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2014 UKDFBA Championships
Saturday 27th September - Leamington Spa, England.
Report by Lee Kemp
Images courtesy of Fivos Averkiou

With a record number of 105 athletes onstage throughout the day (after an original entry of 112) and a packed audience who supported them with passion and gusto, this years’ UK Open was the best yet. The contest was opened by two time UK Lightweight Champion and 2013 World runner up Damian Lees performing his first guest spot, which he delivered perfectly and revealed great conditioning and notable improvements seven weeks away from his next assault on the World Title.

The standard of each of the classes at this years’ contests was higher than ever, with not a weak athlete in the line ups. This contest truly has become one of the hardest fought and creditable in the UK since its inception in 2011 and it was a proud moment for the UKDFBA family and officials to see the contest unfold and to appreciate both the number and standard of athletes who choose to be part of what we do.

Teenage Men:

1st – Kurtis Fergusson, Wolverhampton. Kurtis was a dominant winner in this class, with incredible condition for a man of his age. He posed superbly and was deserving of the title.

2nd – Ashley O’Connell, Burton on Trent. Hot on Kurtis’ heels, Ash carried impressive size for his 17 years and was well presented. If he had been harder conditioned, the story may have been different today but I know that Ash will be back and his sights firmly set on the winners spot next time.

3rd – Harvey Williams, Bracknell. In his first contest, Harvey was well presented and has the beginnings of a great physique. Another year of hard training will see him too challenging for the top spot in years to come.

Junior Men:

1st – Dylan Manokore, Wolverhampton. The defending champion barely held on to the title he won in 2013, as he was challenged by possibly the strongest field of juniors ever seen on a UK stage. Although not quite as hard as the runner up, Dylan just had too much muscle thickness in the upper body in the end and retained his title with a split decision from the judging panel.

2nd – Stephen Olagoke, Leicester. Pushing the winner all the way to the wire was a hard and aesthetic Stephen, who displayed development from the back which was testament to his powerlifting days. It was a decision which could have gone either way, and Stephen was unlucky on this occasion but boasts pro potential in his first year of competition.

3rd – Callum Cordwell, Exeter. Taller than the two above him, and packed with muscle was a frighteningly good Callum. Just a tad off the condition required to push him any higher, Callum bagged the final top three spot in a tough battle with Jorge.

4th – Jorge Darkadas, Ramsgate. Probably the hardest in the line-up, with grainy hard and dry conditioning rarely seen on a junior, Jorge could have placed in the top three with no complaints. Heavier muscled in the lower body than the upper, a wine would have been on the cards with a little more size from the waist up. Jorge had improved beyond recognition from his last contest and was one of the surprises of the day for me.

5th – Charlie Timberlake, Dunstable. Another man who showed improvements in size and balance since his last outing, with good condition and a perfect tan and presentation, Charlie took the last trophy spot in this shockingly good line up and any other year would have been good enough to win.

Also competing were Adam Healey, who landed in 6th place after appearing without the condition to fulfil his potential as one of the pre contest favourites, James Doyle, Kyle Dalton, Josh Few, Troy Pierce, Jordan Cleland, Christus Ferneyhough, Richard Armstrong, Jonathan Mitchell and Louis Hendrickson. James and Jordan both made the top five in 2013 and appeared here better than on that day, and their not making the trophies on this occasion was testament to the standard of the class.

Masters Over 40:

1st – Ian Hendy, Portsmouth. Returning from his 2013 runner up spot, Dr Hendy had left no stone unturned in his quest for the title today and was harder, better presented and with a far improved tan than his last showing. A dominant win was the only outcome possible and he proudly took the win on a unanimous vote from the judging panel.

2nd – Andy Turner, Milton Keynes. A tall, imposing athlete who has never been as impressive as he was on this stage with conditioning far surpassing his past outings. At this rate of progress, it won’t be long before Andy lifts the big trophy.

3rd – Ian Scammell, Bristol. Another man improved from last years’ showing was Ian, who matched his past condition and detail but with more fullness this time. The only thing which stopped Ian from becoming a UK Champion today was the sky high standard of his opponents.

