EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CURRENT 212 OLYMPIA CHAMPION KAMAL ELGARGNI - GOING OUT THE CHAMP
Muscular Development|February 2020
Lee Haney did it in 1991. Dorian Yates did it in 1997. Flex Lewis did it in 2017. “What exactly?” you might ask. They all went out on top, retired from their respective divisions as winners on their terms, when they chose to. Current 212 Olympia champion Kamal Elgargni, originally from Libya— now living in my country of the U.K.— I decided to catch up with to find out more on perhaps one of the most unusual career paths of any IFBB pro competing today. It was only March 2018 that the then 46-year-old Kamal was making his long-overdue 212 pro debut shocking us all (not me, though; I’ll explain more later) and winning the Arnold Classic, beating out a-lister 212 names such as Jose Raymond (5th), Dave Henry (4th) and Charles Dixon (2nd). So many questions were thrown around after this surprise win and even more surprising pro debut at age 46. Naturally, this was not the typical series of events that would lead to a pro debut and yet here we were just 21 months later (at time of writing) sitting in Kamal’s front room discussing his competitive retirement.
Giles Thomas

BIO

Kamal, originally from Libya, began competing in 1994, and in 1997 he left his family business (that he was set to inherit) to make his own way in the world and moved to Malta. In 1998 he decided that the U.K. was to become his new home. It was in 2000 that word in the U.K. bodybuilding scene began to circulate like crazy of this amazing new talent. Normally, such chatter would only be surrounding the 240-pound-plus monster super heavyweights and yet here we (the bodybuilding super fans in Britain) were discussing the world-beating potential of an under-80kg bodybuilder. 2001 was when I first saw Kamal onstage at the NABBA Britain. At a bodyweight of 77kg, he took his height class. Then the overall. Practically unheard of in this federation, those judges typically opting for the taller, wider, more imposing physiques. Later that same year, I saw Kamal again at the NABBA Universe in Newcastle CityHall where he took his height class, narrowly missing out on the overall (which was the general consensus). By this point in time, Kamal had become a global talking point; he returned the next year to enter the NABBA Worlds in Thessaloniki, Greece. I was on that trip too and remember it well; the lack of interest and concern in Kamal from fellow competitors when he was backstage. Hovering around an 80kg stage weight, it was difficult to see the sheer quality of Kamal’s physique seeing him relaxed and unposed backstage. Only when he went onstage did we see the complete shock of the audience and on the other competitors’ faces when he stormed once more to victory in his height category and the almost previously unthinkable of winning the overall at such a modest bodyweight. After that decisive win, Kamal racked up more wins in NABBA and then there was really nothing more to win in that particular federation. At the end of 2002, he received a phone call from the head of the Qatar national team for the amateur arm of the then IFBB. With actual government funding and sponsorship, the amateur teams in Qatar to represent internationally in IFBB amateur competition were substantially rewarded with their salaries, receiving cash bonuses for winning, as well as numerous other benefits that meant these amateur athletes could literally just eat, sleep, train and most importantly win for their country’s team.

AND WIN HE DID …

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