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ANDREW OYE'S IFBB PRO ATHLETES ROUNDUP: IFBB PRO GARY STRYDOM, RONNIE COLEMAN, KEVIN LEVRONE, FLEX WHEELER, FRANCIS BENFATTO, GUNTER SCHLIERKAMP, MARIUSZ PUDZIANOWSKI



Posted in: Articles by ProSource, Andrew Oye's Pro Muscle Report, Gossip
By Andrew Oye | Apr 20, 2011



ANDREW OYE'S image The Item: Career Updates, Special Appearances, Contest Preparation, Andrew Oye's WSM Pro Athletes Roundup, IFBB Pro Athletes Roundup

The Scoop: Recently Reported: IFBB Pro League athletes had career updates or made recent guest appearances at various sports, bodybuilding, physique and fitness events. The latest "Andrew Oye's Pro-Muscle Report" Pro Athletes Roundup includes a pack of pros swarming the FIBO Power Expo in Germany, one of Europe's largest sports and fitness events.

The "So What?": Over the weekend, several IFBB Pro League athletes made appearances and proclamations at the FIBO Power Expo (where IFBB Pro Dexter Jackson won the FIBO Pro Bodybuilding Championships). Spotted at the expo: legendary 8-time Mr. Olympia IFBB Pro Ronnie Coleman, 5-time Masters Olympia Champion IFBB Pro Vince Taylor, IFBB Pro Francis Benfatto (featured in MUSCLE INK Magazine's "Art of War" series), IFBB Pro Gunter Schlierkamp, IFBB Pro Dennis Wolf, IFBB Pro Victor Martinez, IFBB Pro Raul Carrasco-Jimenez, 5-time WSM World's Strongest Man Strongman Champion Mariusz Pudzianowski, and more.

A trio of friends and retired pros -- IFBB Pro Flex Wheeler, IFBB Pro Kevin Levrone and IFBB Pro Chris Cormier -- reminisced about the camaraderie among 1990s-era pros and jokingly challenged each other to compete once more. Meanwhile, IFBB Pro Gary Strydom, who hails from South Africa and currently resides in Thailand, officially confirmed his comeback to competitive bodybuilding. "Confirmation, 100 percent," says 51-year-old Strydom, about hitting the stage at the 2011 IFBB World Masters Championships in December. "It's confirmed already -- signed, sealed and delivered. I'll be there, so hopefully all the other guys are gonna be there and the show materializes."

Andrew Oye's Verdict: With an impressive physique, Gary Strydom earned his IFBB Pro card at the 1986 NPC National Bodybuilding Championships and succeeded in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB Pro League) until 1990, including four pro victories and a 3rd place finish at the Arnold Sports Festival's first-ever IFBB Pro Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Bodybuilding Championships (won by IFBB Pro Rich Gaspari). The closest Strydom had come to the IFBB's highest title was a 5th place finish at the 1988 Joe Weider's Olympia Weekend won by Mr. Olympia IFBB Pro Lee Haney (who would eventually win eight Sandow trophies at the "Super Bowl of bodybuilding").

In 1991 and 1992, Strydom dominated WWE CEO Vince McMahon's short-lived World Bodybuilding Federation as the champion of the league where Talent Director IFBB Pro Tom Platz had also recruited other "WBF BodyStars" (IFBB Pro Aaron Baker, IFBB Pro Vince Comerford, IFBB Pro David Dearth, IFBB Pro Berry DeMey, IFBB Pro Johnnie Morant, IFBB Pro Danny Padilla, IFBB Pro Tony Pearson, IFBB Pro Jim Quinn, IFBB Pro Mike Quinn, IFBB Pro Eddie Robinson, and IFBB Pro Troy Zuccolotto). 

The 6'2", 280-pound athlete was reinstated into the IFBB and competed in the 1996 Night of Champions (now known as the IFBB New York Pro Bodybuilding Championships), and then went into retirement for over a decade. Strydom made a brief return to the stage at the 2006 Denver Colorado Pro Bodybuilding Championships, where he placed 7th to winner IFBB Pro Phil Heath. Like others, over time, I have grown wary of the many unfulfilled comeback announcements from various athletes that spring-up through the years, but this one seems like the real deal...and Strydom still has the goods to do it. My philosophy? I report it when the athletes announce it, but I'll believe when we all see it.

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