4th – Noel Wakeling, Tamworth. Moving up from the novice division where he was last years’ runner up, Noel had grown in leaps and bounds in terms of his confidence and stage presence this year. Rock hard and thickly muscled on his more compact frame, Noel could easily have placed a few notches higher without complaint and is another champion in waiting.

5th – Ben Scriven, Loughborough. Another pre contest favourite amongst the pundits, Ben arrived onstage for this division looking flustered and unprepared. His tan ran badly down his torso throughout and he appeared either drenched in sweat or oil which made it almost impossible to judge him effectively. This alone cost him a head to head battle with the winner and a shot at the title today. Otherwise, Ben is thickly muscled, very well balanced and one of the best in the country in this division.

Also competing were Kevin Webb, Brian Wellman and Nick Openshaw. All three men were worthy of a trophy slot on any other day and were in great shape.

Masters Over 50:

1st – Robert Rodney, Purley. Robert took his second national title of the year with a heavily muscled and well balanced physique which belies his years. Another man with a rich background in powerlifting proudly displayed in his physique, Rob is usually almost impossible to beat in this division but today was pushed all the way to the wire by...

2nd – Richard Walker, Aldershot. His absolute lifetime best with possibly the hardest condition in the entire contest and a perfect tan, Richard presented himself passionately and gave every ounce of what he had in the battle for the title. He ended up second by a narrow margin and accepted the result graciously and like the true gentleman that he is.

3rd – Andy Hallahan, Redditch. The 2012 champion returned as heavily muscled as ever in the upper body but slightly short of his best condition for this contest. Despite this, he still pushed the top two hard and came so close to regaining his title.

4th – Martin Duckett, Bedford. Every bit as good as when he won the title last year, Martin was firmly in the mix with his herculean physique in hard condition. Both he and Rick in fifth place were another two men whose only problem was the incredible standard of the division.

5th – Rick Waters, Rayleigh. Last years’ World Champion was every bit as good as he was last year, if not better. He was gracious to concede defeat to the other men on the day, and will no doubt return and look to turn the tables and re-join the Worlds team.

Also competing were Courtney Smith in 6th Place, Denton Wilson and the amazing Ken Sayer and Lloyd Stewart who were both over 60 years of age.

Novice Ladies Fit Body:

1st – Hayley Dixon, Cheshunt. A standout winner in a good class, Hayley was well developed and appropriately muscular and posed brilliantly. So good in fact that she was both invited to compete in the International line-up the following day and took the ladies best presentation award for the whole contest! She has a bright future in the sport should she choose to pursue it.

2nd – Michaela Healey, Manchester. A little heavier muscled than Hayley but softer condition wise and more reserved in her presentation, Michaela was as clear a runner up as Hayley was winner.

3rd – Jennifer Ward, Barnsley. Just taking the final top three spot in a close call with fourth placed Beth, Jennifer was very aesthetically pleasing and immaculately presented.

4th – Beth Hill, Tamworth. At only 17nyears old, Beth was staggeringly good for an athlete of her age and experience. She was lean and well balanced and perfectly tanned and presented. As she develops more muscle in time, she has the potential to climb to the loftiest heights in the sport.

5th – Lucy Hodgson, Bridlington. In her first contest, Lucy proudly displayed a well put together and presented physique that is testament to some huge life obstacles she has overcome to make it to the stage and to some superb coaching and support. A superb debut.

Also competing were Tiffany Markham, Victoria Court and Katie La Feuvre, all of whom would have cracked the top 5 in last years’ contest without doubt.

Novice Men Lightweight:

1st – David Oakes, Worksop. A dominant win for Dave in this class, with a structure and shape to die for, well-muscled and in rock hard condition. Everything from his tan to his polished presentation (which won him the Men’s Best Presentation award) was spot on and made him stick out like a sore thumb in this line up.

2nd – Marcus Beales, Manchester. Going after Dave with determination and hoping to turn the tables from their meeting earlier in the season was the shredded Caledonian Classic Novice champion Beales. As impressive as he was, with some of the best legs in the contest, he needed more mass and thickness from the waist up to take Oakes today. Marcus will at this rate however be on the World stage before too much longer.

