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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Pasco Tribune

Father-son weightlifters are still going strong

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TRINITY — Joe Ferrantelli is clearly fit. The muscle-bound septuagenarian has been slapping weights around for the better part of 50 years.

But when it’s time to watch his son, Mike, compete, it’s a weight that’s nearly unbearable.

“The stresses that I go through when I’m not lifting and he’s lifting, it’s more energy, more strain than you can think of,” Joe Ferrantelli, 70, said. “It’s easier to be in the contest than to sit there.”

The father-son duo will each be subjected to that stress and strain — on and off the bench — when they compete at the 14th International Powerlifting Federation World Masters Bench Press Championships in Northumberland, Great Britain.

The competition will be held April 15-20.

“I want nothing more than for (my dad) to win,” Mike Ferrantelli, a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office captain, said. “I would love for him to take a stab at a world record and be able to scream at him while he’s doing a lift. When he’s done lifting, I’m hoarse.”

Mike Ferrantelli, 47, will compete in the 231-pound weight class. Joe Ferrantelli will compete in the 263-pound weight class.

Performing in the spotlight isn’t foreign for either Ferrantelli.

Joe Ferrantelli, who retired after serving 22 years at the Tarpon Springs Police Department, collected a bronze in the 2012 world championship in Colorado.

He’s also represented Florida in the older-than-40 category as a bodybuilder in the Mr. USA competition. He’s collected about 40 medals and trophies over the years as a competitive weightlifter and bodybuilder.

Mike Ferrantelli has earned six world championships, his most recent coming last August when he bench pressed 578.8 pounds to win the 231-pound weight class of the Masters 1 Division at the 2013 Masters Bench Press World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.

There’s also a world championship silver medal, in addition to 11 national titles.

Recently, inside the James P. Gills YMCA in Trinity, the pair conducted their normal routine, lifting weights in preparation for the event in April. Also in the mix was Mike Ferrantelli’s fiancé, Kelly Leggett.

She eyes each lifter, giving critiques, and those bits of information don’t just come once the weight has been firmly planted on a rack. She corrects their body movements as they’re lifting.

“It just flows easy because we do it here in the gym,” Leggett said. “I’ll watch him over and over again, and it’s natural.”

“We’ve done a lot of lifting together over the years, and he knows me. He knows what my potential is,” Joe Ferrantelli said. “On more than one occasion over the years, I’ve done really well because he’s there doing that. You have to be honest. When you screw up, you screw up. Sometimes it’s a bitter pill. Their honesty, for me, is very important.

“I do my best to be as honest as possible. You don’t want people (being yes-men). It’s no good.”

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco believes the Ferrantellis are setting a great example for fitness for his entire agency.

“I think it’s very positive,” Nocco said. “We have a lot of people in our agency that do a lot of physical competitions. We have people who run marathons, we have people who do the Tough Mudder and Savage races, which is good because it builds camaraderie and also builds on the fact we’re trying to be a healthier agency. We’re doing everything we can because it’s very important for our lifestyle, to relieve stress for the mental health aspects of it.”

The most difficult part in all of this isn’t the lifting. It’s the raising — of money.

The trip won’t be cheap, considering a lone round-trip ticket can hover around $1,400. There also are the hotel, food and transportation costs once they are in Northumberland.

Joe Ferrantelli has a page on the fundraising site GoFundMe.com, and there also will be a fundraising event at Village Pub, 6217 Grand Blvd., in New Port Richey on March 15 at 6 p.m.

Additionally, donations are being accepted through the Mike Ferrantelli’s Athletic Foundation, 5116 Plantation Drive, Holiday, FL, 34640.

Bottom line, it’s an experience no amount of weight can hinder.

“To be able to compete at this level with your father is incredible,” Mike Ferrantelli said. “Nobody’s ever got to do that. And when you talk about any sport there is in the world, to have a father and a son able to compete at the same time at the same world championship ­ — I mean, how many fathers bench 400 pounds at 70 years old? It’s not something that happens very often, much less do you find a 70-year-old lifter that qualifies for a world championship.”

edaniels@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1860

Twitter: @EDanielsTBO

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