Nick “The Mutant” Walker wasn’t always a huge phenom – he’s one of the top competitors in modern bodybuilding. He then won the 2021 Arnold Classic (AC) during his International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro League rookie year, and seems to have become more high-profile by the day since. The result of the fifth place in 2021 Mr. Olympia is a fitting cherry on top for an athlete who looks like the next big thing in sports. Now, after a podium performance in 2022 Mr. Olympia, Walker wastes no time getting back on the mass warpath. He goes back to some of his roots to do this.
On January 12, 2023, that was revealed at the Arnold Sports Festival 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, not surprisingly, many other established superstars are already planning to gather. A stacked field probably won’t scare Walker, who seems to be on a determined mission to make it two coveted AC titles in three years.
The announcement of Walker’s AC return comes shortly after the Arnold Sports Festival announced that this year’s first-place prize money will increase to $300,000 for the winner of the Men’s Open. That payout is nearly three times Walker’s winnings of $130,000 in 2021, which is partly indicative of the competition’s rapid growth and importance.
In a quick post on his Instagram, Walker quickly but efficiently explained the news of his return to AC. She shared a photo from her winning performance at the 2021 iteration with the caption “bring it back,” with the clear goal of outdoing her elite peers on stage in Columbus, OH.
Walker will face no shortage of worthy challenges to carve out his name as the Arnold Classic winner for the second time in three years.
For example, two-time winner William Bonac will seek his third career AC crown (2018, 2022), a feat that only four other bodybuilders have achieved in the competition’s 33-year history. At the same time, a new ascending star like Samson Dauda will also compete for the rare championship. Other notable confirmed names so far include Kamal Elgargni and Akim Williams.
In particular, a group of newcomers in Derek Lunsford, Blessing Awodibu, and Michal “Križo” Križánek announced plans to skip the tentpole contest. Each of the three athletes makes a difference that they want to rest before focusing most of their efforts on a good performance at the 2023 Olympia in November. Lunsford, in particular, as the 2022 runner-up in his Men’s Open debut, may have the most realistic chance to achieve lofty goals.
At the time of publishing this article, it is unclear if the other two-time AC victor (2019, 2022) and reigning 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 make sense. With the new year and progress, the March competition is likely to be a memorable addition to bodybuilding.
Featured image: @nick_walker39 on Instagram
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