Bruce Lee, A Life by Mathew Polly

Joined: January 24th, 2018, 5:04 am

June 1st, 2018, 7:18 pm #71

In a book called Against All Odds, Chuck Norris claimed that Bruce’s steroid use was well known in his social circle.
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Joined: July 16th, 2003, 11:43 am

June 1st, 2018, 7:31 pm #72

Against All Odds by Chuck Norris excerpt

In mid-July 1973, Bruce Lee called to tell me he was in Los Angeles for the day and wanted to get together for lunch. He'd been living and working on films in Hong Kong, so I was excited to see him and catch up. Bob Wall and I met Bruce in Chinatown at one of his favorite restaurants.
Bruce seemed to be his usual ebullient self, but in our conversation he revealed the real reason for his being back in LA. He had mysteriously passed out several times while working on a movie in Hong Kong. The doctors there couldn't determine what was causing the problem, so Bruce had scheduled a checkup at a well-known hospital in Los Angeles. “I passed with flying colors,” he crowed. “The doctors said that I have the insides of an eighteen-year-old.”
I had to admit that Bruce looked great. Slender and strong, at thirty-two years of age he looked to be in perfect physical condition. But I was puzzled. “Well, if you're doing so well, what do the doctors think caused you to pass out?”
Bruce stopped short between bites. “Stress, I guess,” he mumbled. “Overworked, overtired. What's new?”
Bruce passed off my inquiry and turned the conversation to the enthusiastic reception his soon-to-be-released movie,
Enter the Dragon
, was receiving. “This is going to be big,” Bruce said, “and I've already received offers from several studios for more movie projects. They're offering me blank checks. ‘Just fill in the amount and cash them,’ they're saying. Can you believe it?”
I could believe it. I'd always believed that Bruce was going to be a superstar. I had no idea that he'd soon become a legend.
Bruce flew back to Hong Kong, and four days later I heard the devastating news that he had fallen over dead. I didn't want to believe that. I had just seen him so vibrantly alive, the picture of health, excitement, and happiness. How could it be?
Rumors regarding the mysterious nature of Bruce's shocking death flew back and forth across the Pacific faster than the jets that could carry them. Some reports claimed that Bruce had died with marijuana in his system, prompting questions about drug usage. Others suggested that Bruce's well-known experimentation with steroids may have led to his death. More outlandish stories hinted that Bruce may have been murdered, deliberately dealt a mortal blow by a hired killer, an expert in Oriental assassination techniques. Some of the proposed explanations for Bruce's demise seemed plausible; most were ridiculous. Perhaps the rumor mill was simply the world's way of trying to come to grips with the reality that none of us is guaranteed the next five seconds. Life is a gift from God.
At the time the official cause of death presented by the coroners in Hong Kong was “cerebral edema caused by a hypersensitive reaction to a headache-tablet ingredient,” similar to the rare but all-too-real reaction that some individuals have to bee stings. American doctors regarded the cause of death as a brain aneurysm.
Bruce was buried in Seattle, and because of his strong affinity with the Chinese community, a funeral service was also conducted in Hong Kong, attended by more than twenty thousand grieving fans. I attended another memorial service held in San Francisco, flying to the service with Bob Wall, Steve McQueen, and James Coburn, who had stared in the film
Our Man Flint
. James was one of Bruce's private karate students, and he delivered a moving eulogy of his teacher.
Following the service, Bob, Steve, James, and I flew back to Los Angeles together, but the trip home was extremely quiet. Each of us seemed immersed in our thoughts, pondering the message to us in Bruce's death. There he was, in prime condition, at the top of his career, and suddenly, it was over. Sure, he had accomplished his goal of becoming the most recognizable martial artist in the world, as well as his goal of becoming a major film star, but so what? Tell that to his wonderful wife and two young children he left behind.
To me Bruce's death was a powerful reminder of the fragility of life. More than that, it was a wake-up call for me. It reminded me that as much as I believed in self-determination and fulfilling my own destiny, I was not the person in charge. God was. More than ever I wanted my life to be about things that mattered not merely for a moment but for eternity.
“God has plans for you,” I could hear my mom saying.
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Joined: December 19th, 2017, 9:38 pm

