Brian Oldfield says he doesn't know too many weight men who would forgo the opportunity to break up a hotel. Indeed, he acknowledges some previous baying at the moon himself, a bit of "terrorist stuff" he once used out of a basic desire to become a "self-developed police force."
At one cozy Halloween party back in college at Murfreesboro, Tenn., Oldfield remembers being attacked from behind by an ex-marine who battered him about the head with a pistol, connecting on all surfaces—the back, the front, the temples—as blood spurted every which way. Since Oldfield retained consciousness throughout all of this belaboring, the fight seemed hardly fair.
"Now this guy was really a germ," says Oldfield. "Believe me, a mental midget. He wasn't like the Mindbenders cycle gang back home. Oh, no. But he was sort of a good prospect for the Mindbenders. He had stolen a bus in Chattanooga, I found out later, and shot his own buddy in the knee. But he made the same mistake everybody does: he thought I was a football player. He didn't like football players. So the guy tried to coldcock me with his gun several times. The thing is, I can take a punch.
"Going down, I stuck out my hand and got balance. I knew right then I was on my way to a knockout. I was up fast and smoking. I flashed a left jab on the man's face, and it was over. He went down like a cave-in. The next day, after I was bandaged up, I went over to his house. He had a shotgun ready this time. I said, 'Grady'—the cat's name was Grady—I said, 'Grady, you got to pay for these hospital bills. Hit you hard? I haven't even started yet.' "
Oldfield says this was the general atmosphere in his misspent late youth. "I sat around at college in my living quarters—this old converted smokehouse—guzzling beer, dipping snuff and smoking my lungs out," he says. "The whole place flooded over once. Bad pipes. I just lay there. At this time I was not in sight of direction. I was just boogeyin'."
Shortly thereafter Oldfield adopted some trappings of civilization. He says it took a while to adjust "from college back to humanity." He started lifting weights and working definition into his massive sirloin strip of a body.
He started training diligently (in his own way, of course) for that moment when he would become the best in the world at something, for his was—and is—the kind of ego that demanded nothing less. And he got energy as well as fun, happiness and goal-orientation from the vehicle he chose, the shotput.
In just two years, this Chicago dead-end kid, former tavern bouncer, reform-school instructor and self-confessed "lapsed degenerate" has positively revolutionized his sport. Within the 7-foot diameter of the shotput ring, he has forsworn all conventionality. What Oldfield does is wind up his 6'5" and 280 pounds into a torque of lightning and whirl into the spinning arc of a discus thrower through a full turn and a half (540 degrees) before releasing the 16-pound iron ball and watching it float out there into history. In reply, the legends of the shot—Rose, Fonville and Fuchs, O'Brien, Long and Matson—have been able to do nothing but turn over in their great circles in the sky or rush to rule books claiming meaningless illegalities or, yes, stand out there helplessly attempting to match him.
On April 4, 1975 at the San Francisco Cow Palace, Oldfield extended the indoor world record to 72'6�", ran down the track and kissed the spot where the shot landed. On May 10 in the Bowie High School stadium in El Paso, he unloaded three puts which broke the outdoor world record, first by more than four inches (71'11�"), then by more than a foot (73'�") and finally by more than a yard. His last throw was a preposterous 75 feet. Oldfield, himself rather stunned, said he had "eternalized" the shotput record. At least, he said, until that time when he would break it again.
Although it in no way detracts from Oldfield's achievement, it must be noted that he performs on the International Track Association circuit, the pro tour, so his marks are professional records. George Woods holds the amateur indoor world record of 72'2�" Al Feuerbach the amateur outdoor record of 71'7".