ASICS, RESILITE, Universal Gym

William Farrell wrestled in Japan in 1957 and became fascinated by the lightweight nylon shoes the Japanese National Team was wearing.  Up to that point, he had only seen the clumsy, stiff canvas basketball like wrestling shoes sold in the United States. The name of that lightweight shoe was Onitsuka Tiger, and the company is now known as the ASICS Corporation.  A famous Japanese wrestler named Shozo Sasahara, an Olympic Gold Medalist in 1956, introduced Bill to Kihachiro Onitsuka, a gentleman who began designing athletic shoes in his native country shortly after WWII.  A close friendship was formed, and Bill began importing and distributing the first “Onitsuka Tiger” wrestling shoes in the United States in 1958.

Bill imported more than just the ASICS wrestling shoe line, he imported some of the best Japanese wrestlers in the world to work in his fledgling company, and wrestle for the prestigious New York Athletic Club. Pictured below are:

The Japanese Connection

FR - L to R: Michio Tomino, National Champ; Fumi Nakamura 2 x National Champ; MR - L to R: Yasuo Katsumura - World Champ; Chikara Murano - National Champ; Shojo Sasahara - Olympic Champion 1956; Kenichi Nakayama - National Champ. BR - Bill Farrell - Coach

Shortly thereafter Bill met Warren Tischler who was the owner of RESILITE.  Warren had discovered a new way to make wrestling mats, which up to that time were stuffed with horse hair and covered in an unforgiving vinyl fabric.  New, lightweight, extremely protective foams were just emerging in the market place, and Warren discovered that they could be covered with pliable vinyl paint.  Warren perfected his mats for use in wrestling, and this revolutionary product changed the sport forever.  Bill took this product line back to Long Island, and sold his first RESILITE mat to legendary Mepham High School wrestling coach Sprig Gardner, and later to all of Long Island's wrestling programs.

With Onitsuka Tiger and RESILITE as his mainstays, Bill started his first company, Olympic RESILITE, and opened the doors in Valley Stream, NY in 1959  The company distributed all manner of wrestling products including custom singlets, ear guards, warm up suits, etc, across the country, and every Onitsuka Tiger wrestling shoe sold in the United States was being shipped from Long Island.  It was at this time, that Bill discovered the third innovative product that would galvanize his fledgling company… the Universal Gym.  It’s hard to imagine now, but back then weight training was not regarded as an athletic endeavor.  The prevailing opinion was it would make an individual “muscle bound” and cause him to lose flexibility and coordination.  The first “Universal” Bill sold was to the New York Athletic Club, and a short time later, after discovering it’s benefits, they purchased another.  Bill began traveling throughout the northeast and other areas selling the benefits of the Universal Gym.  One of his most impressive customers was Vince Lombardi, the head coach of the Green Bay Packer football team.  Bill proved to Coach Lombardi that he could rehabilitate his injured players, getting them back on to the football field in record time.  The fitness boom had begun with the Universal Gym.

Neil Duncan was hired by Bill in 1973 as a truck driver and installer of the UG product line.  Nick Gallo was hired in 1978 as assistant director of the wrestling division.  They joined a growing staff of mainly wrestlers and friends of wrestlers. Within the next 25 years, as the company grew in size and staff to 80 people, and virtually every school in the northeast had a Universal Gym.

Executives Of Universal Fitness Products, 1972

Universal Fitness Products Executives

Front row: Sonny Greenhalgh, Don Hanington, "Chik" Murano. Back row: Tom Cirucci, Bill McCormick, Pete Damone, Bill Farrell

In 1988, with the economy bordering on recession, Bill sold the exercise business to the Universal Gym Company while retaining the wrestling division.  Thus, the beginning of TW Promotions, Inc. which was incorporated by Bill, Nick and Neil at that time. We’re proud of our rugged heritage, and continue to forge ahead with the same hunger for success which was developed in our early years.

Universal Gym`

The Universal Gym - 1969