On a miserably cold night in the middle of 2007’s February deep-freeze, who’d have guessed that so many fans would turn up at Doc’s Sports Retreat to honor retired Polish-American weightlifter Norbert Schemansky?

Owner Bob Suchyta for one.  He’s the ‘Doc’ in ‘Doc’s’—a family physician with offices in Dearborn Heights—and he counts Norbert Schemansky among his life’s biggest influences. 

“Norb is one of a kind, a real Detroit legend,” says Dr. Bob, an affable medico who exudes bedside manner --and more than able weightlifter in his own right, having trained under Norb Schemansky and won numerous contests, including being named Michigan state champion ten times, and in 1994 coming in 4th in the Olympic tryouts (regrettably, the only took the top three!).

Schemansky’s Olympic experience was a bit more auspicious; he took home four medals in four separate Olympics—an unprecedented feat.  Making this record the more amazing is the fact that two of these medals came after doctors (not Suchyta!) told him that success back injuries made it unlikely that he’d ever lift again.

Is that kind of determination part of the Polish mindset?  Dr. Bob speaks reverently about Schemansky’s work ethic—years at Briggs Manufacturing to make ends meet while undergoing the almost unbelievably rigorous training regimen required for Olympic-level athletes.  But he also credits his Polish-born grandparents, who immigrated in the early part of the twentieth century, coming with nothing and eking out a living.  “They had no money, no language and yet they made it.  They gave my parents a solid, loving upbringing, and in turn, my parents worked—both of them—and put three kids through medical school.  That’s the American dream.  Could I go to Poland like that and make it?  I really don’t know the answer to that.”

The reason for the Norbert Schemansky evening at his two-year-old sports bar, says Dr. Bob, was to promote Schemansky’s new book, “Mr. Weightlifting”, published by Immortal Investments Publishing.  Not available in bookstores, this fascinating account of Schemansky’s up-and-down career, his life’s philosophy, and finally, his triumph over adversity, can be found at

Meanwhile, stop by Doc’s Sports Retreat for a cold one on a (hopefully) less chilly night.

Doc’s Sports Retreat
19265 Victor Parkway
Livonia, MI  48152
(734) 542-8162 Phone


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