Arnold Sports Festival 2020: Dates, Event Schedule and More for Arnold Classic

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2020

Egyptian bodybuilder Mamdouh Elssbiay, aka Big Ramy, poses on stage during a competition at the Arnold Classic Brazil 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 30, 2015. The 3rd annual multi-disciplinary sports competition is named after Austrian-American actor, politician and former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger.   AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA        (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
YASUYOSHI CHIBA/Getty Images

Defending champion Brandon Curry isn't among those slated to compete at the 2020 Arnold Sports Classic when the landmark bodybuilding tournament begins on Saturday.

The absence of the 37-year-old will open the door for a new titleholder when the competition gets underway at the Columbus Convention Center in Battelle Grand, Ohio.

Prejudging will begin at 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET/5 p.m. to 9 p.m. GMT, on Saturday, March 7, and the finals will follow from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET/12 a.m. to 3 a.m. (Sunday) GMT, according to the event's official website.

        

2020 Participants

  • Morgan Aste
  • Lionel Beyeke
  • William Bonac
  • Maxx Charles
  • Nathan De Asha
  • Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay
  • Dexter Jackson
  • Johnnie Jackson
  • Steve Kuclo
  • Josh Lenartowicz
  • Victor Martinez
  • Cedric McMillan
  • Patrick Moore
  • Sergio Oliva Jr.
  • Akim Williams

        

William Bonac will hope to take advantage of Curry's absence and repeat his victory from 2018. Meanwhile, five-time champion Dexter Jackson is also on the competitors list, with the 50-year-old keen to prove he's still got what it takes to win the title again.

Bonac is looking to go one better than last year.
Bonac is looking to go one better than last year.Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

One of the other contenders to watch is Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay, whose massive frame may sway judges this year. The 35-year-old will be making his first appearance in Columbus and will surely generate buzz ahead of the finals.

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Bonac must fancy his chances of going one better now familiar foe Curry is not involved. The titleholder finished ahead of "The Conqueror" at both the Classic and Mr. Olympia in 2019, per Roger Lockridge of the competition's official website.

It could be third-time lucky for the Ghanaian, whom Lockridge noted "is one of the shorter competitors in the lineup but showcases well-developed muscle from head to toe."

Dexter Jackson will surely be the most likely to leave Bonac disappointed. He was second to the latter two years ago, and "The Blade" knows what it takes to impress the judges.

Jackson's winning experience could prove decisive.
Jackson's winning experience could prove decisive.Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Experience aside, the illustrious competitor from Jacksonville, Florida, faces some other daunting challenges this year, with Generation Iron noting "he'll have to overcome the bicep injury that held him back at last year's show and perhaps give the posing performance of his career."

There will be similar pressure on Big Ramy, whose focus will be on recovering from finishing sixth at the Olympia in 2018. It cost the Egyptian a place at last year's Classic, but he has the size and definition to wow the panel.

If he can ally his imposing look with the required conditioning, he will be a worthy champion.

There are other standout contenders aside from this notable trio. They include 2017 winner Cedric McMillan, while 49-year-old Johnnie Jackson is coming out of retirement for an eighth attempt at winning this prestigious title.

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