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It is ironic that a bodybuilder nicknamed “The Predator” made his mark on the sport at a contest honoring the star of a film of the same name. Kai Greene literally stood on his head in winning the 2009 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, prompting the present governor of California who played mercenary Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer in the 1987 action flick to say, “I told you (Greene) backstage that you are the best poser I ever saw.”

It is ironic that a bodybuilder nicknamed “The Predator” made his mark on the sport at a contest honoring the star of a film of the same name. Kai Greene literally stood on his head in winning the 2009 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, prompting the present governor of California who played mercenary Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer in the 1987 action flick to say, “I told you (Greene) backstage that you are the best poser I ever saw.”

This is coming from a man who not only received accolades during his competing days for his own routines, but who also went against the likes of Ed Corney, Frank Zane and Chris Dickerson, who have been considered the benchmark of the classic posers.

Dealing with the adversity of flip-flopping trainers two weeks before the show in Columbus, Ohio and coming back from a long layoff due to a groin injury, Greene’s victory was nothing short of amazing. The last time the Brooklyn-born Greene took the stage was on May 10, 2008 in Manhattan. He had to miss the Mr. Olympia while recovering and made a decision to go out to Venice, California from his home in New York approximately one month before the Arnold Classic to prepare under the tutelage of legendary trainer Charles Glass. For one reason or another, the pairing just didn’t work out and Greene’s former trainer “Oscar” flew out to the west coast to help him prepare for the final stretch.

Just how much all of this and more importantly his ability to recover from the injury meant absolutely nothing to the members of the judging panel; according to Darrem Charles, coming back from time off puts even more pressure on you. “The (last) show Kai made, he was in excellent shape, so once people see what (he) brought, they expect the outcome to be even better,” the veteran IFBB pro bodybuilder said the day prior to the Arnold. “They know you’re coming off an injury so everybody’s eyes are going to be on (you). There’s a lot of pressure on (him.) They’ll be no slack cut.”

Fortunately for Greene, he showed no ill effects from either the groin injury or switching trainers so close to the show date. His conditioning was superb, especially his back and legs. Four-time Mr. Olympia runner-up Kevin Levrone knows that you have to dig down deep to overcome a serious injury. “I think that when any athlete gets injured – if it’s in football, basketball, baseball, boxing or whatever they do in life, that stuff is mentally devastating, as well,” he said. “But it’s all whatever you believe. If you believe that you’re going to be defeated, then you’re going to be defeated. Everything is a mind and body process. So whatever you think you are, you are.”

Although it appeared as if he was in complete control following the prejudging earlier that day, Greene sealed the deal with a posing routine during the Finals that was part bodybuilding and part gymnastics with some dance moves that would make Michael Jackson envious.

“It was really good for the sport,” IFBB pro bodybuilder Bill Wilmore said about Greene’s posing routine. “It actually brought a whole other dimension that a lot of people wouldn’t even think of with the creativity, which was pretty unique. Some of the stuff that he did, I don’t recommend a lot of the other guys to try it because it would not look as good as when he did it.”

Impressing someone like Levrone, he himself one of the better posers during the 1990s, may not be easy to do, but he certainly has taken notice. “Kai Greene is a unique individual,” he said. “Anything that is going to stand out and cause attention, you have to find your own niche. And I certainly believe that he has found that and he is staying true to that as an artist.”

Now the big question is can Greene follow up this presentation in Las Vegas this September. When asked if he feels that the newly awarded champion can also win the Mr. Olympia, Levrone does not doubt it, but some questions still remain.

“I think so,” he said. “I think Dexter (defending champion Jackson) knows it, too. It takes a good bodybuilder to win the Arnold Classic. It’s a huge show, one of the biggest in the world. So anyone who wins that show is going to be a threat to whoever the Mr. Olympia is and especially today. It seems as if they have gotten away from ever allowing Mr. Olympia to be defeated.

