"At the national championships there are always more officials present than lifters. At an international event it's unbelievable. Don't believe this stuff about how they're doing this work for nothing. They do, but many of them use the organization to develop business contacts. That's worth more than pay."
"Right before I went to Rome an Italian restaurant wanted to throw a little party for me to raise, say, maybe only $200 to help my family while I was gone. The AAU heard about it, and said, 'Well, we can't allow this.' No party. Well, when I was going to Tokyo, a popular bar in Detroit, frequented by judges and politicians, decided they would like to throw a benefit for me. They did and raised $600. The AAU knew about it but didn't say anything. They don't like to mess with big shots."
The years of bitterness and economic struggle seemed to overwhelm Norbert recently in the national championships at York, Pa., the muscle capital of this country, where a man's forearm and neck can make heads turn in a bar or restaurant. "I don't know," said Joe Pulio. "This year, it seems, we look at Norbert and suddenly it all seems so hopeless. Here is a guy who is as big as Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio in his sport, and he can't even put bread on his table. Somebody should have done something, should have gone to bat for him. He gave, but they never gave back. Compete for whom? For what? For them?" He pointed to a large circle of officials who, with badges and ribbons festooning their coats, were standing and talking. "Those guys constitute one of the most inept and ridiculous institutions known to man."
Nevertheless, at York, despite his visible depression and the disillusion in his conversation with fans and other lifters, Schemansky was the attraction. Even though he was 42, they could not believe that he was through. Obviously, the officials of the AAU wanted desperately to believe that he was through. The official who was announcing kept referring to Norbert's age and to the fact that here was a champion who had had it; he was not being taken seriously anymore, not even as a critic. The day before, Schemansky had rapped the AAU in the press, and one official, laughing, said to him, "I don't care what you say as long as they spell my name right." Norbert finished third at York, but he was not disappointed. He knew he would not do well. The weight had not changed, but the man was changing—slowly and painfully.
The trip from York ended in Jack's gym early that evening. It is a dank, cluttered dungeon located on a sad-sick street, next door to a hotel that exists only because it offers drunks a 50� ride into a night of bad dreams. Some nights, when the drunks are restless, they stumble next door and down the steps to the door of the gym and, banging on the door, they shout, "Hey, Jack, we wanna lift some weights." Jack does not like this, because it disturbs his scribbling, and on this day, a Sunday, he was clearly upset; they had come at him in waves the night before.
"Hell, I'm going to have to move my business," said Jack. "The drunks around here all think they're weight lifters."
"Where you gonna move?" asked Norbert. "Down to the Sheraton Cadillac?"
"Well, how'd you do in York?" said Jack.
"Don't you know?"
"No, they didn't have a line in the papers this morning," said Jack.