3rd – Lewis Hughes, Manchester. In great shape, and much improved over his 2012 showing with a thick upper body came Lewis. Still too light on the legs to place higher today, and should now focus on his lower half as he moves into the open divisions.

4th – John Mahony, Belfast. Locked in a tough battle with Lewis and just missing out on third place, John was lean and balanced and posed well. A little more mass for his height (which would have put him into the next weight class up today) would benefit John as his career progresses.

5th – Clint Purches, Leigh on Sea. Another relatively tall man for the weight division, Clint was absolutely rock hard with hardly an ounce of fat or water on his body. A great first contest showing for him, and another man who will climb the placings as he grows and fills out.

Also competing were Jools Chaffer who just missed a top five spot and was in superb condition and Edward Williams, a first timer with promise.

Novice Men Middleweight:

1st – Ben Howard, Leamington Spa. Thickly muscled from head to toe with solid condition and probably the best back in the entire contest, which splintered into a multitude of muscle fibres every time he hit a pose was an incredible Ben. He took the class clearly much to his humble surprise, and is another man with potential to go all the way to the top when he matures and brings his chest and biceps up to the standard of the rest of his incredible physique.

2nd – Vince Bartley, Carmarthen. Up until this point, Vince was the sharpest man in the contest with airtight condition and deeply separated muscles. He was so cut, he had striations in his jaw muscles! Taller than Ben with long legs in comparison, Vince needed a few more pounds of muscle to have taken top spot today but appears to have mastered the art of contest prep for sure.

3rd – Chris Ellerby-Hemmings, Liverpool. The next three placings were initially tied on the score sheet, with the head judge leaning towards Chris by virtue of his heavier muscled physique. Classically shaped with heavy legs, Chris was his best yet.

4th – Steve Hall, Harpenden. Harder than Chris, but lighter on muscle and again relatively tall for his weight was Steve. He took fourth place by virtue of his slightly more aesthetically pleasing physique over Lee in fifth.

5th – Lee Adams, Portsmouth. Much improved over last year in terms of size and thickness, with great arms and deep, thick abdominals. A little more torso mass and a focus on improving the illusion of upper body width are now needed to climb the ranks.

Also competing were Miky Meeneghan at his best yet, Ben Sibley making a creditable debut and Mike Lambrianos who was much improved over last years’ junior outing.

Novice Mens Heavyweight:

1st – Will Davies, Farnham. A clear winner in the class with the best balance and shape of the five men, in adequate condition and presented well. Will suffered a little with a less than ideal tan, which looked a little too dark and ran towards the end of the judging but not enough to cost him the class today.

2nd – Alex Gingell, Leicester. The hardest conditioned of the class with a great tan and confident presentation, Alex was taller and lighter muscled than Will and just not big enough to tip the balance today. A great future awaits him though as he adds muscle to that huge frame.

3rd – Ed Skinner, Portsmouth. A beast of a man with muscle to spare and a brutal most muscular, Ed had the tools physically to take this class with ease but lacked the condition to do so. Once that matter is rectified, watch out.

4th – Guy Maycock, Coventry. Another man who had gained mass since last year, but on this occasion did not display the hard condition of his last contest. Another man who will take some beating at this level when he nails it.

5th – Fabrice Cizo, Birmingham. A big, thickly muscled and well-shaped upper body but lacking the legs development or conditioning to put it to good use today, Fabrice has potential for future success once he develops these areas.

Open Ladies Fit Body:

1st – Lucy Walton, Luton. Lucy took this class in amazing form, literally fitting the criteria better than any UK amateur I have ever seen. Beautifully shaped, with ideal levels of muscle size and conditioning set off with a great tan and posing, she would be a clear and conclusive winner today.

2nd – Danielle Carr, Manchester. In only her first season of competition, Danni had a structure and shape rarely seen on even the most seasoned of athletes. Lacking a little bit of hardness in comparison to the winner, but a future star of the sport all the same.

