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coming on strong
Curry Kirkpatrick
September 01, 1975
"When God invented man," says Brian Oldfield, "He wanted him to look like me." However it came about, he's some piece of work. World-record holder in the shotput and sometime dabbler in "sado numbers" he's cleaning up his act for the "full-scale betterment of Brian Oldfield."
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September 01, 1975

Coming On Strong

"When God invented man," says Brian Oldfield, "He wanted him to look like me." However it came about, he's some piece of work. World-record holder in the shotput and sometime dabbler in "sado numbers" he's cleaning up his act for the "full-scale betterment of Brian Oldfield."

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Disregarding most drugs, pills, anabolic steroids and other chemical uppers, Oldfield goes through life getting a lift from so many natural sources that he has become almost senselessly hyperactive. "Taking energy" is what he calls this.

If he is not taking energy from the cool and elegance of ITA quarter-miler John Smith, Oldfield gets it from the jive and nonsense of ITA pole-vaulter Steve Smith. ("When I grow up, I want to be just like you," Smith says to Oldfield, "so strong, nobody cares how stupid you are.") If not from Krazy George, the manic cheerleader at the San Jose Earthquakes soccer games, then from old George Clark, a wizened Scot who lives in Aberdeenshire and calls Oldfield "my giant laddie." If not from granola bran muffins spread thickly with honey and apple butter, then from flying into the Los Angeles airport. Oldfield says of that particular experience, "I get so much energy flying in to L.A., sometimes I just want to fly out and then fly right back in again."

Oldfield's shocking size evokes stares and murmurs even in the sophisticated, freak-filled setting of Manhattan night spots. This makes for awkward moments as onlookers continue to gape and wait for...what? Fay Wray to come squealing out of his palm?

His hair, dirty blond and loopy and styled over his forehead, makes his face appear to be lacking eyes. They are tiny and close together anyway, and when he scrunches up his visage in one of his outrageous Crazy Guggenheim expressions, the eyes do all but disappear. One reporter, noting the "blond locks," likened him to Gorgeous George, the wrestler. But George had eyes.

Oldfield favors tight white jeans, open-to-the-abdomen shirts and a gargantuan puka-shell necklace for dress-up occasions. Such raiment is in character for a fellow who introduced bikini briefs and fishnet tank tops to track and field when he came out of nowhere to qualify at the 1972 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. Shotputting has never been the same.

The fact is that Oldfield's body deserves to be a conversation piece, if only because it is a cross between the blocky hulk of a defensive tackle and the muscle delineation of a Mr. Marvelous Spa Universe contestant.

Though his weight hovers between 270 and 280, Oldfield's waist is only 37 inches, making him appear about 50 pounds lighter than he is. Most of this unobserved poundage is distributed evenly through the arms and shoulders, the legs and thighs. His carriage is bold and arrogant, he moves with startling quickness. Has there ever been another 280-pounder who could run the 100-yard dash in 10.3 seconds? With characteristic self-effacement, Oldfield notes that "when God invented man, He wanted him to look like me."

This is not to say that Oldfield flaunts his physique. On the Today show, when Gene Shalit asked him to remove his shirt so the audience "could see what a shotputter looks like," Oldfield refused. No Anita Ekberg, he.

Moreover, it is not sheer size that sets Oldfield apart as a visual phenomenon. It is his hyperactiveness, a mysterious sense of something about to happen. Call it, even, danger. Larger men may be found down at your local diner kicking in the jukebox. This man, this shotputter Oldfield, looks as if he were a bomb about to go off, or, more accurately, a water-filled balloon.

Timmy Secor, co-owner of the Tittle Tattle, an East Side jock-and stewardess-infested club which Oldfield makes his fun headquarters when in New York, says football players are just about flabbergasted at the sight of Oldfield. Sugar Bear Hamilton, an offensive guard for the New England Patriots, met Oldfield at a track meet and asked a journalist why the shotputter didn't play football.

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