Drive to succeed from Earl-y
Don’t ever tell a boy from Carrington’s Village he can’t make it. Ask Earl Maynard why.
Late British bodybuilding coach Jim Murray found out when he saw the boy he had once told, ‘Kid . . . you will never make it’, capture the Mr Universe Title, unanimously adjudged winner by all 13 judges of the competition, including the chief judge – Jim Murray.
Maynard was in stitches telling the story of his first and subsequent encounters with Murray, during an EASY interview at his Chancery Lane home. There he has created his own hall of fame – walls dotted with mementos from his years of success on the international bodybuilding stage, in the wrestling ring and on the big screen. Display cabinets also show off his trophies.
He was the obscure teenager from Barbados attending a seminar at the Tottenham Court YMCA when he was rebuffed by the featured speaker Jim Murray, whose attention he attempted to attract.
“He looked at me and said, ‘Kid you will never be a big star. You have a nice physique, but you will never make it’.
A year and a half later when the Barbadian stepped on stage, bowed to the judges and started posing in flamboyant style, the physique turned out to be a winner over far more experienced international contenders.
Maynard is now 78, sporting a welltoned body, far from the 120-pound, 17-year-old “pathetic, very sickly kid” in Carrington Village whose mother, concerned about his health, persuaded his older brother to take him along with him to a gym on Beckles Road.
The 120-pound weight Maynard’s brother placed on the youngster’s back to discourage him made the 17-year-old buckle. He sat and cried and only the compassion shown by the gym’s owner Blair Blenman could console him.
The experience did however ignite a resolve “to get a little bit healthier” and to lift 120-pounds. A year and a half later he was crowned Teenage Mr Barbados with his brother falling into third place.
An avid reader of the English bodybuilding magazine Health and Strength, considered the Bible of training for local bodybuilders, Maynard had no idea how three coupons he had cut from that magazine would completely change the course of his life.
He confessed he could hardly afford the shilling each magazine cost. Nonetheless, he managed to buy three, just to get the three separate coupon entries for the three prizes being offered for (1) a before and after picture from a fitness development regimen; (2) the best overseas entrant and (3) the entrant most considered to have the makings of becoming an international star in the future.
The publishers of that magazine were also the organisers of the Mr Universe competition.
“The letter came back, ‘You have won all three competitions. Come to England to compete for Mr Universe’. The year was 1955.
“My mother said, ‘You can go on one condition – you go back to school when you get to England.’ Maynard went on a one-way ticket.
He placed seventh in the first Mr Universe competition he entered, but was confident he would be the winner of the next.
Bodybuilding Hall of Fame
Maynard’s fine physique has landed him on the cover of 17 magazines around the world and he has had over 500 articles published on health, fitness and bodybuilding in Italy, India, Germany, United States and England.
As an international wrestler, he competed in Japan, Germany, Israel, Guatemala, Lebanon and Belgium. He lists among his international wrestling friends Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with whose father Rocky Johnson he won the World Tag Team Championship.
Maynard was a member of the Royal Air Force stationed in Cyprus when got involved in wrestling. A promoter holidaying there spotted him and signed him for a contract which took him wrestling all over the world, bringing him a contract to be a professional wrestler when he left the Air Force.
People stood and applauded when he pulled from behind his back those three tiny plaques awarded in that magazine competition while giving gave the acceptance speech during his induction into the British bodybuilding Hall of Fame.
The personable, still handsome Barbadian has appeared in 22 films to date, always in the “bad boy” role capitalizing on his wrestling and bodybuilding prowess. He first appeared in Melinda with Calvin Lockhart, worked with the legendary Jackie Chan in The Big Brawl and fought with boxer Ken Norton in Mandingo.
Maynard has since turned his attention to film-making and in his compact studio at his home has made a number of Barbadian films.
“I am happy to see that the film industry in Barbados has started to move now. This is why they gave me the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Barbados Music Awards because they knew what I have done to promote film in Barbados, being the first one, and all the struggles I encountered.”
He is currently working on the production Sweet Bottom for the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination.
Standing just over six feet and tipping the scales at 205 pounds, Maynard has been “one pound up or down” in 30 years. Fitness remains a vital part of his life’s routine and along with Sydney his Hollywood-born wife, whom he has known for 22 years, follows a daily fitness programme in their exercise room at home and in long walks together on Long Beach near their home.
She is his “favourite wife”, (so labelled by a Barbadian market vendor whom he customarily patronized) and “my best friend in the world.”
Sydney regards her husband as “very gregarious and outgoing”. Sitting across the room taking it all in, she said “Because of your personality, and because you are always smiling, people love to have you around. You are a fire-cracker.”
Fame has not changed this boy from Carrington’s Village. Coach Jim Murray would forever apologize for his error in judgement. Graciously, Maynard always reassured him, “I am what I am because of you.”
And he told Easy “I give God thanks for what I have achieved. I am very humble for what I have; I live each day to the fullest because tomorrow is not promised you.”