June 1st, 2018, 8:18 pm #73

[quote="PhantomDreamer"]
Most pro athletes don't look like "ripped, shredded bodybuilders" when they're 18.
[/quote]

What I'm trying to do is to understand how Tom Bleecker's allegations could be true. So if you google "Bruce Lee Before and After" you will see an image of him, I'm guessing at about 22. I don't think he had the kind of physique we see in Return of the Dragon in his early MA movies. I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, he met Joe Lewis around 1967, which would have made him 26 or 27. He did Green Hornet in 1966-67 and pictures of him on the beach with Van Williams do not show the kind of muscularity and definition we see in Return of the Dragon. Now, while it's true that just having a low body fat percentage can make you look 'more developed', there is a distinct look in Return of the Dragon on the balcony poses that, to me, look like the result of some of the things that bodybuilders take near the time of contest preparation. So while his natural testosterone would have been declining (from age 18 to about age 29 or 30), not a lot but some in most people, he ended up looking completely different.

So if he met Joe and Bob Baker and was in LA around the time of 1968-69 and he showed that kind of development in 1971-72, which looks completely different to his younger pictures in his early 20s, where it's clear he was lifting weights, then it is a possibility. I'll also say that he did intensify his workouts after the WJM fight. So it's also "possible" that he would make pretty good gains on his own. Maybe the difference is due to things like diuretics and 'uppers'? I don't know. But most people say that he would have done everything possible to achieve his goals, and we know he died from something. That's why it's interesting to speculate. I mean absolutely no disrespect.

The person I was reading the interview was Jerry Beasley. He is a college-educated person and teacher and he would probably not make idle chatter. But in "[i]Descendants of the Dragon"[/i] (around page 64 in the ebook) he says he does not find it hard to believe.

Joe Lewis gives a strange answer in one of his interviews on the Divine Wind website:

[i]I do not know anything about Tom Bleeker, nor have I ever met him. As far as Bruce Lee using steroids, I don’t think it is anyone’s business. Steroids make fighters short-winded, and only a fool would take them unless you need to gain weight quickly for some professional purpose. The church; the state; or any of his peers did not own Bruce Lee’s body. His body was his property and his only. Therefore, it is no one’s business what he chose to put in his body. I wish everyone would respect this philosophical principle.[/I]

To me by not saying 'no, he did not, I would have known because he would have asked me about them', I think you can possibly read between the lines. When people are trying to 'deflect' they give a long answer and won't say 'yes' or 'no'. Now, I'm not saying Joe is lying, nor am I saying I know Joe took them, I'm just surmising in a chat discussion, as I said they were not illegal then and there's nothing inherently evil about using substances (unless you're trying to cheat a drug test), so don't be upset.

I'm just saying that what Tom Bleecker says, is, to me, plausible.
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Joined: December 19th, 2017, 9:38 pm

June 1st, 2018, 8:28 pm #74

OK, finally found it - so correct the above. Joe first met BL in a parking lot in 1966. I don't think they immediately hooked up to begin a training relationship so it may have been closer to 1967 where they exchanged ideas. Also, note that Joe says 'Steroids make a fighter short-winded'...how would he know if he didn't have experience? On the other hand, we know that runners take steroids and they've been busted for them in the Olympics and we know MMA fighters take them so it could also mean since he doesn't know the reality of a specific regime, he may be a speaking from a position of rumor and not personal experience. Hard to say. 

