Pro bodybuilding set for The Bahamas

Stubbs not opposed to collecting sanctioning fees from organizers

Sports is gradually making a return in The Bahamas in the face of COVID-19 as the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro League and the National Physique Committee (NPC) are bringing one of the region’s biggest events to these shores.

The Yamamoto Nutrition Puerto Rico Pro World Caribbean Championships – a tier three event for Olympia qualification and an IFBB Pro League pro qualifier – is set for June 26-27 at the Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar right here in Nassau. A total of nine IFBB Pro League Cards will be up for grabs.

According to reports, the show is set to be one of the grandest bodybuilding and fitness events to ever be staged in The Bahamas, but with the event being held under the auspices of the IFBB Pro and the NPC, the Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF), which is a member of the Central American and Caribbean Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (CACBBFF) and the IFBB Elite, has no local jurisdiction over the staging of the pro show in The Bahamas.

There was a split in the IFBB four years ago, forming two separate factions – the NPC/IFBB Pro League and the IFBB Elite, which continued to adhere to the values and standards of the original IFBB. There are athletes in the country who have earned pro status through the IFBB Pro and the NPC and who are able to compete in the show, but as a federation, BBFF President Joel Stubbs said they recognize the reality of the show but are forced to observe from a distance.

“Those athletes who would have earned their pro status from the NPC would have an opportunity to compete and we wish them well, but unfortunately, that’s as far as our support can go,” said Stubbs. “It’s a good sporting venture and good energy for bodybuilding and sports in The Bahamas, but as far as our involvement is concerned, the most we could do is go and sit down and watch these top notch athletes compete.”

Tim Gardner Productions out of Tampa, Florida, is promoting the international sporting show – the second IFBB Pro League and NPC event to be held in The Bahamas in the past three years. The Caribbean Grand Prix Pro Qualifier was held at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island back in December of 2018. Stubbs faced a suspension from the IFBB for reportedly levying sanctioning fees for the staging of that event in 2018, but was quickly cleared of any wrongdoing.

“Well, we knew that we couldn’t stop it, so my main aim was to get a few dollars for the federation to assist with our development of the sport back then. The IFBB Elite didn’t like it and consequently handed down a suspension. Eventually, they bought into my story and I was exonerated,” said Stubbs. “My hands are clean and I have nothing to hide. If necessary, I would have carried the entire federation over to the IFBB Pro with me. The bottom line is the athletes want to continue to compete and continue to have fun and a lot of them feel that the NPC and IFBB Pro side provides the best opportunity for them to do that.”

Stubbs said he wrote to the IFBB, telling them that this is a sovereign country, and that really and truly, there is little or nothing he could do to prevent the NPC/IFBB Pro League from staging an international show here once they would have received approval from the Government of The Bahamas.

“All of these shows are events that bring tourists and touristic dollars into the country. To say ‘no you can’t come here’, that isn’t going to work. Individuals are going to find avenues to put themselves out there and give themselves opportunities to become great. There are two platforms here, and there are athletes on either side. We’re not going to limit our athletes from experiencing greatness in the sport,” said Stubbs. “When you look at it, they are going to a private property, which is a hotel, so the private property itself would have to follow the protocols of the government. As long as that can happen, I see no reason why the show wouldn’t come off. I’m sure all of the guests would have to prove that they are COVID-free and protocols would be in place to protect them once they are here. The hotels are open, so there is no reason why the athletes won’t be allowed to come in as guests. Baha Mar is a major resort and I’m sure they’ll have safety measures in place to ensure that the show goes on. This is a private event and we have no control over it,” he reiterated.

Despite being on the verge of a suspension a few years ago from reportedly receiving funds from a foreign entity that has no affiliation with the IFBB Elite, Stubbs said the aim is still to maximize profits and financial capital for the BBFF and they will do what is necessary to advance the federation in that direction.

“These guys have to be informed that for them to clear the show through the local federation, there is a price that comes along with that, and there are steps being made in that direction. If you plan to have a show here, it has to be approved through us and really there should be a fee to assist with the development of bodybuilding and fitness in the country,” said Stubbs. “The bottom line is we can’t stop it from happening, so the local federation should be able to benefit from it. We don’t endorse it, but we can’t stop it. Baha Mar is a private hotel and this is a private event. The only thing we could do is see if there is any way for the local federation to benefit from it financially and we are certainly looking into that. The money that we solicit goes directly to the athletes and toward having shows for them to compete. It has always been very transparent. There are never any bad reports with my name as it relates to finances.”

As it relates to their local calendar, the BBFF National Championships has been pushed back from June to August. The BBFF Novice and Northern Bahamas Championships are still on the schedule for May, and Stubbs said it is their intention to follow all of the protocols that would have been put in place and approved by health authorities so as not to put the athletes, coaches, officials, judges and event patrons in any form of danger of being exposed to COVID-19.

“The CACs (CAC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships) has been pushed back from an early hosting to September due to COVID-19, so we decided to push the nationals back as well,” said Stubbs. “The CAC federation and the IFBB Elite Caribbean is aiming to have all of the athletes vaccinated and as much athletes as possible take part in the CACs this year. Our main goal for our local shows is to make sure the athletes, coaches and officials are protected from the virus. We are going to do all that we can to ensure their safety. Also, we are hopeful of corporate sponsors coming on board, as well as receiving assistance from the government, to ensure that these shows come off.”

For the Puerto Rico Pro World Caribbean Championships event, interested persons are asked to visit the website There is an excess of 10 bodybuilders and fitness athletes in the country who have earned pro cards through the IFBB Pro League and the NPC, and a number of those athletes are expected to compete in the Puerto Rico Pro World Caribbean Championships this summer.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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