Mr. Olympia comes to Fort McMurray

By Curtis J Phillips

Accountant, bodybuilder, businessman, football player, policeman and sportswriter…Ronnie Coleman is indeed the modern age Renaissance Man.

The eight time Mr. Olympia was in Fort McMurray last week to sign autographs and meet fans at Supplement King a local health and fitness supplement store owned by Tammy Powell.

Standing 5-foot-11 let it be said that Ronnie Coleman is a big dude. His bio states that his off season weight is 300 pounds and his competition weight 290 pounds.

He is solid.

The last time I saw bulging biceps like this was when I interviewed pro wrestler Hulk Hogan way back in the 1980s.

Born in Louisiana, the now 50 year Coleman attended Grambling State University (GSU) in the 1980s’ where he played middle linebacker for the GSU Tigers football team. But once again that was just part of the man.

Following his fourth year, Coleman said there was some interest from National Football League scouts but a midseason neck injury put him off the radar come draft day.

“After the (college football) season ended they (NFL teams) tried to get me to come out and try out my own to make the team. But I said “If you didn’t draft me, that told me that I wasn’t good enough.” I didn’t want to go through all of the politics and hustle of trying to make it on the team.”

Instead Coleman fell back to what he had learned from the books, not football play books, but academia.

“Although I went to school with a major in management, halfway through my major one of my accounting instructors encouraged me to change my major because I was so good in accounting.  If the professional football did not happen, I knew good and well I could make it out in the business world. I will go out and take a chance in something I really love.”

Coleman would graduate cum laude in 1986 with a BSc in accounting.

Also during his time at Grambling, Coleman fell in love with the printed word.

“I’m a writer,” he says proudly, followed by a big smile and sparkle in the eyes. “I was sports editor for the newspaper at Grambling State University. I’m a born writer. I’m a magician with a pen. That’s what I like to call myself. ”

His command of the English language also helped him in his career as a policeman in Arlington, Texas where he worked from 1989 to 2003.

“I wrote a (police) report once and they said they would use my writing skills to train the new recruits.”

Sticking with collegiate sports, I asked Coleman if he thought amateur athletes in the NCAA should be paid like professional athletes.

“Yes I totally agree with that. They are making all this money for the university. Why should they work for someone for free? Yes they get scholarships but they are doing a lot with all of the practicing, doing things to get their bodies in shape, and learning the plays. It’s a lot of hard work. Nothing easy about it.”

A big fan of the Dallas Mavericks and with Michael Jordan as his favourite athlete, plus that he is an African American with a sports writing background, the following question pertaining to former NBA owner Donald Sterling’s well documented racial comments towards African Americans was asked: “Do you think he (Sterling) has a right to freedom of speech and that everyone got on the bandwagon to quick to persecute him?”

Coleman responded: “I totally agree with everybody else about it .The racism thing needs to stop. There are certain things you just can’t say in society today because there is some humiliation towards one race from another. It is just blatant racism. There is freedom of speech but certain things should not be said.”

From freedom of speech we head to last weekend’s Syncrude In-House Scott Firefit competition.  It’s true that old firefighters huff and puff and strut their stuff  with a few long-time residents including Ron Foy, 48 and good friend Pierre Savard, who retires in a few weeks, keeping up with the young fellas.

Two of those young guns include Leroy Fontaine, 29, and Phillips Howell, 34, of Shell Albian Sands Emergency Services.

Both are graduates of St. Mary’s University Huskies football program and Leroy attended Father Patrick Mercredi Community High School where he was an all-around athlete.

Keeping to the gridiron, the Fort McMurray Monarchs debut in the Alberta Football League was spectacular, with a 37-0 shutout the Edmonton Stallions.

They return to the field this Saturday June 14, 2014 6:15 p.m. hosting the Calgary Wolfpack at Timberlea field.

Catch you on the rebound.