Nearly ten years ago, WBFF founder Paul Dillett was a frustrated IFBB Pro Bodybuilder, finding himself on the downside of his career and unable to make any money on a Pro Bodybuilding stage. His legion of fans may have disagreed, but for all intents and purposes Paul was finished as a competitive professional bodybuilder. Left with a bad taste in his mouth over some highly controversial IFBB contest placings, Paul swore vengeance on the organization that, in his mind, failed to heed him the proper respect for his massive X-frame that dwarfed most other competitors.
Rather than stick around Venice and continue to try to eke out a living by training fatsos and doing the ‘Venice Hustle’, Paul returned to his native Ontario and quietly launched the WBFF. While the IFBB initially expressed some concern about a new organization, Paul provided assurances to the powers-that-be that the WBFF was no threat to the IFBB — that Paul had zero interest or ambition to bring his contests to the United States and that he was simply filling a void that neither the NPC nor the IFBB could fill. Convinced that Paul was a good soldier, the power-brokers accepted him at his word and made no efforts to sabotage Paul’s new WBFF organization.
Paul’s sense of showmanship and experience as a bodybuilder led to several successful promotions and even brought aboard mainstream sponsors. With Paul bringing in entertainment to provide lively performances for the fans, his shows were reminiscent of the old IFBB Night of Champions or Olympia events, replete with mainstream news coverage, widely seen advertising, and sellout crowds.
It seemed to be just a matter of time before Paul’s ambitions to grow his organization locked horns with the NPC/IFBB. When Paul launched the Male Fitness Model division in 2009, it seemed that he had stumbled upon something golden. What if the majority of the attendees and consumers — men — had another option to display their physique without having to take years off their health and lives by mass consuming growth hormone, steroids, diuretics, insulin, and painkillers?
The WBFF’s Male Fitness Model competition was an immediate hit with both competitors and the fans.
And the NPC/IFBB took notice. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Dillett must have been incredibly flattered when in 2010, the NPC launched their own version of the WBFF’s Male Fitness Model competition — renaming it Men’s Physique Division (MPD).
Except that Paul Dillett wasn’t flattered. He was incensed. Just like he was nearly ten years earlier when some of those same NPC/IFBB decision-makers placed Paul a ridiculous 6th behind a mutant of messy mass known as Paco Bautista and a man half his width in Darrem Charles. And just as he had done ten years earlier, Paul didn’t sit around moping about it — he ACTED upon it.
Paul announced the WBFF’s invasion of the United States by launching his first state-wide show in Boston in July, 2011. Although turnout for the show was less than expected (only 4 men competed in the Male Fitness Model division), the message was clear. The WBFF had declared war on the NPC.
So it wasn’t that much of a surprise that Dillett followed up his initial foray into NPC-territory by launching an attack on the IFBB front as well. By signing longtime IFBB-nuisance Lee Priest, the WBFF communicated their intent to bring both a highly-organized and well-funded alternative to both the NPC and the IFBB to the United States. And after some questionable judging at the recent IFBB Europa and Tijuana shows, many IFBB competitors were quick to call Paul and make more than just a passing inquiry or two.
Sure, we’ve seen all of this before. Wayne DeMilia’s PDI (also starring Lee Priest) launch was a dismal failure, in part because of Wayne’s failing health and in part because of the NPC/IFBB’s desperate attempts to sabotage it in every way. For a small example of that, just see NPC/IFBB Shill and Getbig Owner Ron Avidan’s absurd interview with DeMilia.
But give the NPC/IFBB credit. They are no fools. They’ve been down this road before and know precisely how to control the ‘bodybuilding media’. Using a combination of a carrot-and-stick approach and an iron fist, they will do everything in their power to prevent Paul from getting word out about his show. They will offer rewards to prominent and dissatisfied Pros like King Kamali (such as an Olympia commentating spot), hand out Pro Cards to undeserving candidates who burn the new organization (see Vinny Galanti), and be forced to finally hand over pro cards to former dissidents like Sean Allan (another former PDI Pro who returned to the NPC on his knees and begging forgiveness).
Wayne DeMilia’s biggest mistake with the PDI was his own failure to aggressively recruit IFBB Pros. His ‘sit back and wait for the phone to ring’ approach doesn’t cut the mustard in a business as cutthroat as the fitness and physique business. No, I expect Paul Dillett to be spending several hours a day over the next few weeks reaching out to those guys who for one reason or another have gotten the shaft from the NPC/IFBB. And speaking of elevators and shafts, I fully expect world-renowned bodybuilding MC Robert Cicherillo to be doing the exact same on behalf of his unofficial bosses at the NPC/IFBB.
Make no mistake. The WBFF isn’t playing.
This is WAR.