Gone Too Soon | One Last Rant

TAGS: rest in peace, bob ihlenfeldt, The Angry Coach, r.i.p.

This past Saturday, the man who was at various times known as The Doorman, Rob Fitzgerald and The Angry Coach passed away. To his friends and those in the industry, he was known by his given name, Bob Ihlenfeldt, and he was a major player in the behind-the-scenes aspect of the fitness magazine industry. In this capacity, he not only helped publicize numerous lifters and athletes through his stories, but guided the careers and collaborated with many of the prominent creative names in the strength coaching, bodybuilding, powerlifting and athletic world.

While his cause of death is still unknown, his impact on the industry (and this site in particular) is unquestionable. Bob was a man with a diverse background and, because of this, touched the lives of various people in very different ways. Here are some of their memories:

 

BItribute_DTate

Coming off LTT8, the gym was full of energy and excitement. It was full of life. A week later, however, I woke up to a sobering dose of reality—life can be gone in the blink of an eye. As many of you know, Bob Ihlenfeldt (The Angry Coach) passed away Saturday morning.

For over a decade he has helped me with my spelling and grammar, helped with e-books, articles, ad copy and consulting. There were many things Bob did for us that I read or looked at with amazement. Other things he did drove me insane. And I know at times I did the same to him. I think he actually has quit the team or was dismissed (and then came back) at least four times. It was this very dynamic between us that made our relationship so meaningful to me.

I first met him when he was a cop, coach, bouncer and blogger. From there, I watched him create a best-selling book, land a position with one of the largest fitness magazines, work as a consultant, help write e-books for others but nothing seemed to excite him like coaching did. He LOVED coaching his football players and developing their skills as athletes. He also took great pride in helping others in the industry with their writing, marketing and positioning skills. Bob was a great mentor and advisor to many.

Over the past decade we have shared thousands of emails, hundreds of calls, many dinners, several arguments, a few really heated arguments, a few dismissals, laughs, stories, each other's fears, and personal shit very few would share with anybody. I lost count of the number of times he left the site or I had him removed but every time we got back together we, and the site, were better because of it.

I will miss him…a lot.

I will be praying for him, his family and friends. He passed way too young and way too soon, but I do believe he lived a life that help influence and make many others better. I know this for a fact, because I am one of them.

— Dave Tate

BItribute_BMann

I think my interactions have been more recent and fewer with Bob than many others of elitefts™, but each one was textbook him. I first met Bob when he did an interview with me for Muscle& Fitness. We didn’t know each other at all, but immediately connected. For a 600-word piece (that ended up being more than that), we spoke for about an hour and a half. From there, we didn’t communicate a whole lot. Every time we did, though, I was extremely appreciative. He didn’t want to bother me since I was a college professor, and I didn’t want to bother him because he was an author for magazines and other things. I remember one Facebook interaction we had when he was asking some question for some people and I said, “Dude, you’ve got my number. Why didn’t you just call me about this?” He said, “Dude, why would I bother you? You’re a fucking college professor.” I said, “Funny. I never want to bother you because you’re a big time writer.” We both had a laugh and moved on.

When we did the interview, we connected over the fact that we had some of the same views on things as it related to our careers: we go hard. We accept nothing less from ourselves than excellence. We love to coach and will always do it. Oh, and we both liked to pick up heavy weights.

Here is what I do know about Bob: he was genuine—absolutely, completely, and inevitably genuine. In a world where people will want to kiss your ass and blow smoke up it if you work in college athletics, Bob didn’t. He was the antithesis of this. I remember when he bought my eBook on Velocity Based Training, he sent me an email to let me know that he bought it and was reading it. I told him that I would have sent it to him for free, as he’d helped me out in the past. He said that he wanted to support people who were trying to put work in and push the envelope so he’d be offended if I sent him one. Then about an hour later he sent me another email.

“Hey, want some advice? Your grammar fucking sucks.” Short, direct and to the point.

