TOP 14 NATURAL BODYBUILDING STORIES OF 2014!
By Ben Yosef | Editor-in-Chief
We are counting down the last two weeks of the year with the Top 14 Stories of 2014, starting with number 14 and ending with number 1 on December 31.
2014 was one of the most impactful years in Natural Bodybuilding history.
The year brought compelling occurrences, one after another. Month after month we were entertained, shocked, and inspired.
While there were so many fantastic stories this year, the following are what I feel were the biggest news, according to the impact they had on the sport, social media buzz, and the excitement they generated.
I am quite sure I have left out some that should have been on this list. If so, please let me know. We can always do a follow up feature!
#14 NATURAL BODYBUILDING ALLIANCE SUMMIT
In a meeting early this year in Ramona, CA about a half-dozen or so decisions were made regarding the Natural Bodybuilding community. One of the most critical was the NBA’s disassociation with non-members. The biggest impact here is that only the WNBF, IFPA, and PNBA would honor each other’s Pro athlete status. Any Pros from other federations who wish to compete within the “Big 3” must actually qualify for a Pro card within these three federations. This news certainly sent shockwaves through the sport.
So, where are they now? The alliance moderator, Jim Evans, told me this, “While the Natural Bodybuilding Alliance (NBA) was successful in bringing together some of the major natural organizations in face-to-face meetings – in 2011 and 2014 – to discuss the issues that prevent them from working together, there has not been substantial progress to, in fact, work together. However, it did provide the opportunity for organization heads to get to know each other and develop a working relationship. The NBA is currently in limbo pending continuing discussions with the different organizations to keep the conversation going. As long as we can keep talking, there remains hope for unification.”
#13 NEW WNBF PRO BIKINI DIVISION
The World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF), one of the largest drug-tested organizations was one of the last to launch a Pro Bikini division.
Beginning January 2014 all Bikini competitors that placed top two at INBF (its amateur league) contests would be eligible for Professional status. This certainly got a lot of Bikini girls, and fans excited.
#12 KEN ARSENAULT LEAVES THE OCB/IFPA TO START THE ANBC
After years of promoting for the OCB/IFPA, including a two year run (2012-2013) as the head promoter of its championship event, the Yorton Cup, Ken Arsenault jumped ship sending shockwaves through the industry and incited loads of questions and curiosity. Ken told NATURAL MAG, in the March 2014 issue, “Promoting for the OCB/IFPA started to take the fun out of the whole process. I had too many personal differences with the organization.”
Ken’s next move? Launching his own federation. Or rather, resurrecting defunct one. In the aforementioned interview Ken informed us “I retained the rights to the ANBC trademark and I am restarting the old ANBC. I’m even working on rekindling the old ANBC Nationals which was the biggest show of the year for many back in the late 90’s, early 2000s.
So, what became of Ken’s ANBC venture? He was not available for comment.
#11 THE NAA FOLDS
The Natural Athletes Alliance launched May 2013, with the mission “to protect the integrity of natural sports.” On the side of the sport where rules governing the use of physique enhancement substances are plentiful, an organization to help police those rules was an encouraging initiative. And for that, the NAA landed on our “Top 13 stories of 2013“ last year.
A year after the NAA kicked off, it abruptly closed its doors and ceased operations. Rumors of what actually happed were mixed, ranging from it being a fallen “scam,” to it being a wonderful idea that just could not get the support it needed in order to survive.
I attempted to conduct an interview with the founder, Doug Large, for a July 2014 story but was not able to lock him down. I also reached out to him in order to attain a statement for this month’s issue…still nothing.
#10 THE WNBF IS BOUGHT OUT
After the thirty year reign of its founder and one of the Godfathers of Natural Bodybuilding, Cheh Low, the federation and its future is now in new hands. Early this year Nancy Andrews, WNBF legend, promoter, and perhaps the federation’s biggest advocate, along with Bob Bell and Tina Smith (two former WNBFers, and most recently top NANBF/IFPA promoters) assumed the helm.
I interviewed Nancy Andrews for the March 2014 issue and we discussed, among many other details, some of the changes we can expect as a result of this “Changing of the Guard.” Some of those changes are the following:
- New WNBF Pro Bikini Division.
- More consistent judging across the country.
- More prize money. This year alone awarded over $100,000.
- More communication with promoters and support of their shows.
- Corporate sponsorship to help promoters and athletes.
- More International presence.
- Worlds will be a true World Championships with all affiliates represented.
- Accepting Pros from other federations.
#9 TRAVELING CHAMPS
As a result of all the newfound freedom athletes were granted this year to compete wherever they wanted, many took full advantage of this.
In 2014 loads of competitors hit the road and even jumped on planes and took to the skies in order to test their physiques against the caliber within multiple federations. 2014 DFAC World Champion Shevon Cunningham states “…every org claims they have the best natural athletes and people have their opinion on who they think the best nattys in the world are. How can one make that claim or wear that crown if athletes only compete within that one org? If you’re going to claim to be the best or that you have the best in your org, then athletes should be able to step on any stage in any org and dominate or at least hold his/her own and hang with the best of them!”
