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Samson Dauda is Your 2023 Arnold Classic Champion

On the weekend of March 3, the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, OH hosted the 35th edition of the Arnold Classic. The fans saw seven champions crowned throughout the weekend, including Samson Dauda taking the top title, the men’s open Arnold Classic championship.

Dauda had to face nine of the IFBB Pro League’s best bodybuilders in the world, including two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, Nick Walker, and Andrew Jacked. Current Olympia 212 Champion Shaun Clarida was also in this 10-man lineup, and he placed fifth in this show despite being outweighed by 50 to 100 pounds in some cases. At the end of the finals, it came down to Dauda and 2021 Arnold Classic winner Nick Walker for the title, and Dauda would be the man with his hand raised by Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of the evening. He got a $300,000 first place check to go with that trophy.

1. Samson Dauda

2. Nick Walker

3. Andrew Jacked

4. Mamdouh Elssbiay

5. Shaun Clarida

Other Men Divisions

Three other men’s divisions hosted contests in Columbus. Erin Banks managed to successfully defend his Arnold Men’s Physique title against rivals Diogo Montenegro and Emanual Hunter. The popular Ramon Rocha Queiroz (a.k.a. “Dino”) held off a charge by Urs Kalecinski to win the Arnold Classic Physique title, and the dominant Harold “King Kong” Kelley took his sixth Arnold Wheelchair win. Kelley has won six of the seven Arnold championships that this division has had.

Arnold Men’s Physique

1. Erin Banks

2. Diogo Montenegro

3. Emanual Hunter

4. Vitor Chaves

5. Carlos DeOliveria

Arnold Classic Physique

1. Ramon Rocha Querioz

2. Urs Kalecinski

3. Alex Cambronero

4. Mike Sommerfeld

5. Courage Opara

Arnold Pro Wheelchair

1. Harold Kelley

2. Tory Jones

3. Bradley Betts

4. Woody Belfort

5. James Berger

Women’s Divisions

The ladies showed up and put on great performances as well. Two of the three champions going into the contest managed to defend their titles. On Friday night, Ariel Khadr claimed her second Fitness International championship, putting her in prime position to compete for the Olympia this fall. Lauralie Chapados also defended the Bikini International title, and she actually defeated the current Olympia winner, Maureen Blanquisco, as well as former Arnold and Olympia champions Jennifer Dorie and Ashley Kaltwasser to do so.

The second Wellness International competition was also held, and a new champion was guaranteed in that contest because defending champion Isabelle Nunes had to withdraw due to injury. Angela Borges was considered the favorite, but Kassandra Gillis of Canada was in the best shape of her career. That was rewarded because she was handed the trophy as the champion. Borges finished as the runner-up for the second straight year.

Wellness International

1. Kassandra Gillis

2. Angela Borges

3. Rayane Fogal

4. Alexis Adams

5. Marissa Andrews

Bikini International

1. Lauralie Chapados

2. Maureen Blanquisco

3. Jennifer Dorie

4. Ashley Kaltwasser

5. Romina Basualdo

Fitness International

1. Ariel Khadr

2. Jaclyn Baker

3. Michelle Freda-Mensah

4. Allison Kramer

5. Tamara Vahn

Other Notes

Four-time Arnold Classic Champion Flex Wheeler was recognized as the 2023 Arnold Lifetime Achievement Award winner. He and Schwarzenegger shared a moment onstage before Wheeler addressed the crowd.

In honor of the 35th anniversary of the Arnold Classic, many of the past champions were in attendance and graced the stage to be appreciated by the crowd. Schwarzenegger thanked them for the memories they created and for supporting the show and sport of bodybuilding.

A video tribute aired to remember Schwarzenegger’s longtime business partner and Arnold Classic co-founder, Jim Lorimer, who passed away in 2022. The audience gave a standing ovation to show their appreciation for the longtime promoter.


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