That was just one of several interactions that we had. He was blunt, to the point, said what he thought or felt, and always kept me grounded. He’d say “good work” if it was great, or “man, you suck” when I didn’t do the best job. Bob was willing to help anyone who asked, and give advice when it was wanted or not. I remember hearing a quote about George Patton that reminds me of Bob. “Patton was one arrogant son of a bitch, but he was our arrogant son of a bitch.”

I cherished each and every one of our interactions. He kept me grounded. While I was not as close to Bob as others, I will greatly miss him just the same.

— Bryan Mann

BItribute_AWattles

I never got to meet Bob in person. A few years ago somehow my path crossed via messaging with Bob. The messages continued from time to time generally involving a random correction or harassment about something in my training log. The exchanges would quickly escalate into each of us trying to prove that our point of view, information, grammar or perspective was right and it was always entertaining.

Out of the blue one day Bob got in touch to tell me about his personal losses with Hurricane Sandy. He quickly minimized his situation and focused on his neighbors, their losses and needs. Bob didn’t want help for himself, he didn’t want sympathy or attention. He wanted help for his neighbors. Those who knew Bob lined up to provide whatever support and supplies they could from all across the country. As packages arrived Bob would get in touch, fill me in on progress, current needs and plans for the approaching holidays. He was working hard with the main focus on others. There was no glory, there was no pat on the back or time for rest. Bob had a mission to accomplish.

My daughter and I shopped and she chose to send an adorable winter coat and hat/glove set for a little girl who might be cold due to tragedies of Hurricane Sandy. When Bob got in touch when the coat arrived, my request was that he find an adorable little girl who needed it, take time to slow down, be her hero and make her smile, even if it were just for a brief second. In my heart I know Bob never did that. He was busy pushing forward without recognition or a pat on the back for his drive and passion to be of service to his community.

The strength world was also Bob’s community and he approached his work in much the same way. Behind the scenes he was available, influential and was a support to those who shared the same values and vision as his. Bob vowed to take a flight out to meet in person. That flight will never happen and the pleasure of meeting him in person is now gone. However, Bob’s message of integrity, honesty and lifting others up to achieve their best will carry on in the lives and work of those he personally touched. Bob’s communities will always have an emptiness that cannot be filled since his passing. It is all of our responsibilities to continue to embrace Bob’s values, passion and commitment forward in the work yet to come.

— Amy Wattles

BItribute_MGoodwin

I will always remember our late night sports rants over Facebook. No matter what sport or what team or what player we were talking about, Bob had a story. Whenever I wanted to piss and moan about my favorite team Bob, was my go-to guy. I will miss those late night conversations; they were one of a kind and ended up going off into a racy side conversation. RIP Bob.

— Matt Goodwin

BItribute_ACosgrove

I first "met" Bob in January of 2007. We'd never talked before, emailed before or ever met. I was about to launch the "lift strong" eBook (funds goings to cancer research). His very first email to me:

"I just saw your project on the EFS message board and I'd like to help if I could. My brother passed away earlier this year after a two-year fight with lung cancer (he was 37 and didn't even smoke), so anything cancer-related is very personal for me.

I would love the opportunity to sell your manual on my site, or at least to advertise a link where it could be purchased. I think this is a fantastic idea, and I'd like to help."

There was no exposure for Bob with this project. He was still going by the pseudonym of "the doorman." This was purely to help. That tells you about the person he was — he just wanted to help.

We met not long later, and kept in touch via email, text and a few visits. I watched him go from writing a blog about nightclubs, to writing a book, to working at Muscle and Fitness magazine. He was the perfect example of hard work paying off.

I read his Angry Coach column regularly, and his own site. I'll confess I always got a kick out of seeing my name mentioned with regards to something we'd talked about. The last email he sent me was a link to a video with a guy doing different accents from around the UK and asking me which one was the closest to mine.

