Big Ramy at the 2022 Mr. Olympia / Instagram

Two-time Mr. Olympia Big Ramy is entering the 2023 Arnold Classic on March 3-4. The original Arnold Classic men’s open lineup was announced eight weeks ago today with eight competitors, but Charles Griffen and Blessing Awodibu quickly pulled out. Of the remaining six, Samson Dauda and two-time Arnold champ William Bonac were left as the early favorites, but they were sixth and ninth in the Mr. Olympia just last month. And then there’s reigning 212 Olympia champ Shaun Clarida entering the open, but he weighs about 170. With only six competitors and no big draw, the 2023 Arnold Classic, bodybuilding’s second most prestigious contest, was shaping up as maybe the worst lineup in its 35-year history.

But a week ago, the Arnold Classic men’s open upped the first place prize money 50% from $200,000 last year to $300,000 this year. And things quickly got interesting. Nick Walker, third in the recent Mr. Olympia, jumped in. So did Andrew Jacked, eighth in the Mr. Olympia, and Patrick Moore, too. And today comes the biggest news of all. Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Ellsbiay, who won the Mr. Olympia in 2020 and 2021 but finished a humbling fifth in last year’s Olympia, will, for only the second time, enter the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio (he was third in 2020, six months before winning his first Olympia title).

The Arnold Sports Festival announced Ramy’s entry on Instagram with the heading:”❄️ WINTER IN COLUMBUS JUST GOT A LOT COLDER ❄️” (Ramy regularly echoes the Game of Thrones line “Winter is coming” before Olympias for the doom his appearance will spell for others.) Nick Walker quickly responded to the post with: “That’s what I’m talking about”

Ramy 2023 Arnold Classic
Walker and Ramy compare side tris at the 2022 Mr. Olympia. / YouTube

Can Ramy correct the problems with his physique so evident in December’s Olympia in such a short period? Was it just a matter of peaking for that contest or is his musculature deteriorating? We’ll find out in six weeks. One thing is certain: What was just over a week ago a woefully weak Arnold Classic lineup now sports four men from the Mr. Olympia top 10, including a former Mr. O champ, and the reigning 212 Olympia champ, and so it’s quickly become one of the strongest Arnold lineups of this century.

Check out our updated Arnold Classic preview.