By Josh Veltrie
A dream that began four years ago came true for Shaun Clarida last Saturday in New York City as he was crowned the world champion in the lightweight division of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF).
Clarida, who graduated in 2005 and is working toward his master’s in organizational leadership, was able to dethrone Brian Whitacre of Stillwater, Okla., who had won the past two lightweight WNBF championships.
“[Whitacre] had beaten me the past two years so when they announced me as the champion, I was so overwhelmed,” Clarida said. “I knew all the hard work I had put in had finally paid off.”
There were a total of 12 men competing in the lightweight division, which is 165 pounds and under, on stage with Clarida during the day. Only five men were chosen to come back that night for the chance at being world champion.
“It is very exhausting, having to be on stage for 45 minutes straight doing the poses the judges ask us to do,” Clarida said.
The 27-year-old from Hackensack, N.J., walked on to the wrestling team as a freshman at Rider and was on the team until the end of his sophomore year. One of his friends, whom he would work out with at the gym, managed to convince Clarida to try bodybuilding his senior year, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“Coming from an athletic background, it was difficult getting used to the training of being a bodybuilder because it is very different from the workouts I did as a wrestler,” he said. “I was never a fan of bodybuilding until I actually started doing it.”
Clarida goes to the gym at least six days a week and works out for two and a half to three hours a day while having a job and doing the work for his graduate classes. Even with all that, the hardest thing about being a bodybuilder is dieting, having to watch what he eats at every meal and making sure never to skip a meal, according to Clarida.
The WNBF is one of a variety of federations bodybuilders can choose to compete in, but it is all natural and probably the strictest when it comes to using substances to give the person an advantage over his competition. One failed test and a bodybuilder is not allowed to compete in a WNBF event for seven years.
The WNBF administers urine tests and polygraph tests to ensure the bodybuilders are not using anything on the banned substance list, which is very specific and includes not only anabolic steroids and growth hormones but many over-the-counter supplements as well.
“Some people like competing in federations where steroids are legal,” Clarida said. “I love what I do and I don’t want to take the easy road. The natural way is the way for me to go.”
Clarida plans to take the rest of the year off to build up some weak areas and focus on getting his master’s in May but is looking forward to the challenge of defending his title.
“Biggest thing you can be in my federation is the world champion; I’m the guy to beat now,” he said. “My job as the top guy is to defend my title and hopefully down the road I will win the overall World Championship.”
By Josh Veltrie