In vember of 2021, Ricardo Hamer accomplished a goal that every physique athlete hopes to achieve – he earned his IFBB Pro League card. He stood onstage at the Ben Weider Naturals Pro/AM as a Masters men’s physique competitor with no doubts that his name was going to be called that day.
And even with all that confidence, the moment it happened still remains surreal for the Army National Guard member.
“At first, I was disillusioned when my name was called,” Hamer admitted. “I was doing a church shout and dance coming off the stage.”
The achievement was one worthy of celebration for the man who described himself as a “chubby kid” growing up. When he was in school in rth Carolina, he likely didn’t see himself as a physique athlete, but he did want to join the National Guard after hearing from a friend all the benefits that came with service. However, that ambition was shot down pretty quickly after meeting with a recruiter.
“He asked me a few questions, and one of them was, ‘Have you ever broken your arm?’ I was like, ‘Yes,’ and he stopped the interview right there,” Hamer shared. It turned out that due to having broken his arm in the past, the recruiter felt he wouldn’t make through the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in order to be accepted.
“He just sent me on my way.”
Hamer didn’t give up hope, and hope came through for him after he went back home to Georgia. There was a letter there for him from the Georgia National Guard, offering him another opportunity to join.
“He came by my house, he showed me all the jobs that were available, and I joined. It was an easy thing for me this time,” he said. “I had always wanted to be in some form of civil service, whether it was military, police department, fire department, something like that. I wanted to protect and serve. It was always appealing to be a part of something bigger. That’s always been a part of me.”
Master Seargeant Ricardo Hamer has been satisfying that desire to serve for 22 years as a part of the National Guard. Over the course of his two-plus decades in service, he’s taken on intense challenges. One highlight that stood out for him is his deployment to Afghanistan in 2017. He was actually assigned to work with NATO, which meant having to work with people from several different countries. He was placed in a supervisor role while he was out there, having to keep track and coordinate with thousands of people.
“It didn’t matter if you were military, what country you were from, if you were a contractor or a government employee, I managed all of those people,” he said proudly. “I was in charge of knowing where they were, what they were doing, keeping track of reports, and knowing the most accurate numbers possible,”
Courtesy of Ricardo Hamer
Whereas many people would’ve been overwhelmed, Hamer saw the blessing that came from it. His immediate supervisor was from Bulgaria, he joined forces with servicemembers from the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines as well as servicemembers from Italy, Romania, Netherlands, and Australia. Hamer conservatively estimated that he had to coordinate the efforts of around 60,000 people across all nations and services provided.
“I would receive reports that I didn’t understand. So, I had to get translators to help me understand them,” he recalled. While the job he was sent to do included various challenges, Hamer was empowered by what he was able to accomplish while in Afghanistan.
“It helped me with my communication skills, it empowered me to be more patient and understanding, and it gave me a broader outlook on people’s perspectives from different countries,” he said. “Even though we weren’t the same, we all had a common trait that united us.”
One person that he worked with was from the Netherlands, who liked that Hamer was into fitness. He wasn’t into bodybuilding at a high level yet, but it was visually obvious that he had been training for a while.
“Every time he had a chance to highlight that I was into health and fitness, he did, and he encouraged me to help others out. I thought that was amazing.”
Courtesy of Ricardo Hamer
Hamer had already been doing that long before that. He was certified personal trainer who had worked with a host of clients of all athletic abilities, former New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Hamer helped him prepare for the NFL Combine in 2003.
“Basically, he couldn’t get his 40 time low enough, and I showed him a few different techniques that helped him shave a couple of tenths off his time,” he said. “I believe showing him how to run it like a track star instead of a linebacker helped.”
He also makes it a point to spread powerful and meaningful messages on his Instagram page, where he regularly posts live videos sharing encouragement and good vibes. Fitness has done a lot for Hamer as well, who said that he still sees himself as the “fat kid.”
“It helps me keep from going back to my old ways,” he said. While he referenced those old ways, he revealed that he still was able to earn the President’s Physical Fitness award every year that he tested for it, which he took great pride in. Every year in elementary school that he brought one home, it would surprise his mother.
“She was like, ‘I don’t how you keep getting these, but I’m proud of you,” Hamer said when describing his mother’s reactions. He was also a wrestler and track athlete in high school. So, fitness has always been a part of him. It will likely remain a part of him going forward now that he’s an IFBB Pro League Men’s Physique competitor. He’s looking to make his pro debut at the 2022 DC Pro. That will help him get his feet wet before he has to make another trip overseas to serve his country, which he’s still active in doing.
“I’m jumping in an ocean full of sharks on that stage,” he acknowledged. Considering the work and challenges he’s faced up to this point, don’t count him out on making a splash in his pro debut.
Follow Ricardo on Instagram @rockyobodyfitness