- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Crawley is the oldest of the Crushers. He lives with his mother, who works as a domestic in the White House; his father is a truck driver, whom he sees infrequently. Only 5'3", he is a shy and easily intimidated young man, though, as he recalls. "I used to run the streets a lot. I was always active, but I couldn't find the right spot for me, because of my height. Now I'm doing what I like to do, and I'm good at it."
Ron is stocky and powerfully built, and has good leverage with a tattoo of a panther on his left arm. He had done some lifting here and there, and one April day in 1976 he dropped in on an exhibition. It was Olympic-style lifting, which he had never tried, but the Crushers showed him how and he took third in the 114-pound class. A few days later he joined the team, and a month later, in his first meet, the Junior Olympic National championships, he was second in his class. Today he is considered the best all-round lifter in the country for his size. Last April Crawley won the Teen-age Nationals and in June he won the Senior Nationals and finished 12th in the world championships.
In June 1976, Ron graduated from vocational school as an auto mechanic. "I would like to work during the day and teach here in the evenings," he says. "There might be a little money involved, but even if there isn't, I'm still going to teach. We're not just a team, we're friends. We're family. It's half-and-half whether I'm closer to the Crushers or to my real family."
The Crusher who has probably been through the most is Tony Sims. He is also the Crusher with the most natural weight-lifting ability—ability that may enable him to participate in the 1980 Olympics.
At 18, Tony is a good-looking, articulate, street-wise kid who stands 6', 165 pounds and can clean and jerk more than 300 pounds about as easily as other men toss an apple in the air. He sports a pierced but unadorned left ear, and has been in and out of trouble since he was 13, when he was first put on probation for stealing cars.
Tony's father isn't home much; it was an older brother who had the most influence over him. "I actually started lifting weights with my brother, who went on to play basketball and football in high school," he says. "But I can't talk to him, can't communicate with him the way I really want to."
Tony joined the Crushers in 1974 and stayed out of trouble for a while, but last year he started backsliding and it seemed there was nothing anyone could do about it, including the Crushers. He quit the team and hung out with another kind of gang.
"We used to do things like set up our own bumper cars with real cars," he says. "I started stealing because I wasn't getting enough out of weight lifting anymore and I wanted a car to ride around in—a little responsibility."
Thompson sums up the Crushers' view of Tony. "He was like an idol to them, an older brother. Tony was here almost from the start, and everybody looked up to him. When they found out he was stealing cars it was a shock. Some of the boys just couldn't understand it. And the trouble with Tony hurt me. It was an unsaid thing, but it ripped me up and I think it ripped the Crushers up. He had let us down."
And then one day Tony found him-self trapped in the middle of a side street in Montgomery County, Md. with two very scared young ladies sitting beside him in the front seat of a stolen car, police cars blocking both entrances to the street and policemen standing behind those cars with drawn guns.