Few bodybuilders will ever be able to have the same type of career as Lou Ferrigno. Now the bodybuilding legend opens up about his biggest regrets from his time of the sport, as well as his favorite memory.
Some could argue that Ferrigno squandered the prime of his bodybuilding career pursuing a life on screen. During a time where it would have been very possible for him to win the Olympia, he was portraying The Hulk in the hit television series.
Of course, that is not to say that he had a poor career on stage by any means, winning the Mr. Universe and Mr. America titles during his time in the sport. Moreover, his rivalry with Arnold Schwarzenegger was well documented in the Pumping Iron film.
It’s such a unique career filled with some of the highest highs, it’s safe to say the Lou Ferrigno has no shortage of fond memories and crazy stories to share. He opened up about a few of these, when speaking in a recent interview.
To him, it all comes down to his first win at the Mr. Universe. He explained that a ton of people counted them out and said they’re still years away from being able to do such a thing, so to prove those doubters wrong was the ultimate vindication.
“It goes back to when I was 21, when I won the IFBB Mr. America. I was 280lb, I wasn’t actually fine, so a lot of the judges said I’m two years away from winning the Universe,” Ferrigno said.
“At the time when I won the America, first prize was a trip to Geneva,Switzerland to compete in the Universe. I was 21 so I religious trained day and night, I dieted so hard, I was so determined to win.
“I’ll never forget when I arrived in Switzerland, during prejudging (one of the judges) said ‘There’s no competition for you.’ So everybody told me I couldn’t do it because growing up a lot of people said ‘Yeah, Mr. America, Mr. Universe,’ there was a lot of if, if, if. So I decided to train that and learned to trust myself and put my mind to it,” Ferrigno continued.
“So my greatest memory is when they awarded me the Mr. Universe trophy. I was the youngest one to win the IFBB Mr. Universe, and I had tears in my eyes because I said this is something that was a dream of mine, and I’ve accomplished it.”
However with the good comes the bad, and not everything was sunshine and roses for Lou Ferrigno. So he was then asked about his biggest regret from his time competing in the sport.
For him, his biggest regret stems from the decision to do Pumping Iron when he did. Lou said that he was not in the best shape that he could have been when facing off against Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he wishes he was better prepared.
“My regrets are when I did Pumping Iron, I was a different person back then. I had a difficult relationship with my father. I only trained 9 weeks for the Olympia South Africa because prior to that I was training for ABC’s Superstars competition,” Ferrigno explained.
“Then when Joe Butler called and said they were doing a film, I decided to do the film even though I wasn’t in my (best) shape, because even in the film you could have had another month. My only regret was that I was planning and hoped to reach my full potential and beat Arnold because he was five years older, but I never got that chance…
“The way I look at it, it didn’t matter if I won, didn’t matter if I lost. It was all about reaching out to the mainstream and educating the public on what bodybuilding really is,” Ferrigno added.
Lou Ferrigno had a career full of highs and lows, and it is always interesting to hear him reflect on it. He had a major impact on the sport, which will last for years to come.