A woman gets a lift make that 10 from Billy Williams, as he does pushups at Union Square.
Revival of the fittest: He-man wants some competition
By Lincoln Anderson
New York may not have gotten the 2012 Olympics but it does have Sportsman U.S.A. Thats the moniker of Billy Williams, a 50-year-old accident victim who is ready and willing to take on all comers at Union Square in six events of physical prowess. Somewhere between a pentathlon and a decathlon, the events include the 100-meter dash, vertical jump, long jump, shot put, bench press and pushups.
Asked where the shot putting would take place, Williams gestured to the parks lawn and said, Theres grass out there
. All I need is a bench with weights make a long-jump pit.... The long-jump pit could be in front of the stairs, he said. On second thought, he said, all events would take place on the plaza behind the pavilion building.
A former top track and field athlete who grew up on Freeport, L.I., Williams is eager to get the Union Square games underway. Theres a $500 pot, winner take all. Yet, though he waits every day near the subway kiosk, theres been only one taker.
Five months has gone by and only one guy has signed up. Thats pretty bad, he noted. And Im right here at N.Y.U. All these young guys come out here, Im bad. Im bad. Not one of them will do it.
Not only did Williams turn 50 last Thursday but he says he was partially paralyzed and brain damaged in an accident in 1993. But hes recovered physically, and is ready to compete.
When not at Union Square, for the last two months, Williams has been living at Project Renewals E. Third St. mens shelter.
I aint no homeless bum, he said. Im determined to get out of that homeless shelter and get back on my feet.
He said he went to every health club in Manhattan, but no one would hire him.
These trainers they have cant even bench press 300 pounds, scoffed Williams, who says he can press 390.
He certainly looks to be in good shape. He says every morning he jogs up Broadway to 34th St., then does his boxers hops across to Second Ave. and sprints back to Project Renewal before coming out to Union Square. For strength training, he uses a rope that he wraps around a lamppost, but Park Enforcement Patrol officers recently told him he cant use the lampposts anymore.
Jealous thats all, he said.
Aside from the pack of Marlboros tucked in his sock and cigarette behind his ear, he resembles a professional wrestler in peak shape.
The outside of the car looks good, but its whats under the trunk that counts, he said, though hes confident his engine is ready.
In addition to opponents, hes seeking sponsors. If Whole Foods, for example, across the street would like to sponsor him hed wear their T-shirt. It would be a windfall for the supermarket when the Sportsman U.S.A. competition takes place, he said.
As he awaits a worthy contender any contender Williams does pushups with people on his back for money to build up the $500 takings. Whoever wins the competition will get this money, which, he said, is kept in his locker awaiting the Union Square games.
However, he admits, at the end of the day, he might take $5 of it to buy a sausage-and-peppers sandwich.