Wag ran a bodybuilding gym in East London for around 50 years. He won some early bodybuilding titles, became the first person in Britain to bench press 500 lbs, (when he only weighed 150 lbs!!), in 1951, and was the President of the English Federation of Bodybuilders.
Wag inspired many people with his willingness to share his vast knowledge and passion for bodybuilding and strength training. We would sit for ages after my workout talking. He'd share dozen of stories of the bodybuilding legends he knew and trained. He was a fountain of knowledge and shared it willingly.
One of those bodybuilders was Arnold Schwartzenegger. When 'Arnie' was 19, he came to London. He met up with Wag who soon spotted his huge potential. Wag (and his wife Dianne), took Arnold into their home and Wag set about training (and feeding and housing), the young Austrian. Wag taught Arnold to pose for competitions, and introduced the idea of posing to music, which they pioneered together. Wag is on the left here.
As a skinny (8 and a half stone), 15 year old, back in the late 70's, I tentatively, and nervously stuck my head around the door of Wag's gym, to be greeted with a warm welcoming smile from Wag, and his gym manager Nick (Jeremiah) Tyler. "So you want to build some muscles eh?, well you've come to the right place lad", was the response I got. Nick set about writing me a beginner's routine and Wag began teaching me the basics of good exercise form, nutrition, sleeping, and positive thinking....what a revelation to a young mind.
One day Wag announced that Arnold would give a seminar in the gym. We sat about the benches and on the floor agog, listening to the most positive thinking human being I'd ever met. I left that seminar believing that almost anything was possible to achieve. Clearly that drive remains with him to this day.
This influence got me to change my scrawny body into an 11 stone athletic, strong physique within a few months, gave me the confidence I lacked previously, and taught me about the power of positive thoughts. I developed an interest in other sports, like boxing, fencing, martial arts, canoeing, running and climbing. A new life opened up before me. Some years later I got very carried away and rose to 14 stone 10 lbs with 16 3/4 inch biceps, squatting over 400 lbs and benching over 350 lbs in training. This was bodybuilding the old fashioned way, 18 eggs a day washed down with 4 pints of milk. Protein drinks, chicken and enough vitamins to sink a boat. Training so hard you couldn't walk home in a straight line. Contributing to more ozone damage than a field full of cows!!!
Without Wag's seminal influence, kindness, training, positive attitude and that gym, I would never have joined UK Special Forces, never have had the life of adventurous sports which I've enjoyed, and would never have become a Stuntman and Stunt Coordinator.
I owe a great deal to the man who helped so many to live a stronger, healthier, fitter and more positive life. I'll miss popping into his old gym for the odd workout, and I'll miss sitting with him afterwards, telling him stories of my stunt exploits, which he always asked about.