The natural bodybuilding world has been stunned by the news that the venerable World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) and its amateur affiliate the International Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness (INBF) were sold to the natural bodybuilding trio of Nancy Andrews, Bob Bell, and Tina Smith.
WNBF/INBF President Cheh N. Low founded the WNBF more than 25 years ago as the first-ever pro-natural bodybuilding organization. This author promoted the first WNBF pro contest – the Pro Natural Universe – in conjunction with the NANBA (now NANBF) Amateur Universe in 1989 in Edina, MN. The sport flourished under Low’s leadership, and his publishing company - Chelo Publishing – provided natural athletes with important media coverage for the first time.
Four-time WNBF World Champion Nancy Andrews will succeed Low as President of the “new” WNBF/INBF. “Nancy was one of our greatest champions and has been an outstanding contest promoter for us for many years,” said Low in a phone conversation with me on Saturday. “I think she will do a great job and, together with Bob and Tina – both WNBF champions and successful promoters themselves – they should make a great team. I am sure Bob, Tina and Nancy will carry on our legacy with great success.”
“We are really excited to continue on with what (Cheh Low) started,” said Nancy. “I think many forget how much he contributed to all natural athletes. No one else in that era was willing to take a stance and put up the money for natural athletes. I hold Mr Low with very high regard and respect him so much. What he started has moved forward and grown so much. We want to continue and make it better for athletes and all involved. We did get the two New York shows with the deal - the Hercules and the Naturalmania. These will be our two super pro qualifier shows.”
“We really are excited to embark upon this new horizon,” echoed Tina from her home in Sacramento. “We have a LOT of work to do, but feel confident in our abilities to do so, and are so thankful for all of the support from people around the world and around different organizations.”
“At this time, most operating procedures and policies will remain exactly the same,” she explained. “Charlie Carollo (WNBF Chairman) will continue to be involved as a support and resource. The calendar for 2014 is essentially set, and events will proceed as planned. We will be working to provide new logos and branding, updated website and social media marketing materials, corporate sponsorship contacts, and regionalized judging clinics.”
The response from natural athletes and promoters has been overwhelmingly positive with a deluge of congratulatory messages on Facebook and other social media. The new owners have already communicated with WNBF/INBF promoters by letter and conference call as they begin their new adventure heading one of the largest and most successful natural bodybuilding organizations in the world.
“Promoter support and incentives are a high priority for us,” said Bob in a communication received last night. “As soon as possible, we will be sending a survey to promoters regarding their needs, concerns, suggestions, and questions. Immediately, we will change the INBF membership rate to $60 to be in line with other organizations. For promoters generating 1-49 new memberships at their event, they will retain $5 per membership application. Those generating over 50 new memberships will retain $10 per application.”
One of the major ambitions of the new WNBF/INBF owners will be to forge relationships with other natural organizations and coordinate a combined “world” pro championship event among as many of the natural organizations as possible, which would substantially increase the overall and individual prize money, but “it might take more than a year to put all the pieces together,” according to the trio. “There is a lot to do to put something like this together, and it won’t happen overnight.”
“I hope they know what they are getting into,” chuckled the enigmatic Cheh Low during our conversation, knowing well the challenges they will face as they move forward.
The new owners will be represented at the upcoming Natural Bodybuilding Alliance Summit on February 22 in Ramona (San Diego), CA, where they hope to share their vision with the leaders of other natural bodybuilding organizations.
New WNBF Pro Rules
· Effective January 1, 2014, WNBF Pro’s will be allowed to compete in other Natural Professional Federations. They may compete in an Amateur Federation as well if they do not hold a Pro card in the division they’ve entered. (For example, someone whom has a WNBF Fit Body Pro card may enter an IFPA bodybuilding pro-qualifying event).
· In order a retain eligibility, a WNBF Pro must compete at least once every TWO years in a WNBF Pro show and keep WNBF Pro dues current at all times.
· Those holding professional status with another organization may apply for a WNBF Pro card if the organization where they have competed or qualified has been in existence for at least 7 years, and maintains 7 years drug free status, consistently utilizing both polygraph and urinalysis testing.
· For 2014, the fee for a WNBF Pro card will be $100.
· At all WNBF Pro events, there will be no cross-overs.
· For 2014, qualification for the WNBF World Championships will to have competed in a WNBF Professional event during 2014.