“Within the last five years we have had three different Mr. Olympias, so the changing of the guard can happen at any time now, any time he walks on stage,” added Levrone. “I think people are coming to see if he can be defeated. Not only Kai Greene, but also you have a lot of other good bodybuilders out there. People always forget that Ronnie Coleman at one time placed 15th in the Olympia. One year he just came up and won the Night of the Champions (1998) and he was Mr. Olympia the (same) year. You just never know.”

But while Levrone feels that Greene can very well win come the fall, it is by no means a given that he will. “Everyone puts their focus on Kai as the guy going into the Olympia, but you can only peak once a year so he’s going to have his work cut out for him to be even better than what he’s already done in his (Arnold Classic) performance because that is what the judges are going to judge him by – the last time that he stepped on the stage. So I don’t know if he can top that – the conditioning – but he definitely has to come in that condition and be even better.”

So can Greene pull of what Jackson did just one year ago – win both the Arnold Classic and Mr. Olympia in the same year? Anything is possible,” said Wilmore. “How could you say he couldn’t? His back was crazy; the detail, the thickness. He brought a great package. So I don’t see how anybody would say that he couldn’t. There’s a lot of good guys so we’ll have to see what happens.”

One of those guys competing will be Jay Cutler, who will be looking to take back the title he held for two years in 2006 and 2007. Lou Ferrigno, who knows a thing or two about competing, feels that it will be a dogfight between two different physique styles; “Well, Jay is going to come back to the competition,” the man who played “The Incredible Hulk” on television said. “And Dexter’s got great symmetry, so it’s going to be mass versus symmetry. It’s going to be interesting.”

Ferrigno, at 6’5” and 275 pounds during his active days, was considered one of the bigger bodybuilders of his time. Hidetada Yamagashi, who stands at 5’8” and 200 pounds, views it differently, and favors the physique that he possesses. “Mr. Olympia needs to have size but symmetry also,” he said. “We’re starting to go back to the smaller waist.”

Greene has the size and symmetry to receive points in both categories, but the competition will be so deep that even the slightest case of bad timing can change things drastically. “Just one slip in your diet can mean the difference from finishing second or even as low as eighth,” Charles said. “That’s how close it really (will be). A lot of people do not realize that.”

Although Greene may garner much of the attention between now and September, don’t expect a runaway victory. “I don’t think he’s that much ahead of everybody else,” Wilmore said. “It’s not set in stone that’s going to happen (Greene winning this year’s Mr. Olympia). He looked great (in Columbus), but there are a lot of other guys, too. It wasn’t like he was light years ahead of everyone else.”

One person that will have something to say about that at The Orleans Hotel will be none other than Victor Martinez, who finished 10 points behind Greene at the Arnold as the runner-up after a long layoff himself. “If Victor was at his best, then who knows what would have happened?” Wilmore asked himself, referring to the leg injury that caused Martinez to miss the 2008 Olympia after nearly knocking of Cutler the year before. “He definitely was a little off for him, so that’s a whole other point that I’m making.

“You’ve got Phil (Heath, who finished in third place in his rookie Olympia), Dexter…he (Greene) looked unbelievable, but as much as he looked unbelievable, you can’t say that he is so far ahead of guys like Ronnie (eight-time Mr. Olympia Coleman) was a couple of years ago. I don’t see anyone being able to dominate the sport. I don’t see anyone able to. I think it’s really competitive right now and it’s exciting for the fans and the bodybuilders, as well.”

So while the opinions vary from his bodybuilding brethren, Greene may very well have begun a string of victories and championships that will one day become historic; if that happens or not is entirely up to him. It may be too early in his career to anoint him as the next great one, especially considering that prior to winning the Arnold, he only had two titles under his belt. Taking first place in the 2007 IFBB Colorado Pro/Am and the 2008 New York Pro are not cheap wins, but the competition rises in the Arnold and Olympia.

One down and one to go.

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