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8th Annual Sau Ia Bodybuilding Championships held before packed house

bodybuilding officers
Mr. American Samoa and Ms. American Samoa named

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Bodybuilders Stanley Iakopo and Tilali Scanlan were named Mr. American Samoa and Ms. American Samoa last Saturday night at the culmination of the 8th Annual Sau Ia Bodybuilding Championships held at the Tradewinds Hotel.

The event began with a prayer by Pastor David Katina followed by remarks from president of the American Samoa Bodybuilding Federation (ASBBF) and the American Samoa Powerlifting Federation (ASPLF), Leone Peter Reid III who officially acknowledged the efforts of members of the two federations in the 17th Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands last November where the ASBBF secured two unofficial medals, while the ASPLF won four official medals.

The four judges who officiated that night included Leone who was the Head Judge the president of the American Samoa National Olympic Committee (ASNOC) Tuiatua Ed Imo, 1994 Pacific Games Bodybuilding Silver Medalist Jerome Ielome, and the only female certified international Judge in American Samoa, Sala McMoore.

Tilali Scanlan and Lisa Tafoti were the only competitors in the women's category and Tilali was the clear favorite because of her exceptional physique and well-toned body, revealed in all its glory in a bikini.

Ms. American Samoa Tilali Scanlan posing during the 8th Annual Sau Ia Bodybuilding Championships held at the Tradewinds Hotel last Saturday night. [photo: Asi A. Fa'asau

On the other hand, 51 year-old Stanley Iakopo, faced intense competition from two other competitors who were more than 20 years younger than him in the senior men's category.

Stanley Iakopo with his trophy and gold medal after winning the Mr. American Samoa title at the 8th Annual Sau Ia Bodybuilding Championships held at the Tradewinds Hotel last Saturday night. [photo: Asi A. Fa'asau]

The two young bodybuilders, Frank Asi and Paul One displayed impressive upper bodies with bulging chest muscles, biceps, triceps, stomach muscles called abdominals or abs which create the coveted "six-pack" appearance.

Moreover, their "lats" or the large fan-shaped muscles that extend from the upper arm bone down to the lower back, were well-developed and gave the appearance of broadness and thickness to the young mens' upper bodies, resembling wings.

However, while their upper bodies were imposing, it was the lower body that the older and more seasoned Iakopo got the upper hand.

The veteran sported more muscular and well-defined quadriceps or front thigh muscles and hamstrings or back thigh muscles that were in full view, as he was the only male competitor wearing skimpy briefs which all bodybuilders wear when they compete.

All the other competitors were wearing either shorts or tights which covered most of their thighs.

In the mandatory individual posing part of the competition which he performed to music put together and mixed by his daughter Filomenaleonisa, Iakopo executed various poses with dexterity, confidence and a dash of humor, to the cheers and catcalls of the packed house.

His impeccable posing performance and the full package of well-defined and well-toned muscles in both his upper and lower body, is the result of an athletics career which spans more than 30 years and is still continuing! This requires committed training and a disciplined healthy lifestyle.

As a track and field athlete, he started competing as a sprinter in the 100 meters and 110-meter hurdles events in international meets in the 1980s under the flag of American Samoa.

His bodybuilding career took off in 1990 when he won the Mr. American Samoa title as a 17 year-old attending Marist Brothers High School at the time, in the first ever bodybuilding competition to be held in the Territory. He won the title again in 1992.

Years later while working on contract in Saipan CNMI, he met his wife Priscilla who is of Chamorro descent, and they settled in Saipan raising their five children, Filomenaleonisa who is now 18, and her brothers Mametto (16), Audiescott (15), Stanley, Jr. (13) and Conan Briggeman (11)."

Always looking for new challenges to conquer, Iakopo entered the Mr. Saipan CNMI Bodybuilding Competition in 2018 and won, a feat he repeated last year!

He closed 2023 by traveling with his children to Honiara, Solomon Islands (at his own expense), to join Team American Samoa's athletics squad competing in the 17th Pacific Games where he narrowly missed out on a medal in the Bodybuilding competition, while his children competed in the 100 meters and 200 meters.

In January this year, Iakopo put in action a plan that he had agreed on with his wife and had been in the pipeline for some time, by moving back to American Samoa to take on his current position of Director of Human Resources at LBJ Hospital, which he had applied for online.

He plans to go back next month to settle their affairs in Saipan before relocating with his family here in the Territory.

In an exclusive interview after last Saturday's 8th Annual Sau Ia Bodybuilding Championships, the newly proclaimed Mr. American Samoa expressed his feelings about his achievement.

"This is extra special for me because my wife and kids have been cheering for me on social media and I'm feeling very sentimental," he shared. "Being back home after 30 years and winning the title at my age makes it even more special. It's a message I want to send to our people, young and old. If I can win the Mr. American Samoa title at 51, then anything is possible no matter what your age is.

"All it takes is commitment and discipline. Stay committed to your training or exercise schedule, discipline your eating habits by sticking to healthy food and always focus on your goals. Too many of our people are getting obese because of unhealthy diets and no exercise, which causes diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. That's why we at LBJ are promoting health and wellness initiatives."

Asked what his plans were for the immediate future, the new Mr. American Samoa stated that he starts intensive training for the Oceania Track and Field Championships slated for June in Fiji, where he and his children will be representing the Territory.

He said he has to change his training regimen by running up the hill to Aoloau starting today.

Two other categories of bodybuilders which included a junior high school  and intermediate level of enthusiastic young bodybuilders competed against each other.


Last Saturday's 8th Annual Sau Ia Bodybuilding Championships was held jointly with the 5th Si'i Mamafa (Powerlifting) Awards Ceremony where local powerlifters and their counterparts from neighboring Samoa who competed last Friday were officially recognized.

In the women's category, Nolita Motu won the gold medal, silver went to Marcel McMoore while Flora had to settle for the bronze medal.

Young powerlifters of high school age with the kind of physique ideal for the sport, also competed and were awarded medals and prizes.

President of the Samoa Powerlifting Federation (SPLF), Pepe Christian Fruean, who had brought three of his powerlifters for the first ever competition with local powerlifters last Friday told Samoa News that he was very impressed with large number of young enthusiastic lifters of high school age, showing interest in the sport.

Pepe stated that he had first met ASPLF President Leone Peter Reid III at the Pacific Games in Honiara last year and they had worked together with the hope of future collaboration between their federations.

He pointed out that there will be certain athletes whose physique will be more suited to powerlifting, weightlifting or bodybuilding and they should nurture these athletes' skills at the grassroots level with consistent competitions to expose them to the international standard.

He thanked the president of the local powerlifting federation for inviting them over for this meet and said that his federation is looking forward to hosting a similar competition sometime in July.

"The future success of powerlifting in the two Samoas depend on the continuing close collaboration of the two federations, helping each other grow so that we can be a force to be reckoned with in the Pacific region, with the Olympics and World Champs as the ultimate goal," he said.

Samoa powerlifters Oliva Siusega Kirisome and John Lose Ioane won the silver and bronze medals respectively, while American Samoa's Justin Pedro won gold, reversing the Honiara Pacific Games result where Samoa's Oliva Siusega Kirisome took the gold while Justin Pedro had to settle for silver.

The Samoa powerlifting contingent left yesterday afternoon.