#8 THE RETURN OF ALBERTO NUNEZ
Alberto Nunez is a perennial fan favorite. Legendary for his razor-sharp conditioning and “flexible dieting” approach, the 3DMJ contest prep “guru” is always sure to grab attention. After more than a two year hiatus from the posing dais (during which he was heavily active in powerlifting) Nunez returned to the stage.
Alberto hit the circuit hard, competing in three Bodybuilding contests: NGA Pro Atlas, NPC Contra Costa, and WNBF Pro USA. Also on his 2014 schedule were three Guest Posing gigs, including one at a UC Davis A&P course in front of a few hundred students, and two Power Lifting meets. The last meet at the USAPL Nationals was four days after his final Bodybuilding contest.
I asked Alberto what it was like getting back onstage alter his hiatus. He replied: “It was rewarding, but I am so in love with the grind/journey that I could not wait in some ways to get back to training the following Monday…no, Sunday.”
For you Alberto Nunez fans, don’t expect to see him on stage again any time soon. With regards to his next planned outing he told me, “Despite the fact that I will not be on stage for another two to four years, I will be training with that vision in mind. That moment when they line you up with all the other Pros and you are about to walk out on stage. I want to feel like I did everything in my power to bring a final product that reflects my work. My three D’s.”
#7 MESHACK’S MASS
The incredibly full, round muscle bellies of Kenyan Bodybuilder Meshack Ochieng had the industry buzzing this year. And with his 2014 PNBA Natural Universe win he was a sure threat to Kiyoshi Moody for the Natural Olympia crown. The momentum behind Meshack landed him on the front cover of the September issue of NATURALMAG.
As we all know, Meshack did not win the 2014 Natural Olympia title, in fact Moody won his sixth. But hey, there is always next year. With regards to his crazy full, balloon-like musculature, Meshack told me, “Genetics are one of the most important things when it comes to the way I look. Since I started training, I have always had the round muscle bellies. The second thing that caused my body to look this way is the way I train. I figured out that for me to get real results, I have to pick workouts that work for me. We have tons of workouts but I had to figure which ones suit my genes. And lastly I like using free weights compared to machines. Though nowadays they have machines that almost work as free weights but I still prefer the old school workouts.”
#6 ALEX ELLIS TAKES A BREAK
During the Spring of this year, Superstar Figure competitor Alex Ellis announced that she would be taking a break from the stage. I first heard the news while listening to her interview on Inside Natural Bodybuilding Radio and was like “What tha??? Wow.”
In that interview she went on to explain her reasons and it started to make sense. At twenty six years old Ellis had already had a competitive career far more active than the majority of competitors of any age. Not to mention she has also battled her way to many Pro victories along the way.
I got a chance to interview her for the May issue of NATURALMAG and learned that she had been training for, and would be competing in Crossfit. Regarding her break from the stage and her newfound fitness passion Alex told me this, “22 shows in 5 years is a lot. This change of pace will be great for me. I need to give my body some rest from the dieting. In the meantime I will put together a jaw dropping walk for my return to the stage.”
#5 ALEX ELLIS WINS AGAIN
THEN… just like that, she was back. And in stellar form. Apparently the time away and new style of training had served her well as she snagged her 3rd straight DFAC World Finals Championship Pro Figure title. So what’s next for Queen Bee? Sadly, for AE fans this looks the last time we will see this classy, buff beauty strut her stuff on stage. Here’s what Ellis told me:
“That was the best package I’ve ever brought to stage in over 25 shows. It feels so good to go out on top. I shared the stage with 14 women who all brought their A-game. Preparation for Worlds was unlike anything I’ve ever done. I was preparing for a 3-day team Crossfit competition the weekend before and only did “cosmetic” workouts 1 day a week this entire year. I want to thank the DFAC for giving Figure girls the opportunity to compete with a format that judges us women under a strict criteria.
Just because I am finished competing, doesn’t mean I’m not going to be around the industry. I still have a team of women I coach and I will be judging next year.
I’m looking forward to 2015. I can now focus 100% on crossfit. I will be doing the “Open” in February in hopes to one day make it to the Crossfit games. That is my long term goal. Right now, I have a lot going on. I just started a lifestyle Vlog and blog, I’m opening up my online clothing boutique, and branding what I believe will help millions of people live their most successful life.”
#4 SUPER CHARINA!
10 competitions (all first place wins), 2 World Titles, and 2 guest posing gigs. Ummm, yea. All this activity had Charina Fargesen and her AMAZING physique flying around the country this year… like… well… SUPERWOMAN!
Charina is a good friend and I am one of her biggest fans so I was incredibly excited for her at every turn. Always a sweetheart with a well-adjusted perspective on the sport, here’s how she summed up her SUPER year: “I don’t put too much thought into what show I want to do next. If I come across a poster and the bell in my head rings, I’m in! 2014 was quit a bell ringer. [laughs] I enjoyed every moment and every stage I stepped on. The biggest reward is all the awesome people I meet!”
