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The Beginning of my Lifelong Journey in the Iron Game

Like many ‘Old Strong Guys’ I got Terry Todd’s book Inside Powerlifting in 1978. 

In 1983 I travel 8 hours from Ft Polk Louisiana to Austin Texas where the USA Powerlifting National Championships were being held. I went hopeful to get a chance to ask Terry about getting into the sport of powerlifting and for him to sign my copy of Inside Powerlifting. I got a chance to talk to him for a few minutes and he told me about his cousin Rick Gaugler who lived in Corpus Christi Texas and suggested that I travel there to learn from Rick.  Maybe he thought I was from the Austin area but then I told him that I traveled some 8+ hours from Ft Polk LA that I was currently Active Duty Army … but hell I drove all the way to Austin JUST to watch the lifting and meet Terry so why the fuck not drive to Corpus Christi so a couple of weeks later armed with what Terry had told me I jumped on my motorcycle and headed the 8 hours or so to Corpus Christi Texas.   

Now, I had absolutely no idea how I was gonna find this Rick guy or even where I was gonna stay but I had earned a 5 day pass from passing an IG Inspection so why not spend it near the beach and find a gym and this Rick Gaugler guy!!!  Now remember this is in 1983 so there ain’t no ‘Google Search’ so you actually gotta work for the information you’re seeking.  I found a great gym called America Health owned by Rex Kelly and his brother Tom and asked them if they knew Rick and of course they did and told me to go to Bradshaw’s Gym and asked Phil Bradshaw about how to find Rick and to tell Phil that they had sent me over there. Phil was awesome and said of course he knew Rick and would introduce me to him.  I spent the next few days lifting and hanging out at the beach wondering when i was gonna meet Rick. 

Since I was getting close to getting out of the Army so I was assigned to CQ Duty which had me working Monday 6am - 6pm; off on Tuesday; then Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 6am so I decided that every other Friday I’d drive the 8+ hours to train at Bradshaw’s and hope that ‘this would be the weekend’ that I’d meet Rick.  I’d return return to base just in time to clean up and report for duty riding my Honda 750 all night long through the swampland otherwise known as Louisiana!! 

Finally I met a couple guys, Rodney and Dan that were powerlifters being trained by Rick and they agreed to introduced me to Rick at the club they all bounced at!!!  This happened at a good time because 3 weeks late I got out of the Army. I decided that I wanted to move to Corpus Christi instead of going home to Detroit, yeah honestly it was not a hard decision!!

Now I really didn’t know anyone nor did I have a job I just had the money in my pocket tht I’d been saving.  Hell I didn’t even have a place to live or any idea how to get an apartment so for a couple of months I slept in a park on Ocean Drive. I joined Bradshaw’s and landed the typical meathead job…. Bouncer!!  I started training with Rodney and Dan, so one Saturday they invited me to ‘the garage’ to spot Rick on heavy squat day but first I had to meet all of them at Luby’s Cafeteria where Rick ate every day but we all ate there together at 11 on Saturday then Rodney, Dan and myself went to Bradshaw’s to squat and after we were finished we headed to the garage where Rick trained.  

The impact of that the invitation to the garage gym had on me was HUGE and although I’d been lifting and competing in weightlifting and throwing since I was 14, it was in the Army where I had gotten bitten by the STRENGTH bug and being around and spotting Rick who weighed all of 175 pounds was squatting well over 600 pounds for reps that day that really started me on this journey, this absolutely wonderful journey in the Iron Game.


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