When William Bonac won the Arnold Classic earlier this year it was a proud moment for an athlete who has consistently presented himself well in tough line-ups.
A big deal
Bonac’s victory was also a big deal to many Ghanaian bodybuilders who were inspired by a fellow countryman’s success in the competitive arena.
Ghana, a nation on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, prides itself on its warm hospitality. It also punches above its weight in sports such as football (World Cup quarter finalists and bronze at the Olympics) and boxing (world champions and Olympic silver and bronze).
In Ghana recycled scraps of steel and stone are used in combination with raw determination, hard work and a largely pescatarian diet to produce some of the most phenomenal physiques in the world of bodybuilding. Along with Bonac, IFBB Pros Eddie Abbew (United Kingdom), JoJo Ntiforo (USA) and Mike Asiedu (Canada) also represented their country with pride on bodybuilding stages around the world.
Following in compatriots’ footsteps
Two young Ghanaian bodybuilders, who have dominated their respective divisions at the Arnold Classic Africa in 2017, are looking at following in their compatriots’ footsteps.
Oliver ‘The Moulded Rock’ Prempeh and Michael Parnell impressed the IFBB panel of judges with their lean, symmetrical yet solid physiques to beat all their opposition in the Middle and Light weight divisions at the annual muscle fest.
The 35-year-old Oliver Prempeh, a former footballer, combines aesthetics with overall muscle maturity and poses from the Flex Wheeler playbook. Now a seasoned competitor, last year’s Arnold Classic triumph was a major improvement from his 7th placing at the IFBB’s first Amateur Olympia. “That was a kick to my backside!” he says, laughing, “but it woke me up. I went back to the drawing board and worked on my weaknesses. When you’re backstage with all those guys who are also hungry to win – it’s real. I had to show I deserved to be there and that I had learned my lessons. This year I am pushing myself to defend that title!”
Prepping for that edge
Michael Parnell, a 33-year-old personal trainer who grew up in London and Accra, presents a compact, dense yet lean physique.
A wide, detailed back and superbly sculpted shoulders are amongst some of his strongest points. A relative rookie to international competition, Michael is on mission to improve.
“Being on stage with some of the world’s best for the first time was big for me. Life is not easy in Ghana, so I told myself I had to at least make the top 3. Preparation and practice helped me to get that edge. Now that I know what it’s like out there, I’m working to bring a tighter, better package to Johannesburg in May for the Arnold. So many Ghanaians believe in us. We have to repay that faith with results”
Arnold Classic Africa
The Arnold Classic Africa takes place between 18 and 20 May 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. It forms part of the Arnold Sports Festival, a large multi-sports extravaganza that attracts a multitude of athletes from all over the world. As the biggest sports event on the continent, it will be an IFBB Elite Pro Qualifier and open to all athletes from the IFBB-affiliated national federations.
As both Michael and Oliver prepare to defend their bodybuilding titles at the third edition of the Arnold Classic Africa, the hopes of a small nation rest on their shoulders.
For more information about the Arnold Classic Africa visit www.arnoldclassic.africa.com
* Article by Farai Msika (@fridayarts), photography by Angelo Prempeh (@angeloprempeh1)