Remembering Stan Bailey
By Arti Drechsler
This past week we lost one of weightlifting’s most enthusiastic and successful contributors, and a great personal friend - Stan Bailey. Stan had already taken up the sport on a limited level before he left his native Trinidad to come to the US, in the early 60s. When he arrived in the US, his early jobs involved very hard physical work, but he still yearned to lift weights again.
One day, while walking past the Jamaica YMCA, he heard the unmistakable sound of metal plates clanging (yes this was before the advent of bumper plates). He found his way into the weight room of the Y, where he met Sandor Gere, former national coach of the Hungarian Weightlifting Team, who had defected to the US during the Soviet crackdown on Hungary in the late 1950s. Sandor started a club at the Y and in short order produced several Jr. World recordholders and the most powerful club in the NYC area. Stan joined the club immediately and rose to national prominence under Sandor’s guidance. He also progressed outside the gym, becoming a US citizen, while maintaining his dual citizenship, and becoming a career police officer.
He placed 5th in the US Nationals in 1972, but because of his dual citizenship was able to represent Trinidad at the 1972 Olympics. He also represented Trinidad at both Pan American Games and the Commonwealth Games, bringing medals home from both of these events. A lifter with incredible leg strength for his era, I saw him do an easy back squat with 250 kg. at a bodyweight of 75 kg. in 1972.
While competing, he began to coach, an activity he was to carry on for the rest of his life. Among many national and international level athletes that he developed or worked with was two-time Olympian Tony Urrutia. Stan was also head coach for a number of US international teams and was recognized by the USAW as a Senior International Coach (its highest level designation).
As his weightlifting career on the open level began to slow down, Stan also became an official, eventually achieving the IWF’s highest credential – Category 1. He officiated at many IWF events and was a stalwart at USA Weightlifting events for decades. On the local level, he was President of the Metropolitan LWC for many years, and was the meet director for most of the weightlifting events at the Empire State Games. He also competed very successfully at the National and World level in masters competitions, eventually being inducted into the USA Masters Hall of Fame, for his accomplishments.
On a personal level, Stan befriended me early in my weightlifting career, when no one thought I had much of a chance of amounting to anything, and he gave me the nickname “young phenom” because he said I trained harder/heavier than anyone he’d ever seen. He’ll never know how much that meant to me, although I tried to tell him. Stan may have even saved my life once, when he ejected from the gym a criminal who pulled a knife on me. I will deeply miss him, but always remember how fortunate I was to have him as a friend.