Club Insider

Chuck Richards and Team

The Story of Sunset Athletic Club

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  • Sunset Athletic Club
  • Sunset Athletic Club Entrance
  • Racquetball at Sunset Athletic Club
  • Indoor Tennis at Sunset Athletic Club
  • Double Court Gymnasium With Indoor Track and Climbing Wall at Sunset Athletic Club
  • Small Group Training at Sunset Athletic Club
  • Outdoor Aquatics Complex at Sunset Athletic Club
  • Outdoor Aquatics Complex at Sunset Athletic Club
  • Indoor Aquatics Complex at Sunset Athletic Club
  • Carleen Prentice (General Manager) and Chuck Richards (Owner)

Chuck Richards was born and grew up in Tacoma Washington. Like so many kids, from an early age, he was active at his local Y. From the various sports and activities he participated in, he began to shine in swimming. Through high school, he focused on the sport, culminating in the honor of All American and being ranked #3 in the country. This led to a full scholarship to the swimming powerhouse, University of Indiana. Throughout his collegiate career, he was a 2-year All American and National Finalist. At that time, he was not at the Olympic level; however, upon graduation, his sports career did not end. Instead, he was pursued for the Pentathlon, a multidiscipline sport that included running, swimming, pistol shooting, fencing and riding. He began training and competing out of San Antonio in the summer of 1967.

At that time, the Vietnam War was continuing, and the United States was calling on adult men not in school to serve. Because of his college education, Chuck received a direct commission to 2nd Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corp and served a tour of duty in Korea at the DMZ. In a twist of fate, the modern Pentathlon was deeply rooted in the United States military, with George Patton being the first American Pentathlete. Until the 1960s, many West Point Graduates followed in the footsteps of Patton, and so did Chuck. He won his first National Championship in 1970, and when all was said and done, Chuck won three consecutive National Championships, being the only man to do so. And, the culmination of his sports career took place by being the highest scoring American at the Olympic Games in Munich, including winning the swimming portion of the event with a world and Olympic record time. It was his final swimming race after a 18-year career.

The sports career of Chuck Richards is impressive, and as you will learn, it built the foundation for what he would do in the next phase of his life. Utilizing the endurance required from running and swimming, the precision of pistol shooting, the attention to detail of fencing and the fun of riding, he would make his mark on the Portland, Oregon community with Sunset Athletic Club. Now, almost 40 years later, it has become an institution in that community, much like Red's has in Lafayette, Louisiana; East Bank Club in Chicago, Illinois and others that exist in our great industry. So, I now invite you to read on and experience the story of Chuck Richards' Sunset Athletic Club.

An In-Depth Interview and Conversation With Chuck Richards, Owner of Sunset Athletic Club

Club Insider (C.I.) - Following your athletic career, when and how did you get involved in the health and fitness club industry?
Chuck Richards (CR) - I was interested in business, and as the years went by, I was trying to figure out how to get involved with sports in business. I had no idea what to do. I looked into various opportunities, and not many made sense. It was either too expensive or too whimsical. We're talking trampoline centers to swim centers to tennis and whatever; I just couldn't figure it out. So, I did other things, such as apartments, warehouses and a small construction company. I was busy doing my own thing and worked for myself, which I really liked. Then, in 1975, a business friend in San Antonio asked me to meet him at the racquetball club. I asked, 'Racquetball club? What's that?' I knew what racquetball was, but I had never heard of a club. A man by the name of Bruce Hendin had built the San Antonio Racquetball Club. He was one of the frontrunners in this industry.

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