Bobby King was a man of strength and inspiration

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IT will be sad for his old friends in South Shields, to begin the new year with the news of the death of Robert Noel King, who will forever have a place in the sports history of the town.

Bobby King, as he was known, was one of the founder members of South Shields Barbell Club and I have been hearing from his old friend George Coates, now in San Diego in California, that Bobby passed away in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, just the week before Christmas.

Small in stature but with the heart of a lion, Bobby was phenomenally strong and was a champion power lifter.

Says George: “ I joined the barbell club in 1954, wishing to gain weight to improve my football abilities. Bobby was one of the stars, along with Oxley Brash, Henry Caulker, Jimmy Law, Bill Johnson, Bill Williams, Bill Williamson, Tom Rutherford, Alec Hill, Albert Cook, Norman Rutter, George Smith and a young Bruce Allinson. Tommy Coates came along a bit later.”

He remembers Bobby as never too busy to help others.

“He was an inspiration to many of us” he says.

Bobby represented South Shields Barbell Club at weightlifting and power lifting meets at many venues throughout Durham and Northumberland. He would usually be in the top three.

Bobby and his wife, Jane, emigrated to Toronto, Canada, in the late 1950s then moved to Peterborough, Ontario, when he retired. He continued to weight train until he became ill a few years ago.

Says George: “Like Bobby, I continued to work out with weights and still do at almost 79 years of age. Over the years I’ve bumped into a few people who knew Bobby and trained with him in Mack’s Gym in Toronto and they were all astounded that such a small man could be so strong.”

Here, Bobby is pictured with his wife, Jane, and George 10 years ago, in Las Vegas, Nevada.