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Mike Stansbury by Warren Perrin, Acadian Museum of Erath

Born in Abbeville, Louisiana on November 17, 1930, Mike Stansbury was instrumental in the development of weight training, Olympic weightlifting and body building in Louisiana. As a result, the whole approach to athletic training was revolutionized. He attended Abbeville High School where he was a member of the football team. As a teenager, he began working out with weight lifts at a small gym in the Woodman of the World building in Abbeville. Later, his family moved to Lafayette and he began a weightlifting team in 1947 and called it “Mike’s Gym."

In 1960, he became recreational supervisor for the City of Lafayette. He was very successful in discovering and developing young lifters, including National Collegiate Champions Gene Hebert, Mike Thompson, Dick Fleming, Jimmy Reinhardt and Walter Imahara. His work inspired many other young men from Vermilion Parish to enter the sport of weightlifting, including Terry Perrin, Warren Perrin, Bill LeBlanc, Jay Trahan, Mack Schriefer, Stafford Palombo, Glyn Viltz Cliff LeBlanc and Weldon Granger.

In 1949, Stansbury contacted the SAAU and sponsored a novice weightlifting meet in Abbeville, the first such event in south Louisiana. Fifty years ago, in 1956, with the support of SLI Dean Glynn Abel, four members of “Mike’s Gym," who were SLI students, qualified for the National Collegiate Weightlifting Championship in Columbus, Ohio. Team members included: Stansbury, Stafford Palombo, Cliff LeBlanc and Walter Imahara. The following year, with the addition of Louis Riecke (who later set a world snatch record of 325 pounds), the team was successful in winning the first National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships for the university. Later, the weightlifting teams at USL won seven additional National Collegiate Championships in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970 and 1971. In recognition of his support of the program, he will be honored, along with other members of the UL weightlifting teams, at the half-time of the UL football game on December 2nd.

Following the game, Stansbury will be inducted into the “Order of Living Legends" by the Acadian Museum of Erath. Stansbury has three degrees from UL: In 1954 he received a BS in Business Administration, in 1956 a BA in Liberal Arts and in 1960 a BS in Art Education.

In 1953, Stansbury met Lloyd “Red" Lerille and invited him to move to Lafayette. In 1956, Mike and his wife Andreé opened “Mike Stansbury’s Health Club, Inc." on Jefferson Blvd. “Red" Lerille worked with Mike and Andreé in the operation of their business. In 1960, “Red" established “Red’s Health and Racquet Club." After closing “Mike’s Gym" in 1960, Stansbury returned to Abbeville to run a business he inherited from his father. In the 1970s, the Stansburys took up various hobbies such as photography, scuba diving and spear fishing. Today, they are well-known for their innovative art work primarily involving sculpture. Stansbury is a Life Master bridge player.

In 1956, he was married to Andree Stansbury and they are the parents of a daughter,three granddaughters,three great-grandsons and one great granddaughter. The Stansbury’s recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Lafayette where they now reside.

Acadian Museum supported by the Acadian Heritage & Cultural Foundation, Inc.

Fondation Culturelle du Patrimoine Acadien

203 South Broadway, Erath, Louisiana, 70533

(337) 233-5832; (337) 937-5468; Fax (337) 235-4382


Published in the AN News on Dec. 1, 2006

Athletic Network Footnote:  The 1956 Weightlifting Team finished in second place in their thrust for the National Championship at the Columbus, Ohio meet. Mike served as coach and participant, in addition to wearing a number of other hats.