Strongmen of the Crescent City
Weightlifting at the New Orleans Athletic Club, 1872-1972
by John D Fair
Outside the purview of the multitudes of tourists and merrymakers that descend upon the French Quarter each year sits the New Orleans Athletic Club (NOAC) on Rampart Street. Since 1872 this venerable institution has played a significant role in the real cultural life of Louisiana’s largest city…the NOAC served as a medium for channeling youthful energies and talent into a larger competitive arena and thereby constructing a distinctively male identity. Nowhere is this socialization dynamic more evident than in the weightlifting program where NOAC strongmen challenged some of the country’s best teams and helped make New Orleans a hotbed of physical culture.
Greatly enjoyed the article. Thanx much!
Really informative article- this was my health club for 9 years. We always used to laugh about it being the only health club with a bar you could smoke in.
I spent many a days gazing at that cage with all those ole timey weights wondering what the story was- amazing to see it laid out here.
I knew you'd be here JM. Anyway, my dad used to lift at NOAC back in the late 70s early 80s. Thanks for this. Its always refreshing to read and article about my beloved city that doesnt dwell on Mardi Gras, Katrina, corruption, or our murder rate.
Also, Charles Staunton was a customer of mine at my bank. He used to bring me old photos of him in competition. I've seen the photo at the park when he was named Mr NOAC. His favorite picture, which he kept in his wallet, was of him performing a snatch in competition. He always pulled that photo out and would say "if I had gotten any lower in that snatch, my testicles would've been touching the floor." Last I heard, he wasnt doing too well.
I finally got to read this story. It was excellent. I've passed through New Orleans but I've never had the chance to lift anywhere there. Now I'm going to add this to my wish list of gyms I want to hit someday and the next time I'm through there, I'm going to stop.
Blue Cheese- St Bernard was my old bank- they had the dogs on the checks and it was like a trip back into the 60s/70s. as the creoles say- I loveded my bank!
KAG- they've done some remodeling since I left- but there is only one rack there that I can remember and the newer equipment was (as of 2001) kind of dated. Its a treat, the reading room and bar and the old timey weights- but If its like it was in terms of equipment you're better off planning a boxing or conditioning workout there than a squat session- hope you post a review if you go.
A quick update. I saw Charles Staunton's wife the other day at the bank. I printed this article for her to bring home to Mr. Charlie. She called me and told me that he was delighted to see that someone had written an article that delved into what he saw as his glory days. Thanks again for this.