Valerie Dixon, Gleaner Writer
GEORGE MCFARLANE was born in Worchester (pronounced Wooster) in St James, a typical sugar estate village. He attended John's Hall Primary School. As a child, he said he was always physically active, doing boyish things like climbing trees and always running up and down.
When asked if he remembered when he first became interested in fitness and bodybuilding, McFarlane said in looking back, he has come to realise he was influenced by the muscle-bound bodies of his comic-book heroes and always wanted to look like them when he grew up.
Upon finishing school, McFarlane joined his mother, who lived in Porus, Manchester, and it marked a major turning point in his life. He said he would often take trips to Mandeville because he loved going to see movies at the Odeon and Tudor theatres. Afterwards, he would go window-shopping and he also enjoyed going to Church Teachers' College to "look at the girls".
It was on one of those visits to the college that his life would be irrevocably changed. McFarlane saw karate master Jim Lilly teaching a class, and he was so fascinated that he was determined to learn this martial art.
On that visit, McFarlane also saw a young man lifting weights, and he was invited to try his hands at lifting. He remarked that he had never seen a set of weights before, but he said, "I lifted the weights as if it was not a challenge." The young man was equally impressed and told him that he should join the gym and the karate class. He has been hooked on martial arts, fitness, and bodybuilding since then.
McFarlane furthered his studies, but due to financial constraints, he was unable to sit the examinations. He learnt the skill of welding and went to live in Kingston and continued his karate training with Errol Lyn. He soon won many competitions, and when asked to expand on these achievements, he humbly admitted that he "literally put the Seido School of Karate on the map".
After four years, McFarlane journeyed back to Manchester and worked at the parish library and continued to train at the Seido School's branch in Mandeville. He got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was given permission to conduct exercise and yoga classes free at the then newly built Cecil Charlton Hall. He also included martial arts training and soon took over the Seido School of Karate in Mandeville.
George, as he is affectionately known to everyone in Mandeville, is indeed a humble champion. He won his first tournament in 1983 and is a heavyweight black belt karate champion. For seven years, McFarlane dominated tournaments both locally and internationally, and on several occasions, he has travelled as the coach-instructor with his seido team, as well as with the national team to several tournaments abroad.
After these many years of competition, McFarlane has retired as a local undefeated heavyweight black belt karate champion.
McFarlane now concentrates on teaching his students, taking them through their paces in exercise and yoga classes, bodybuilding, martial arts training, and body massage, using the healing powers of Reiki.
He delves deeply into esoteric spiritual subjects and said he remains grounded and in balance through daily meditation and that he needs extreme quiet times as he is locked into "the biggest fight of his life": to know himself.