The third Angkor Bodybuilding Association championship was held on Saturday at perhaps the most unlikely of places, the Rosana Broadway ladyboy venue. Twenty-five muscle men from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh competed in the finals, with 41-year-old Tek Bunvy taking the grand $600 prize, ranking both number one in his category, 70-75kg, and taking the overall Mr Angkor award.
The theatre packed in around 700 people, mainly Khmer, but with a fair sprinkling of expats plus a squealing group of what looked like a Korean hen party, judging by the raucous reactions and pink bunny ears.
The turn-out was the biggest the competition has had to date, and this was also the first year it was televised on AK TV and shown live in eight districts in and around Siem Reap.
“We do this for the purpose of promoting the sport,” Rocky said, “I think it was a big success but I hope that everybody liked it, and I hope that Cambodia becomes more open to the idea of bodybuilding as a sport.”
After opening poses from guests Maria Ingelis Carlsward of Sweden and Mr Cambodia Sok Sopheak, the contest was staged in four rounds divided by weight: under 60kg, 60-65kg, 65-70kg and 70-75k, with a fifth “master” category for the over 40-year-olds.
Bodybuilders were judged on size and shape of specific muscle groups in eight different pose categories including ‘front double biceps,’ ‘side triceps’ and ‘most muscular.’ Lee explained that the winners are chosen based on various criteria, and not necessarily simply the biggest guys.
“There are eight compulsory poses but we combine all eight, and one of those poses shows the biggest muscle,” he said. “We sum up all the scores between five judges. So we look at the eight poses, the style, the dancing and presentation. The overall guy who won Mr Angkor this time had to have big muscles, but also definition and have everything in proportion.”
As contestants flexed and grimaced on stage to hip hop and pop music, they gleamed a peculiar, deep bronze colour, quite unlike anything Insider had ever seen. Later a couple of contestants were spotted backstage applying body-paint with what looked like a paint roller. Lee said that the bronze colour was ordered specially from the US, and is used to enhance muscle definition.
Winners of the 60-65kg, 65-70kg and “master” rounds were, respectively: Chas Vanny, Chheng Kimsrun and Seng Thea, all from Phnom Penh, while Ngoun Sophan from Siem Reap took first prize in the under 60kg category.
Interspersed between rounds were a bokator show, an Apsara dance and a catwalk show featuring male models from Angkor Bodybuilding Association. Finally, the venue being what it was, the afternoon was rounded off with the Rosana ladyboys who performed a show-stopping rendition of crowd favourite, J-Lo’s On the Floor.