Matty, an Italian American police lieutenant, and Victoria Ferrigno welcomed their son Louis on November 9, 1951. The family lived in Brooklyn, New York. As a toddler Lou suffered from a series of ear infections and lost an estimated 75% of his hearing. Though some might have seen this loss as a disadvantage, Lou didn’t. Even when he was taunted and bullied by his peers, he turned to comics and focused on strong, powerful characters (like the Incredible Hulk and Superman). Inspired by actor Steve Reeves (and probably a few superheroes), he began weight training when he was 13.
In 1973 Lou entered the International Federation of Bodybuilding (IFBB) Mr. America contest and won. Later that year he set the Guinness World Record for youngest person to win the Mr. Universe competition. Lou said of the experience, “Winning Mr. Universe was like an ultimate validation for me because it was a dream of mine. I knew when I won Mr. Universe that if I applied myself to anything else in life, I would be successful.” For the next few years Lou continued to train and enter bodybuilding competitions. His experiences during the 1975 competition for Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia against Arnold Schwarzenegger were recorded for the documentary film Pumping Iron (1977).
The release of the documentary threw Lou into the spotlight and the bodybuilders caught the attention of Hollywood. Both Lou and Arnold were called to audition for a part in a new television series. In the end, Lou was cast and he became the character he idealized as a child: the Incredible Hulk.
Lou continues to act and lend his voice to both movies and television. Most recently he was in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Adventure Time, I Love You Man and The King of Queens. Recently, he started a new online community that encourages health and well-being called Ferrigno Fit. Lou can also be found at comic and fan conventions throughout the country.