Biography of a
Health and Fitness Success Story
Wally Emery was inspired at an early age to follow in the footsteps of Steve Reeves, the current Mr. Universe. It was 1950 and he was fourteen years old. He couldn't go to the local health club, because they didn't have to many of those back then. So he worked out in a makeshift gym created by his father, and his allowance was used to purchase the barbells.
After two years of this, Wally and his father drove 350 miles from Lodi, CA., to Muscle Beach in Santa Monica and Wally entered the Mr. Muscle Beach contest in 1952. And to his astonishment, he won. Wow!! His first body building contest and he had won, Mr. Muscle Beach at age 16!
Wally graduated High School in 1954 and joined the army. Wally entered the Mr. Universe contest and Mr. Europe contest, when he was stationed in Europe. He won fourth place in the Mr. Europe contest and fifth place in the Mr. Universe contest. Wally was offered the role of Hercules a film to be made in Italy. Wally turned down the offer as he was also offered a role in the film portraying the life story of Jack Demsey to be produced by Ralph Edwards. But, The Dempsey family and Ralph Edwards could not agree on many points of the film, so the film was cancelled and so was Wally's film career.
After leaving the Army in 1957, Wally had an offer of help to enter the bodybuilding circuit. Wally knew that there wasn't much money in it however, and went to get a "real job". He moved to Los Angeles and became a talent agent for William Morris. Wally had met a lot of "stars" and decided to become a producer. Unfortunately, for Wally it was far more difficult then he had imagined.
Wally then became a bounty hunter , working for Ralph "Papa" Thorsen, to earn enough money to break into the picture business. Wally had met Steve McQueen when he was at the William Morris Agency, he introduced Steve McQueen to Ralph Thorsen. McQueen met with Thorsen and author Christopher Keane and McQueen decided that he would star in his final movie, The Hunter, Thorsen's life story.
Steve McQueen was a great guy and a good friend, he was an awesome motor cycle rider , he taught me how to ride a bike at the Indian Dunes in Southern California.
Wally ran into Barbara Thompson, a good friend, she was Miss Surf Festival and runner up in Miss Muscle Beach the same year that Wally was Mr. Muscle Beach. Barbara was married to Mickey Rooney and she had Wally contact Mickey Rooney's production staff at Barb-Roo Productions at Skeleton Studios. Wally got a job as an associate producer for Mickey Rooney. Those were Mickey's wild days, they spent more time at the track than they spent on the job. After working for Mickey, Wally left to co-found his own production studio.
Wally partnered with Harold Lloyd Jr. and they founded the production company, Emery/Lloyd productions housed at the Lloyd Estate. The first and only project was "Little Girl Lost" starring J. Carol Nash, directed by Richard Donner (director of Superman). Unforunately, Lloyd died tragically, Wally sold the script and it became the basis for the pilot Flipper.
Wally realized it was time to get back into the body business. Wally went to work for bodybuilding legend Jack LaLanne. While he was helping LaLanne expand his empire, he met Chuck Norris. Norris and his wife were interested in joining a LaLanne Health Club. So Wally told him if he taught Wally karate he and Diane would have a membership and his black belts would have run of the gym after hours. Wally came up with the idea of making Chuck Norris Karate Studio a chain and together they built 7 studios. As president and general manager of Chuck Norris Karate Studios, Wally was the first in the karate business to do commercials. While working with Chuck Norris, Wally earned his own black belt in the Korean Tang Soo Do form of karate and a black belt in Tae Kwan Do.
During the time that Wally was involved in karate, he became a good friend of Ed Parker, Elvis Presley’s personal karate instructor. Wally met Elvis at Parker's dojo and Elvis was a good karate friend. Ed asked Wally to body guard Elvis in what would be his last performance. Wally was unable to help Ed because he was promoting the World Kick Boxing championships at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. Wally was the first promoter to bring Japanese fighters to the U.S. His kickboxers were the headliner at the famous Dunes Hotel. Wally moved to Las Vegas to promote his kickboxing and started to live it up at the Dunes. "It was a life in the fast lane. My diet wasn't good. Smoking was very trendy. I wasn't exercising." Wally states in a recent article in Muscle Media.
Wally was a trainer for the L.A. Kings hockey team and the team had their best year, almost injury free. One of the Kings star players Vic Venasky had groin problems and hernia operations. Wally worked with him and he went injury free that year. Jack Kent Cook, the owner of the forum, the Kings and Lakers at that time was happy with the job Wally did and said if he needed a favor sometime, just call. Wally did just that and became the first and only Kick Boxing promoter at the Forum, never before has such an event been held at the home of the L.A. Lakers and L.A.Kings. Wally's business endeavors in Hollywood have ended.
Wally is now working with his good friend Jim Heaney, President of E.W.L., inc. Heaney developed H wave therapy for pain suppression, increase function and enhance healing for sports and industrial injury. His company works with over 50 professional sports teams and Lance Armstrong.
In 1984, Wally moved back to Lodi, Ca. to help his mother cope with the death of his father. After about a year, Wally's mother was doing better. However, Wally was settled in Lodi, and his kickboxing contacts in Vegas had moved on. Wally was enjoying his golf buddies, and going out for pizza and burgers. He was also the Northern California distributor for an H-wave therapy (a pain reduction and healing system for sports and industrial injuries). He was settling into the kind of life that contributed to his heart attack. He didn't really have a focus in terms of fitness. He fell out of bodybuilding and was eating and drinking all the wrong things.
Wally saw himself as morphing into "Fat Albert", and was determined to not let that happen. He had started to lift weights again, but unfortunately, this did not stop the heart attack. He underwent a quintuple bypass during open heart surgery. After a year of recovery Wally had physically recuperated, but not emotionally.
Wally's friend from work, Dr. Patrick Rhoades, suggested he enter the Body-for-LIFE Challenge. This is a 12 week training, nutrition and supplementation program. After training for the twelve weeks he felt better physically and mentally. He didn't win the competition, but he was so inspired by his own progress that he decided to enter again.
After the end of the second 12 week program Wally had dropped his body fat from 21.5 percent to 10.6 percent, and lost 18 pounds. He had more self esteem, more energy and more enthusiasm. Then Wally got the news that the Body-for-LIFE judges had chosen him as the Inspirational Grand Champion of 2002.
Wally would like for his story to inspire others to believe that they can reclaim their lives, physcally and emotionally at any age. "He is also living proof that it's never too late to be blown away by your own accomplishments. While many people fear that their glory days are behing them, Wally's most recent victory shows that the best in life may always be yet to come." *
Wally is still living in Lodi, Ca, working with his friend Jim Heaney, whom he has been working for since 1979. They do H-WAve therapy and Pain Reduction for sports and industrial injuries. They work for over 50 major sports teams across the US, which include the LA Lakers, the SF 49'ers and the Rams.
Wally is now in the process of writing his auto-biography in which he will share his personnel experiences with Elvis Presley, Ed Parker, Steve McQueen, Billy Jack, Chuck Norris, Ralph Thorsen, life story ‘The hunter” was starring Steve McQueen and others.
Wally's Book will be coming out in the near future. Excerts from his book can be found on this Website at "It's Not Too Late To Feel Great".
"I think my story could help a lot of people. Maybe I can inspire others to make changes in their lives for the better."
For more information on Wally and Body for Life, visit:
Wally is on the advisory committee for the California State Athletic Commission.
Wally was inducted into the sports Hall of Fame in March 1999.
Return to Wally Emery's home page, health and fitness success story.
*Wendy Paris, Muscle Media March/April 2004
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