Toney Freeman and Dennis James get ready to battle it out again in Dallas

by Allan Donnelly

August 13, 2008


Last Saturday, we were treated to the closest 1-2 finish of the 2008 season when Toney Freeman stormed back from a two-point deficit after the morning prejudging to win the Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships by three points over Dennis James. One week later, the two are ready to do it again at the Europa Super Show in Dallas, Texas.

On Wednesday, we got Freeman and James together via conference call to get their take on what happened in Tampa, and what's going to happen in Dallas.

WHAT: Europa Super Show
WHERE: Dallas Convention Center, Dallas TX
WHO: Men's Bodybuilding, Under 202-Pound Class, Women's Bodybuilding, Figure, Fitness
PREJUDGING: Friday at 5:30 pm Central
FINALS: Saturday at 1:45 pm Central


TONEY VS DJ PART II: The Interview

Dennis James: You got me running in and out the gym every day you crazy fool you.

Toney Freeman: Hey dog, I done trained five times since the show!

DJ: Hahaha. Hey why should you feel better than me, right?

TF: I said I know they gonna be coming to get me, I got to get up and go get it.

DJ: Yeah yeah.

FLEX: Looking back on last week's show, obviously was a very very close decision, we all know that now. Did you guys know it was that close, did you have a feeling it was going to come down to the wire?

TF: I know I definitely did. I saw the pictures of Dennis guest posing [one week out at the Dexter Jackson Classic]. And I noticed that he was appearing to be ahead of me as far as conditioning goes. So it motivated me to step my game up. I was like Wow! I gotta get my s--t together. Because I was traveling and he was too, but I was having a little more water issues it seemed like to me.

DJ: I knew it was close because you can tell by the callouts. Everybody knows that when Toney brings his A game he is a very very dangerous man. I saw that he was not at the top of his game when it comes to condition so I figured if I had a chance to catch him it would be that day. But I guess it didn't work out my way. He was still sweating, and I guess he was sweating too much and it kind of got him too hard in the evening, so this is what helped him pull away from me. I gotta give it to him. Having Toney beat me is better than anybody else that was in the show to be honest (Laughs). He actually made me go right back to the gym Sunday morning, which is something that I usually never do. But in order for me to be able to beat him this week I gotta come in four or five pounds fuller again. I dropped a little bit too much weight. And with that fullness comes a little more hardness. It will be a little different Dennis this week.

TF: I was doing legs at like 11:30 that morning. I got up and ate a little breakfast and then went straight to the gym. Then I flew home and did cardio that night and did some glutes when I got home.

FLEX: I know you guys have been through your share of battles. Does anything come to mind for either one of you when you won or lost a show by that close of a margin?

DJ: I always lose shows by close decision. I never won a show by close decision. Like New York last year. I won prejudging, I was leading prejudging by eight points. Then lose by three points. So for me I never believe it until I hear it (Laughs).

TF: Last year in Sacramento, I did like six photo shoots that week and when I got there on Friday I didn't think I would be able to pull it together. And I wasn't as good as I was the week before [at the Ironman] but I edged Silvio out. But it's like football or basketball. I don't care if I win by a three pointer at the buzzer or a field goal or an onside kick, whatever! A W's a W. I know it was super close and I'm glad they picked me, but I wouldn't have felt bad if they had picked him.

DJ: Yeah. Yeah, I would say the same thing Toney. I wouldn't have felt bad if they picked me either! (Laughs)

TF:TF: (Laughs) I know that's right!

FLEX: I'm gonna put you guys on the spot right now. Let's start with you, Toney - looking at the pictures, why was this the right call?

TF: You know, I think the way that they're judging now, they're judging all the way to the end. I know that I improved from morning to night and I guess it was enough in their eyes to give it to me. I don't see an obvious reason why. The sweat was kind of distracting, because it made people think I wasn't in shape. I knew I was in shape.

DJ: No, no, no. Toney I didn't say you weren't in shape when you were sweating. What I meant to ...

TF:No, no, not you.

DJ: What I meant to say when you were sweating, I knew you were gonna get harder.

TF: See I don't. Me personally, I was panicking. Because I didn't understand where the sweat was coming from. I didn't even have any carbs, so how could I be sweating?

DJ: Then try not to panic no more this weekend, OK? Stop sweating.

TF: I was trippin. I was like Man, I don't even sweat like this when I'm training. But I knew I was probably the driest I've been in a long time before I put that glaze on. And as soon as I put it on the water came to the surface. So even before I got on the stage it kind of changed my condition a little bit. I think that's what everybody means when they say when I first walked out I had a little film on me. But that changed from the glaze. It just kept getting worse and worse. When they wiped it off I was dry again. When they put it back on I was wet again. So I can't use that no more. At all.


Toney Freeman and Dennis James get ready to battle it out again in Dallas

FLEX: Dennis, let's take the opposite stance here. Why was that the wrong call?

DJ: I'm not saying it was the wrong call. I can't say it was the wrong call.

FLEX: I'm not saying you are. But if you had to point to something, give me a reason why - sell yourself here - give me a reason why the decision should have been different, if at all?

DJ: Aww. Well the only reason I can say is the judges got to admit that I said I was gonna do. Not just by bringing my weight down, I also brought back the condition that is necessary to be on the pro stage, with a trimer waist. That was an improvement coming from my side. But like I said, with the condition comes a little loss of fullness, which was a little risk. But I figured I'd rather go in flat then go in too full. I tried to go in flat with no carb loading, which worked alright. But I figured if maybe I had a little bit of carbs in there ... because when I'm a little bit fuller I look a lot different. But I can't say why not. But you know how it is being second. Second place is the first loser, it's a disappointing spot.

FLEX: You were really disappointed.

DJ: I don't think we went there to compete for the 10 thousand dollars. That's not what we compete for. We competed for the win, which will bring us back to where we should be when it goes to the Olympia.

TF: Exactly.

DJ: It's not about the money. I could care less about the money right now. That's not what I'm competing for. Right here it's a five thousand dollar difference. I'll take the five thousand and first place. We both want it real bad and that's going to make the show very very interesting this weekend. And I know there gonna be a few guys coming into the show talking all kinds of trash. I ain't gonna say names right now, but I saw someone talking about The show's over, it's gonna be my show.

TF: (Laughs).

DJ: But hey, it ain't gonna be that kind of party so easy.

TF: We gonna make a sandwich outta him anyway.

DJ: That's all I can say. Don't think you're gonna come up there and make it a one-man show and we gonna stand there looking at you like little boys. It ain't gonna happen.

TF: No way.

FLEX: We're in kind of a unique situation here. We're in a position where we're not waiting a month, or three months to see a rematch of a close decision. We're seeing a rematch the following week with the two top guys at this show. What are your mindsets heading into this?

DJ: For me it's very exciting because I know what's coming. And I'm looking forward to this because we're gonna make this a good show. Not only a two-man show. People are gonna expect a lot from us right now, and they're gonna get it. I don't mind training right now. He fired me up as I'm sure I fired him up a little bit for this week's training and that's gonna show on stage, that we both bring the best out of each other. And that's what people want to see. This is how close we are when it gets to that standard. We don't need no Mr. Olympia out there like Ronnie Coleman where everybody thinks he's unbeatable. That's not a good show. The competition makes a good show, where everybody is capable of beating each other if you give the person a chance. Toney came out, he didn't look that good - could have been the glaze, could have been a little water. But you give him a chance, you keep calling and calling , two three callouts and he was ready. This is how you do it. You don't just knock somebody off because he's sweating.

TF: Right. That's why I was worried to be honest with you. I was like, Man, they see me sweating. They might not call me back out. Because they waited a couple rounds, which I'm glad they did. You just never know. Like you know Mark Dudgale. He didn't get called out until the fourth callout.

DJ: Sixth.

FLEX: Seventh.

TF: You know, that's when you think at least on his name he should have got called out in the third or fourth callout. It was kind of weird, I don't know. And he wasn't that far - I mean he wasn't as sharp as he normally is, but it wasn't like he was fat or something.

DJ: I couldn't even tell you because for me it's hard to tell what somebody looks like standing next to me.

TF: I can't either.

DJ: And I didn't go on the Internet after the show. No comments, no boards. I ain't trying to see no negative bulls--t right now.

TF: You got a lot of love on the boards dog.

DJ: Yeah, but you know how it is with those boards. Some of these fools are gonna say some bulls--t and then ...when you get close to a show that's the last thing you need man. So I stay away from it.

TF: My mindset throughout this whole campaign, my original thoughts and goals were just to do Atlantic City and Olympia. But I felt that I needed to get some momentum before then in order to get a look this year. That's why I decided to do these other two shows. These other shows are like playoff games to me. You win or go home. That's how I'm looking at them. And I'm going after four victories in row, and I know Dennis is trying to win them all too. If I don't have that mindset, then there's no way that I could possibly achieve that. I kind of feel like the Giants last year, wildcard team. If I can get four victories in a row that means that come Olympia time they have to call me out. That's my strategy.

DJ: Four? How many shows you doing? That's only three.

TF: You know, 'cause I'm a old man I'm gonna do the Masters at the Atlantic City. I'm a old man.


TF: Yeah.

DJ: (Laughs). You gonna do both shows at the Atlantic City?

TF: You know what it is? Because last year when I was at the Olympia everybody kept saying, Oh he's old, he's 41, he's 47! And all this kind of crazy s--t. So I am a Master and I thought about so you know what? They're giving away 10 grand for it. I'm up there brother.

DJ: Well I don't blame you. See now you're doing that for 10 thousand dollars. That I understand. Put that in your pocket.

TF: Yeah you're right. That I'm doing for 10 thousand dollars. You are right. You are definitely right.

DJ: Put that in your pocket man.

TF: Exactly. See I'm already there. It's not like I'm traveling to another show or dieting for another week or anything like that.

FLEX: Let's finish up. Time to sell yourself here. Taking into consideration how you think you will be improved - give me a couple reasons why this version of Dennis James is going to win this show.

DJ: Because I'm gonna come in fuller, round, and hard as nails. Hamstrings, glutes gonna be off the chain. Totally improved from last week. It's gonna be a totally different physique because the fullness that I lost, especially in my quad sweep is gonna be back, and it's gonna make a major difference.

FLEX: OK. Toney, same question. Why do you win the Europa?

TF: I'm kind of on the same path as him. The Tampa was a show for me to get the bodyfat off, which I pretty much did that. This week I get to be a little fuller. I don't have to kill myself as hard as I had to do to get where I had to last week. I'm kind of on the way back up again. I'm ready to go man. I plan on improving every single week up to the O. I started dieting on July 1 with my goal to peak for the Olympia. Everything's going according to plan. I had to kill myself in the first six weeks to allow myself to eat up to the show for the last six weeks.

FLEX: Any closing comments?

TF: I just want to wish Dennis good luck. I want to say this, I've been a fan of Dennis' since before he turned pro. I remember the ad he did when he was down in the track stance, I thought that was one of the greatest pictures I'd ever seen.

DJ: Are you talking about the picture of me racing the Viper?

TF: Yeah! Yeah.

DJ: Get outta here. Yeah. Man, that was my first photo shoot.

TF: I thought that was the coldest ... I mean that was so cold-blooded. Still is.

DJ: That was a cool picture wasn't it? They used that picture on the buses in Florida I heard!

TF: Cold killer. I didn't know who he was but I was like Damn, that joker's got it going on. And I remember in '03 when he got fourth at the Olympia. I was in the fourth row. I was sitting there when you walked out and I was like Wow, look at Dennis up there! I just admire all the top guys. And all the guys that are on their way up. It's just a blessing to be here. Because I left the sport for five years. So I've kind of got a different feeling about the whole game, to be able to come back and be in the mix and be able to win a show when they said I wasn't gonna be a good pro at all. It's just really cool. So I wish you good luck. But don't go too hard though. Don't twist nothing or turn nothing! Because I doggone pulled a muscle in my back doing those quarter turns so hard, I had to go get it rubbed out last night.

DJ: (Laughs).

TF: Keep training stay focused bro, God bless you.

DJ: Same to you man. Looking forward to us being up there doing battle up there and having fun doing it. It's good to see that guys like us can be on stage and battle like we're enemies but then still sit together and talk together. Because whatever happens it's not up to me, it's not up to Toney. It's up to the judges. So why should somebody have bad feelings towards another athlete because he beat him or he can't beat him? It's good to see that he still thinks that way even though he's coming off a win. Because somebody else would probably say something, some people come off a win like that and think they're unbeatable.