NABBA to discuss Universe controversy

Row over 'pros' winning amateur show rumbles on with growing calls for entry-fee refunds

NABBA are to discuss what could be done to solve the anger at their decision to allow ‘pros’ to compete at the amateur Mr and Miss Universe competition.

Frustration at the federation’s decision to relax the rules over their ‘definition of a professional’ continue into a third week, with many athletes refusing to let the issue be swept under the carpet.

And NABBA are now set to debate the issue at their next committee meeting, the date of which has yet to be set.

MuscleMatters have also been contacted by several athletes expressing their anger at having “spent hundreds” in preparation for the event, saying they had no knowledge that they would be up against professional athletes, which meant their chances of victory were severely diminished.

NABBA says the federation updated the official website following the decision, which was made at a meeting in June, stating that ‘pro’ status would be relaxed for this year while they did not run any specific pro shows.

But athletes are arguing that they were not contacted directly about such a change and see no reason why they should not have been, considering NABBA contacted some competitors once they achieved pro status in other federations to inform them that they could not compete in forthcoming NABBA events.

MuscleMatters have suggested to athletes that they email NABBA directly with their concerns, stating how much money they had spent preparing and whether they knew prior to competing that the rules had been changed.

NABBA can be contacted here:

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Unsung heroes of bodybuilding

Episode One: 'Mr NABBA', Mal Kay AS bodybuilders, we are often in our own bubble each show day. The laser focus which has served us so well throughout contest prep is at its sharpest when we strut into the venue, possibly followed closely by an entourage of friends and family, often with bags stuffed with...

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New NABBA judge blasts fed over "shocking" Universe 'pro' rules

Two Pros win 'amateur' competition

NABBA has been criticised by one of their own newly qualified judges for a change in the rules that saw two professional athletes win the amateur Mr and Miss Universe.

Pete Lawson, who won the amateur NABBA Britain and World Championship in the Masters Over 45 category this year, says he “cannot believe the federation thought it was OK” to change their ‘definition of a professional’ at their committee meeting in June.

While the rule change did appear on their website, NABBA did not write to any of their paid members to ensure everyone was aware of the change, instead assuming their entire membership would have seen the information online.

It meant hundreds of amateur competitors prepared for this year’s NABBA Universe not realising that their chances of an overall or class victory had been reduced due to the fact that NABBA pros were now allowed to compete as amateurs.

And so it proved as former IFBB Pro Klaus Drescher from Austria – who had won the NABBA Worlds as a pro just five months previous – and Elodie Moore, whose instagram profile lists her as a NABBA Pro, won their class and overall titles at St George’s Hall, Bradford on October 28.

In June, NABBA had posted the following message on their website:

“DEFINITION OF A PROFESSIONAL currently pro division is temporarily withdrawn 2023.

“However, the following will apply until further notice: The NABBA Committee decided at their meeting on the eve of the NABBA Britain finals the following:

“Any Competitor who has obtained a pro card from any federation other than IFBB, can enter the NABBA Universe as an amateur competitor in any of the Universe amateur classes, or they can enter just the winners overall category in the finale with the overall winners becoming NABBA “Elite” Athletes.

“The clear 12-month wait before stepping on stage as an amateur has been relaxed this year. However, if anyone is an IFBB Pro they have to have a clear 12 months since stepping on stage as a pro competitor. This will commence for the NABBA Universe 2023 until further notice.”

Lawson, whose partner Sarah finished runner-up, was one of many to voice frustrations over the rule change.

He said: “No pro should ever compete against amateur in an amateur competition.

“I’m trying not to be controversial, but in four classes someone missed out on being Mr or Miss Universe. And some poor soul in seventh got cheated out of place in the top six.

“I’m shocked NABBA could think people would be OK with it.”

Lawson also aired criticism on Facebook, to which NABBA Scotland representative – and Universe Masters Over 45 winner – Mark Taylor replied: “Pete, I feel your frustration mate. Sarah Lawson was incredible but this [the change in the ‘definition of a pro’] was on the website mate after the NABBA Britain finals in June. I'm sorry, I can see the frustration this has caused.”

Again, MuscleMatters would argue that not everybody checks websites for sudden rules changes and, given athletes pay for a yearly membership and receive a membership card through the post, it would not be too far of a stretch to expect such important details to be communicated more directly.

Neale Cranwell, another Masters competitor, was planning on competing at the NABBA Britain in June, having qualified by winning his area show at the NABBA South-East in May.

But he wrote: “I got messaged by NABBA after wanting to do the NABBA Brit finals, but won my PCA pro card the week before at the PCA Universe, saying I couldn’t now compete … so what happened here?”

One rule for June’s British finals, but another was made immediately after.

In a further Facebook post, it appears NABBA did eventually apologise, with their official account writing: Yes, in hindsight what should or could have been agreed is that pros just enter in the overall. Sorry.”

It remains to be seen how NABBA will address this controversial issue going forward into 2024.

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60lbs added between age 47 and 49

How American Paul Barnett is smashing it ahead of USA Masters

TWO years ago Paul Barnett was on stage at 185lbs aged 47. In three weeks he will step on stage at the Masters USA’s with more than 60lbs of muscle hanging off his frame.

Barnett, now 49, enjoyed what his coach Justin Harris described as “one of the best contest rebounds I have ever seen” – and the pictures prove this seemingly wild statement.

You can listen to Barnett’s amazing story via his brilliant and informative YouTube channel – featured in MuscleMatters five to watch recently – called Anabolic Bodybuilding.

More recently, Barnett has been logging his progress as he prepares for the USA Masters. He is currently three weeks out and looks sure to come in even heavier and more conditioned than ever. Some feat at 49 years old.

Reflecting on his incredible progress in just two years, Barnett wrote: “This is wild to look back on. Sometimes, I forget how much progress I have made. This pics are about 26 months apart. Almost 60 lbs of difference between the two. This was from age 47 to 49. So for those who say you can't progress past the age of forty, here's the proof otherwise.”

MuscleMatters will be following Barnett’s progress all the way to the stage and will be keen to see where next year takes him too.

Watch this space.

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Archives of bodybuilding social media at its best?

Instagram site offers trip down memory lane

INSTAGRAM account ‘Archives of Bodybuilding’ is putting out images of the Golden Era that makes many of us yearn for the past.

Some of its black and white images of iconic professionals have been rarely seen, offering older lifters some serious motivation.

Here are some has spotted recently. Enjoy:

Tom Platz and T-Bar rows

The beautiful bicep peak of Albert Beckles

Anger over 'nabba universe' live stream that had nothing to do with nabba

Reports of money lost after internet scam

NABBA fans were the victim of an elaborate scam yesterday after a Facebook account purporting to be the bodybuilding federation scammed them into handing over bank details to watch a live steam of the Mr Universe.