I saw his post on FB on Friday about being at the doctor when I was on the road. I made a mental note that I'd text him or email him when I got home. Saturday I got a text telling me the news. Not that it would have made any difference, but that'll weigh heavily on me for a while.

I'll miss him.

— Alwyn Cosgrove

BItribute_SHayes

I’ll never forget the day Bob, Dave and I exchanged bouncing stories for an hour in the office after work. I remember how lucky I felt to be able to do that with two such well-known and respected guys like that. I was scheduled to train that evening which I normally do shortly after work. Usually I would be annoyed if I got to the gym an hour later than I wanted. I wasn’t at all that time. I could have listened, laughed and shared for hours. Bob was in town for the week and the next day he and I exchanged some cop stories. I enjoyed that because that is the first time I have really been able to do that with someone from the job since I started here a year ago. Then there was the past Arnold Classic when Matt Goodwin and myself met up with Bob, Sheena Leedham and Alexander Cortes to go eat at a nearby restaurant. Bob got so excited as we explained to him the 100 different soda options. Bob and I had already ordered our drinks when Alexander ordered some concoction that sounded awesome. Bob and I looked at each other and told the waitress to change ours to that. Those are my only experiences with Bob but they were definitely great ones and I’m grateful that I had them.

— Scott Hayes

BItribute_JMike

He was very helpful and contacted me in late Fall 2013 about doing work Muscle Mag, which I'm still doing thanks to him. I will always be grateful to him for that. I remember we actually talked via Facebook a few times. He knew me as a "science guy" from all my articles I've done for elitefts™, and he asked if I were interested in doing work for some fitness magazines. I remembered his exact words were "I don't know who the F you are but if Dave (Tate) says you're cool, then that's all I need." I told him 'thank you" at least a dozen times. Several months later, I sent him an email just to thank him again, and he said, "You're welcome, glad it's working out." Although I never got a chance to meet him, I wish I had. From what others have said, he was not only very smart but also well known, brutally honest and very instrumental in the industry. Thank YOU Bob!

Prayers and thoughts go out to his family.

— Jonathan Mike

BItribute_CJMurphy

I learned of Bob’s passing Monday morning as an awesome way to start my day.

I got a text from a very good mutual friend of ours, Brian, on Sunday night, but since I hardly ever check them, I didn’t get the news until the next day. Brian called me and told me about Bob’s sudden passing.

This hit me very hard, and I found it almost impossible to get through my day.

Bob can’t be dead. He was just at my house two weeks ago.

Bob and a friend of his, Ian, were over to do an interview with me for a book they were working on. They stayed after and we ate, drank, dipped, and talked a lot of shit. It was good to see him, since we didn’t see each other much, living in different states. My wife was glad to have met him after hearing so much about him over the years.

How I met Bob is a cool story. Many years ago, Bob read an article I wrote on eliteFTS.com and called me up to ask me a few questions about training football players. He introduced himself and said he thought he would give it a shot and see if I could talk to him. He mentioned that he was a cop, and since I was a Deputy Sheriff, that I should extend the law enforcement courtesy to him and help him out. We spent about an hour on the phone and continued talking on a fairly regular basis after that. We developed a good friendship, as he was the angriest person I knew besides me. We both pretty much hated everything. A perfect pair. Two assholes, no waiting.

Fast forward a while and now Bob was on Team EliteFTS too. I looked forward to his angry posts all the time. Fast forward a little more and I get a phone call from him in a panic.

It went something like:

Bob: Hey Murph, I need an article really fast for Muscle & Fitness.

Murph: Fuck you, Bob.

Bob: Seriously. I need a favor.

Murph: Screw you.

Bob: I’ll give you a byline and put your site in the magazine.

Murph: How many words and what is the topic?

This led to me getting on the advisory board for Muscle & Fitness and Men’s Fitness.

The moral here?

