Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jon Cole, Part Three - Herb Glossbrenner (1994)

Part One is Here:
Part Two:

"A wife is a gift bestowed upon man to reconcile him to the loss of paradise." 
 - Goethe

Jon had just returned from Europe in 1969. It was at Del Webb's Townhouse, a high class Phoenix nightclub, that good friend Jack Griffin introduced him to the lead singer. She was the vivacious Linda Carter who went on to be best known in the TV series "Wonder Woman." She in turn introduced him to her sister Pamela. The chemistry was just right. After a whirlwind courtship they were married in 1970.

Their marriage lasted for 12 years, until they were divorced in 1982. She bore him two children. His son Shawn Kelly, now 25 (as of 1994) was the first. He is a laid back, easygoing fellow. At 5'9" and 200 pounds, he bench pressed 360 while still in high school, but did not become a powerlifter. To fill his father's shoes would have been an overwhelming task. His daughter Kristen Lynn, now 21, is small and petite like Pamela. She is 5'1" and 100 pounds. She did not pursue athletics, but Jon is quick to point out that she inherited the family genes and could have excelled.

Later on, Jon met the second woman in his life. They went separate ways a few years ago. Jon Cole misses the women in his life. The loneliness and yearning surfaces occasionally as he recalls the good times and the bad.

Between 1972 and 1977 Jon trained intermittently while he pursued his goals. He became a millionaire with his patented courses.

Jon Cole Systems was only part of his ventures. He built the largest muscular rehab center in the world. It began with a 4600 square foot health studio in Phoenix and expanded until it covered 22,000 square feet. At one point Jon had 22 professional employees working for him. At this time he remained a strength consultant for ASU and also devoted his time to the Phoenix Roadrunners, the Scottsdale Community College, and established a viable strength program for the Phoenix Suns Pro Basketball team. Under Coach Cole's guidance athletes made significant gains in endurance and strength. So-so seasons took an about face and winning became commonplace. The rigors of such a busy schedule saw his 280 lb. frame drop significantly. Working 16 hours a day was only the beginning, but he was soon back up to 235-240. 

His empire flourished. His successful clientele were so numerous that he kept them all in his ledger, some 19 pages worth. Some of his most famous we'll list later. 

About this time Arthur Jones spearheaded his miracle training machines - Nautilus. I underestimated the general public's acceptance of new inventions. A Nautilus Club opened right across the street from Jon's. They offered $99 lifetime memberships. Cole's clientele swarmed over there like sewer rats to a garbage dump [my sentiments exactly]. Jon tried to convince them that resistance contraptions could not produce the same strength results and conditioning as free weights. His logic fell on deaf ears. The lure of plush carpets and chromed everything was too enticing. His business dwindled and almost ceased. No longer able to pay the salaries of his numerous employees, bankruptcy loomed on the horizon. 

Entering the picture then was renowned sports announcer Joe Garagiola. With his financial resources and smooth tongue, he offered his assistance to bail Jon out of his predicament. To abbreviate a long story, Garagiola's interest eventually was to take the big man right out of the picture. A betrayal of confidence did not set well with Jon. Vindication can be sweet revenge, but Jon, being of high character, chalked it up as another stumbling block in his life to overcome. "If another person injures you, you may forget it. But if you injure him you will always remember it." To compound his problems the ill winds of change and politics released him from ASU coaching obligations.

While Jon was still in graduate school he worked as a bouncer at a place called Jay-Dees in Tempe. Jon admits he never lost a fight. His strategy was the element of surprise. He would strike silent and fast like a cobra before a potentially serious problem could escalate. It would be merciful and would leave a hapless agitator to sleep it off in na-na land and awaken the next morning wondering why he felt like he'd been run over by a Mack truck.

Jon can vividly recall a host of enlightening moments in his illustrious career. It is strangely coincidental that when Jon was flinging the discus a rash of numerous, unexplained UFO sightings were being reported in the Arizona sky. Jon was most adept at throwing things . . . 

One story goes that once while trying to lift the stubborn barbell he tried a heavy lift in the Clean. He missed numerous times. Finally, frustrated and enraged, he tossed the heavy apparatus with a tremendous outburst of power into an adjacent wall. 

Jon had a special gift for throwing a baseball. He once threw 430 feet. Consider that the length of a football field is 360 feet, and you can imagine how far that is. Once he and javelin thrower Mark Murro went to the ASU field around dusk. Murro with a mighty grunt sailed the ball out around the 400 foot mark. Cole noticed a student in the far distance walking on campus between classes. Jon let loose with a mighty toss and remembers wondering how close to him it would come. Well, too close is the answer. It thunked him right in the head, knocking the poor fellow unconscious. His books and papers flew everywhere. The whole affair, though unintentional, made them beat a hasty retreat. Jon was slightly relieved when after searching the next morning newspaper obituaries that nothing was there concerning the incident.

