Hailing from Brooklyn New York, Louis Jude “Lou” Ferrigno would one day become the icon we all know and love, known as “The Incredible Hulk”. In this article we’re going to explore how it all started to Lou Ferrigno and the road he took to one day become arguably one of the closest challengers to the great Arnold Schwarzenegger and then on to become the legend that is “The Incredible Hulk”.
Now an actor, fitness trainer and fitness consultant, Lou Ferrigno was once at the pinnacle, the sharp end of the bodybuilding sword. He was an IFBB professional bodybuilder competing for the ultimate reward, or better described as the crown in the professional bodybuilding arena – The Sandow Trophy… Mr Olympia!
Lou Ferrigno was always a “big guy” and was clear from a young age that he would have a future involving weights. He actually started weight lifting at the very young age of 13, with a role model in the form of then bodybuilder and actor in Hercules; Steve Reeves. This most probably came about as Lou has before stated that growing up he was a huge fan of the Hercules films.
It’s also no secret, that growing up Ferrigno’s other personal heroes were The Hulk and Spider-Man.
After graduating from high school in 1969, it didn’t take very long at all for Ferrigno to win his first bodybuilding competition. His first major win was the IFBB 1971 Mr. America. Two years later, he’d progressed further and took first place at the much coveted Mr. Universe title. Ferrigno would go on to win this in consecutive years, taking the title the following as well.
On only his first attempt at competing at the highest level, Ferrigno finished in second place in the 1974 Mr. Olympia, although his most famous appearance in this competition was arguably in 1975 when he went toe to toe with . This is seen to be his most famous Mr. Olympia outing as it was closely documented in the bodybuilding film Pumping Iron, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Arnie would go on to win the Mr. Olympia title again in that year.
Many people say it was the Pumping Iron documentary that made Ferrigno famous.
Competing in bodybuilding competitions although Ferrigno’s dream, didn’t bring in enough money for him to live so unfortunately he had to take time out of the sport and started working in the metal industry as he’d previous left high school with a metal working qualification.
Ferrigno worked in a sheet metal factory in Brooklyn until a close friend lost his had following a working accident. This was enough for Lou to leave the job behind and he searched and income from elsewhere.
He was able to use his size and power and spent some time with Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League where he played as a defensive lineman, although as he’d never played football before, he only last 2 full games before being let go by the club.
Lou Ferrigno returned to the Mr. Olympia scene again in the 1990’s where he competed a number of times before moving to the Mr. Olympia Master class, where he placed second in 1994.
Lou Ferrigno was given the opportunity to become the character that he’d idolised as a young boy. In 1977 Ferrigno was cast as The Hulk in The Incredible Hulk and played the role for 4 years until 1981 – e whole time staying in pumped and ripped shape.
He also starred as The Hulk in three The Incredible Hulk movies along side Bill Bixby.
Having starred in many other small TV series and movies through the 90’s and earlier 2000’s, Ferrigno also appeared as a security guard in the 2003 Hulk movie and again was the voice of The Hulk in the 2008 remake of The Incredible Hulk.
Lou has played the voice of The Hulk as recent as 2012 and 2015 in The Avengers and Avengers: The Age of Ultron respectively. He’s never been too far away from his iconic character.
Between 1990 and 2009 Ferrigno trained Michael Jackson on an occasional basis, to get him in shape to upcoming concerts in London – later the world would learn that Michael Jackson wouldn’t perform at all of these concerts due to health reasons.
For many years, Lou Ferrigno has also owned his own range of fitness equipment that is known as Ferrigno Fitness.
Due to his commitment to his fitness and protecting people, Ferrigno has been sworn into four different sheriff’s department, serving as a reserve or volunteer county sheriff.
So, I’ve only just scrapped the service of Lou Ferrigno. From beginning to present day, he’s been extremely successful in everything he does, whether it’s from bodybuilding, acting, personal training and owning a successful business, he’s tried it all.
Still in great shape, and still very active in the TV and movie industry Ferrigno continues to be cast in great screen shows – the role of The Hulk has been his for many years!
Lou Ferrigno is very much a people person and it would appear that serving as a reserve county sheriff is his way of giving back and supporting towns and cities when needed.
I’m a big fan of Lou Ferrigno and hope he continues to serves as an icon and hero to many other people as he has for me of the years. Still looking swole and in great shape and giving back to his local surroundings. Keep doing what you’re doing Lou, leading the way for the rest of us to jump in and follow!