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The Item: IFBB Pro League Contest Results, New IFBB Pro League Cards, Special Appearances, Andrew Oye's IFBB Pro Athletes Roundup, WWE Pro Athletes Roundup

The Scoop: Just Announced: Over the weekend, Erik Ramirez won the Overall title at the 2014 IFBB North American Bodybuilding Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ramirez won the Heavyweight Class, earning an IFBB Pro League card. Also turning pro: Super-Heavyweight Class Winner Dusty Hanshaw, Light-Heavyweight Class Winner Tristen Escolastico, Overall 35+ Masters Winner James Culberson, Overall 40+ Masters Winner Mark Duval, Overall 50+ Winner Leon Eastman, and Overall 60+ Winner Robert Irby.

The "So What?": A New Jersey resident, new IFBB Pro Erik Ramirez was praised for the level of conditioning he brought to the stage. To advance from the National Physique Committee to the International Federation of Bodybuilding, it seems it was wise for Ramirez to compete at the North American Championships (won by IFBB Pro Akim Williams last year), as opposed to other pro qualifiers. In his amateur career, there were four previous attempts at gaining professional status, all of which were at the NPC National Bodybuilding Championships: 4th place in the 2013 Heavyweight Class (won by Overall winner IFBB Pro Kevin Jordan), 13th place in the 2012 Heavyweight Class (won by IFBB Pro Justin Compton; Overall went to IFBB Pro Brian Yersky), 4th place in the 2011 Heavyweight Class (won by IFBB Pro An Nguyen; Overall went to IFBB Pro Todd Jewell): and he did not place in the 2010 Light-Heavyweight Class (won by IFBB Pro Branden Ray; Overall went to IFBB Pro Robert Burneika).

As reported in "Andrew Oye's Pro-Muscle Report," the first-ever IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Masters Championships was staged in conjunction with the IFBB North American Championships. Winner of the 40+ Class and Overall titles, IFBB Pro Brad Davis is an Ohio native with a military and high-school football background, who earned his IFBB Pro card on the very same stage at last year's IFBB North American Championships. This marked Davis' second pro contest and first pro victory. He had previously taken 7th place in the 212 Division at the IFBB Chicago Pro Bodybuilding Championships in July.

Andrew Oye's Verdict: The promoter of the joint event declared, "With 120 pros and 1,020 amateurs in the North American [Championships], it's our biggest event ever!" Coincidentally, a crossover celebrity was present amid the hoopla of this last contest in the IFBB Pro Olympia Qualification Series before the 50th Anniversary of the Mr. Olympia Championships at Joe Weider's Olympia Weekend, where Open Division contenders take on 3-time Mr. Olympia IFBB Pro Phil Heath, and 212 Division contenders take on 2-time Olympia Showdown Champion IFBB Pro Flex Lewis (who also won the inaugural 212 contest at the Arnold Sports Festival's 2014 IFBB Pro Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Bodybuilding Championships).

Backstage, Erik Ramirez was welcomed into the ranks of IFBB Pro League athletes with a congratulatory handshake from Hollywood movie actor and WWE Champion Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. "The Rock." A well-known fitness enthusiast and gym rat, Johnson is no stranger to the bodybuilding world (as noted in my MUSCLE INK Magazine features "Headlock on Hollywood" and "Rock Smashes Iron"). Of course, workout sessions keep him in fighting form for his gig as a WWE Superstar professional wrestler; yet, Johnson had recently kicked-up his exercise regimen a few notches to portray the mythic strongman role in "Hercules." It was a cool gesture for him to take a break from his promotional tour for his latest film to give props to competitors in the physique-sports game, where "The Rock" carries a large share of fan support.

(On a side note: Some will recall that WWE CEO Vince McMahon launched the short-lived WBF World Bodybuilding Federation, which crowned IFBB Pro Gary Strydom as its champion in 1991 and 1992 and lured IFBB Pro Tom Platz as Talent Director, as well as athletes like IFBB Pro Berry DeMey, IFBB Pro Troy Zuccolotto, IFBB Pro Mike Quinn, IFBB Pro Eddie Robinson,IFBB Pro Tony Pearson, IFBB Pro Jim Quinn, IFBB Pro Aaron Baker, IFBB Pro Vince Comerford, IFBB Pro Johnnie Morant, IFBB Pro Danny Padilla, IFBB Pro David Dearth as competitors called "WBF BodyStars.")

In the Pro Masters Championships, the level of competitiveness might have jumped a few degrees if, along with rookie IFBB Pro Jon Andersen (former pro wrestler and strongman), more prominent Masters names showed up, like IFBB Pro Andy Haman and IFBB Pro Stan Efferding, all representing the subset of powerlifting bodybuilders.

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