With some men, we all knew from the minute they hit the pro stage that a Mr. Olympia title was well within their grasp. Phil Heath certainly fits that description, as did Lee Haney and Dorian Yates before him and most recently, Big Ramy, though it took him a while. For others, the journey to the top of Mount Olympus is longer, and few among us were predicting a Sandow in their future. That could be said about champions like Ronnie Coleman, Shawn Rhoden, and Brandon Curry. That leads us to Akim Williams, who I personally never believed would be a threat for the Mr. Olympia title – until now. After moving up to sixth place in 2020, he is now poised to potentially leapfrog his way to winning the biggest show in our sport. Did I say show? Because just two weeks before the 2021 Mr. Olympia, he will also be on stage in Columbus, Ohio for the Arnold Classic, the second-most prestigious event for an IFBB Pro League Pro. Giles Thomas spoke to him shortly after the third pro win of his career, the Puerto Rico Pro in Nassau, Bahamas, about his rising stock. –Ron Harris
Let’s start with your Puerto Rico Pro win last weekend. That turned out to be a better show than most of us thought it would be.
It was actually a very impressive show. I wasn’t expecting the level of competition that came out for it. There were some guys with great shape who brought the condition too. I hate to say it, but I assumed it would be an easy show, but it was one of the better ones we’ve had this season.
I spoke with Jamie the Giant, and he went in thinking it would be an easy way to qualify with either a win or a top spot to pick up points. Nobody was talking about Puerto Rico, so he didn’t think too many guys would show up. But it turned out to be a really good lineup.
I would say every man in the top 10 was in shape, which you rarely see at smaller shows. And I have to give a shout-out to Tim Gardner and his team. Considering they ran the show outside the USA and with all the Covid stuff still going on, they did an amazing job. We athletes just had to have our Covid test done prior to get a visa, and it all went smoothly.
I was looking at your Instagram, and originally it seemed as if you were planning to do the Chicago Pro and try to win that for the second year in a row. That would have been three weeks after Puerto Rico. What made you change your plans?
Once I started dieting, my coach Justin Miller and I were really playing it by ear. This is our first prep together, so we were seeing how quickly I responded and got in shape. By the time Puerto Rico was coming up, we knew I didn’t need another month. The way I was looking, we knew I was ready to winsomething as soon as possible. That would give us a little more time to rest up and then prep for the Mr. Olympia too, of course.
I remember speaking to MHP and MuscleMeds owner Gerard Dente at the 2019 Olympia, the year you got ninth. He was telling me, “Akim is 265 and totally shredded.” I remember thinking, he was 249 in Toronto and wasn’t quite hard enough there, so this will be a disaster. But you came out and you did look really good. Ever since then, I think you’ve been figuring out that magic formula of condition with the roundness and fullness.
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