Lou Ferrigno, the Vintage Hulk, Was so Huge that He Made Arnold Look Small!
Lou Ferrigno is not an unfamiliar name for those who admire bodybuilding and The Hulk. A towering figure with bulging muscles, Lou Ferrigno was a dominant personality in the world of professional bodybuilding during the 1970s and ’80s. However, Lou Ferrigno was more than just a bodybuilder; he was also an actor who played the iconic character of The Hulk.
Many remember Lou as The Hulk from the 1977 Marvel classic The Incredible Hulk. Ferrigno’s involvement in bodybuilding and acting overlaps with the career path of the great Arnold Schwarzenegger. How well did Lou fare against Arnold Schwarzenegger, and what’s been his journey like as an actor and as a bodybuilder? Let’s find out!
Lou’s tormented childhood inspired him to pursue bodybuilding.
Lou Ferrigno, the iconic bodybuilder and actor, was born on November 9, 1951, in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood, Lou faced several challenges, including a severe speech impediment and an ear infection that caused a 80% hearing loss. Unfortunately, this made him the target of bullying, and kids called him “Deaf Louis.”
Consequently, he became extremely introverted and found solace in comic books such as The Hulk and Spiderman. Lou’s troubled childhood inspired him to pursue bodybuilding as a means of proving his worth to himself and others. Besides, he saw The Hulk as a symbol of strength and power, and he was determined to become like his hero. His father also rejected him because he was not the perfect son, and this further fueled his drive to succeed.
Lou Ferrigno is a former I.F.B.B. Mr. Universe!
Ferrigno’s journey to bodybuilding began when he was just 17 years old. That’s when he first saw Arnold Schwarzenegger compete at the 1969 Mr. Olympia, which was Schwarzenegger’s debut at Mr. Olympia. Inspired by Schwarzenegger’s impressive physique and dedication to the sport, Ferrigno began developing himself and building out his massive frame. Soon after, he burst onto the scene, winning the overall title of the IFBB Mr. America contest in New York at the very young age of only 21.
I was 43 years old here. Never say NEVER. 👊🏽
I did curl more than 20 pounds to get here 😂 but wherever you need to start – always listen to your body, visualize it + stay consistent 🦾@FerrignoFIT #louferrigno @ironmanmagazine @muscleandfitnes pic.twitter.com/uUWiPjEJdp
— Lou Ferrigno (@LouFerrigno) November 5, 2021
Lou’s impressive physique and unmatched dedication to the sport earned him the title of IFBB Mr. Universe not once but twice consecutively in 1973 and ’74. What’s more phenomenal is that he was the youngest man ever to do so and also the tallest at six feet, five inches.
42 years old here and the biggest in the sport. 🦾
Never listen to the naysayers. Keep following your passion and dreams. Life is too damn short.
Whose with me? 👊🏽#bodybuilding #pumpingiron #louferrigno #traps #buildingmuscle #daretodream #ferrignofit #ferrignolegacy pic.twitter.com/wglrIwTQy9
— Lou Ferrigno (@LouFerrigno) December 5, 2022
Following his success in the Mr. Universe competition, Ferrigno quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the bodybuilding world. In 1975, he entered the Mr. Olympia contest, which was famously documented in the landmark bodybuilding movie in 1977, Pumping Iron. At the time, Ferrigno was just 23 years old, making him one of the youngest competitors in the event’s history. However, Ferrigno placed third behind his idol Arnold Schwarzenegger and Serge Nubret at the ’74 Olympia. But he leveraged his massive physique into a successful Hollywood career.
“Live life with purpose + PASSION. It’s much more fun that way” – Lou pic.twitter.com/wLLvA6LkXW
— Lou Ferrigno (@LouFerrigno) September 13, 2022
Despite never winning an Olympia title, Ferrigno continued to be a major presence in the bodybuilding world. He is an internationally renowned fitness trainer who has trained various celebrities, including Michael Jackson!
Arnold Schwarzenegger vs Lou Ferrigno!
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno have been iconic figures in the world of bodybuilding and Hollywood. Ferrigno was once considered one of Schwarzenegger’s biggest competitors in the bodybuilding world, and yet the two have been known to train together.
Ferrigno trained with Schwarzenegger in the early days of his career, and their rivalry was cemented in history after they starred in the documentary Pumping Iron. The documentary was centered around Ferrigno’s attempt to beat Schwarzenegger for the Mr. Olympia title in 1975. Ferrigno was unsuccessful in beating Schwarzenegger and finished behind him both times he competed against him.
Despite their fierce competition, the two bodybuilding legends have been friends for years. In 2015, a video was posted on Schwarzenegger’s YouTube channel. It showed Ferrigno and Schwarzenegger working out together at Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach, California. The two were counting each other’s reps while using the chest press machine. This was not the first time the two had worked out together, and it is likely they continue to train together even now.
The similarities in their physiques created a lot of hype among fans, and their highly anticipated faceoff in the 1974 Mr. Olympia contest was dubbed the “Battle of the Giants.” However, Ferrigno failed to beat Schwarzenegger, finishing third in the competition the following year.
Their rivalry may have ended in bodybuilding, but the two went on to achieve immense success in Hollywood. Schwarzenegger became a movie star, while Ferrigno is best known for his role as The Hulk in the television series. Despite their different paths, the two remain legends in the bodybuilding and entertainment world.
Ferrigno’s acting career was not huge, but it was impressive!
Lou Ferrigno was the guy people have known as The Hulk for years before Mark Ruffalo, Eric Bana, or Edward Norton. The actor continued to play the angry green monster on TV from 1977 to 1982, boasting his immensely massive muscles.
Aside from his iconic role as The Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno’s acting career had several noteworthy appearances. After the TV series The Hulk concluded, Ferrigno continued to work in the film and television industry. His impressive physique landed him roles that showcased his body. It earned him movies like Hercules (1983), Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989), and Frogtown II (1992).
No #CGI Needed pic.twitter.com/zJ3hwIpy4O
— Lou Ferrigno (@LouFerrigno) April 8, 2022
In addition to his film roles, Ferrigno also made guest appearances on several popular TV shows. Some of them include The Fall Guy (1981), The New Mike Hammer (1984), and a recurring role in The King of Queens (1998). In 1997, he was the subject of the documentary “Stand Tall.” It chronicled his return to professional bodybuilding at the age of 43, competing in the Master’s category of the Mr. Olympia contest against several familiar bodybuilding foes.
As the years passed, Ferrigno continued to make appearances in films, including The Misery Brothers (1995), Ping! (2000), and From Heaven to Hell (2002). He even made a cameo as a security guard in the 2003 big-budget remake of The Hulk. While his acting career was not as extensive as some, it was undoubtedly, impressive.
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