Centenarian, Nutritarian, and bodybuilder Joe Rollino tragically killed in car accident

While taking his daily five-mile walk on Monday, 104 year old Joe Rollino was crossing Bay Ridge Parkway in Brooklyn when he was struck by a minivan. Sadly, he died a few hours later at a local hospital.

In the 1920s, Mr. Rollino was a strongman on Coney Island billed as “The World’s Strongest Man.” He got his start in boxing and bodybuilding at age 10. Mr. Rollino became a vegetarian in his teens and firmly believed in fueling the body with natural, health-promoting foods.

He once lifted 475 lbs. with his teeth, 635 lbs. with one finger, and 3200 lbs. with his back. Even more astounding is that he did all this standing at 5’4” and weighing less than 150 lbs. 

Joe Rollino

Mr. Rollino was not only strong and muscular, he was agile. In the 1920s, he boxed as “Kid Dundee,” often against boxers 50 pounds heavier than he was. He was a World War II veteran, and he swam daily laps in the ocean year-round. He was a classic example of all-around fitness and good nutrition. Joe Rollino, like other fit nutritarians such as Herbert Shelton and Jack LaLanne occasionally corresponded with Dr. Fuhrman on the subject of nutrition. These men provide proof that aging doesn’t have to mean heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and physical fragility.

On his 103rd birthday, Joe Rollino put a quarter between his teeth and bent it with his fingers. He skipped the cake.

Joe Rollino on his 103rd birthday

March 19, 2010 would have been his 105th birthday. Imagine how long he could have lived. 







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Comments (13) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Isothiocyanate - January 14, 2010 9:53 AM

"Joe Rollino, like other fit nutritarians such as Herbert Shelton and Jack LaLanne occasionally corresponded with Dr. Fuhrman on the subject of nutrition."

What does "occasionally corresponded" mean exactly? I do like the message behind his story; a vital centenarian who exercised and ate healthfully, but this post tries to connect him in some way to Dr. Fuhrman. If he did in fact have a relationship with him of any kind, this point should be expanded upon and detailed. Otherwise, mentioning this man as "nutritarian" and implying a connection to Dr. Fuhrman is misleading and in bad taste.

It lists his height of 5' 4 and weight at "under 150 lbs". Accurate, but his actual weight was 122 lbs, which puts his BMI at 20.9. An important distinction to make, because "under 150" could be 149, and 5'4 @ 149 lbs would correspond to a BMI of 25.6 which is overweight, and he clearly was not.

Emily Boller - January 14, 2010 10:24 AM

My sympathies to the family and friends of Joe Rollino.

Wow, what a mentor ~ not to be hampered by diabetes, heart disease, dimentia, etc., and to not spend the latter years of life suffering in unnecessary misery.

To be able to walk five miles/day (in bitter cold temps!) at age 104 . . . my new goal!

Thanks Deana for sharing his story. He was a true pioneer and example of the benefits of eating for health and maintaining physical fitness. What an inspirational life he lived.

When I was in high school, PE, Health, Foods and Nutrition (Home-Ec) were the "non-essential" courses of study. Mr. Rollino's life exemplifies that maybe, as a culture, it's time to re-think our priorities.

Matutt - January 14, 2010 3:48 PM

You see, I hadn't heard of this man before. If our society was a long living one, this man would have been a superhero, and his words would have been worth as gold.
Our society seems to be focused on young people only. Then the lifestyle (sodas, junkfood) ruin them when they reach 25, and discard them to focus on the new generation.

Jocelyn - January 14, 2010 3:55 PM

Thanks for sharing this story. What a guy and what an inspiration.

Deana Ferreri - January 14, 2010 5:16 PM

To Isothiocyanate-
Dr. Fuhrman said he and those mentioned individuals exchanged letters, not that they were close friends or anything, but he was aware of their healthy diet-styles. In other words, he is confirming their healthful dietary practices and that they were aware that eating high nutrient foods does matter and certainly it showed. Dr. Fuhrman had exchanged letters with and met and spoke to Dr. Shelton who died of Parkinson’s disease, which Dr. Fuhrman had discussed before. He is not implying a close relationship with anyone mentioned.