#3 KIYOSHI WINS 6!
Kiyoshi “The Samurai” Moody is a living legend in the sport of Natural Bodybuilding. He is by far one of the most massive competitors to ever grace a natty stage. And with 6 straight PNBA Natural Olympia titles, he will forever have a spot in the Natural Bodybuilding history books. History indeed. Kiyoshi has announced that this will in fact be his final competitive outing. Although the champ has made this claim before, this time he says it’s for real.
Here’s what he told me: “I’m very fortunate and blessed to have won my 6th consecutive INBA/PNBA Natural Olympia title against outstanding competition, and not just athletes here in the U.S. but from all over the world. That is truly Global! I never would have dreamt in a thousand years I would be one of the Top Natural Bodybuilders in the world, getting to fly all over the world to compete and meet people and hold seminars.
Thank you Denny and Diana Kakos for having an organization that is truly tested under strict WADA guidelines and really catering to the athletes, where the athletes come first. Thank you to all the supporters and fans out there for believing in me and for the doubters and haters, thank you also.
As I came into this show knowing this will be the last time I step onstage as a Professional I had thought about many things from helping, promoting, coaching, etc. So I came to the conclusion that over the years I have not given my athletes the attention that they deserve. As a competitor it can be very hard to compete and be a coach for athletes that compete. All I can say is I’m retired now so watch out for my team of athletes (Team ZEN by Moody Athletics) in 2015.
I will also be helping the INBA/PNBA to push forward and make it better, bigger, and stronger for the athletes as an Athlete Rep for the organization. Does that mean I wont train people outside of the organization? No. But after competing in other organizations over the past 16 years I have seen how orgs treat their athletes… bribes, manipulation, etc. I will promote the INBA/PNBA., but it’s always the athlete’s’ choice.”
#2 P4P MUSCLE
P4P was everywhere this year. From launching a new supplement line, to sponsoring countless natural athletes, to traveling around the country supporting contests and giving away cash and prizes. P4P was also one of the very first brands to become an advertising sponsor of NATURALMAG. Joe Manning, one of the founders, gave the following 2014 P4P summary:
“P4P Muscle had a very exciting year. Our goal in 2014 was to introduce our company, our products, and our mission to exclusively provide a sponsorship program for natural athletes that helps offset the many costs that go with competing.
We traveled all over the United States to sponsor some of the best shows in the country and to meet the promoters and owners of natural bodybuilding and fitness organizations. We traveled to over 20 shows and met some incredible natural athletes at each stop. Joseph Bolton (JB) implemented his Pay – It – Back initiative where he gave away hundreds of dollars in cash to both Amateur and Professional athletes.
There will be much bigger and better things coming from P4P in the future. We are exactly one year from the day that we launched our products as I write this. 2014 was a year where we learned a lot as a company. There are a lot of positive things going on in natural bodybuilding and natural athletics and we are very excited to do our part in promoting natural athletes, organizations, and companies that support natural competitors. We are extremely proud of each of our athletes and of the great success that they enjoyed this year.
In 2015, we will strengthen our position as a leading company in natural athletics. We will no longer be known only for our high quality supplement line. There will be some very exciting new products and services coming that will be huge for natural athletes everywhere. We will continue to support many shows this year. We are currently working on some product enhancements, flavor upgrades, and new offerings. We are committed to providing only science based formulations with therapeutic doses of safe and effective ingredients that will not endanger the natural status of athletes.
We will be launching a new web presence that will be easier to navigate, provide better content, and do a better job at promoting our great natural athletes. P4P Athletes were on the podium at many contests all around the country including several World Championships. You can expect P4P Athletes to again be amongst the absolute best athletes in the world.
Thank you to Ben Yosef and Natural Magazine International for choosing P4P Muscle as one of the top 14 stories of 2014. This is truly a great honor and we are absolutely humbled to have been chosen.”
#1 THE RETURN OF DOUG MILLER
In 2014 a new standard was set for thick, ripped, shredded mass in Natural Bodybuilding. Doug Miller’s shocking physique achievements won him two of the most competitive and prestigious Natural Pro Bodybuilding titles, the IFPA Gaspari Pro and the IFPA Yorton Cup. As a result, his incredible physique landed on the cover of the November issue of NATURALMAG. The buzz surrounding Miller this year was deafening, especially after he went on to win a major NPC Overall Bodybuilding title. Here is what Doug Miller had to say about his phenomenal, ground-breaking year.
“I was very blessed to be able to accomplish what I did this year. It was certainly a team effort and I couldn’t have done it without my wife, close friends and family, and great associates and employees.
In 2015 I will be focused on my true passion: Core Nutritionals and bringing out the best nutritional supplements, along with expanding my coaching services, Team Miller. Look for a new Team Miller web site in the coming months. Of course I will continue to crush it and one day I hope to take a run at the Team Universe next.” NMI
Click here to order this issue (Dec 2014) or a monthly subscription