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Chris Culliver Dolphins Jersey as he is fondly referred to by so many

Samuel Barker is a ‘Special Person’“I ensured that I read extensively and kept myself up to date with the changing trends of the sport back then,Cheap China Jerseys, and this was in order to guide those under my care in the right direction.”By Franklin WilsonIt is not quite normal, or should I say common, for you to find an athlete who has participated competitively and excelled in all three weightlifting sports in Guyana – especially in the early days, namely the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.But up in the bauxite mining town of Linden, once the earning and economic hub for persons from the city and other parts of Guyana, such a person exists.Samuel Meertins-Barker is a household name in Linden as well as the Bodybuilding, Weightlifting and Powerlifing circles in Guyana. The competitive spirit that he brought to those disciplines in the aforementioned decades was phenomenal for an athlete who held his own against the odds, at a time when it was not easy coming up against athletes from the capital city.According to Barker, who was born on November 16, 1937, to Samuel Sr. and Virginia Barker, “You had to be really good to beat those guys.”And while Samuel Jr. excelled in the three weightlifting pursuits, he later went on to establish his own gym (Upper Demerara Barbell Club) where he became a father figure to many athletes across Linden,Cheap NFL Jerseys, guiding their physical preparation en route to excelling on the field of play and on the stage.Samuel BarkerAs this story matures, we will learn more about this exceptional son of the soil, the seventh of eight children – two boys and six girls. Three of his sisters, he respectfully informed, have gone to the great beyond.Barker, who is the first bodybuilder from Linden to compete at the national level, attended the Christianburg Scots School before pursuing studies at the Critchlow Labour College in Georgetown, where he successfully attained a Diploma in Industrial Relations and Management. He later became an Industrial Relations Officer attached to the Guyana Mines, Metal & General Workers’ Union.His first competition was in 1958 when he traveled all the way to the city to participate in the Mr. Muscle Beach competition, placing second. In the same year, the young,Cheap Jerseys Authentic, strong and determined Barker also won the Junior Mr. Guyana title.One year later at the same show (Mr. Muscle Beach) Barker copped 3rd place. In 1960, still a junior athlete, he was the second runner-up in the junior Mr. Guyana contest; in 1961 he was runner-up and in the same year in Linden, he placed 2nd in the Mr. Mackenzie show.But just how did Samuel Barker Jr., a father of seven children (three boys and four girls) get involved in bodybuilding?“I came from Wismar, and in those days it was forbidden for boys from across that way to be over here competing in almost every game, because we were considered lesser mortals. You had to be very strong in mind to venture over here (Mackenzie).We used to come across to Mackenzie with the Scouts group and one day there was a group of guys lifting weights and I decided to lift with them. I was not holding my own at the time, but I still persevered.”Barker recounted that one day a weightlifting exercise was taking place at the Mackenzie All-Age School and because of where he was from (Wismar), he was prohibited from entering the school yard.“I stood outside and observed attentively then I went back to my gym and practiced the same things that I saw the men doing. Soon after I met a friend, Desmond Holder, a school teacher, and we had a talk about the sport. Subsequently, one day we took some weights from a gentleman named Patrick Long and we started to workout, doing the things that we saw the chaps doing.I think we were lucky, as one day a man passed our way with a very good book about the sport and left it with us and as you can imagine, it became a prized possession for us.”Barker recalls that in those days, the training was far stricter and more cumbersome but he was not a quitter so he continued to train hard.“I think it’s because of my genes. I started to bulk up quick. I then encountered the legendary Claude Charles who as it turned out assisted me quite a lot.”Samuel Barker (third left) posing with some of his powerlifters following a competition in 1994. From left: Lindsley Halley, Sharon Ward, Nadine Bovell, Jeffrey Gill and Jafar Mohamed.Barker said he had some conversations with Mr. Guyana 1958, Mr. Bobb, who knew very little about the intricacies of the sport and seemed quite reluctant to help, but when Claude Charles went to Linden in search of work and came into contact with him (Barker) and others, Charles started to give them tips and guidance on different exercises.“Claude Charles it was who said to me you should go and compete at Mr. Muscle Beach. He gave me more tips on how to pose and move and I went and did what I had to do, I brought second and kept on progressing in the sport.”But after a while in bodybuilding, Barker said his interest in the sport began to lessen and he decided to shift to weightlifting, in 1961. At the time he noted that they used to do three lifts – press,Cheap NFL Jerseys, snatch and jerk.By now Barker had become accustomed to excelling and like bodybuilding, in weightlifting it was no different.In his first competition as a novice, Barker took the top spot and also broke the national press record. He went on to cop the junior Mr. Guyana championship and this all happened in Georgetown. The year was 1961.At the Intermediate level in the same year, Barker was again the winner. First place had by now become his benchmark. At his third competition – this time in his hometown of Linden – he maintained that status at the Linden Weightlifting Championships.With respect to competing in the city,Wholesale Jerseys US, Sammy opined that he had problems getting a fair deal because he was from Linden.“…But I was a fighter so I continued to persevere. I decided to change gyms so I moved on from Walter Jordon’s gym to the YMCA and due to my teaching as a Trade Unionist, I had very good relations with young people and young athletes, so at the gym I started to advise and share my knowledge with them.”But little did the Linden strongman know that out of his goodwill of sharing his knowledge that bigger things were yet in store for him in the community.