Adding to a long tradition of athletes that include some of the top competitors in the history of bodybuilding, Weider Publications recently signed five top athletes to exclusive publishing contracts. Headlining the list are three top IFBB pros and the two top amateurs in the NPC.

MELVIN ANTHONY: Anthony is coming off two consecutive sixth-place finishes the Olympia, and will look to continue his climb up the competitive ladder at the Arnold Classic in March. Never one to be at a loss for words, the gregarious 2004 Night of Champions winner stands as the current ideal of aesthetics and symmetry in the IFBB ranks — not to mention he’s a top-notch entertainer with posing routines that routinely bring the house down.

TONEY FREEMAN: Along with Anthony, Olympia hopeful Freeman adds prestige to a Weider lineup that already includes a current (Jay Cutler) and former (Ronnie Coleman) Sandow winner. Freeman announced his presence as a top-tier competitor with three professional wins over the last two years, including two in a row at the Ironman Pro and Sacramento Pro in early 2007. He followed that up with a third-place finish at the 2007 Arnold Classic before falling out of the top 10 (13th) at last year’s Olympia, in large part because of an illness he suffered in the weeks leading up to the contest. No matter, the X-Man is vows to bounce back stronger than ever in 2008.

BRANDON CURRY: The 24-year-old Curry finished second in the heavyweight division at both the 2007 NPC-USA Championships and the 2007 NPC Nationals, setting him up as the man to beat in the heavy class heading into the 2008 season. Based on his impressive physique and goal-oriented work ethic, a coveted IFBB pro card may soon be his as he looks toward Las Vegas, and the ’08 USA title.

PETER PUTNAM & Jessica Paxson-Putnam: For the first time in Weider history, a married couple has been signed, something the Putnams are very proud of. That’s not to say they’re both not strong candidates in their own right. Peter, like Curry, earned his place among the top competitors in the NPC with impressive showings in the two biggest amateur contests of the year, the 2007 USA Bodybuilding Championships in July and the NPC Nationals in November. Peter narrowly missed out on earning his pro card at both shows, winning the light-heavyweight class at the USAs before placing second in the light heavies at the Nationals. Jessica, who appeared on the cover of the 2007 FLEX swimsuit issue, is one of top competitors in the figure ranks — she earned her pro card by winning her class at the 2005 Junior Nationals and has placed in the top five in three of her four professional contests, including a win at the 2006 New York Pro Figure show.

To all five we say, welcome aboard.