When James “Flex” Lewis speaks on the current state of bodybuilding, folks in the community tend to listen to the retired legend. As the 2023 Arnold Classic (AC) nears this March — a contest that will now have a lucrative $300,000 cash prize — the former dynastic seven-time 212 Olympia champion (2012-2018) discussed some of his perspectives on the Columbus, OH, event.
On Jan. 27, 2023, Lewis appeared in a podcast episode with Fouad Abiad Media to partly break down what might lie ahead in the 2023 AC on Mar. 2-5, 2023. The fitness icon seemingly spared few details, predicting his top 10 finishers for the major competition.
With the 2023 AC roughly five weeks away at the time of this writing, here is how Lewis sees the contest shaking out for some of bodybuilding’s elite:
Flex Lewis’s 2023 Arnold Classic Top 10 Prediction
Nick Walker | Champion
Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay
Lewis viewed Walker as the odds-on favorite to capture his second career AC title in the last three years. However, he did clarify a few names — such as former two-time Mr. Olympia (2020-2021) Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay and rising star Chinedu Andrew Obiekea, a.k.a. “Andrew Jacked” — that he thinks could push Walker and keep the athlete from standing on top of the podium.
“I can’t wait to see if Ramy [Elssbiay] is able to bring a better look next to Nick [Walker],” said Lewis. “Andrew [Jacked] is my dark horse. Samson [Dauda] needs one to two years of added muscle in the right areas, and maturity, and then you’re talking about a completely different monster. I feel like Samson [Dauda] will be a threat in any [expletive] show he steps foot in in the future.”
Notably, Lewis asserted that two-time 212 victor (2020, 2022) Shaun Clarida could make some noise. However, it would seem to be a tall task for the 5’2″ athlete to topple lineup of Men’s Open competitors.
“If they judge and look at Shaun [Clarida] with [blinders] on, he’s [expletive] Ronnie Coleman in a 212 size,” Lewis explained. “He [Clarida] never misses. He comes in on point every time … It’s a hard one for me to see somebody who I have a vested interest in, as a 212 champion, but I just think that he’s going to be lost with the height of what’s there.”
As the AC rises in prominence and prestige as a contest, it’s hard not to imagine the spotlight growing bigger and getting more attention from established titans. Plus, if Lewis is giving Walker his blessing — the second former Olympia mainstay to do so recently — it seems the superstar might use the coming AC as another launching-off point in his young career.
Featured image: @nick_walker39 on Instagram