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70 Is Just A Number For Workout 'King' Of South Side High School

By Justin Breen | December 26, 2012 10:02am | Updated on December 26, 2012 11:08am

KENWOOD — Lonnie Williams celebrated his 70th birthday this month with squats, bench presses, circuit training and an abdominal workout.

Williams, who has been the King College Prep high school football coach since 1971, said his Dec. 11 birthday was just another day. The South Shore resident doesn't struggle when benching 225 pounds or squatting an easy 260.

"He's unstoppable," said King junior London Suber, 16, who plays football for the Jaguars. "As far as I know, nobody can outdo what Coach does. Coach could just lift for days."

Williams continues to inspire Jaguars young and old with his strict workout regimen. He hits the basement at King, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd., as many as five times a week, up to 75 minutes a session.

King coaches and student-athletes said Williams, incredibly, is in better condition than anyone else at the school.

"I'm going to get old, but I refuse to look old. I'm not going to get out of shape. I get all that from Coach Williams," said assistant football and wrestling coach Aaron Collins, 53, a 1979 King graduate.

Williams retired from a full-time role as the school's athletic director last year but still coaches the football team and serves as a substitute physical education teacher.

He said there's no current King football player who can challenge him in the weight room, and he backs that up with his actions.

His workouts are rigorous, with three sets of eight-to-12 repetitions on a variety of machines with a consistent addition of free weights.

"I want to be like that when I'm that age," said King sophomore linebacker and tight end Devon Doss, who added Williams recently was benching his max of 140 as a "warm-up."

"How can this man be this old and benching this much?" said Devon, 15. "It makes me better and work harder."

Williams said he could bench at least 250 pounds, but he's not in weightlifting for a contest. He said he works out for his health and to help build "young black boys into young black men."

"If you're going to teach young people something, you should try to set the right examples for them," Williams said.

Williams said although he takes a pill for high blood pressure, has allergies and had his right knee replaced in 2004, he's in near-perfect condition.

Former King defensive tackle Johnny Lowe, now a senior mechanical engineering major at Northern Illinois University, said Williams sets the bar high for all people, regardless of age.

"I think more people should be aiming to live like him," said Lowe, 24. "I think that Coach Williams has been very influential in changing a lot of kids' lives and giving them structure."

Williams said he doesn't think of himself as 70.

And he expects to continue lifting for many years to come.

"It's not unusual," he said. "It's just part of what I do and who I am."