Suffice it to say when I saw the Youtube of Joe fighting Greg Barnes, he looked massive and definitely had a look of an 'enhanced' fighter. You have to make your own decision.
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Joined: December 27th, 2012, 8:01 pm

June 1st, 2018, 9:03 pm #75

If you look at Bruce at 17, he has them lats still, and he was quite wide shouldered anyway and when you've got a slim waist, it gives you a really classic bodybuilding look.
I don't think Bruce done Steroids personally, as they wouldn't have made much difference because he burned weight of big time as he had an Ectomorphic build.
I'm the same.
Hard work, and I mean an obsessive hard work ethic, got Bruce that physique, but that's my personal view.

I can't help but wander what Ronald Teare thought when he examined such a well trained body on a cold slab.
He did Jimi Hendrixes Autopsy and Brian Epstiens too.
I remember reading an interview with his son and he said his father never mentioned anything about it, ever.
It was just another job to him.
He's buried on the Isle of Wight I think, or the Isle of man.
Best Wishes
Tony
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Joined: January 17th, 2014, 1:19 am

June 2nd, 2018, 6:43 am #76

Concerning steroids, yes they weren't illegal then, but then, how easy were they to obtain? Thinking about Unsettled Matters, I still think Bleecker confused corticosteroids with anabolic steroids. Comparing Bruce Lee's physique duringbthe time he filmed the Green Hornets in 1966-67 and Way of the Dragon in 1972, he was bulkier in Green Hornet and he probably looked his physical best in Way of the Dragon. I believe Bruce had developed pecs and six pack abs at 10, so who knows exactly what was going on?
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Joined: September 12th, 2011, 9:14 pm

June 3rd, 2018, 1:34 pm #77

Cortisone is the steroid that Lee used. Knowingly. Around the time the back injury took place. Being OCD as he was he found it's usage was having an effect on his body; stmukating, progressing, and enhancing, his workouts, his physical prowess sexually, and giving him a "boost" athletically. I can see why when he returned to HK with a physician prescribing him unchecked amounts, he became codependent. It's not difficult to understand. 
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Joined: January 17th, 2014, 1:19 am

June 3rd, 2018, 6:51 pm #78

656 pages, damn.
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Joined: December 5th, 2007, 1:05 am

June 3rd, 2018, 11:59 pm #79

The imitator Bruce Le has similar body to Lee imo , not as defined but still pretty muscular.
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Joined: July 24th, 2015, 3:19 am

June 5th, 2018, 9:51 am #80

Just received the Kindle version of Polley's book. I am about 1/3 of the way through. It's a big book.

I'll write a more in-depth comment after I finish it, but just wanted to share my initial thoughts.

It's very well researched. Polley has a ton of footnotes and a lengthy bibilography of sources, including Chinese language books, papers, and interviews.

There are only a couple of tiny questionable things I've come across so far. e.g. Polley has Bruce and sister Agnes doing a fortune reading a week before Bruce sails to America. I am pretty sure Agnes was already living in the US at that time. Polley also says Bruce 'left' Ruby Chow's, when we now know from Doug Palmer that Bruce had been kicked out of Ruby Chow's place. Other than these minor details, the book seems quite accurate so far.

In fact, the book fills in some of the timeline I had always wondered about, such as when exactly did William Dozier tell Jay Sebring he was looking for an asian actor? It turns out to be in early January 1965. Ed Parker and Jay Sebring then drove over to William Dozier's office on January 21, 1965 with the film from the Long Beach International Karate Tournament from August 1964. Polley had actually interviewed the nephew of Jay Sebring. He also went to the William Dozier archives at the University of Wyoming: https://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docI ... h06851.xml

So I am quite impressed by some of the research I've read so far. There is definitely some original and unique info, but most of it is taken from published sources. There aren't a lot of new facts Polley is presenting, and most people on this forum will already be familiar with the usual biographical ground Polley covers. But I'm looking forward to reading the ending and about his theory of how Bruce died.

Anyway, I am way up past my bed time and I need to go to sleep. More later, when I've finished and digested the book.
"All type of knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge"
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