Does the 212 division get the recognition it deserves?
It’s no secret. The 212 category of bodybuilders is here to stay, their division growing in popularity with every passing competition. An emphasis on small waists and sculpted forms are the hallmarks of the division, a call back to the classic bodybuilding physique. A time when bodybuilders weren’t massive, hulking figures and instead sported more streamlined builds. But make no mistake, the athletes in the 212 division are by no means puny in any respect. They are just as ripped as the competitors in the open weight division and one could argue even more so. But it seems like the focus at competitions are taken off the 212 competitors and instead shifted to their larger counterparts.
Though the focus naturally lies on the larger men at the major competitions, the men of the 212 weight class are all athletes worthy of equal recognition. Though they may lack the size – their physiques are equally as ripped and chiseled as the athletes of the open weight class. They are just as hard working and their ranks are filled with talented bodybuilders the likes of James “Flex” Lewis, Eduardo Correa and Hidetada Yamagishi to name a few. So why the discrepancy in popularity?
One notion is that the weight class is still growing, most athletes preferring to join the open weight class for higher pay and greater recognition. There’s no denying that open weight is where all the glory lies in the Olympia and Arnold Classic competitions. Another notion is that the depth of talent in the open weight is staggering in comparison to the lighter weight class. Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Dennis Wolf, Shawn Rhoden, Dexter Jackson, Branch Warren, Big Ramy. That’s a list not to be scoffed at, all of them having star quality in their own right.
So in light of this lack of star power, how can more attention be brought to the 212 weight division? For one by generating a charismatic and recognizable star. Another Way to build an interest is by creating compelling story lines, for example a healthy rivalry between top competitors. There’s no doubt in my mind that rivalries like Schwarzenegger/Ferrigno and Heath/Greene bring an added flavor to the proceedings. Trash talk and bad blood may be considered dishonorable in competitive events, but what it lacks in social grace it makes up for in entertainment. It gets a buzz going, opens up some eyes and brings a spotlight on the eventual showdown. In no way does anyone want to see manufactured rivalries, but when it does happen there’s no reason to shy away from the idea of it. Right now the 212 division needs some drama to at least draw some much needed and well deserved attention.
If there is one person who brings real excitement to the 212 division as it stands now – it’s Flex Lewis. He’s an exciting personality, an excellent competitor, and now a 3x 212 Olympia champion and has no signs of slowing down. He draws a crowd. He demands attention – not only to himself but to the 212 division as a whole.
It’s wishful thinking that 212 will eventually garner as much attention as the open weight class based on its own merit. But the truth of the matter is that in order to sell a product there has to be a market for it and key selling point. Once the 212 division has that there’ll be no stopping these men from stealing some of the shine from open weight division.
Cover photo courtesy of bodybuilders.gr