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ESPN Article on the notoriously cruel Al Fong

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Ingymmom

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Jul 12, 2007
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Anyone that has read "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes" has heard of Al Fong & his 2 gymnasts that died ... it took a lot but it sounds as if his philosophies have changed and for the bettter. He has created some elite greats - I am looking forward to hopefully seeing his very talented gymnast - Ivana Hong - in Beijing:D... this is a really good article, worth a read.

http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/news/story?id=3027224
 

audra

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That is a great article, and it definitely makes me see him differently. It takes a lot for someone to admit they have screwed up and take a new approach to their life and work. The gymnastics world is not very forgiving though so it will always be a struggle for him.
 

Ingymmom

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Jul 12, 2007
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I LOVE the change in his perspective! It is great to see... it sounds like he and his business have and still are suffering though. I hope it all works out.
 

I-Heart-Beam

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Sep 9, 2007
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Wow thats quite scary- is that not Ivana Hong's coach? Someone told me 2 of his gymnasts died :eek:. I've never heard of that before.

This seems a little bit insensitive but what are the skills at 0.54 and 5.06 in first part? O.54 is almost like german giants on the low bar except in straddle and 5.06 is a transition move- are they still allowed? What would they score?
 

minfriendz

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Jan 28, 2008
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I'm reading the book now (Little Girls in Pretty Boxes) and I can't believe how they were treating their gymnasts! I also read Bela Karolyi's book last summer and after reading little girls in pretty boxes, Bela's cruel training techniques were revealed. Awesome book :)
 

bogwoppit

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ANother thread up from the deeps???

Incidentally GAGE has been going through serious financial issues for many years and is no longer in it's mega huge facility, the buildings owner and Al Fong are battling it out in court over who owes and owns what. The gymnasts are in the middle. It seems that AL had signed a contract and now refuses to pay, the gym equipment was collateral and her and the parents, coaches took it away secretly (though how you do that secretly, I have no idea!).

THis is a saga that will go on for a while for sure.
 
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bookworm

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Al's problem is that he signed for a 20-30 year lease on the current building at an outrageous rate and he thought his Olympians would translate into dollars and it didn't... and he couldn't keep up with the rent as it was and was ready to go under and a businessman out there in MO bailed him out by assuming his mortgage and allowing Al to pay him...3 years down the road , Al decides the rent is "way above market value" (never mind it was the rate HE originally had) and doesn't pay the guy and wants out....bottom line, he's a lousy businessman who got in way over his head and still wanted to just coach elites and not keep an eye on keeping profitable and it got him into trouble ..and he still owes the guy his money.

Much of this sage is on a thread on International Gymnast forum for the really curious...
 
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GymMom11

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Al's problem is that he signed for a 20-30 year lease on the current building at an outrageous rate and he thought his Olympians would translate into dollars and it didn't... and he couldn't keep up with the rent as it was and was ready to go under and a businessman out there in MO bailed him out by assuming his mortgage and allowing Al to pay him...3 years down the road
This information is incorrect. Al built the new GAGE building without first taking out a loan. He "put the cart before the horse" so to speak and when the time came to obtain a loan, no bank was willing to take a chance on a "gym". He never signed a 20-30 year lease. When he was unable to obtain the loan, that is when the investor came in and purchased the new building. Al then signed a lease with him. Keep in mind the rent was 20,000 plus a month (which he was not allowed to wait to pay until 3 years down the road)! There are so many different stories floating around its crazy. No parents/coaches secretly moved equipment out of the gym. It was moved in broad daylight with moving trucks. Not quite sure how you would move such large equipment secretly? I think the less everyone spreads stories and rumors they hear, the better it will be.
 

bogwoppit

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What I know for sure is the equipment does not belong to Al 100%. Therefore whoever helped move the equipment probably didn't realize that it wasn't his for the taking. I know that there are many sides to this sorry tale. Al's is not the only one.

Did you notice what I said after I stated that the equipment was secretly removed?.. I clearly said that I didn't see how that was possible. 'cos we all know you cannot empty a gym quietly! Did someone let the 51% owner know the equipment was being moved?

I don't think there are any rumors on this thread, if there are let us know which bits are rumors and we will check with our sources.

I think we can all agree that finances are not Al's gift, sad for everyone involved.
 
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bogwoppit

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GAGE In the News The Truth About GAGE's Blog

Here is a link to a blog all about the GAGE issue. If you sift through you can find all the legal documents and all of the parent/coach comments good and bad. There is a lot to this tale and until the new court date I am sure many questions will remian unanswered. Unless Mr Fong is lurking here and would like to respond.
 

Tuduri

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Oct 1, 2007
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Gym economics

I've heard that the competitive side of most gyms alone does not break even. Our own competitive side comes close to breaking even, but it is the recreational side which really pays the bills. We have 70 to 80 girls on the competitive side. But we have over a thousand girls on the recreational side. Our gym is 18,000 square feet divided in two for the rec and optional sides. I know that the rent was $20,000 3 or 4 years ago and was renegotiated then during a down market. It's been here around 25 years and going strong. But without the recreational side I don't think that the competitive side alone could have remained in business all these years.I wonder if Gage had a recreational side to its gym?

Julio Garcia
Jamy's dad
 

bogwoppit

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Yes GAGE had a large rec programme and a still has a very strong cheer programme. THe team fees were the highest in the area too. THese are tough times for most gym's, but this was compounded for GAGE as the monthly "rent" also involved other payments that Al Fong owed. A very messy financial situation, I am totally sure he couldn't make ends meet and that is very tough.

Tuduri, I agree, rec is often what keeps the gym afloat and able to have a strong team programme.
 
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