“The Mutant” is hungry for another Arnold classic title.
Nick “The Mutant” Walker wasn’t always a hulking phenom – he was one of modern bodybuilding’s premier competitors. He then won the 2021 Arnold Classic (AC) in his International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro League rookie year, and since then he has become more profiled by the day. 2021 Mr. A fifth-place result at Olympia was the perfect cherry for an athlete who seemed to be the next big thing in the sport. Now, after a podium performance at the 2022 Mr. Olympia, Walker is wasting no time getting back on the collective warpath. To do that he goes back to some of his roots.
On January 12, 2023, the Arnold Sports Festival revealed that Walker will compete in the 2023 edition of the Arnold Classic. The competition is currently scheduled for March 2-5, 2023 in Columbus, OH, where, unsurprisingly, several other established superstars already plan to gather. The stacked field doesn’t scare Walker, who is on a determined mission to make it two vaunted AC titles in three years.
Walker’s AC return announcement came shortly after the Arnold Sports Festival announced that this year’s first-place prize money for the Men’s Open winner would be increased to $300,000. That payout is more than three times Walker’s winning $130,000 in 2021, reflecting in part the tremendous rapid growth of the competition and its importance.
In a quick post on her Instagram, Walker explained the news of her return to AC in a terse but effective way. She shared a picture of her winning performance at the 2021 repeat with the caption “Run It Back,” with clear intentions to beat her elite peers again on stage in Columbus, OH.
Walker will face no shortage of worthy challengers to carve his name as the second Arnold Classic winner in three years.
For example, two-time winner William Bonack will seek his third career AC crown (2018, 2022), a feat accomplished by only four other bodybuilders in the competition’s 33-year history. At the same time, a new rising star like Samson Dauda will also be vying for an important championship. Other notable confirmed names include Kamal Elgargni and Akeem Williams.
Notably, relative newcomers in Derek Lunsford, Blessing Awodibu, and Michal “Krizo” Krijanek announced plans to skip the tentpole competition. Each of the three athletes will want to rest a bit before focusing most of their efforts on an improved performance at the 2023 Olympia in November. Lunsford, in particular, may have a very realistic chance of reaching those lofty goals, as the 2022 runner-up in his Men’s Open debut.
At the time of publication of this article, it is unclear whether another two-time AC Victor (2019, 2022) and defending champion Brandon Curry will return to defend his title.
The 2023 Arnold Classic is already shaping up to be a battleground if announcements like Walker’s expected appearance mean anything. With the new year and rolling in, March’s competition will be a memorable addition to bodybuilding lore.
Featured Image: @nick_walker39 on Instagram