A kiwi soars to the MR Olympia stage

“I was never into competing,” says champion bodybuilder and upcoming Mr Olympia hopeful Fawad Ahadi. “I never had a desire to jump onto the stage. I just wanted to be fit and healthy and help my friends do the same. I gained inspiration from seeing them change their lifestyles. If you’re fit and healthy, then you’re happy. When you’re happy, then you treat other people well and the happiness spreads.”

Three years ago, Fawad who works as a Mentor and Personal Trainer, as well as, having a degree in Aviation and other Post Graduate Diplomas one in Management and the other in Marketing, went to watch one of his friends compete in a bodybuilding contest. His friend won.

Fawad was blown away by the whole experience. “On my way home I texted him to tell him how proud I was” says the athlete. “I told him he had inspired me to compete and that I hoped I could make him proud of me too.” Five weeks later, in Wellington, Fawad entered his first show. He won. “I got so many messages of support, it was overwhelming” he says and on that tide of support entered the National competition and won that too. “No one knew me, I wasn’t onthe bodybuilding scene,” says Fawad. “Winning that show earnt me a Pro card of which I was the first in Australasia in this category and the right to compete at a higher level in the professional league, from that point on.” Competing at a professional level is a stepping-stone to qualify for Mr Olympia – and it doesn’t get any higher than that!

Every year the Mr Olympia competition takes place in Las Vegas. 2015 celebrates the 51st anniversary of the event which was founded in New York by the International Federation of Bodybuilding (IFBB) as a means to not only find the ultimate physique, but to enable the athletes to earn money from what was at the time, a relatively underground sport. The 1975 event was filmed for the superb documentary Pumping Iron, starring a 29-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger at his cunning and charismatic best. Before his turn at acting, and later politics, the seven-time Mr Olympia was, and still is, considered one of history’s finest bodybuilding champions. There are now a number of categories for Men and Women and Fawad will be the first athlete from Australasia to compete in the Men’s Physique category at “The Olympia”.

“The IFBB wanted a category that people would want to aspire to, something achievable and functional” says Fawad. “We wear board shorts and it’s just more of a friendly, beach look.” To achieve such a look still takes some serious dedication, a daily routine that is military- like. “There’s no off-season for me,” says the bodybuilder. “It’s a lifestyle. If you want to be the best at anything, you can’t have six months on and six months off. As soon as I step off the stage, I’m thinking about the next competition.” He rises at 5.30 am for his first meal then heads to the gym before going home for his next meal and preparing his food for the rest of the day. He eats at least every three hours and normally has around 6-8 meals a day. Nearer competition time, Fawad may increase his meals and the days end with a second training session at the gym. “That’s why I believe that bodybuilding is one of the hardest sports” says Fawad. “It’s a 24 hour a day discipline. You must program your body like you program a computer, find out what nutrition and exercise routines work best and rest accordingly.”

Twenty-six-year-old Fawad Ahadi was born in Afghanistan and moved over to New Zealand when he was 11. It was strange at first, he says, hearing complaints about such things as the weather, when his childhood was spent fearing bombs, not rain, would fall from the sky. He started school halfway through the year, which was tough, and though there was “some teasing” at first, he settled in well and made friends fast, partly through his love of cricket. Fawad’s family had options to move to Canada or the US, but is glad his father opted to bring them here, where Fawad is a “proud Kiwi”.

Fawad longed to be a fast and agile sportsman. He was a chubby child and this made him even more determined to train harder in the gym: “Then, three years ago, I suffered a serious injury and was told not to lift any heavy objects off the floor, not to sprint. For someone who’s been involved in sport since childhood, it was a tough thing to take. I thought there has to be a way round this, so I did my research and found out what I could and couldn’t do. I wasn’t going to sit and feel sorry for myself. My injury was still there and the more I trained, the more manageable it became. My dedication paid off.”


It’s a 24 hour a day discipline. You must program your body like you program a computer, find out what nutrition and exercise routines work best and rest accordingly.

In just three years, Fawad has qualified for a host of prestigious events throughout the world, including America, the bodybuilding mecca. “It’s a very American- dominated sport” says Fawad. “My first Pro Show was in Pittsburgh and on the way over I was reading all of these Fitness magazines with the guys in them, who I would be up against on stage.” Fawad placed sixth out of 23, behind five Olympians. “Since I’ve become a Pro, more Kiwis have done it too” he says. “Through my experience overseas, it’s provided me with an opportunity to help others, mentor and train young and upcoming athletes. I’m also an official Judge for the New Zealand International Federation of Bodybuilding and that’s such an honour and am humbled to have been asked”.

Fawad’s trainer and mentor Moe Elmoussawi, is the only other Kiwi to have stepped onto the Mr Olympia stage. “He’s President of the NZIFBB and awarded me my first win” says Fawad. “I am grateful to have the best mentor in the country, who has “been there and done that” and I appreciate that so much.” When asked about “Posing and Routine” on stage, Fawad compares “Posing to Acting”. “I don’t really like the limelight” he says. “I’d rather not be seen. The very first time I competed was strange, standing there topless with all these people staring. But you just have to create the person that they want to see. I’m confident on stage and that’s what the role requires. Above all, you have to enjoy it.” And as for the other competitors? “We are all friends, but of course we want to win once we’re up there. It’s a sport that only those involved can understand what it entails. The hardships, the sacrifices and the struggles. There is rivalry, but above all, there is respect. It’s not easy to change the body. We understand each other’s journey.”

Fawad is now five months away from competing on the Olympia stage and he counts down every day and works towards it with a plan. “As excited as I am, I know that this will be the most challenging part of my journey yet, as I will be up against the “best of the best”. To grow we must push outside our comfort zones and for me Olympia is another challenge used as a tool to inspire others and encourage them to pursue their dreams because impossible is nothing” and we all have greatness in us.

Take the 1st step and become your best”! At Verve we look forward to following Fawad’s journey and wish him all the best.




Photos: Peter Morris; www.photoshoot.co.nz