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WBF: The Short-Lived Rivalry to IFBB in the World of Bodybuilding
In 1990, a seismic shift occurred in the world of bodybuilding as Vince McMahon, known for his prominent role in professional wrestling, ventured into bodybuilding by establishing a rival organization, the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF). This move aimed to challenge the supremacy of the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) led by the Weider family. The WBF, although short-lived, brought a flashy and dramatic approach to the world of bodybuilding, attempting to redefine the sport. Let’s delve deeper into the rise and fall of the WBF and its impact on competitive bodybuilding.
The Genesis of the WBF
Vince McMahon’s foray into the world of bodybuilding initially took an unexpected form in 1990. Instead of openly announcing the creation of a rival bodybuilding organization, McMahon declared the establishment of a magazine titled “Bodybuilding Lifestyles.” Tom Platz, a renowned figure in bodybuilding, was enlisted to oversee the publication.
The magazine’s grand entrance into the bodybuilding world occurred at the prestigious IFBB Mr. Olympia contest held on September 15, 1990, in Chicago. At the conclusion of the event, attendees were handed press releases that caught everyone by surprise, revealing the formation of the World Bodybuilding Federation. The press release boldly stated that the WBF was poised to “revamp professional bodybuilding with dramatic new events and the richest prize money in the history of the sport.” It also introduced Tom Platz as the Director of Talent Development for the organization.
The Lineup of Pioneering Competitors
The WBF assembled an impressive roster of bodybuilders to kickstart its ambitious journey. The initial 13 competitive bodybuilders who would participate in the WBF included prominent names in the industry:
- Aaron Baker
- Mike Christian
- Vince Comerford
- David Dearth
- Berry DeMey
- Johnnie Morant
- Danny Padilla
- Tony Pearson
- Jim Quinn
- Mike Quinn
- Eddie Robinson
- Gary Strydom
- Troy Zuccolotto
While the WBF managed to attract these bodybuilding talents, a notable figure who was intended to join its ranks but ultimately did not was Lou Ferrigno. Despite the initial plans, McMahon and Ferrigno failed to reach a final agreement.
The Short-Lived WBF
The World Bodybuilding Federation introduced a more flashy and dramatic approach to bodybuilding competitions compared to the more traditional IFBB events. Its foray into bodybuilding was marked by glitzy spectacles and extravagant presentations, departing from the conventional bodybuilding contests of the time.
However, the WBF’s journey was disappointingly short-lived. The organization only lasted for two years, failing to establish itself as a sustainable competitor to the IFBB. Many of the bodybuilders initially lured away from the IFBB eventually returned to their former organization.
Vince McMahon’s vision of revolutionizing bodybuilding with a new direction and generous prize money ultimately fell short. The WBF’s demise signified the enduring strength of the IFBB in the world of competitive bodybuilding. The attempt to bring a wrestling promoter’s flair to bodybuilding could not replace the established traditions and prestige of the sport’s existing institutions.
In retrospect, the WBF remains a fascinating chapter in the history of bodybuilding, reminding us that even ambitious endeavors led by well-known figures do not always guarantee long-term success. Its grand entrance and subsequent exit demonstrate the unique character of the bodybuilding community, which is deeply rooted in tradition and history, and it endures despite the changing tides of time.