The Indy Pro took place last Saturday, May 14th in Indianapolis. It was one of the best displays of competition and improvement from the top two finishers among recent IFBB Pro League shows. The event was a day long affair with the pre-judging taking place in the morning and the night show and placings occurring in the evening. The line-up featured top Olympia-quality bodybuilders in Justin Rodriguez, Blessing Awodibu, Maxx Charles, and Charles Griffen who made up the top 4 for the night.
Justin Rodriguez was a massive favorite going into the event as he was the winner of last year’s Indy Pro and was coming off an impressive showing at this year’s Boston classic where he came 2nd to William Bonac. Sporting a taller, but classic-type physique, Justin is able to tower over many of his competitors, but only when his conditioning is tight. Justin came into the show completely off his game. He was looking skin tight in the days leading up to the show, but when it came time to step on stage, Justin looked as if he did not even try. Justin was holding too much water in the midsection and his conditioning was blurry. The mass he had was not of use as putting him next to equally large but more conditioned athletes, highlighted his lack of conditioning even further. Justin has had a great competitive season and is looking to compete in this weekend’s New York Pro, but it seems that the package he brought to Indy needed much more refinement. Justin placed 4th and is now tied for 2nd with Steve Kuclo for the points standing to qualify for the Mr. Olympia competition this year.
Maxx Charles brought the classic Maxx Charles look to the stage. Maxx always brings a conditioned, grainy physique to the stage no matter where he shows up. Maxx is usually brought down in placings due to his shape and lack of ability to properly display his physique through posing. However, although he lacks a lot in sheer aesthetics, Maxx is able to bring mass on par with the biggest athletes and conditioning that rivals all others on the stage. With his package, Maxx was able to beat off Justin Rodriguez for the 3rd place spot. Maxx Charles needs a win or multiple big showings this summer if he wants to qualify for this year’s Olympia. He too will be competing in this weekend’s upcoming New York Pro.
The final showdown of the event came between Blessing Awodibu and Charles Griffen. The two bodybuilders displayed the best versions of their physiques to date. Blessing is young and only made his professional bodybuilding debut at last year’s Indy Pro where he placed 4th, an impressive showing for a pro-debut. But Blessing lagged behind a lot in the legs and conditioning at that show; it was obvious that his impressive and oversized upper body overshadowed the rest of his physique. This year was much different for Blessing as he brought significantly bigger legs to match his torso and conditioning that shocked the whole audience. Blessing’s large frame gave him a tremendous stage presence as his V-taper and massive arms made him seem like the widest athlete there, which he very well could have been. As well as the size, Blessing’s snatched waist and tight conditioning made him almost look like a classic physique competitor as he also hit several vacuum poses throughout the event.
His rival for the night was Charles Griffen. An impressive competitor, Charles has been steadily improving in recent years and has shown dramatic increases in size, shape, and conditioning in every show he turns up at. A bit older than Blessing, Charles has had a lot more experience as a professional bodybuilder. Charles brought his best look to date as he showed up with enough size to compete and enough conditioning to astound the judges. He was able to pull off the deepest vacuum I have ever seen on an open class bodybuilding stage in years. Charles’ physique hailed back to the 90s where size, shape, and detail met at their peaks.
Unfortunately for Charles, Blessing ended up taking the first-place finish and the Olympia qualification after an intense comparison round between the two. They were neck and neck in my opinion, but I think Blessing had too much in terms of commanding stage presence and impressive shape for Charles on that night, though the two were very equal when it came to conditioning. To give credit to Charles, his poses from the back dominated Blessing in terms of detail as the level of depth and shape from Charles’ upper back to his hamstrings were a clear level above Blessings. Charles earned himself some points to qualify for the Olympia but sits close to the bottom of those standings right next to Maxx Charles. Disappointed with his loss, Charles Griffen is sure to be back this season in his next attempt at an Olympia qualification. As for Blessing, he is looking to also compete in the New York Pro even though he is already qualified for the Olympia. This would be a good opportunity to not only earn himself some more prize money, but also set up and build upon his competitive legacy were he to win the show.