3rd – Steff Noble, Leeds. Just missing runner up spot in a hard battle with Danni was last years’ winner and returning Champ Steph. Again, a near perfect level of muscularity and superb shape and presentation but without the hardness she displayed when she won the title. Steph too has potential for success beyond this level.

4th – Jullia Hubbard, Plymouth. Hugely improved over last years’ showing, Julia was fuller and appeared leaner today. She boasts polished and confident presentation and carries the professionalism of being a genuine high level athlete in a number of sports over onto the competitive stage.

5th – Samantha Pollock, Ipswich. Making her UKDFBA debut, Samantha bought a muscular and balanced package in lean condition to the stage and held her own admirably with the more experienced ladies of the class. Once she naturally progresses in terms of her physique with more time and training and gains confidence in her presentation, she will climb the placings and be a threat for the title.

Also competing was Sabrina Akhtar. Sabrina was perfectly conditioned for the class and showed good stage presentation and tan, but needs to be generally heavier muscled and fuller in such a tough line up. Nonetheless, she was the best she had been and looked superb.

Ladies Bodybuilding:

1st – Suzanne Stirland, Derby. A very close contest in the judges eyes, won narrowly by a superb Suzanne, who was worthy of her WNBF Pro status. Although diminutive in stature, Suzanne was balanced and conditioned and looked capable of doing damage at Pro level.

2nd – Nicola Joyce, Folkestone. Just missing first place on a tie breaker with the winner, last years’ amateur World Champion was bigger and fuller than Suzanne and looked superb in her side shots with greater depth and shape to her physique than the winner. To bag this title and reach the Pro level, Nicola needs to iron out a few kinks in her posing and really take her conditioning to the next level.

3rd – Karen McNulty, Scunthorpe. Heavily muscled, rock hard and well presented, Karen did take some second place votes from the judges and was a real “bodybuilders’ bodybuilder”. It beggars belief that she is enjoying her first year of competition with such a superb physique. Karen did not have the natural symmetry of the two ladies above her, but was incredibly impressive regardless.

4th – Gaby La Delfa, Manchester. Probably the best built physique in the class, with a deeply muscled and tapered upper body and legs and calves with muscle to spare and dramatically sweeping shape. Sadly, her condition was a long way from what was required today but if she could rectify this we would have another Pro World Champion on our hands, no doubt at all.

5th – Paula Francis, Folkestone. Heavily muscled and rock hard conditioning, particularly in the upper body saw Paula crack the top five in her first ever contest. Like Karen before her, but perhaps a little more so it was only a lack of natural shape and symmetry which held her from the higher placings in this class today. Another lady with potential to spare.

Also competing were Shelley Chapman who was greatly improved from her 2013 showing, with superior top to bottom balance and upper body taper, presented with more confidence than in her debut year and Eve Cook who has suffered a loss of fullness and conditioning in the lead up to the contest due to illness that possibly cost her a place today.

Female Pro Card Winner Suzanne Stirland:

Mens Open Bantamweight:

1st – Stuart McCulloch, Galston. After years of knocking on the door of the big titles, Stuart came to the stage his best ever today, thicker and bigger with his usual rock hard condition with detail in his glutes and hamstrings which surpassed his previous best. Stuart could not be denied his UK title today and was respectfully jubilant in his well-earned victory.

2nd – Richard Walker, Aldershot. Over 50 runner up Richard took his second close runner up spot of the day, pushing Stuart hard and presenting a real challenge to the winner. Coming ever closer to his goal of a major title, Rich just keeps improving.

3rd – Andy Hallahan, Redditch. Again, not at his best which he would need to be to have pushed the winner harder today, Andy had sufficient mass and conditioning to fend off the rest of the field.

4th – Marcus Beales, Manchester. Showing he had the quality to mix it in the open classes, Marcus was very happy with his fourth place and took some respectable scalps on the way to earning it. With improved upper body mass and a likely move up to lightweight he will move closer to the winners circle in future outings.

