The offense was grand larceny. However, Tony was a minor, it was his first arrest in Maryland, and the Montgomery police department was sympathetic. It decided not to report the matter to the Washington police if Tony promised that he would stay out of trouble for the next six months.
The only thing Tony still seemed to have at that point was the Crushers—if they would take him back.
"He was so scared, he was sweating when he came to see me," Thompson says. "He told me he used to ride by the gym but was too ashamed to come in. Tony's not a mean kid, or a bad kid, he was just misdirected.
"I'm sure he felt that he had let the Crushers down. But after it was all over, the group said they knew he could do it—get himself back together."
But it was up to Tony to face them. One day at the end of practice he showed up at the gym, stood in the middle of the floor and said quietly, "I would like to apologize for what I did. I'm sorry. I'd like another chance."
No one said anything. Finally, one by one, the Crushers filed by and silently shook his hand. The prodigal son was welcomed home, though not without reservations. Adrian shook Tony's hand, but left the gym muttering, "I don't want to be around him anymore." (He later changed his mind.)
"Tony was headed for some bad news," Thompson says. "If it hadn't been for the Crushers, he'd be in the can right now. He has a real need for the team. With Andre and Adrian it was a little different. They were headed in the right direction, they just needed a father figure, and I gave them that. Ron had his head together when he came here.
"But I have gotten just as much out of the Crushers as Tony or anyone. I need the program as much as they need it. I've gotten my head together, too. I owe everything I've got to them."
The Crushers put on free exhibitions anywhere in the Washington/Virginia/Maryland area that will let them lay down their mats. During the last two years they have put more than 70,000 miles on the fire-engine-red 1974 Dodge van that has become their mobile home, while traveling to Wheaton, Md. and as far away as Mexico.
People sometimes refer to the team as Bob Thompson's Crushers, but they are the Crushers, plus Bob Thompson—friendly, sensitive and together. On a Friday night before an exhibition they will ride by the Wheaton Mall in Maryland and sit in the parking lot, staring up at the bright sign advertising an exhibition by THE CRUSHERS UNLIMITED—AN OLYMPIC WEIGHT-LIFTING TEAM. Or, when no activities are planned, they will go bike riding or spend a Saturday afternoon gokarting and eating pizza at Shakey's,'and end up spending the night at Thompson's house.