June 29, 2021

Backstage at the Egyptian: Ray Binkowski of OCB Pro Invitational Summer Naturals

The Organization of Competitive Bodies had once again returned to the Egyptian Theatre for the Pro Invitational Summer Naturals on Saturday, June 26th at 12:00pm. The Egyptian Theatre has been hosting the competition since 2005 and was happy to welcome OCB and its competitors back for another season. Divisions including men’s bodybuilding, men’s physique, bikini, women’s physique, women’s figure, transformation male and female, and pro. Ray Binkowski, the promoter of the show, shared his personal experiences as the promoter and insight about the competition.

*Interview with Ray Binkowski, OCB Promoter. Interview conducted by Marketing & Communications Intern Cass Kamp.

CASS: When did your interest in body building begin?

RAY: In the mid 1990s after having lost a significant amount of weight….60 lbs to be exact.

C: When did you begin promoting?

R: In 2005, I promoted the OCB Midwest States right here at the Egyptian Theatre.

C: As the promoter of the event, what are your responsibilities?

R: The most important responsibility is to deliver a great experience to the athletes that compete and the spectators that come to watch. It really is that simple.

C: How has the competition evolved since you began promoting?

R: Technology has allowed the event to evolve. Years ago, competitors would mail in paper entries, today they enter online. Vinyl banners used to be the event backdrop on stage, now a giant HD screen occupies that same space.

C: What steps do you take to eliminate bias when choosing judges for competitions?

R: There are always an odd number of judges. The high and low score are removed. The sum of the remaining is calculated. Lowest score wins. Removing the high and low score removes bias. Having competent judges further removes bias.

C: In your opinion, what sets a great contestant apart from a winning contestant?

R: Time. Time training…. Time in contest prep. Time paying attention to their nutrition.

C: COVID has significantly impacted sports throughout the world. How has COVID affected the OCB competitions?

R: The OCB has events across the United States every year. Most were cancelled in 2020. In 2021 events are coming back… some are already back to pre-covid numbers in terms of entries and attendance.

C: In your interview with Mike Newman, you mentioned that the venue for these competitions is important. Why has the Egyptian Theatre been the venue of choice for the competitions throughout the years?

R: The Egyptian Theatre provides one of a kind lighting and ambiance. The upgrades over the last few years in the form of technology contribute to a great event. The renovation and expansion take the event to another level. The theatre staff and volunteers play a role as well. Many have been part of a dozen or in the case of Executive Director Alex Nerad two dozen of our contests. They all contribute to the experience the theatre provides and why it is our venue of choice.

C: What comes next for the winners of the Summer Naturals?

R: First, enjoying food and drink with friends and family. Second, some will go on to compete again in the coming weeks in various parts of the country. Overall, winners that earned OCB Pro Cards will progress from the amateur ranks to the professional. For some this was a bucket list item that has been checked off and they may never compete again.