5th – Jason Barnett, Bradford. The former World Amateur Champion found himself in one of the toughest classes he had ever been in, and fought hard to secure the last trophy spot. In great condition with one of the best free posing displays of the day, Jason was truly World class.

Also competing were Rob Feesey, looking huge and hard and in the best form for some years and Nik Brown who was in great shape.

Mens Open Lightweight:

1st – Simon Stevens, Cheshunt. A dominant winner of the class, Simon looked his best ever and perfect for this weight division. Shapely, conditioned and perfectly presented with wide shoulders and superb legs, his only weakness was a little back thickness and density. That aside, Simon would no doubt feature prominently in the overall.

2nd – Ben Scriven, Loughborough. Much improved from his showing in the masters, we could now see just how good Ben was as he bagged a clear runner up spot with his thickly muscled and balanced physique in hard condition. Just losing out to Simon on aesthetic appeal and fine detail, Ben was a worthy challenger for the crown today.

3rd – Hani Zadeh, London. Shredded with a capital “S” and with beautiful structure and balance, Hani was as good as he’d ever been and improved in leaps and bounds over recent years. With weight to spare in this division, the key for Hani must now be to try and return a little heavier in the same shape where he would be hard to beat.

4th – Carlos Dos Santos Aca, Leicester. One of the best physiques and most pleasing structures around, with muscle to spare was Carlos. If he could just crack the required condition to succeed at this level (which would possibly see him drop down to bantamweight) he would cause nightmares for his potential opponents.

5th – Stephen Olagoke, Leicester. A great showing from junior runner up Stephen, demonstrating he is every bit good enough to hold his own in the open divisions. I predict a bright future for this man.

Also competing were Andrew Nortey, much improved from his novice outings last year, Clint Oliver, hard, balanced and at his best yet, Alex Hunt who made a great debut and could have done some damage in the novice division, Brian Wellman, Charlie Timberlake, Steve Hall, Chris Ellerby-Hemmings, Vince Bartley and Lee Adams.

Mens Open Middleweight:

1st – Robert Rodney, Purley. In a really close 3 way battle, Over 50s winner did the double and lifted the middleweight title with the thickest and most balanced physique in the class.

2nd – Callum Cordwell, Exeter. Third placed junior Callum took runner up spot with a slightly drier and harder looking condition to complement the heavily muscled package he displayed earlier.

3rd – Tshala Kabala, London. Perhaps unlucky to land at the back of the battle for top spot, Tshala was the hardest and most detailed of the three, but seemed somewhat flatter than usual and notably lighter in the legs than the upper body. Disappointed, but gracious in his placing he does have the potential to reach the loftiest heights of the sport and I’m sure he eventually will.

4th – Tom Hamilton, Bristol. Tom was huge and balanced, with muscle density and thickness to die for which saw him bag last years’ runner up spot in the juniors. Now stepping up to the open divisions, Tom needs to dial in his condition to the required levels and once he does will be a real handful.

5th – Ian Cosgrove, Stoke on Trent. With a beautiful structure and shape, Ian posed well and fended off the remainder of the class to take the final top five slot. Another man who with a little more size and maturity will feature prominently in future.

Also competing were Alessandro Fiora who was lean and hard but lacked the mass on his tall frame to place higher and Marian Leonte who had a heavily muscled and well-shaped physique with just required tighter conditioning to be a threat today.

Mens Open Light Heavyweight:

1st – Alan Mack, Ruislip. Dropping down from his usual heavyweight division with a streamlined and best ever conditioned physique, Alan was a solid winner of the class with his incredible v-taper and upper body mass with great arms, a thick chest and confident presentation. Still lacking a little hardness which will come as he settles into the weight division and still needing a little more size in the lower body to match the upper, Alan was overjoyed with his win.

2nd – Rob Mason, Leebrook. Pushing Alan hard was UKDFBA debutant Rob. Rock hard and boasting huge quads and wide shoulders, Rob needed more fullness and thickness to the upper body to take the win today but was very impressive and will be back looking for this title in future I’m sure. His presentation was polished and precise, befitting his years of competitive experience.

