Saturday, 8 July 2017
The Aleesha Young controversy rumbles on.
The Story So Far
Aleesha places 7th (out of 8) at the Omaha Pro. Much incredulity. Surely, the almost unanimous reaction goes, she should have won. The judges' feedback suggests she should "lose 20lbs of muscle" if she wants to improve her placing next time. "Not gonna happen", announces Aleesha, adding that "I'm going to step away from the stage".
Aleesha & Dave
Aleesha is interviewed by Dave Palumbo for his RxMuscle channel. Now, Palumbo has form when it comes to talking nonsense about Wings of Strength - last year his take on the "Iris Kyle not at the Rising Phoenix" controversy was, to put it bluntly, bollocks. However, in the interview Aleesha reveals that the first judge she approached for feedback refused to give her any comment about her placing, which is "super weird". I was directed to the Head Judge, she adds. Nobody else could give me an opinion.
Watch the entire interview below. Dave keeps banging on about Iris Kyle, and Aleesha tries to sidestep his attempts to get her onto the subject and connect the Iris story with her own. Aleesha does succumb eventually and tell Dave like it is, ie. Iris didn't fight for us, so don't ask me to fight for her. However, there are other revelations, about the show in Omaha, and Aleesha herself that come out, especially in the first part.
Head Judge was Tim Gardener. Also the promoter of the show, and, with Jake and Kristal Wood, one of the three people most responsible for the mini-resurrection of pro Female Bodybuilding over the last couple of years or so. It's Gardener who has, at his IFBB-sanctioned shows, given Wings of Strength the platform, the stage to put the big girls on. Without him, the Woods would have to self-promote, and that would be a whole different set of challenges meaning (at the very least) there would have been fewer competitive opportunities for the pro Female Bodybuilders since 2015.
Wings of Strength
After the Palumbo interview, Jake Wood released a statement:
Aleesha, you were great in this interview. Dave is right and so are you. You should have placed higher. Tim is a friend of mine and a good man, but he didn't place you where I would have. You and a good many other women are the future of what we at Wings of Strength are pushing for. I hope to get you on a stage again one day.
Sadly, it now seems that some sort of rift has occurred between Tim Gardener and Wings of Strength. In 2015 and 2016 placings had been unusually uncontroversial, lulling us fans into a false sense of security, a false sense that now everybody trying to save Female Bodybuilding was singing from the same hymn sheet, as it were. That sense is suddenly no longer there. We're expecting more Aleesha-like injustices.
I didn't lose 20lbs of muscle on hospital bed rest during my pregnancy and eight months of breast feeding, Aleesha tells Dave. Genetically, I'm not going to lose 20lbs of muscle. And that's the part that makes me so sad and so frustrated. As a little girl I hated having muscle, so I felt I'd found something that would embrace what I'm good at genetically, and they've said, just like the rest of society, "You're too muscular".
Seems she really is serious about not competing again. "Tim Gardener promotes all their shows," she reminds Dave in the interview. She obviously feels she won't do better than she did in Omaha while he's in the picture, and it's not hard to see why.
Aleesha's new hashtag.
And tragic as it is that one of the most (if not the most) popular Female Bodybuilders on the planet as far as fans are concerned will no longer compete, the real tragedy here is the message Head Judge Gardener sent to all FBBs with his stand in Omaha.
Imagine FIFA telling female football pros they have to tackle 20% less hard. Imagine the AIBA telling female boxers they should punch 20% less hard, and if they continue to go full power, they won't be able to qualify for the Olympics. Imagine the ICC telling female fast bowlers they are introducing a new maximum speed for deliveries and any delivery over that speed will be called a no-ball. Imagine the IAAF introducing a maximum weight for female (but not male) shot putters. F***ing ridiculous, isn't it?
In any other sport, the governing body would immediately face accusations of discrimination, and if necessary would be challenged in a court of law. At the very least they would lose all credibility. In any other sport, female athletes are - like their male oounterparts - encouraged to excel, to be absolutely the best they can be. In any other sport, those with a natural gift for excellence are embraced, lauded, and take their place at the very top. But not Female Bodybuilders in the IFBB. Not in this sport.