Bernard “Bernie” Newman was an international-class gymnastics coach who founded the Windsor Gymnastics Club. Newman coached Canadian national teams, including at the Olympics, and took Windsor-Essex gymnasts to competitions around the world.
Newman was born in Windsor on August 14, 1914.
As a boy, Newman became interested in gymnastics at a young age. He practiced at home in an outdoor gym and at school under Athletic Director Butch Drulard. Eventually, he found the “Sokols,” a group of Polish gymnasts who worked out in the basement of the Holy Trinity Church.
In adulthood, Newman coached at W. D. Lowe High School between 1936 and ’52. His teams dominated WSSA and WOSSA competition, winning All-Ontario honours in ’37, ’39, and ’51.
Newman founded the Windsor Gymnastics Club in 1953. The association, which grew out of his backyard, fundraised aggressively to send its members to competitions far and wide, including meets in Detroit, Cleveland, Montreal, New York, Buffalo, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, and Mexico. As the Windsor Gymnastics Club grew, its gymnasts won several Canadian and American titles.
In 1956 in Melbourne, Australia, Newman was the coach of Canada’s first gymnastics team to compete at an Olympic Games. He also coached Canadian teams at the Pan-Am Games in Mexico City and Chicago, in 1955 and ’59 respectively, and at the World Gymnastics Meet in Moscow in ’58.
Newman produced several outstanding gymnasts, including Marvin Johnson, Al Cornwall, Nino Marion, Cal Girard, and Ed Gagnier. Most notably, he coached Ernestine Russell, who was a two-time Olympian, five-time Canadian Champion, and three-time Canadian Women’s Athlete of the Year.
Newman was the National Chairman of the Canadian Gymnastics Committee of the AAU in 1955 and ’56. He served as a dedicated Member of Provincial Parliament from 1959 to ’87.
Bernard Newman passed away on November 6, 1995.