Feuerbach claims he has developed a passivity and refuses to get uptight about anything because it might interfere with his training. As a result, he will not read books and does not concern himself with wars or social ills. Serious affairs of the heart are out, too. So far Feuerbach has broken off with two women he probably loved. "For what I have to do, seeing too much of people is bad," he says. "It disturbs the concentration. It cools the fire, draws off the intensity."
With this attitude, the death of strangers, no matter how tragic, would not have prevented him from throwing well. The problem was he peaked too early.
The lost Olympic opportunity would seem to be torment enough for a driven man. And Feuerbach did have a brilliant winter, twice more breaking his indoor record. Nonetheless, Samsam insists, Rhino did not have his psych in place until after the 1973 indoor AAUs in New York.
Before he left for that meet, Feuerbach and Samsam were discussing the strange tribe of people who throw the shot. "The shot's so small and we're so big," says Feuerbach. "It gets to you." It also stays with you. Parry O'Brien was 34 when he attained his best mark. Olympic champion Vladyslav Komar is 33. George Woods of the U.S., who came in second at Munich, is 30. Vilmos Varju of Hungary finished eighth in the Olympics at 35.
Samsam is somewhere between 28 and 32. "We Berbers are not strong on birthdays," he says. "I asked my mother if she knew when I was born. 'Of course, my son,' she told me. 'You were born at the time of the wheat harvest.' 'But, mother,' I said, 'there are two harvests a year, and they've been going on for centuries.' 'Don't bother your mother with details,' she said."
At the 1973 AAUs Feuerbach lost his indoor record to Woods (whose mark has since been surpassed by Brian Old-field, who had a throw of 70'9�" at a pro meet), but gained what he calls his wild psych. " George Woods may have made a big mistake, throwing 69'9�"," Feuerbach said at the time. "I don't know why, but now I have an impatience, a zest to compete. I've got that wild psych. What brings it on, I don't know. Possibly it's the moon or the tide."
Whatever the reason, Feuerbach was on fire, and Chapter Two of Samsam's ordeal was about to begin. "I've decided to push for bulk," Rhino confided to Simba, as if it were some serious matter of state. His plan was to build himself up to 270 pounds. But Feuerbach's metabolism gets in the way, and his appetite is too small to support even his present weight. Inside of the rhino body is a 180-pounder.
To gain weight, Feuerbach takes protein pills, protein supplements, protein candy bars, a gallon of milk a day and maybe steroids, but he won't talk about that. However, he could not just eat his way to Randy Matson's world record. Without any misgivings, Feuerbach has begun a work program that takes dead aim at a put of 72 feet. "When you're pitting yourself against cold iron, it helps to be strong, to have the shot feel so light that you can manhandle it," he says.
It is an old practice in the putting trade to heat the iron ball on cool days to give it that light feeling, but such gimmicks do not interest Feuerbach anymore. He is at war with the shot.
"My idea is to develop a motor pathway to longer and longer distances," he says. To do this, he plans to use a 14-pound shot in practice. The theory is to first learn to throw the great distance to get the feel, to break the mental barrier, meanwhile working to add strength to throw that far with the regulation 16-pound implement. Besides constantly throwing, Feuerbach is on an integrated program of weight lifting. He does endless squats with a 500-pound weight on his shoulders, constant jerks with 400 pounds of weight. Recently his right knee buckled under the strain, but he refused to ease up even for a day. His hands are also a problem. They are too small, actually puny for his size, and inadequate for shotputting. "I never noticed they were small," he says. "Of course, I never recognize any physical deficiency when it concerns the shot."