Silvio Samuel wins first show of '09 season

by Dave Lee January 24, 2009


It's a slam dunk for Silvio Samuel as he starts the 2009 season with a victory at the Ironman Pro Championships at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday night, adding a win at the 20th anniversary edition of the show to his growing resume. There was never any real doubt that Samuel would come out on top as he dominated from the moment he stepped onstage at this morning's prejudging, and that sentiment didn't change come nightfall. El Matador was at or close to his 2008 Mr. Olympia form, where he placed seventh. All the trademark Samuel strengths were in evidence: thick, striated pecs, tiny waist, flaring quads and tip-top condition.

"I'm very happy," Samuel said moments after winning his third open pro contest. "My goal was to come in and have two shows, the one I'm in and the one the rest of the guys are in. I was five pounds heavier than I was at the Olympia with the same condition." Samuel came out on top in his much ballyhooed rivalry with Moe El Moussawi, one that began a year ago when El Moussawi placed one spot ahead of Samuel (third to Samuel's fourth) at the 2008 Ironman. Entering this year's show, Samuel made no secret of his opinion that he was the better man that night. And while that story is history, Samuel made amends tonight.

"I proved that I always back up my words," Samuel said.

The real question this night was who would land in the runner-up spot. Would it be Germany's Ronny Rockel or New Zealand's El Moussawi? Both have complete physiques but Rockel had more pleasing lines while El Moussawi had the edge in thickness. In the end, El Moussawi's superior dryness kept him ahead of the hard charging Rockel.

Fourth-place finisher Hidetada Yamagishi redeemed his less than stellar ninth place at the 2008 Atlantic City Pro with a gutsy performance tonight that saw him scratch and claw his way back into the mix. Yamagishi - who worked with master trainer Charles Glass - brought a much improved back, outstanding wheels and enough dense, shredded beef to keep him competitive against significantly heavier opponents.

In fifth place was Ahmad Haidar, who made a nice return to the stage after last competing in the 2007 Sacramento Pro, where he finished fourth. Tonight, his trademark abs and classical lines bagged the final Mr. Olympia qualifying spot.

Eddie Abbew, Mohammad Bannout, Mark Dugdale, Marcus Haley and Johnnie Jackson rounded out the top ten with the top five earning the first qualifications of the season for the 2009 Mr. Olympia.

So ends the 20th Anniversay Ironman Pro Championships. With a new winner and strong contenders for future shows, it looks like 2009 is going to be one hell of a year.

Go here for complete galleries of all the competitors.

1. Silvio Samuel*
2. Moe El Moussawi*
3. Ronny Rockel*
4. Hidetada Yamagishi*
5. Ahmad Haidar*
6. Eddie Abbew
7. Mohammad Bannout
8. Mark Dugdale
9. Marcus Haley
10. Johnnie Jackson
11. Troy Alves
12. Oliver Adzievski
13. Martin Kjellstrom
14. Thomas Benagli
15. Constantinos Demetriou

* Qualifies for 2009 Mr. Olympia