A Brief History of the Tampa Bay Classic
Tampa Bay Classic Event History
In 1982 I was offered an opportunity to fulfill a dream that I had for a long time. I was asked to initiate, develop and promote a bodybuilding competition in the Tampa Bay area. At that time I had been working out for twenty-three years, competed as a bodybuilder achieving satisfactory goals, and had the honor of judging many bodybuilding events in and around the state of Florida. Never the less, I had never fulfilled my dream to promote a bodybuilding contest. I was approached by then N.P.C. Central Florida District Chairman Richard Collis and asked to bring a N.P.C. Bodybuilding event to the Tampa Bay area. I leaped at the opportunity to fulfill something that I had always wanted to do in the sport of bodybuilding – promote a contest.
After accepting the challenge my thoughts turned to a title and objective for this undertaking. I had the answer. I would offer a competition that would be inviting to not only Tampa residents, but to all our neighbors throughout the bay area. The competition would be open to any county that touched the bay. It would be a championship of the bay. Next I needed some word to go with Tampa Bay that would send a message to all the bodybuilders in the area, telling them what kind of show it was going to be. The word that immediately came to my mind was “Classic”. By Webster’s definition, classic is being of the highest class; most representative of the excellence of its kind; having recognized worth. That was it. That was the message I wanted to send. The best of the bay, the TAMPA BAY CLASSIC.
Next was how to present the athletes in this “Classic” manner? My experience had been as a competitor and an observer, drawing from this experience I had a vision. Having competed since 1965 1 remembered all the venues. They ranged from just okay to terrible. I remember one time posing under a clamp light attached to a basketball hoop with sheets thrown over and stacked chairs in the background, at a recreation center .. All these personal experiences made it easy to know that was not the way I liked being presented nor was it good enough for the athletes who had gone through so much preparation to get there. I knew how the competitors felt first hand in, these bodybuilding contests,
But more recently in the early eighties I had the good fortune and pleasure of attending and judging the Sarasota Bodybuilding Championships. Richard Collis, the same person who had asked me to promote a N.P.C. show, promoted this competition. Richard was promoting a high quality event. He presented bodybuilders as an “Art Form’ as Richard called it. His shows were well lit, the audio was perfect, beautiful sets were used, the auditorium was a concert theatre and the M.C. (who was Richard by the way) wore a Tux. I learned and observed first hand this was the way to go.
Using my first hand experiences and seeing bodybuilding presented as a class act, I was ready to go. I presented the first Tampa Bay Classic Bodybuilding Championship in 1983. Everything was done to care for the athletes to make them feel like the stars of the show that I felt they were. Aside from improving the presentation I also remembered that the trophies that I had received in the past were not always, “how should I say it’ proportioned to the massive effort that the competitor had gone through. They were small or sometimes nonexistent. I remember receiving a handshake for placing 5th overall (no classes back then) in the 1968 Mr. Florida Contest!
I knew how hard these competitors had trained and they were going to receive a trophy that would stand out, and as Webster says in his definition of “Classic” having recognized worth.
Over the next few years the classic went from high school auditoriums to the Falk Theatre in downtown Tampa to the Moroccan Palace at Busch Gardens. As numbers in attendance and competitors grew larger, better locations had to be found. In 1993 mainly through the efforts of a close personal friend and my show director at the time Dwight Fuqua, we found the University of South Florida Special Events Center. Sadly Dwight enjoyed the location for only two years. An untimely tragic accident took his life two months before the 1995 Tampa Bay Classic.
Along with Dwight I owe much to the many workers of the Classic. The success of the Classic is largely due to the efforts of over 50 volunteers and workers. Some of them have been with me since 1983. All of them feel the same way I do about the competitors. They are the perfect example of teamwork. Many minds, many hands, one goal!
Having promoted the Tampa Bay Classic Bodybuilding Championship every year since 1983 my objective still remains the same. I love. the sport of bodybuilding and will always present the ‘competitors as my very special guests and as the stars of the show. At the Tampa Bay Classic they are of the highest class and have recognizable worth.
Best to you in health and fitness, John G. Schleicher
Promoter of the Tampa Bay Classic
TAMPA BAY CLASSIC