Be good to people. I spent a few minutes talking to someone and helped him out. A great friendship began.

The same guy went places in my industry and became a huge behind-the-scenes player. Bob was known as a writer, ghostwriter, magazine editor, critic of the industry and more. Being good to him helped me out later in life. Bob was a man of honor and character. He lived by his word and helped many people over the years.

He was a handshake guy who always kept his word with me. That goes a long way.

Bob and I discussed doing a huge project together while he was at my house. I had planned on asking him to be a part of it for a long time. Now, without him, I am not sure how to get the project done. He was brilliant at writing effectively. I am a hack, at best.

Too many times in today’s society, we see people with no honor and no code. Bob had a great deal of both. He will be missed by me and by many.

I wish that I could write something better but this is being written on the same day as I learned of his passing so I am not truly able to get all of my thoughts organized.

I don’t know if I would be able to do much better if I waited to do this.

— C.J. Murphy

BItribute_SLeedham

One memory does not serve as more important than another. Although he’s remembered mostly as the Angry Coach, and angry he was, I remember him as Bob. Knowing him for only six months, I looked to him as one of my closest friends and confidants. A few memories worth sharing…

  • I remember being on the phone with Bob, telling him that I was preparing to interview Steve Goggins. I told him what I was looking to ask. Not particularly looking for his answer or response, he shifted my attention to the details I was missing. He reminded me that Steve's lifting and records were trivial. Instead, he wanted me to find out more about Steve and who HE was and is. We wanted the kinds of details that can't be found in Powerlifting USA.
  • He taught me how to throw a punch. He took my hand in his and taught me how to hold my hand. From there, the next lesson was how to initiate the punch from the hips. We made plans that the lessons would continue over time.
  • There were times during the Arnold this past March that we’d be standing like normal people, and all of a sudden he’d tackle me from either the side or back. Each time, I had no idea what was coming. He told me that I always had to be ready. By the end of the day, I was able to stand my own ground.
  • My favorite two-sentence piece of wisdom of his is, “Writing should be simple and elegant. Show me don’t tell me.” The day he said this, I wrote it down and then posted it on my work corkboard. I remember taking a picture of it and sending it to him, too. He was proud that his words made my wall. I always think of these words when writing or approaching a new topic to write about.

Overall, he made a huge impact on my job and how I see myself, both now and moving forward. I’m thankful that in the six months I knew him, I told him how much he meant to me and how I considered him a breath of fresh air. Miss you, Bob.

— Sheena Leedham

BItribute_JLadewski

Like most people say when a friend passes...I'm not sure how to even start this.

Bob was an integral part of my career. He read and edited books and articles, he offered insight into my business and he spoke about me to editors at big fitness magazines. He always left me knowing that I was respected by him. Even when I thanked him for his kind words, he would always say, "I just call it like I see it."

More importantly than being a sounding board, mentor and advisor, he was a good friend. He would send random texts about how he misses playing football and running sprints. Sometimes it was a morning message to tell me he's eating eggs and bacon. And there were countless conversations about life, losing his house to the flood, and the fitness industry. Each story was so honest (sometimes brutally honest), in only a way that Bob could say it and you'd still have a tremendous amount of respect for him.

Bob, the last five years I've known you, you have been nothing short of comical and educational, all bound together by your "who-gives-a F*&#" attitude. You will be missed. You already are.

— Julia Ladewski

BItribute_DKirschen

Bob was a good guy.

Yeah, I know, I really wanted to come up with a better opening sentence, but after hours of consideration, this is all I’ve got. It might not sound like the most laudatory description for a recently departed friend, but it’s the one that has been running through my head since learning of his passing. It continues to pop up in conversations with grieving mutual friends.

Bob was a good guy.

While it may come off as a casual compliment at best, those who knew him will probably get it.

