By: Danny Manslaughter
I’ve never been one to have a lot of phony friends, quick to laud in perceived success, much quicker to disappear in times of turbulent waters. I recall reading at one time that Michael Spinx would leave fights after victory in a limousine with many ‘friends’. When Michael Spinx lost he left the arena, alone in a taxi cab. The image of a quivering Michael Spinx laying on the canvas after Tyson clobbered him in a first round KO remains haunting, resonating like an image of war. I’ve felt that way before man (or woman, or transgender, etc.) and it’s not pleasant by any means. I was lucky to have a small group of loyal dependable friends who appeared as family when I thought had none. These types of friends stood by me as I quivered in helplessness, when I was of absolutely no benefit to them. It’s no surprise that I’ve met some of my best life-long friends in the Gymnausem or through the gymnasium.
At the time I met Pacer, I was wholeheartedly pursuing my passion in bodybuilding. We met each other in the Billings, MT YMCA where we were both working as trainers. Pacer, 6’2” and built like a muscle bound mutant invited me over to watch the Delahoya Mayweather fight at his father Dax’s house. I met Dax and he stood there with a wiley grin, bulging biceps and lean upper chest at the age of over 70 years old. He started firing off information about bodybuilding, boxing (of which his knowledge rivals any pugilistic historian), outwitting the government, and why there were bullet holes in his wall. I know he’s the most interesting character of I’ve ever met and it’s been such an honor to become his friend and friend of his sons as well.
I’m going to write a book on Dax, he OK’d the idea some time ago and now it’s just finding the time to pursue a monstrous project; one which I don’t take lightly. A brief snapshot of his life indicates more ‘living’ in any given day than some people do in decades. Dax was born in the Northwestern Territories to the legendary wilderness writer, boxer and mink trapper: Chick Ferguson. His novel, the first documenting life in the Northwestern Territories: Mink Mary and Me remains critically acclaimed to this day. Dax had not met or seen another child until the age of eight years old, his sole company being an imaginary child named ‘Ibbit’. The family eventually relocated to Wolf Point, Montana, the largest town on the Fort Peck Indian reservation. After that things pick off at rapid pace as Dax worked as a roughneck in the wildcat rigs of the oilfields (In the 1950’s, when it was more common to see people missing fingers than not), at age fourteen. After this time, Dax finds himself in California after doing a tour in the United States Navy. A cunning survivor intent on making income with little work, he earned extra income by random hustle deals. One particular standout is the conning of Gomer Pile Navy Men with pictures of beautiful girls back home and telling them to ‘wait outside in the lobby’ in a local hotel room for their buxom goddesses. Dax rode off smiling as the off-duty military men tapped their toes waiting for the females that would never come. Around this time Dax discovered his interest in bodybuilding.
Dax soon became a fervent fan of this way of life and started studying it, living it, breathing it. Later this passion would turn inventive. He would dream about different exercise machines, and then design them the next day. From these dreams spawned Dax Safety Gym systems, who the late Robert Kennedy described as ‘The most hardcore gym equipment ever made’, and it was. The technology used at the time was revolutionary and Dax was the first to design a combined Hacksquat/Leg Press Machine which was received heavy use in none other than the Buffalo Bills training gym. Later he was screwed out of large amounts of money as his business partner at the time skated off in weasel like fashion. Before this and after this experience is a myriad of almost mythical stories (yet true). These range from: Being an enforcer for the cartel, fighting the IRS (and winning), establishing an organization to ‘fight drugs’ (for a profit… capitalizing on the 1960’s drug hysteria, sitting on the toilet as an ex-wife walked towards him with a loaded pistol, and a plethora of other wondrous and humorous stories.
Besides all this, Dax has been there for me throughout many trials and tribulations. When I was essentially homeless he gave me money, when I was suffering immense emotional pain he lent his ear and offered advice. He never asked for anything in return except for friendship. So many times people refuse to let people into their lives because they are from a different generation, a different class in the capitalist caste system, a different race, different sexual orientation, etc. This approach will leave you with a pretty narrow spectrum of ‘friends’.
Dax is now back to manufacturing gym equipment with a completely revolutionary design, and you heard it here first. I myself might not be very interesting, but the people I know and their experiences are worth volumes in a history book; a history of unique, eccentric and even ‘strange’ individuals. That’s the element we’d like to attract with ‘Alternative Fitness’. We want the shy Hispanic kid wearing a Black Flag shirt and lifting weights for the first time, we’d like to welcome the impoverished who might not have anything but the desire to build a beautiful physique, the radical feminist looking to get fit as she fights the overwhelming patriarchy in our culture, the young fella in the wheelchair looking to build big arms. The douchebag element in our subculture has already been marketed to quite well. I sit here tonight typing this and welcome the rest (and the best) to our fold. I’ve got some serious love for people trying to do something different, a quality so rare in our current culture. Let’s pick each other up when we are quivering on the canvas, offer friendship to those who have little, be decent people in all facets while pursuing our dreams and destinies. When Michael Spinx walked to the arena to face a prime Tyson a fan shouted ‘Go get em’ champ!’ and he replied ‘I’ll try!’ We aren’t ‘trying’ here at Iron Affinity; we are building a unique new trend in this industry. Fuck trying; we are getting Alternative Fitness in this motherfucker.