Thank you for your attention to the weight issue - I used "under 150 lbs." because, from what I understand, his weight was 122 lbs. during his boxing career and in the 140s when he was bodybuilding only.

Nelson - January 14, 2010 5:24 PM

...so sad that it had to end by a sloppy driver.

Jessica L Caneal - January 14, 2010 9:07 PM

Thank you for the beautiful post highlighting the life of such a healthy, admirable man, Deana. Rollino's health and vigor in his old age is something all of us should strive for and hope to achieve for ourselves.

mrfreddy - January 15, 2010 11:08 AM

It's interesting that he lived to that age with such vigor, and its a damn shame he was cut down in his "prime." Who knows how long he might have lived?

Says a lot about the benefits of strength training, good genetics, and diet. Of course, I think he would have been stronger had he chosen to eat meat. I am curious about the other aspects of his diet. Did he avoid sugar? Did he avoid vegetable oils? Did he get enough Omega 3's?

Deana Ferreri - January 18, 2010 10:43 AM

mrfreddy thinks that Mr. Rollino would've been stronger if he had chosen to eat meat. I think if Mr. Rollino had chosen to eat meat he would've been killed by a heart attack thirty or forty years ago...but yeah, maybe he could've lifted 640 lbs. with one finger instead of 635 lbs.

albert miller - June 7, 2010 12:59 AM

Did mr. Rollino eat his veggies raw or cooked? How much did he eat? He probably had great genes and fed them right. Many people are mislead about the strength giving power of meat.

H Riley - June 10, 2011 12:20 PM

I do not believe his death was an accident. I believe he was delibratly run over to hide one of the most fundamental truths about nutrition ever. If he would have lived to 150 he would have been the most documented man to do so.

Imagine if we all relized we could live that long!

zr - February 5, 2012 3:07 PM

"did he get enough omega 3's?"
your body makes omega 3's as needed from alpha-linolenic acid.
vegetables have their OWN oils. look at a package of oatmeal. does it say "0" grams of fat? or some fat? how much fat does your body need? if you think it's more... where is your proof? and is it CORRELATIONAL or CAUSATIONAL. you know i did a study once... every time it rains, i see lots of people walking around with umbrellas! yet, i almost NEVER see people walking around with umbrellas when it's dry. umbrellas and rain have an almost 1:1 correlation! if we all go into the streets with umbrellas... it will cause rain... right?


is it possible that OTHER scientists have done this in the past as well?

i see lots of poorly-worded studies like "people that don't eat meat" vs. people that "do eat meat".

in america, what that means:

people that ate cheese pizza vs those that ate meat-lover's pizza.

greater garbage vs. lesser garbage... one makes you weak (cheese pizza) one makes you slightly LESS weak (meat-lover's; maybe you get a more complete amino-acid profile from the meat lover's... but it's still garbage, and you know it.)

see where i'm going here? not enough information is provided--to come to a CLEAR, ACCURATE conclusion--by so many studies that are taken on face-value as basically... gospel.

"studies show that arnold schwarzenegger ate a hamburger once. his brother, a STRICT vegetarian is not NEARLY as strong as arnold. therefore: meat = strength veg = weakness"

that's a fairly exaggerated version of what i'm talking about here... the same things are at work, but, it's just less obvious and a bit harder to separate "the forest from the trees", in a sense.

meaning, it takes LITTLE critical-thinking skills to understand that what I made up about arnold is BS... but it may take ABOVE-AVERAGE amounts to understand that half of the stuff published by many HIGHLY-PUBLICIZED stuff is, indeed, erroneous in it's conclusions derived from the data that was cultured..
(meaning, someone invested time and effort to get that info to YOU... they had something to gain by doing so, maybe? something that has to do with MONEY not accuracy and truth? MAYBE?)

junk science is junk

we're all born with a science-creating discernment-machine... called a brain.

please use it people. PLEASE. I'm begging you... i want later generations to live in a DESIRABLE world... healthy, peaceful... all that good stuff.

well, there's work to do in getting there! hop to it!

Joe Gerard - February 26, 2012 3:30 PM

Great thoughtfully written article on this ambassador of fitness. There seems to be a disproportionate number of vegetarian centarians :-). I hope to join this exclusive club in another 60 yrs !

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