'If you choose to be a moral, honest, and principled human, you will lose friends, family, and close relations along the way.
Those who value you, will stay.
That’s all that matters.'
- Alishba Zarmeen
LOTS of you know by now what kind of person I am, but for those who do not, here's a summary. The standard I walk past is the standard I accept. Which is why I stand between bullies and their victims and call out racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry wherever I find them. This has cost me more than a few friends over the years, which is why the above quote from a fellow social justice warrior is so poignant. Being a loner by nature, losing friends has never bothered me much. I am even less bothered to lose fascists and fascist sympathisers as 'friends'. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning. The following few paragraphs are an excerpt from a previous post:
MUSCLE, BRAWN & BIG, FAKE MO
One of the moderators of this forum was actively promoting Big Mo. Despite the fact that he’s a ridiculous synthol freak, his ‘training methods’ are totally phoney and he purveys some of the lowest, shittiest aspects of the aesthetics-obsessed H&F industry, this mod was making a freaking documentary on the guy, and had a couple of threads open for people to ask Big Mo questions.
To nip that story in the bud, I called out this fraudster, got banned again, and so began this blog you are reading now. At last count it's cracked 65,000 views, with an average readership of over 2,500 a month. It is heartening to know that these numbers have grown exponentially in places like Europe and the USA, and the people who followed me here from my days on Muscle and Strength are still reading now.
HENRY'S BAD DAYIn late June 2013 I moved my training to PTC Perth after Henry Day had his very public melt-down on the Muscle Pit Facebook page. This was immediately after the first state powerlifting championships that PTC Perth entered, and almost dominated the scoreboard of. Pit crew won first and second place, on formula, but PTC Perth won the next half dozen or more places. This was enough for ole Henry to post a passive-aggressive tirade about how he was banning the word 'can't' from the gym, and we all needed to harden the fuck up and train better, or words to that effect. It was a semiliterate, juvenile tantrum which earned the following reply from me (and I remember it well):
"Rather than banning words... maybe we should ban poorly spelled declarative statements?"
Henry's retort: 'Abs, if you don't like it, you can fuck off' - and I did. But before I did, I made him aware of exactly where I was moving to, which just made him madder. I left that afternoon to visit a friend in Mandurah. I came home that evening to a storm in the social media teacup. Henry's post - and my response to it - had garnered over a thousand views, hundreds of likes and plenty of controversy. It would not be the last time that a bunch of meatheads from that particular gym would threaten me with physical harm in defence of Henry's hurt feelings. As I understand it, he still hates me with the intensity of a thousand suns. And I'm just fine with that.
Since I'm laying it all out here I should probably mention that up until late 2013 I worked for about two years at the Perth branch of the Australian Institute of Fitness; one of, if not the, most heinous example of the multi-level marketing scam that the health and fitness industry has become, if it wasn't always. I learned some dispiriting and enraging things in those two years and was incredibly happy to be offered a management role (at double the salary) in my old industry by a head-hunter. I was gone from 'the Institute' at the end of September. But, as with everywhere I go and everything I do, I left an impression... and I kept the receipts.
My move to PTC Perth at that time was somewhat premature. I was there less than a year, I think, before Genesis Bentley opened. Genesis management offered me and Asha Tracey - then WA's strongest woman - an excellent deal on membership. And, in consultation with us, they purchased thousands of dollars worth of Strongman equipment from Awesome As. We were both really impressed with their facility and how attentive they were to our needs as athletes. Unlike Henry's tantrum and the subsequent fallout, I have previously written at length about the demise of Strongman Genesis chapter. It was my first attempt at building a team.
LAYING DOWN WITH RACIST DOGSLosing direction and focus, in early 2015 I returned to PTC Perth and was reinvigorated. I began building the most formidable strongman team the state had yet seen. It took almost exactly three years. I am proud of every person in that crew. They showed me how great things could be, if I believed and trusted in others. If I continued to believe in myself.
But inevitably, it seems, things would not continue to be great. Not unless I made the conscious decision to ignore what I was seeing and what my head and my gut were telling me. In October of 2018, seventy two years since my Grandfather was finally returned home from Sandakan POW camp, on the Big Dogs stage stood a Nazi.
Brandon Allen wears three Nazi-inspired tattoos. On his stomach are the numbers 88, for HH (or Heil Hitler), as well as the numbers 51/50, which have become trendy amongst young fascists and are actually a clinical reference for mental instability and violent tendencies. And a Totenkopf - the Panzer deaths head - on his wrist.
After my grandmother's death in the late nineties, my grandpa lost his will to live. My last memories of him are of how sad he was. He faded away less than two years after her. He would have been incensed to see what I am seeing unfold today, in the nation he fought and almost died to protect a lifetime ago.
People have come at me with all kinds of nonsense in their attempts to deflect, obfuscate, or otherwise paint me as the bad guy for bringing this issue to the attention of PTC Perth. 'It's his birthday' say some, to which I say: bollocks. That doesn't explain the font that is always used by Nazis and their cohort when writing these numbers. 'He can't be a Nazi, he has black/Hispanic/gay and lesbian friends.' Sure, he's an interloper. That's how people with intolerant ideologies survive in a multicultural world. He looks down at these people the same way devout xians look down their noses at the hellbound masses they rub shoulders with every day. Do not mistake a quiet demeanour for a gentle nature or reasoned mind. It indicates neither.
There is no explanation for these three symbols being on this person, other than the obvious one. Just like there's no explanation other than the obvious for the SS motto 'Meine Ehre heißt Treue' tattooed on the back of Adam Mazzon, a PTC franchisee. Just like there is no explanation other than the obvious for why the owner of PTC and Big Dogs, Markos Markopolous, has studiously avoided me on social media regarding this issue. He's in my DMs, as they say, and he's never been afraid to slide into them when he's had something to say in the past. But on this he has remained silent.
When I made this post, asking why a Nazi was on stage and my own gym was endorsing it, things exploded. A flood of new information came my way and I ended up finding out even more things that I could not stomach about the organisation I was a coach for.
So I no longer coach for, nor have anything to do with, Performance Training Centre.
UPDATE: literally the week after this all went down, PTC Perth changed it's name. More recently, PTC Gold Coast also re-branded.
STRENGTH & HONOUR: GENESIS II
Serendipity has brought me back to Genesis Bentley. Let me clarify; it is not a happy coincidence that ended PTC Strongman, but it is a happy coincidence how I can so easily move my training to a facility that is just as close by and already equipped with almost everything I need to train effectively. What I don't have, I'll get. Then, as the new year begins, I will begin anew also. In time I will build another team.
I began this post with a quote. Let me end with a poem. There are few memories I have of my school years which I might consider fond or nostalgic, but this is one of them. Every weekday morning for five years, as our Housemaster would call roll, high on the wall next to where I always stood in Freeth house was an immense wooden plaque, under glass. Decades before I was born, a boy with more talent and patience than I possessed at that age had carved these words by Rudyard Kipling into it. They have helped shape my world, and haunt me to this day:If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!