In 1988, the NPC created the Armed Forces National Championships, a contest that is only open to amateur athletes that are active members of the United States Armed Forces, veterans whose already served, or immediate family members of those that defended our freedom.
34 years later, the tradition continued and the 2022 edition may have been the most successful one yet. The Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, VA hosted the event on October 1st, and it was attended by many fans, watched by more at home on a livestream, and enjoyed by everyone involved.
The Honorable Rob Wilkins is the Military Editor for M&F, a member of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, and a 26-year veteran of the Air Force. Wilkins was in attendance for the contest, and expressed appreciation for the efforts of co-promoters Gary Udit, Tony Roberts, Viktoria Grygorian Roberts, and Rick Bayardi. The athletes’ participation didn’t go unnoticed, either.
“After months of training, dieting and posing, competitors from all branches of the service and from all parts of the globe, come together, focused on displaying the best body possible and winning a trophy.”
The United States Color Guard kicked off the event by presenting the colors onstage while the national anthem was performed. Each athlete that competed were introduced by name and how they serve and presented with ceremonial dog tags as well as a challenge coin. Dog tags are commonly associated with the military, and it made sense to present those to the competitors.
Challenge coins aren’t as well-known, but they are still very significant. Challenge coins are used to identify other members of the Armed Forces and as a symbol of solidarity. The coin is presented from one person to another in the form of a handshake while standing. Traditionally, the presenter tells the recipient why he or she is receiving the coin.
The ceremony and recognition kick off the Finals, and a strong sense of patriotism could be felt in the building. Then the action began. After all, this is a competition. The finals for this contest were combined with the finals of the NPC Battle Royale, which is another contest held on the same day. The winners of each division and class are qualified to compete at the National level of the NPC, which is only one step away from the IFBB Pro League. There were multiple IFBB Pros in the building as well, such as two-time Men’s Physique Olympia competitor Charjo Grant and Women’s Physique Pro Rachelle Cannon. Respected members of the Armed Forces were in attendance as well.
What was noteworthy about the competitions were the wide array of athletes. There were Americans that had served in different branches of the military of every race, creed, religion, and all of them were enjoying each other’s company, helping each other prepare, and expressing sportsmanship in victory and defeat. As different as they may have been, the common theme among all of them young and old was that they were heroes that understood and appreciated the commitment that was made to service.
“As service members/military dependents, they are still willing to help a fellow competitor in need,” Wilkins explained. “From sharing food, water, posing tips or a phone charger, the camaraderie backstage is amazing. While each competitor may not have won a first-place trophy, they all leave as winners with new friends and an experience that will tie them together for the rest of their lives.”
Udit expressed that the competitors that walked the stage clearly presented their best versions of themselves, which he appreciated.
“The NPC Armed Forces Nationals was a fantastic event once again! The quality of the athletes in every division continues to improve.”
All the athletes represented themselves well, and some of them were even crowned champions for 2022. The winners of each age group and division are listed below.
Division and Age Group Winner
- Overall Zach Keefer
- Masters 50+ Perry Wooten
- Masters 40+ Ayo Lewis
- Masters 35+ Derek Cundiff
- Novice Derek Cundiff
- Open Lightweight Nicholas Moskowitz
- Open Welterweight Justin Bovenschen
- Open Middleweight Xavier Wells
- Open Light-Heavyweight Zach Keefer
- Open Heavyweight Derek Cundiff
- Open Super-Heavyweight Joe Ritchie
- Men’s Classic Physique
- Overall Jordan Hammond
- Masters 50+ David Fallon
- Masters 40+ David Fallon
- Novice Jordan Hammond
- Open Class B Jordan Hammond
- Open Class C Patrick Amegashie
- Overall Jason Raines
- Masters 40+ Jason Raines
- Masters 35+ Frankie Richardson
- Novice Jason Raines
- Open Class A Mark Guevera
- Open Class B Edward Taylor
- Open Class C Jason Raines
- Overall Diamond Taylor
- Novice Chyanne Thomas
- Open Class A Ashley Blackmer
- Open Class C Diamond Taylor
- Women’s Bikini
- Overall Heather Verderosa
- Masters 40+ Antrinia Cardona
- Masters 35+ Antrinia Cardone
- Novice Heather Verderosa
- Open Class A Monica Gupta
- Open Class B Christa Luna
- Open Class C Heather Verderosa
- Overall Amanda Brand
- Masters 40+ Chinkie Abad
- Novice Chinkie Abad
- Open Class A Amanda Brand
If you wish to see a replay of the streams, you can do so at GaryUdit.com/streams . Udit also extends an invitation to new competitors and everyone else interested in being a part of such a patriotic and special event.
“We look forward to the 2023 event on November 17th and 18th at the Alexandria Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia.” For more, go to www.garyudit.com and follow @npc_armedforces_battleroyale on Instagram