like Jim Cordova is featured at the bottom of the season preview. This is by no means a knock to what Jim has done and is capable. It is simply the fact that many newcomers and heavyweights have risen to the occasion. He will be a force in any lineup he decides to enter when he steps on stage. Cordova’s trademark thickness, balance and classical lines are his strengths.
Choosing the top 15 for 2012 was quite difficult, so here are some honorable mentions and WNBF Pro Bodybuilding rookies to watch. Note that there are a handful of names worth mentioning sitting out the season to improve. This next year is going to be a great one in the WNBF and natural bodybuilding as our sport rises to the occasion!
2012 Honorable Mentions:
Rodney Helaire, Ulysses Fowler, Robert Peacock & Rob Moran
2012 Rookies to Watch:
Jay Johnson, Sean Young, Alex Groumbas, Levi Burge