3rd – Tom Gee, Lincoln. Another open class debut was made with a bang in Tom. Not a match for the top two in terms of muscle size and structural capacity and slightly softer condition wise particularly from the back, Tom was well balanced top to bottom and thickly muscled particularly in the legs and chest which was the clear result of another successful powerlifting career. With improved conditioning and maturity Tom will soon top the pile.

4th – Andy Turner, Milton Keynes. The masters’ runner up took a creditable fourth place with his aforementioned impressive, conditioned package. Taller and longer limbed than those above him, more mass was required to crack the top three today.

5th – Westley Griffin, Ryton on Dunsmore. Wes has the tools to win this class without doubt with a heavily muscled and hard physique which boasts a particularly impressive upper body with huge arms. A little work to bring up his legs and present himself competently could see him turn the tables on those who beat him today quite conceivably.

Also competing were Christus Ferneyhough, Szymon Mordas who had a well-muscled and balanced physique which just required harder conditioning to place higher and Kevin Clewlow who was hard and balanced, and posed superbly but needs more overall muscle to do damage in this company.

Mens Open Heavyweight:

1st – Stefan Kuruc, London. In absolutely staggering condition for a heavyweight, with deep cuts and striations over every body part and superb arms and legs with a killer side chest shot, Stefan was unbeatable in this class today and looked to be a strong challenger for the overall. Stefan was fuller than usual, posed well and had a perfect tan and literally stuck out like a sore thumb in this class, with no disrespect to the other athletes.

2nd – Wayne Robb, Derby. A monster of a man, with mass to spare and potential to be a challenge at Pro World level. Wayne was huge in the torso with arms and legs to match with eye boggling full bellied biceps and a most muscular pose which almost scares the more sensitive members of the audience. Conditioning was his Achilles heel today and had he been harder than (and not even as hard as Stefan was, due to his vastly heavier muscled physique) he may well have changed the course of this class.

3rd – Adrian Grey, Wolverhampton. Another Pro in waiting, Adrian was heavily muscled and in good proportion with some very impressive body parts and confident posing. Harder condition is required, which would take him down into the Light Heavy division where like the winner of that class he would be very difficult to beat.

4th – Ken Midol, Cardiff. Tall, heavily muscled and in great shape Ken was every inch the contender for this title. Only the quality of the line-up prevented him from bagging a top three spot and Ken was quite frankly good enough to win a national title on any other day.

5th – Steven Walker, London. Steven came out on top of a fierce three way battle for the fifth place which he bested with a heavily muscled physique which was a little too big for the others vying for the place. Better from the front than the back, and still in need of a little conditioning and maturity, Steven is another man with great potential.

Also competing were Pete Bullard, vastly improved from his Junior days and Marc Waterman with a lovely shape and condition both of whom were pushing for a top five finish, Simon Chivers with a ton of muscle but needing the condition to match and Alex Gingell, holding his own in the open class but needing more mass to crack the placings.

Men’s Overall, and battle for the WNBF Pro Card:

The day culminated with a packed stage, as every mens class winner turned out to compete for the coveted Championship Belt. It soon became apparent that the fight would come down to four men. Robert Rodney had size to spare and a lovely shape but not the condition to take the crown. Simon Stevens looked to be a front runner at first, but when the contenders turned to the back it became apparent that he did not have the muscle quality in this area to further his quest today. In the end, it was a classic David and Goliath battle between Stu McCulloch and Stefan Kuruc. Both men were pleasing to the eye and in unreal condition. In fact, it was this conditioning in Stefan that would be the deciding factor today as matching Stuart “cut for cut” he was just too big and imposing to be beaten today. He was announced overall winner and WNBF Pro to a respectfully elated reaction, and beamed from ear to ear as the belt was strapped round his waist and the “torch passed” by 2013 winner Mark Oakes. Stefan would return the following day to make his Pro debut, while the other class winners would do battle with the overseas contingent in the International and fight for another chance of Pro status.

An amazing contest, with full credit to the superb athletes and their loyal supporters who made it what it was. Thank you. See you next year. Lee.