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Joe Rollino – The Last Coney Island Strongman

by Dennis Mitchell

Joe Rollino

Joe Rollino was born in New York, March 19, 1905. He was one of ten children. By age ten he had developed an interest in being strong. His first sport love was for boxing, after he saw Jack Dempsey knock out Jess Willard. As a boxer in the 1920s he had over 100 bouts. Because of his small size, 5’5″ and weighing under 135 pounds, he fought men much bigger than himself. He stated that in spite of this he was never knocked out. He fought under the name of Kid Dundee. He credited his strength and long life to being a vegetarian, and never smoked or drank alcohol. Along with boxing he was an avid weight lifter and swimmer. He belonged to the Iceberg Athletic Club, and swam daily in the ocean regardless of the weather. In his prime he could lift 475 pounds with his teeth, do a one finger lift of 635 pounds, and a hand and thigh lift of 1500 pounds. He is credited with a lift of 3,200 pounds “On his back”. He had a physique that would have placed him very high in any body building contest. He performed for many years at Coney Island and in the circus. During the second World War he served in the Pacific area for five and one half years, and was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and a Bronze Star. At the age of 104 years he could bend a quarter in his teeth, and stated that when he was younger he could do the same with a dime. For many years he was a member of the Association of Oldtime Barbell and Strongmen. On January 11, 2010, on his way home from his daily three mile walk, he was hit by a Mini Van and died a few hours later . He would have been 105 years old in March of 2010.