2024 Arnold Classic Men’s Open Preview

The 2024 Arnold Classic is set for March 1-3, 2024, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, OH. It will be the 36th edition of the contest, which dates back to 1989 when Rich Gaspari won the inaugural championship.

The Arnold Classic has become a March tradition in the world of bodybuilding as part of the Arnold Sports Festival. The winner of the Arnold Classic is often considered a top contender for the Mr. Olympia contest later in the year.

There are 12 competitors in the Arnold Classic Men’s Open lineup who applied for invitations to compete in the show. The winner will qualify for the 2024 Mr. Olympia contest if not already qualified, claim the Arnold trophy, and the $300,000 prize.

The roster is below, with names in alphabetical order: 

2024 Arnold Classic Men’s Open Roster

Remeco Bose*

Rafael Brandao

Hadi Choopan

Samson Dauda

Horse Marcello De Angelis

Jon Delarosa

Mohamed Shaaban Elimbabi

James Hollingshead

Rubiel Mosquera

Justin Rodriguez

Antoine Vaillant

Akim Williams

*2023 Arnold Amateur winner

Andrew Jacked was originally in the lineup, but he withdrew from the Arnold Classic and the Arnold Classic UK show scheduled for March 15-17, 2023, for personal reasons. It’s unknown if a replacement will be named.

Reigning Champion — Samson Dauda

Dauda is the only previous Arnold Classic champion in the lineup. He is the defending champion and could make some history at this show.

If Dauda defends his title, he would be the first champion to repeat since Branch Warren went back-to-back in 2011-2012. Dauda would be the ninth athlete to win the Arnold Classic twice. The last to achieve that was Brandon Curry in 2022. 

Dauda had a great 2023 season with three pro wins and a bronze medal at the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest. He’s already qualified for the 2024 Olympia in Las Vegas, NV, on Oct. 10-13, 2024. Still, defending the title in Columbus would further cement his top-contender status against reigning Mr. Olympia Derek Lunsford.

Top Contender — Hadi Choopan

The most obvious contender to Dauda is 2022 Mr. Olympia winner Hadi Choopan, who will make his Arnold Classic debut in the Buckeye State. Choopan ranked second to Lunsford at the 2023 Mr. Olympia but one spot ahead of Dauda.

Choopan winning the Arnold Classic and the $300,000 prize would certainly swing momentum in his favor leading up to the 2024 Olympia. The risk for Choopan is that a former Mr. Olympia is not guaranteed to win the Arnold Classic. Two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay competed in the 2023 Arnold Classic but finished fourth overall.

Dark Horses

There are a few athletes familiar with the Arnold Classic stage who could significantly impact the final results. Rafael Brandao is a former Arnold South America winner and has ranked in the top 10 on the Olympia stage. It would not be surprising to see him in the first callout alongside the other favorites.

Akim Williams is also comfortable on the Arnold Classic stage; 2024 will be his fifth career appearance. His highest finish was fifth in 2021; he ranked sixth in 2023. After taking the rest of the 2023 season off following the Arnold Classic, it should be expected to see major improvements.

Justin Rodriguez is a seasoned veteran who will compete for the win in Columbus. His fourth-place finish in 2021 is his best finish in four career Arnold Classic appearances. He ranked seventh in the 2023 contest.

Jon Delarosa has been competing in the pro ranks for over a decade but has only competed in the Arnold Classic once — eighth overall in 2018. He competed in two pro shows in 2023, finishing as the runner-up in both.

Arnold Classic Debuts

There are a few athletes stepping on the Arnold stage for the first time besides Choopan. One is James Hollingshead, who did not compete at all in 2023. Hollingshead has won four pro shows in his career and ranked as high as 13th on the Olympia stage. “The Shed” will likely be bigger and in better condition than he was at the 2022 Olympia, where he finished outside the top 15.

Antoine Vaillant is a Canadian competitor and one of the more entertaining pros on social media. He’s proven to be a threat to win any non-Olympia show. The 2022 Chicago Pro winner didn’t compete in 2023. Fans are excited to see how Vaillant looks in the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Mohamed Shaaban Elimbabi is a veteran gracing the stage in Columbus for the first time. His most recent pro win was the 2022 Toronto Pro Supershow.

Two up-and-coming stars are Horse Marcello De Angelis, better known to many as “Horse MD,” and Rubiel “Neckzilla” Mosquera. Mosquera earned his pro card in 2023. This will be his United States debut for the IFBB Pro League. 

How to Watch

Fans who want to watch the 2024 Arnold Classic live can purchase tickets at the Arnold Sports website. All seven pro divisions will be available to watch on livestream for free via ADL Live. Further details of the stream can be found on the Arnold Sports website. 

Featured Image: @samson_dauda on Instagram 

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