IFBB

The Uncrowned People's Champions: Nasser El Sonbaty

In honor of the new People’s Champ vote initiative at the 2018 Mr. O, we’re calling out past competitors who would’ve been the fans’ favorites.

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The Uncrowned People's Champions: Nasser El Sonbaty
Robert Reiff

At the upcoming Mr. Olympia, fans in attendance will have the chance to vote and influence the results.

At the pre-judging on Friday, Sept. 14, and at the following day’s finals, those at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas will be given access, via their mobile devices, to enable them to vote on the outcome of the contest. Their votes will count toward the official decision. Collectively the fans will be included as an additional judge on the voting panel. If they choose a different winner than the other judges, that competitor will be awarded the honor of becoming the inaugural People’s Champion. (To get your tickets and become part of Olympia history, go to mrolympia.com.)

Throughout the years, certain competitors, for various reasons, have held the mantle of the People’s Champion long before it became an official title. Nasser El Sonbaty is one of the outstanding competitors who has unofficially been given the People’s Champ accolade by the masses.

When Wheeler pulled out of the ’97 Olympia, it seemed Ray or Levrone had the best shot at a debilitated Yates. They were third and fourth, respectively, while it was El Sonbaty who nearly ruined the champ’s retirement party. At 270 (15 fewer pounds than earlier in the year), he outweighed Yates by four pounds with a sleeker waist, but Yates’ greatest strength, his back, was El Sonbaty’s greatest weakness. Most observers felt it was neck and neck, but the champ won with straight firsts, proving Ray right: you can’t beat a freak with freakiness — though it proved as successful as any other strategy. Afterward, El Sonbaty declared, “I promise I will win the Mr. Olympia title.” He never did, although he placed in the top six the next three years. There was a sustained outcry that runner-up Nasser El Sonbaty should have won the 1997 Mr. Olympia. In the wake of that decision the immensely popular El Sonbaty was briefly hailed as the People’s Champion.

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