“After some time at the YMCA, I decided to move on and establish my own gym in 1978 – that’s how the famous Upper Demerara Barbell Club was born.”While he did not receive any formal training to qualify as an instructor, Barker ensured that he read extensively about the weight sports and was the recipient of magazines from his many friends abroad.“I ensured that I read extensively and kept myself up to date with the changing trends of the sport back then and this was in order to guide those under my care in the right direction.The Upper Demerara Barbell Club was not limited to gym status and it quickly developed into a club where all athletes came for weights training by me as the main coach.”With this new dimension to an already bright career, Barker became an inspirational coach and guide to many athletes in Linden, among  them were track and field athletes, cyclists, boxers, table tennis players and footballers.Reflecting on his innumerable experiences and searching for what perhaps could be the highlight of his career as a gym coach/instructor, Barker said international middle distance track star Marian Burnett stands out in this regard.“She is certainly one of the highlights for me. Many had given up on her after she had an accident. You know how many people said to me that I was wasting time with her? But I said to them once she can walk, I will work with her. She started to train, and trained hard, and went on to win the Ms. Guyana Physique competition in 1998 before going on to blossom on the track. The rest is history.I have a letter that Marian wrote to me saying thanks. When I read it, it brings tears to my eyes with what she says, thanking me for what I have done for her when all was down and I stood there for her.”Many bodybuilders, powerlifters and other athletes were shaped into champions and top performers through Barker’s dedication, among them Mr. Guyana Reford Campbell, Woodly Richmond, Terrence Alli, Elton Jefford and veteran bodybuilder Lindie Sharpe, who still competes, among others.Sharpe, Barker said, has been at the Upper Demerara Barbell Club the longest. Some of the other strongmen associated with the club include the well known Colin ‘Mr. Clean’ Chesney, who Barker believes is one of the strongest he has ever seen. Robin Sancho, Charles Henry. Clint Duke, Adrian Amsterdam, Terry Ambrose and John Gravesande are among Barker’s protégés.Barker holds strongly to the view that his club has produced the strongest men in the country, noting that they have broken the most records at any competition in Guyana.“We broke more records at one powerlifting meeting than any other club, and included in our dream-team of 1999, which I refer to them as, was boxer Sharon Ward. Other members of that team were Nadine Bovell, Franklyn Brisport, Lindsley Halley, Robin Sancho, Dennis ‘Jafar’ Mohamed and Jeffrey Gill with me as the Manager/Coach.”The outspoken Barker is also a founder member of the Bauxhall Cycle Club of Linden which won the Caribbean team championship in the 1970s competing in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Some of the riders then were Joelyn Joseph, Ignatius Titus and Gaylyn Williams.“This was the first club to send a cyclist to the Olympics, in Joelyn Joseph.”Barker’s love in terms of sharing his knowledge was not curtailed and boxed into the Upper Demerara Barbell Club, as a matter of fact, he held a number of sessions for schools.“I held many voluntary sessions for school athletes who wanted to strengthen themselves for track and field. I dealt with footballers – all the players who left here and are now professionals in Trinidad and elsewhere passed though my hands, including Charles ‘Lily’ Pollard, Collie Hercules, Kayode Mc Kinnon, Richard Reynolds and others.”Barker was honoured by the National Sports Commission on March 6, 2006, for his outstanding contributions.‘It was a tremendous honour for me to be recognized for my contributions and I was very elated to be rubbing shoulders on the National Cultural Centre stage with the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Andrew ‘Six Head’ Lewis among others. It was a great night with some of the greatest athletes this country ever produced. I felt good to know that people recognized me for all I was doing over the years.”Commenting on the progress of the weight sports in Guyana, Barker believes Guyana is doing fine now.“I think we are doing well now, because to be frank, we had problems with judges back in the days. I think we have taken care of that now. The judging of shows was a major problem.”Sammy Meertins Barker has surely done his bit for the development of sports across the board and has touched the lives of hundreds of athletes.And even while failing health for the past nine months continues to be his biggest challenge to date, ‘Sammy’ as he is fondly referred to by so many, continues to persevere.He is still involved with the gym in a minimal way; his daughter Shellain Barker takes care of business.Commenting on local bodybuilding, Barker believes more needs to be done to recognize persons who have made and continue to make sterling contributions to the sport. He singles out international standout Hugh Ross for identifying and honoring Lindie Sharpe at the 2nd Hugh Ross Classic held in May this year.“Apart from that, there are some people who have done a lot of work for the sport, like George Marshall, Frank Tucker and Donald Sinclair. George (Marshall) has done enough, every team that travelled he went with them, paying his own way as manager.Marshall is the only qualified IFBB (International Federation of Body Building and Fitness) judge in this country and needs to be recognised for his contributions. Hugh Ross has set the standard.”Barker made special mention of Valerie Sharpe, Keith Solomon and Jeffrey Gill as some of the persons who have been very helpful to him for many years.And, of course, there are some words of advice for aspiring athletes.“Get on the internet or get books and read about the latest techniques in the sport. It can quickly leave us behind, and to be honest, we are doing the same old thing day after day, and not learning the right way. We’ve got to read and edify ourselves… get in the know.Get to understand and know more about supplements and how they work for you and above all, you have to be disciplined. Failing to do these things will be detrimental to you.”Barker also stressed that nutrition is a big part of being successful today and athletes need to take note. He cited Hugh Ross, Eustace Abraham and Sylvan Gardner as good examples of athletes following the right principles for success.