Victor Martinez and the GI crew preview the 2023 Arnold Classic, make predictions, and discuss Martinez’s dramatic 50 pound weight loss in prison.

We are less than a week away from the 2023 Arnold Classic happening this weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Considered to be the second biggest bodybuilding event of the year only behind the Mr. Olympia – this year has one of the most interesting and tense lineups in recent memory. In this week’s episode of the Generation Iron Podcast, Victor Martinez talks with the GI team to preview the top athletes competing, make predictions, and discuss the most notable storylines going into the big show. 

The 2023 Arnold Classic started with what seemed like a dismal Men’s Open lineup. Nearly any of the top contenders were set to compete. Then the prize money was raised to $300,000 for first place champion. Within less than a week, nearly all of the top five from Mr. Olympia put their names into the lineup. While Hadi Choopan is holding off until this year’s Mr. Olympia, Nick Walker, Samson Dauda, William Bonac, and Big Ramy are all returning to battle on the weekend of March 2-3rd, 2023.

Not only that, we have two Men’s 212 champions jumping into Men’s Open – Shaun Clarida and Kamal Elgargni. Clarida has one of the most fascinating storylines of this year’s Arnold Classic. He has competed (and won) in Men’s Open before and has claimed that if he wins this Arnold Classic, he will compete at the Mr. Olympia Men’s Open this year. Known as The Giant Slayer – it would truly be a sight to behold as he defeats giant after giant in the Men’s Open category.

One of the other more tense storylines this year come from former Mr. Olympia champion Big Ramy. When Ramy was defeated in 2022, it wasn’t just by Hadi Choopan. Ramy placed fifth – a very dramatic drop down from his former glory. This puts his entire legacy on the line for 2023. By deciding to compete in the Arnold Classic, he puts himself against one of the very people who defeated him at the Olympia – Nick Walker.

If Big Ramy cannot claim a win here and place over Nick Walker, it puts him into even more choppy waters going into the 2023 Mr. Olympia. A lot can change between now and then regardless but the mental affect it can have on an athlete matters more than it may seem.

With this tangled web of tension and intrigue going into this year’s Arnold Classic lineup – there’s a lot to predict and discuss. Victor Martinez and the GI team jump right into it this week.

2023 Arnold Classic Predictions: Should Big Ramy Retire?

While discussing each of their individual predictions there is one unifying belief between Victor Martinez, Ehsan Farahi, Vlad Yudin, and Edwin Mejia Jr. – Nick Walker will likely win the entire show. This is the one constant among the lists our hosts put together during our 2023 Arnold Classic preview discussion.

Also of interest is the fact that Samson Dauda is placed second by both Victor Martinez and Ehsan Farahi. Ehsan also has high hopes for Shaun Clarida – thinking he can either get third or fourth place alongside Andrew Jacked.

Vlad and Edwin both also hope a great showing and placing for Clarida. While they don’t believe he can win the entire show – they hope that somehow he does. It would be the most shocking and entertaining storyline of the year and set him up to compete at the 2023 Mr. Olympia.

One name that doesn’t land near the top spot for any of our hosts is Big Ramy. While all of them think he can place in the top five – they are reluctant to give him a first place spot. GI Producer Edwin Mejia Jr. predicts him highest stating that he thinks he can get second behind Nick Walker.

Ehsan Farahi has a more dire view for the former champion. Farahi believes that if Big Ramy cannot place in the top five that he should retire completely from bodybuilding. At 42 years old, he thinks that it will only become harder for him.

Victor Martinez pushes back on this notion. He thinks that 42 is still young enough to do damage in pro bodybuilding. He also thinks that, should Ramy place poorly at the Arnold Classic, he should take a break for a year and retool rather than retire completely.

Victor Martinez reflects on being detained after the 2011 Arnold Classic Spain and his dramatic weight loss

The discussion about this year’s Arnold Classic brings up old memories for Victor Martinez. Specifically, his dramatic experience after winning the Arnold Classic Spain in 2011. Returning home a champion, it turned out that Martinez took a risk traveling internationally at all due to a withheld green card. Due to this, he was detained in customs upon returning back to the US. Martinez ended up being in prison for many months.

During that time, he couldn’t eat the way a bodybuilder requires to stay massive. He couldn’t train either. Due to this – he lost 50 pounds in total while detained. Upon his release, photos of him went viral. He looked almost emaciated. Ironically, he was likely still larger than most average men. But in comparison to how he used to look – it was a dramatic shift in physique.

He also talks about the individuals from the bodybuilding community who tried to help him during his time behind bars. Steve Weinberger and Arnold Schwarzenegger both attempted to use their influence to prove that he was a contributing member to the United States. But what was most shocking to Martinez was a visit from Ronnie Coleman. It was something Martinez did not expect and still talks about it today with awe in his voice. It was one of the more memorable moments of his life – in a strange sort of way.

RELATED: Watch the life story of Ronnie Coleman in our feature film documentary – Ronnie Coleman: The King

Wrap Up

Victor Martinez and the GI team go into a lot of detail about both their 2023 Arnold Classic predictions and into the inner workings of Martinez’s time in prison. It’s a candid conversation on both fronts and one well worth listening to before the big show this weekend. You can watch the full episode of the latest Generation Iron Podcast above.

Don’t forget to also check back every Tuesday for new episodes every Tuesday only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.