‘The important thing is to take care of yourself’

staff writer

Bo Jackson may be America’s current superjock, but whether he can hold up against time and wear and tear remains to be seen. On the other hand, Pacific Beach resident Noel Johnson, a superjock in his own right, claims to have found the way to stay fit for life. More than 20 years ago, Johnson, who will be 91 in July, suffered from heart trouble and gout. He then embarked on rigid three-hour workouts and says he’s never felt better. He has run marathons only days apart, endured the grueling Pikes Peak marathon, and is the reigning boxing champ in his division--all accomplished after age 70. He even made the cover of the Wheaties cereal box in 1977. Johnson, who also boxed professionally as a young man, credits his phenomenal health to exercise, a positive outlook on life and bee pollen. He just published his second book, “The Living Proof,” and says it’s never too late to be healthy. He was interviewed in his home by staff writer Terry Rather and was photographed by Teresa Tamura.

When I was 70 years old, a doctor told me unless I did something about my habits, I wouldn’t live six months. He said, “If you want to keep on living, you’ll have to take it easy. If you try to mow your lawn, you won’t make it.”

That’s a rough thing to hear. My wife had been sick, and that disturbed me. I was 50 pounds overweight, and all I was doing was sitting down and drinking. And my son wanted to put me in a convalescent home.

After my son said I wasn’t able to take care of my home, which at that time I wasn’t, I started exercising. I began by walking. Soon I was running. One day I went down to the high school track to see how many times I could run around.


Every time I went down there, I’d say, well, I’m going to run a little more today than I did last time. I got to where I could run around that darn thing 40 to 50 times! Then I thought, everybody else is running marathons, so I ran a marathon here in 1972.

I got to thinking, why does it have to be this way? Why does everyone get this “old-age disease,” so you can die from a “normal” heart attack? I kept thinking there has to be something else.

Don’t you think a person could do anything in the world if you use a proper way of doing it? They’re planning to send robots up to Mars. Doesn’t it take more brains to do that than to take care of your body?

The reason that we age at so many different times in our lives is because we acquire a deficiency of nutrients. All nutrients are needed so our bodies can rebuild. Like a house, if you don’t have the materials, you can’t build it.


When I was 78, bee pollen manufacturers called me. They thought I was already on bee pollen. I started taking bee pollen, and time I made it to 80, I felt better than I ever had. I ran my first New York marathon when I was 80. I still run it and I’m getting better each time.

I ran a marathon in New York on one Sunday and came back here and ran another for the Heart Assn. here the next Sunday. And, two years ago, a marathon in New York, came back home, packed my bags and went to Japan and ran another marathon three days later. After that I went to Australia and boxed.

If you can do it, why not do it?

Your mind is your computer. Everything starts in the mind. Whatever you want your body to do well, program it into your computer.


For several years now, I’ve been telling people to graze. Eat less. Eat what you have to eat, what your body requires. Do things in moderation. People are surprised I drink coffee. I drink it, but I don’t drink much.

I have faith in what I’m doing. I don’t worry about how long a person should or should not live, but I hate to see anyone get sick and suffer.

The important thing is to take care of yourself. You can’t blame the doctors for your illness. I used to do that, but I don’t any more. Doctors don’t go to school to keep us healthy. They go to school so when there’s something wrong, they can fix it up. Like a mechanic does with your car. Mechanics don’t keep your car running, but they’ll fix it up.

You have to keep your car in shape. Doctors fix us up only after we get sick.