Lou Ferrignowas raised in an Italian-American family, the son of an New York City Police Department lieutenant Matthew and mother Victoria. At the age of three, he suffered an ear infection and permanently lost 80% of his hearing. He started weight training at age 13. After graduating from the prestigious Brooklyn Technical High School in 1969, Ferrigno won his first major titles, IFBB Mr. America and Mr. Universe, four years later. In 1974, he came in third on his first attempt at the Mr. Olympia competition. He again came third the following year, and his attempt to beat Schwarzenegger was the subject of the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron. Following this, Ferrigno left the competition circuit for many years.
Ferrigno competed in the first World's Strongest Man contest in 1977, where he finished fourth in a field of eight competitors.
At his peak, the 6' 5" (1.96 m) Ferrigno weighed 275 lb (125 kg) and was the largest professional bodybuilder at that time. While he never bested Schwarzenegger in bodybuilding or in his career, Ferrigno did have one triumph over his Austrian rival — the role of the Hulk on the 1970s television series. At 6' 2" (1.88 m), Arnold was reportedly  deemed not tall enough.
In the early 1990s,
|Ferrigno returned to bodybuilding, competing for the 1992 and 1993 Mr. Olympia titles. Finishing 12th and 10th, repectively, he then turned to the Olympia Masters, coming second in 1994 to Robby Robinson. After this, he retired from competition. Ferrigno sees his loss of hearing as influential towards bodybuilding and his life: "...if I hadn't lost some of my hearing, I wouldn't be where I am now. It forced me to maximize my own potential. I had to be better than the average person to succeed." He married Susan Groff in 1978, divorcing a year later. On May 3, 1980, he married psychotherapist Carla Green, who then also began serving as his manager and later became a personal trainer. They have three children, Shanna, born 1981; Louis, Jr., born 1984; and Brent, born 1990. In the summer of 2005, his daughter was a star of the E! reality TV series, Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive. Since 2000, Ferrigno has played himself during intermittent guest appearances on the CBS television show, The King of Queens, where he is the Heffernans' next-door neighbor. Ferrigno has appeared in an ad for Longhorn Steakhouse, a Southeastern chain of steak houses.On February 13, 2006 he was sworn in as a Los Angeles (California) County reserve sheriff's deputy. |