To most, he was, and forever will be known as Angry Coach. Although the name was fitting at times, it’s not the way I’d like to see him remembered. Although my opinion may appear at odds with the majority of his own writing, Bob never struck me as an angry person. Sure, he experienced anger (like, a lot), but that’s not the same as being angry by nature.

Bob was much more complex than his Internet persona let on. Most strikingly, he was honest, often brutally so. Bob did NOT pull punches. Not in his writing, and most certainly not in life. He said exactly what was on his mind, and if you were offended, it was your problem and not his. But while honesty is often used as a veil for malice, this was not the case with Bob. If what he said hurt your feelings, it was probably because you needed to hear it.

He was also funny, and like any great writer, Bob knew how to use humor to enhance, yet not distract, from his intended message. He could cut you down to size with just a few words, and make you laugh so hard that you’d forget to be mad. If he was laying into you, it was a sign of affection, because he knew you had it in you to be better. That’s what coaches do

Among his friends, Bob was known for his generosity, and one has to look no further than the staggering number of professionals he went out of his way to help, often with nothing to gain in return. When Bob became successful, he never forgot the people that helped get him there, and he opened countless doors for his colleagues.

What I’ll remember most about Bob though, was his integrity. While the rest of the fitness industry seems to at times be populated solely by pathological narcissists and opportunists, Bob’s integrity stood in stark contrast. He did what he said he was going to do, and he did it well, because he took pride in doing it well. As is often the case with people of principal, he expected the same of others.

This is where the anger came in.

The rest of the industry rarely matches those basic expectations. In today’s era of yellow-highlighted ad copy, 500-dollar eBooks, and every trainer calling himself “coach,” integrity seems to be in short supply. Bob’s combination of knowledge, eloquence and principal, gave him both the motivation and the ability to call “bullshit” on the whole thing.

Bob’s passing was a profound loss to those of us who got to know him, and not just because he was our friend. It hurt because deep down, we all need someone like Bob in our lives to tell us the truth when we least want to hear it. He didn’t come off like a typical nice guy, but nice isn’t the same as good.

A nice guy will just tell you what you want to hear, but a good guy will tell you when you’re being an asshole.

And that was Bob.

Bob was a good guy.

— David Kirschen

BItribute_JamesSmith

Many of us were dealt a blow this week with the death of The Angry Coach.

Most readers were not aware of his real name, his background, or his “9 to 5” profession; however, all readers, and all who new him, were very much aware of his passion. He had a penchant for coaching, writing, editorial work, and the candid verbal slaughter of those whom he deemed unworthy contributors to the training world.

Bob and I made each other's acquaintance 10 years ago and we remained friends and colleagues ever since.

Bob was a linebacker and played D1 college football at Boston College. A military man, he served as an Army Ranger in Iraq, and his true 9 to 5 profession thereafter was serving as a police officer in the NYPD.

In his final years in the NYPD he served in one of their elite tactical/counterterrorist units.

All the while Bob was coaching at the high school level as well as furthering his work as an author and in the editorial field via connections with most major fitness magazines. In addition, he collaborated with and assisted more than one member of elitefts in completing their training manuals.

If you've been a reader of elitefts™ for a few years or more you may have noticed how a variety of private gym owners, who have also been part of the elitefts crew or affiliates of the crew, at one time or another, were featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine as one of the top gym owners, or most hardcore gym owners, in the US. There is one reason and one reason only these people, including myself and Buddy Morris, made it into these top lists: Bob Ihlenfeldt.

Bob was providing some notoriety to those of us in his circle as a selfless act of generosity.

Bob was remarkably dedicated to serving others; be it his military service, public service in the NYPD, or sports coaching and editorial work.

Bob coached for over 10 years at Cardinal Hayes high school in the Bronx where most of his players were underprivileged youths from broken homes. He served as a surrogate father/mentor to more than one player. These are things that he largely chose not to share with his viewing public.

Every feature I was given in a fitness magazine (Muscle and Fitness, UFC Magazine) was entirely a function of Bob and his willingness to broaden my audience.

