A look back at the greatest NPC USA champions of all time

July 20, 2011


The 2011 NPC USA Championships is just ten days away and things are starting to really heat up. But before the fireworks go off on July 29-30, we thought we’d take a look at back. Throughout its 30-year history, there have been several notable overall winners, but these six stand out as the best of the best.


1991: Mike Matarazzo, heavyweight and overall
With a lineup that included Flex Wheeler and Chris Cormier, Matarazzo powered his way to the title on the strength of his immense arms and overall mass. Although he never won a pro title, Matarazzo would go on to be one of the IFBB’s most popular athletes with his energetic stage presence and outgoing personality.

1992: Flex Wheeler, heavyweight and overall
Wheeler lived up to the precontest hype with a physique that had it all: size, shape, symmetry and flawless lines to become perhaps the all-time greatest overall USA champ. Wheeler capped off his pro career with seventeen wins — including a record four Arnold Classics — and three runner-up finishes at the Mr. Olympia.

1993: Chris Cormier, heavyweight and overall
With a proportionate and shredded physique that epitomized the classic ideals of the sport, Cormier beat out a tough field that included Mike Francois and Paul DeMayo to win his pro card in his third national-level contest. Cormier won eleven pro contests and finished runner-up at the Arnold Classic a record six times (2000-05).

1998: Dennis James, super heavyweight and overall
The super-heavyweight class debuted at the USA’s this year and it was won by an unknown who upset precontest favorite Melvin Anthony — in his first try at the USA. Winner of three pro shows, James announced his retirement onstage at the 2010 Mr. Olympia — where he finished eleventh — receiving a standing ovation from the audience.

1999: Melvin Anthony Jr., super heavyweight and overall
The third time proved to be the charm for Anthony, who placed third in his USA debut in ’97 and moved up one spot every year until he could go no higher. Anthony won three pro contests and placed fifth at the ’06 Mr. Olympia, his highest to date.

2005: Phil Heath, heavyweight and overall
With only three contests (two of those local) under his belt, then-25-year-old Heath won his pro card at his first national-level contest, earning the nickname The Gift. He won his first two pro shows the following year and, in 2008, placed third in his Olympia debut. After a controversial second to Jay Cutler at last year’s Olympia, Heath is a heavy favorite to end Cutler’s reign at the 2011 Mr. Olympia this September.

Remember FLEXonline is the only place you’ll see exclusive backstage coverage of the NPC USA Championships on July 29-30 in Las Vegas! Stay tuned for pre-contest previews starting Thursday!

WHAT: 2011 NPC USA Championships
WHERE: Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at UNLV, Las Vegas, NV
WHEN: Friday & Saturday, July 29-30, 2011
TIME: Prejudging at 4:30pm on Friday & 9:00am on Saturday; All Finals at 6:00pm Saturday!!!