The Mutant is hungry for another title from Arnold Classic.
Nick “The Mutant” Walker wasn’t always a huge phenomenon – one of modern bodybuilding’s top contenders. He then won the 2021 Arnold Classic (AC) during his rookie year in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro League, and since then he seems to be getting better known every day. A fifth-place finish at the 2021 Mr. Olympia was fitting icing on the cake for an athlete who seemed like the next big thing in sport. Now, after a podium appearance at the 2022 Mr. Olympia, Walker will waste no time getting back on the mass warpath. For this he returns to some of his roots.
On January 12, 2023, the Arnold Sports Festival revealed that Walker would compete at the 2023 edition of the Arnold Classic. The competition is currently scheduled for March 2-5, 2023 in Columbus, OH, where unsurprisingly several other established superstars are already planning to gather. A stacked field is unlikely to intimidate Walker, who appears to be on a determined mission to make it to two vaunted AC titles in three years.
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Walker’s AC return announcement came shortly after the Arnold Sports Festival announced that this year’s first-place prize money would be increased to $300,000 for the Men’s Open winner. That compensation is nearly three times what Walker’s winnings of $130,000 in 2021 were, in part reflecting the competition’s tremendously rapid growth and importance.
In a brief post on his Instagram, Walker succinctly but efficiently addressed the news of his return to the AC. He shared an image of his winning performance at the 2021 iteration with the caption, “Run it back,” with the apparent intention of once again beating his elite peers on stage in Columbus, OH.
Walker will have no shortage of worthy challengers to stamp his name as the Arnold Classic winner for the second time in three years.
For example, two-time winner William Bonac will be aiming for his third AC career crown (2018, 2022), a feat accomplished by only four other bodybuilders in the competition’s 33-year history. At the same time, a newer rising star like Samson Dauda will also be in contention for the momentous championship. Other notable confirmed names so far include Kamal Elgargni and Akim Williams.
Notably, a group of relative newcomers in Derek Lunsford, Blessing Awodibu and Michal “Križo” Križánek announced plans to skip the tentpole competition. Each of the three athletes made the distinction that they would rather get some rest before focusing most of their efforts on improved performance at the 2023 Olympics in November. Lunsford in particular may have the most realistic chance of reaching those lofty goals as runners-up in 2022 on his debut at the Men’s Open.
At the time of writing, it’s unclear if another two-time AC winner (2019, 2022) and reigning champion, Brandon Curry, will return to defend his title.
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The 2023 Arnold Classic is already shaping up to be a battleground if announcements like Walker’s anticipated appearance mean anything. With the New Year approaching, March’s contest is likely to be a memorable addition to bodybuilding lore.
Featured image: @nick_walker39 on Instagram
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