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Kai Greene vs Phil Heath | Careers [HD]

Kai Greene vs Phil Heath | Careers [HD]

Kai and Phil are similar to apples and oranges (no citrus pun intended,) two very different yet similar bodybuilders. Both at the pinnacle of the sport, but reaching that point by very different means; these different paths reflecting the differences in their personalities, which are also represented in their physiques and their presentation of them. While Phil’s gotten the best of Kai overall, Kai’s has bested Phil on multiple occasions as well. As much as they may publicly dislike one another, these two will arguably be the pair that defines the current era of bodybuilding.

Phil Heath initially sought an amateur basketball career; being a noted high school player that made up for what he lack in height with athleticism, and going on to play division one for Colorado, a feat in itself. It wasn’t until the end of his basketball career, in his early twenties that Heath would fall into bodybuilding. By then, Kai Greene was already a noted teen and natural competitor and could have potentially gone pro in 1999 after winning the Team Universe. However, he’d fall to 6th at the World Amateur Championships, representing the USA, behind guys such as future IFBB Pros, Paco Bautista and 202/212 competitor Jaroslav Horvath. After his humbling placing, Kai then decided to take a break from competing.

Even their competitive paths to becoming IFBB professionals demonstrate the similarities and differences between these two. In the middle of Kai’s absence from competition, Heath would begin his bodybuilding career. First, winning his Light-Heavyweight class at a regional contest in his home state of Colorado in 2003. The next year, Heath would take home the overall in the same competition. 2004 would also be the year Kai would come back to the stage, following his hiatus since 1999, turning pro at the Team Universe, winning his fourth attempt at the contest. Though notably soft at the competition, Kai already displayed his signature shape and frame, that he’d grow into as a pro. In 2005, Heath won the prestigious NPC USA title on his first try, one of the most coveted in the amateur ranks, following his win of Juniors earlier that same 2005 season.

A Rookie Phil Heath would defeat Kai two times in 2006, a week apart; the first, on home turf at the Colorado Pro and again in Kai’s stomping grounds, the New York Pro. Though compared at points, Kai would barely be a blip on Heath’s radar at the time, as he’d fail to place in the top-ten at both events. Kai, was notably soft compared to the top guys such as Heath, lacking details and separation, though comparable in mass, especially considering 2006 Phil was so much smaller compared later incarnations.

While the Colorado Pro would set the tone for Heath’s professional career, winning as a rookie pro, it would be the contest that enabled Kai’s career to reach unprecedented heights as well. As 2006, Kai would win $10,000 in Colorado despite not placing, after being awarded the ‘best poser’ award, as his routines were unique even then. These funds would then be used to produce a new version of Kai, in 2007, which would mark Kai’s entrance into bodybuilding’s limelight. He’d return that year to Colorado, this time taking the title, bringing a combination of both size and condition that had never been seen from him before. As well, being lesser known at the time, his signature posing routine has since become iconic and one of the most notable routines of all time, that demonstrated both his dedication and passion for bodybuilding at the time.

In 2008 Greene would again win in the shadows of Heath, taking 1st in the New York Pro, the same competition Heath had won in 2006. With this win, Kai was finally considered a real threat to Phil and for the Olympia title; however, he’d be bested by Heath at the Arnold Classic, where Greene would get 3rd and Heath 2nd. Kai would skip the 2008 Olympia, in his absence, Heath would land in 3rd.

Phil Heath would be the loser of 2009. After placing well at the Olympia in 2008, Heath decided to focus on that competition entirely in 2009 instead of the Arnold, a contest he hadn’t been able to win and would be the next logical step. In his absence, Kai was able to win his first Arnold title, while Heath’s decision would backfire when he’d fall to a disappointing 5th place at that year’s Olympia, while Kai would beat him for the first time, landing in 4th.

Kai would best Heath one last time, at the 2010 Arnold. This competition was expected to hold Olympia indications, as many could tell Cuter was nearing the end of his career, and both Heath and Kai had been neck in neck. While Heath would land in 2nd, Kai would win the contest for the second time. Both looked spectacular. Kai’s short torso notably narrow, while Phil was still very streamlined as well while adding notable mass since his early days as a pro. An argument could have been made for either, but as fickle as bodybuilding fans can be, many had already gone all in on Greene. However, the 2010 Olympia was a disappointment for Greene, whose momentum would come to a screeching halt, falling to 7th in that year’s competition.

Still shapely, condition, and one of the best physiques on the planet, Kai was slightly ‘off.’ He still had deep separation due to muscle maturity, and some striations, but was lacking a level of detail the judges knew he was capable of, as they’d seen it in the past. As well, he looked notably flat in some shots, possibly to compensate for lack of condition. 2010 Olympia, was a 90% Kai, enough to win most smaller contests but not such a competitive event as the Olympia.

Heath would regain his title as heir-apparent to the Olympia title in 2010. He’d end up in 2nd place behind Cutler, while Greene fell all the way to 7th. A streamlined physique, with cartoonish muscle-bellies and detail, to match. It was one of Heath’s best looks; some arguing that he was the best bodybuilder that day, but didn’t bring enough to knock the champion [Jay Cutler] out.

In 2011, Kai had a notable return at the New York Pro Win, then the third most prestigious show in bodybuilding. This would again have his name in the mix for the Olympia. Both the 2011 New York Pro, as well as the Olympia. Kai was able to bring everything he was missing in 2010. Mass, Condition, Dryness. Kai would bring a slightly fuller version of what we saw in New York earlier that year; but it still wasn’t enough to beat Phil, as he’d finally top Cutler for the Olympia title, and begin his reign as one of the most winning champions yet.

2012, Kai would arguably challenge Phil the most he’s been as the top competitor, as Kai brought a streamlined physique, but with the same pop, fullness, as well as condition to match. Finishing second to Phil, this year demonstrated the apples and oranges type differences, both with unique features that differentiated them from each other. 2012 would also be the year Phil notoriously ‘upstaged’ Kai and manipulated his posing as to best present his physique in comparison to Kai.

2013, Kai would yet again come in 2nd, but was notably off that year compared to 2012 and much less of a threat to Phil, whose reign would remain unchallenged, taking home his 3rd Mr. Olympia title, looking sharp in the process.

2014 would be the last year we saw the duo face off at the Olympia, as Kai’s be absent from both the 2015 and 2016 competitions. Though Phil would again dominate, Kai would put on a spectacle of sorts, getting notably physical and starting altercations the reigning Mr. Olympia. Amusement factor aside, this variable wasn’t enough for Kai to beat Heath who’d for the third time relegate Greene to the bridesmaid position.

Though there’s a lot of speculation surrounding Kai’s absences from the Olympia, one thing is for certain, for now, Phil’s career comparatively has the upper hand, with six Sandows it’d seem near impossible for an aging Kai to ever catch up at this rate. But, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Kai, though, it’s never to write him off, and if anyone could be Phil, it’s likely him as anyone at this point.


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