Derek Lunsford was a rising star in the 212 division that appeared to be on an express lane to legendary status. He went from winning the 2017 USA’s to taking first at the Tampa Pro six days later. He then went on to place fifth after the Olympia a few weeks later. He then followed that up with a runner-up performance at the 2018 Olympia to Flex Lewis who then gracefully retired from that division.

With that kind of success so early in his career, 2019 almost appeared to be a coronation for the Indiana native that now calls Florida home. Kamal Elgargni spoiled that moment by upsetting Lunsford and winning the Olympia, relegating Lunsford to second again. He shared with Dennis James on this week’s episode of The Menace Podcast that the loss hurt him. He also now knows one reason why things played out the way they did.

“The ability to win was there, but I was riding too much of a high with all the hype,” he admitted. “I was in my head.”

Even though he hoped to rebound and win last year, Shaun Clarida caught everyone off guard and took the title that year. Lunsford ended up fourth. At this point, he knew it was time to make a change.

“I said to myself, “I think that now is the time that I learn from someone else. Get a different perspective, get a different eye, someone that’s coached other Olympia champions.’”

He found what he felt was the perfect coach in the form of Hany Rambod. Rambod had coached numerous elite athletes including Olympia winners Phil Heath, Jay Cutler, and Nicole Wilkins. Derek Lunsford shared with James that he knew this meant he had to raise his own standards.

“Being with someone new and someone of that caliber, it makes me step up my game even more, and want to do it (win) even more.”

In this week’s episode of TMP, Lunsford talks more about the changes that he and Rambod are making, his thoughts on other 212 stars including Clarida, and how his mom followed in his footsteps and made her competitive debut onstage. The full episode of TMP is on the Muscle & Fitness YouTube channel, where episodes air every Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern time.


0:45 – Derek Before Bodybuilding

3:20 – Entry Into Bodybuilding

8:36 – Leaving and Missing Wrestling

9:47 – DJ Breakdancing Before Bodybuilding

12:11 – Derek’s Mom Competed

15:29 – 2017: Amateur to Olympian

22:06 – Ready for the Hype at the Time?

27:38 – 2018 and 2019 Olympia

30:22 – 2020

33:40 – A Change is Made

39:15 – 212 or Open?

44:39 – 2021 Game Plan and Adjustments

48:17 – What Needs to Improve

49:28 – Fan Support and Perception

57:24 – Trip to Las Vegas to See Flex Lewis

59:45 – 212 Division Evaluation

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