Willie Austin played American Football for the University of Washington from 1980 to the late 1980s, then took up powerlifting. In 1990 he was the World Drug Free Powerlifting Champion.
Since then he has coached national and world champion weightlifters and trained both amateur and professional athletes. In 1988 Willie founded the Gym of Seattle, and in 1992 he founded the Gateway Athletic Club. He has been keen to enable access to sport and training for children of all health and society backgrounds.
Because of this in 1998 the Seattle Times recognized Willie's contribution to the community by listing him as one of "20 Northwest people who have made a difference", and he was named the 2008 Washington State Mindful Mentor Award by the Guiding Lights Network.
"You know as an athlete and a coach, just seeing the demand and the need in the community for promotion better health, you have to walk the walk. And I felt I had to change my diet if I'm going to support the changing of diet of many other people. To want to be healthier, to want to live longer, to want to live long enough to touch the amount of people I want to touch before I leave here and that incorporated a vegetarian diet at first and eventually I became vegan...Be veg, be strong, and save our planet."