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World Bodybuilding Federation

The Rise and Fall of World Bodybuilding Federation

world_bodybuilding_federationThe World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF) is one and the only exception of its kind which was established as a rival to the International Federation of BodyBuilding (IFBB) and failed miserably owing to its ill-fate. WBF was brought into existence on January 1991 by the wrestling czar Vince Mc Mahon who was then the President of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and Titan Sports. Hence WBF was born as a subsidiary of Titan Sports operated by the WWF.

Initially it was rumored that Vince was only planning to launch a body building magazine against IFBB for which he appointed Tom Platz, one of body building's favorite sons to oversee the publication. The magazine was supposed to be called ‘ BodyBuilding lifestyles'. However, during the 1990 Mr. Olympia contest in Chicago , Titan Sports booked an exhibitor booth in order to promote this magazine. The anticipation broke with a shock when the Bodybuilding staff walked in like Trojan horses and announced the launch of the World BodyBuilding Federation instead. Tom Platz was announced as being the Director of Talent Development for the WBF team. The intent of bringing such an organization into existence, they said, was to ‘revamp professional body building'. They also asserted of having the richest price money in the history of the sport which is what acted as the actual ‘bait' for sportsmen to join in.

The company was finally unveiled on January 30 th , 1991 in New York Plaza Hotel in the presence of many IFBB regulars. The speculation about who would the WFB sign came to an end when on the same day a list of 13 athletes recruited by the Federation was strode out. The names were Aaron Baker, Mike Christian, Vince Comerford, David Dearth, Berry DeMey, Johnnie Morant, Danny Padilla, Tony Pearson, Jim Quinn, Mike Quinn, Eddie Robinson, Gary Strydom, and Troy Zuccolotto. A must mention here is that in signing these 13 musclemen, the WFB had flourished megabucks. The report of Gary Strydom being signed for a three-year deal worth $400,000 per year proved this.

The first competition was staged on June 15 th , 1991, LIVE, in the form of pay-per-view Atlantic City , New Jersey . The venue was the Taj Mahal casino owned by Donald Trump. Since the line-up at the Plaza was impressive than anyone had thought, the expectations of people from the event were invariably high. Platz further went on to say that they'll be signing other ‘biggies' before the show and they indeed did. Infact the press conference at The Plaza can be considered as WFB's finest hour because after that even they weren't prepared about what was coming next.

The contest was however, met with mixed reactions. It was apparent that WFB's initiative to develop characters for every BodyStar was completely against what McMahon had promised about keeping professional wrestling away from bodybuilding. The federation was seen to be promoted by not only the WBF members but WWF superstars as well. They even appeared in a series of Family Feud episodes.

What really pulled the federation down was the federal suspicion on Vince McMahon for steroid distribution and the warning that the second competition should be drug-free. This was met by the movie star and body builder Lou Ferrigno's immediately knocking down the proposal he had signed with the WFB. The last thing that further got the WFB in the dumps was the condition of BodyStars in the second contest that took place in California in1992, once again on pay-per-view model. It was apparent that the BodyStars were not able to clean their bodies before the competition and their physiques certainly appeared less than acceptable. This finally blew McMahon who bowed out as he lost 15 million dollars on this foray. He probably understood the hard way that it was no less than a whim for him to think that he could achieve in two years what Joe and Ben Weider took 50 years to build.

The WFB athletes were finally left to fend for themselves but IFBB was graceful enough to welcome them back into the family with a mild penalty of paying 10% of each individual's WBF salary as fine which would be deducted for their contest winnings.

The IFBB knew that the athletes had joined the WBF for their financial gain and there was nothing wrong with that. The WFB story was now over, leaving Vince McMahon to brood that it is not that easy to satiate life in the pantomime of pro-wrestling!

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