Once for a group of children Jon volunteered to hoist the rear end of a Volkswagen. A crowd had gathered at a mall parking lot. They showed up with a station wagon instead. Not wanting to disappoint anyone he gave it a go. His face turned red from the exertion and his trademark - those monstrous neck veins - bulged like rope cords. Just as it cleared the ground Jon's hamstring tore. He bellowed in pain as the crowd gave him a loud ovation. Unconcerned, the guy promoting the event came over to Jon as he was roaring in pain, revealed that another group of children were coming and . . . "Could you please do it again?" Cole, in total control, trembled in pain and rage and fought off an overpowering urge to wring his neck like a chicken.

Jon conveyed an overwhelming impression to all who saw him lift. He always demonstrated a no-nonsense approach to the task at hand. Ho theatrics or wild rages. His calm and cool demeanor gave no indication of the raging inferno within. He channeled his enormous strength into the main objective - his overwhelming conquest of the helpless barbell.

Jon grew a beard in 1971 and had kept it ever since. It accentuates his Herculean physique and gives him a stately character. Jon liked it because it squared off his jaw, and one was able to distinguish the point where his 21.5" neck with that famous network of bulging, thick veins ended and his face began. For those of you who ogle large body proportions, Jon possessed some impressive measurements at 280 lbs. The notability of his underpinnings (thighs 32", calves 20") took second billing to his upper body development - forearms 16, chest 55, waist 34, and upper arms measured a sleeve-busting 23.5".

His shoulder breadth and massive deltoid development made him one of the top physical specimens in Iron Game annals. His neat, well-dressed appearance and platform demeanor always exemplified powerlifting by presenting a good image to the public.

Jon decided to end his hiatus and enter the arena of competition again in 1977. Between 1972 and 1978 as his business flourished then dried up he and Pamela became involved in the Pentecostal Church. His first significant spiritual encounter came at a Billy Graham (the evangelist, not the wrestler) crusade. At the part where they play "Just As I am' and invite you to come down, Jon experienced an overwhelming feeling. He describes it as having warm syrup pored over him. As the Spirit of the Lord descended upon him - Jon describes that feeling as though a great weight was lifted from his chest - his devils were cast away and it changed his life.

The church welcomed Jon and dubbed him a modern day Samson. They encouraged Jon's plans of a comeback that year at the Senior Nationals in Santa Monica. Jon's newly discovered ideology left him with the misconception that his strength was a God given gift and all he had to do was show up and compete.

Six weeks out his ecclesiastical patronage asked Jon how his training was going. Jon awakened to reality and realized that the faith of a mustard seed can move a mountain, but if you don't prepare for it the mountain might feel awfully heavy. A six week vigilant regime reactivated dormant strength. It was too little too late. Jon entered at 242 and managed 705-463 before he injured himself and withdrew. Doug Young, the eventual winner, totaled 2017.

Undaunted, he continued pertinaciously. Not too long thereafter his old strong self returned. He posted 785-505-775-2060 at a meet in Arlington, Texas.

Jon decided to prepare properly for the 1978 Nationals. Once again, fate intervened (if you believe in such things). Right before the competition, sprinting with the ASU football team, he stepped in a gopher hole, spraining his ankle and back and tearing his thigh. Jon showed up at the meet limping, but started the competition impressively. He squatted with his trademark explosiveness - 804! He smoked the 518 bench press but lost control with 534. Crunch time came in the deadlift. His injured quadriceps wouldn't permit his leg to function. Twice he ripped up 733, and in desperation 744. Each time his leg stiffened and he jerked spasmodically unable to straighten up. It was the last time he stepped on a lifting platform.

Can there be a greater fulfillment in life than to realize all goals and ambitions? Jon thinks so. There are many facets to the intricacy of his personality. Coach Cole is philosophical, considerate, aristocratic, analytical, focused, trusting, polite, charismatic, influential, tenacious, and most of all indelible.

I spent nearly eight hours on the phone interviewing Jon. I feel as if I understand his complexities, quests, yearnings, and all the struggles with the barbell and himself. He has a mystique that evokes admiration and inspires to bring out the best in us all. Jon's greatest achievement was not his conquests in the strength kingdom but those who - through his teachings and knowledge in athletic achievement - have helped others to be the best that they can be.

Next: Jon Cole Interviewed.            

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive