Like King Kong rampaging in Manhattan, another foreign behemoth arrived in the Big Apple and caused a sensation this past year. Behold bodybuilding’s newest phenomenon, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay. Near the end of 2011, this 5'9" Egyptian weighed an ordinary 200 pounds and was just a “random dude in the gym.” Incredibly, he rapidly packed on enough muscle to dominate the Amateur Mr. Olympia the following year. Then, last May, the 28-year-old won his professional bodybuilding debut, the New York Pro, tipping the scales at a mind- jarring 288.
Weider had enjoyed some success as a bodybuilder but far less as a weightlifter, and vehemently disagreed with the AAU rules that Hoffman had helped draft. Requiring that a bodybuilder shoulder-press 200 pounds, for instance—something that Weider struggled and, at times, failed to do—made little sense in the context of what was essentially an aesthetic contest. Moreover, Weider argued that Hoffman was unfairly overlooking African American athletes with impressive physiques, citing Melvin Wells’s failure to claim the Mr. America crown on several prior occasions. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Weider would attempt to remedy these oversights by using his publications to promote the careers of black bodybuilders such as Rick Wayne, Harold Poole, and Chris Dickerson. But for Weider, racial equality came second to aesthetics: He was willing to consider anyone as a possible champion, so long as they had the look he prized.