I was born from a rich family. We started the ‘Metro Meat Company’ in 1938. I’m seven years of age. Then the war came, and we were supplying meat all over the world, plus the Americans and the Australian Army, and it made us very wealthy.
We had to work. You had to prove yourself. That’s why I’m like I am today. We had to do more work and better work than employees or anybody else and live up to our name. I did everything. The dirtiest, stinking, rotten job to start with. To slowly getting up higher, and along came 1980. One of Alan Bond’s mates secretly bought shares here, there and everywhere in our company and made a bid and bought us out, a rogue entrepreneur. When he gets a company, he sees that it can be cut, slashed, ruined and burnt and he can get out and take what he wants. Regardless of the employees or anything else, they just grabbed everything and went. It was disastrous. But we were taught never to sit back and take things. There’s always an opportunity.
There was a man that came from the juvenile prison. He was a head guard. His son was a great athlete, and he said, ‘wouldn’t it be good if we could teach criminals to appreciate sport and bring it out of them and encourage em?’ So, I did it. We had a lot of success with it, seven or eight years, then we had a change of government.
We were teaching them physical fitness, athletics, they went for AFL big time and cricket and running, gymnastics and all that. Then somebody started a boxing tournament. Amateur boxing and they were good at that.
If you succeed with one or two, it’s okay. You’ve done something, but the rest are institutionalised for the rest of their lives.
A couple of the big crims that had the muscle said, ‘you give us a packet of cigarettes every time you come, and we’ll make sure you’re well protected, that nobody hurts you’. I had to look after my back. Some of them wanted to make a name for themselves. I was nervous a few times. Some of these juvenile criminals have murdered, raped, bashed.
There was a couple of rogues (kids who had left prison) who found out where I was working and they stuck their head in the door and they said, ‘hey, Big Al, are they all paying their bills? We could collect the money for you’.
Started off, I’m going to reach 95. It’s only time. There’s plenty of time to reach 95. But now I want 105. It’s getting so easy to do. I do yoga three times a week, Pilates exercises, and weights. Good super-duper diet, Japanese diet, and I’m a vegetarian.
I’ve got a thing in my mind now for longevity to live as long as I can, and clean, and live independently and with my own ability. And try and set that example. I got men 18 years younger than me that think I’m bloody marvellous. They are either overweight or too lazy to do things. I don’t tell them, but I’m setting examples for them to do things properly, to go on. I believe that we’re going to have thousands and thousands of people go over the 100 mark in the next generation. People have got to get it into their mind that just sitting around is not enough. You must move; dancing, tai chi, exercise, yoga, simple exercise. I learned a lot about visualisation from athletics coaches, 50 years ago. Visualise you’re doing it, act it, think it, sleep it.
One of the most important things is ‘S.E.X’; but not just any sex, it has to be good’.
My father was big business, and I just carried on, I followed in his shadow. He was a magnificent man. Never raised his voice, never spoke anger. And everybody said that he was a beautiful dresser. ‘Are you going to be like him one day when you grow up?’ So, I did. He was a good looker, well behaved, didn’t drink much. Smoked a lot because he was a World War one man. He said ‘when you leave home, think of who you are. You’ve got a name to think of son, be proud of it’.
I still get compliments, one or two a day.
All the girls at the clubs know me because of my well manners and good dress. And I always treat them right. And the bus drivers know me because of the way I dress and look and behave. A gentleman has good manners, keeps themselves healthy, think healthy and clean. Respect other people’s views. Don’t force it. Don’t force your view on them. And don’t talk about politics or religion.