In addition, the only reason I coached in England for three months, in 2012, was due to Bob putting me in touch with the client. That consulting job then led to my season spent in Portugal with the National Rugby Federation.

Lastly, while it ultimately did not manifest due to time conflicts, Bob offered, pro bono, to edit as well as cover the cost of the professional graphic design of my recent sprint manual; solely because he wanted to do what he could to see that the market appeal of the manual would broaden.

His Angry Coach persona burned brightly and reflected his true to form hot-blooded demeanor. It would be incomplete, however, to only remember him for his on-line character.

Bob was a serviceman for his country, his city, his athletes, and his friends. He will be missed.

— James Smith

BItribute_FDuncan

Saturday we lost a monumental presence in the strength and fitness world. Bob Ihlenfeldt, The Angry Coach, was more than a talented editor, writer or coach. He was a friend, a mentor and a leader in an industry full of followers. He was as real as they come, which is why we got along so well. In fact, one of the first things he said to me was, “I didn't know you were a young, Guido looking dude, and I thought you were 60 years old with a name like Fred. You look like all the guys I used to throw out of the club in Manhattan.” Now, that shit was funny.

In today’s world, guys like Bob are not a dime a dozen. While most in our industry self-promote and exude selfishness; Bob broke the mold. He helped so many big names in this industry get their break and he did it for no other reason than wanting to help others succeed. His compassion, selflessness, and straight-shooting are a lost art in today’s world.

He went out of his way to help me, even when he had no idea who the hell I was. He never asked for a damn thing in return. He spent a great deal of his own time offering me advice, editing my work and vouching for me. In the short time we knew each other, he taught me a lot and made a huge mark on my career that I will always be grateful for.

— Fred Duncan

BItribute_ACortes

I met Bob last year, and I’ll never forget our first interaction, vie email.

“I'm Bob Ihlenfeldt. Do you know I am?”

………lengthy pause (I seriously hope I’m not screwed right now).

“You fucking don’t, do you? I’m the Angry Coach.”

To the surprise of no one who knew him, that was how I met Bob.

I met him at an intersection point in my own life. I wanted to leave the commercial field of fitness to pursue larger ambitions, and I wasn’t sure what direction to take my career. He approached me randomly, and offered me my first paid assignment within our first conversation. I was taken aback as to why, and asked him as much. His response was simple, “I think you can fucking write, so prove it.”

So I did. Over the course of the months that followed, Bob taught me a lot — about writing, about the industry, about ambition. Bob railed against everything imaginable, and his rants and biting dark humor shall always be legendary. For all his cynicism, though, I realized that Bob cared deeply about people, and he had a sense of justice of how things should be done that was absolutely unwavering.

He was honest — honest to the point that I think it scared the hell out of people, especially ones who avoid the truth. Bob never held anything back: not how he felt, not how he worked, and not how he cared about people (not that he was most outwardly expressive person of human emotion). In an age where masculinity is often lamented for having declined into amorphism and cowardice, and in which conceit goes hand in hand with dubious credibility, Bob possessed a degree of integrity that I could only describe as the highest form of honor. He was an honorable man, and that made him exceptional.

I looked up to a Bob a lot, although I never told him. I’ve heard it expressed often enough that success comes with selling out, that your path shall be beset by all manner of enticement, and that entire process is nothing but a zero sum game at the end. But Bob never sold out, and he was never anything but himself. I respected that to no end. He was, in my mind, an example that there were still a few good men in the world, that honor wasn’t dead, that integrity does exist. And it is powerful.

“If you are honest about everything, no one can hurt you with anything. To speak the truth is to be the most dangerous of men, for it is both arms and armour.”

You were that man, Bob.

— Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes

BobIhlenfeldt_Dustin Image by Dustin George

Robert L. Ihlenfeldt

November 28, 1970 - May 3, 2014

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...