Nick Walker has spent the better part of the roughly last two years turning heads. The young bodybuilder won the 2021 Arnold Classic, took home a top-five debut result at the 2021 Mr. Olympia, and followed that performance with a podium finish behind Derek Lunsford (second) and Hadi Choopan (first) at the 2022 Olympia. As the next chapter of his already productive career unfolds, Walker will first tackle the 2023 Arnold Classic (AC) in March. It’s there where an established legend thinks the athlete should be the favorite.
On Jan. 26, 2023, during a podcast episode of The Cutler Cast, four-time Mr. Olympia champion (2006-2007, 2009-2010) Jay Cutler and esteemed trainer Miloš Šarčev discussed storylines and potential comparisons for the upcoming AC. One of the Cutler’s main points was that he believes Walker has a pole position for the Columbus, OH, contest on Mar. 2-5, 2023. It’s quite the endorsement for Walker from a respected competitor who, himself, is one of only four athletes to win the AC three times — Cutler captured the title in 2002-2004.
While the final complete roster for the 2023 AC hasn’t been confirmed at the time of this writing, Cutler expressed to Šarčev that he thinks the other athletes aren’t on par with Walker’s overall build. Notably, some of the early confirmed competitors include former two-time winner William Bonac (2018, 2020), Samson Dauda, Kamal Elgargni, and Akim Williams.
“Are the big dudes going to have enough combination to push Nick [Walker] to the side?” Cutler said rhetorically. “I have a hard time believing that.”
The only peer Cutler seems to believe can truly push Walker is former two-time Mr. Olympia (2020-2021), Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay. The Egyptian athlete had previously revealed he would compete at the 2023 AC in his second career appearance at the contest, having placed third in 2020. To Cutler, even with a disappointing fifth-place finish at the 2022 Mr. Olympia, if Elssbiay shows up in top form, it could morph into quite a battle.
“Ramy [Elssbiay] wasn’t full [at the 2022 Mr. Olympia],” Cutler said. “Ramy needed to be Ramy. His skin would have been tighter. His appearance, there would have been more roundness to everything. Listen, Ramy, we talked about it. If Ramy is 100 percent, he beats everybody. He’s still Big Ramy.”
That said, Cutler seems to sense something special and innate in Walker’s competitive mindset. He alluded to the point that Walker won’t let himself fall short so easily now that he’s established superstar in bodybuilding. As a result, for Cutler, a second AC title is clearly in the works for Walker.
“ … I just know Nick’s [Walker] mindset,” Cutler explained. “I know his vision. I know every night before he goes to bed, he’s visualizing winning this competition. And sometimes, you can’t overtake someone’s willpower. He believes more than anyone else on this planet. We can talk about the confidence of these people leading into these shows … I just don’t think there’s anyone more dedicated than Nick Walker. I think in the end, he’ll be a two-time champ.”
From the time of Cutler’s prediction, the 2023 AC is still a ways off. A lot can change in the coming weeks before Walker and the other respective athletes take the stage in Columbus. It’s possible that another top-tier challenger who can duke it out with Walker on stage might emerge. Until then, Walker seems to have Cutler’s wholehearted seal of approval, and that is no small thing.
Featured image: @nick_walker39 on Instagram