Dom Amoroso, 70, beating the clock by staying strong
Strength is beautiful.
Not so much.
Dom Amoroso, 70, of Washington Township lives by that credo, pushing his body to the limit by performing feats of strength at various power lifting meets.
After all, there aren't many septuagenarians executing 400-plus pound dead lifts. On Nov. 10, Amoroso set several records in his division – age 70 to 74, 220-pound master's division – at the 31st Annual Central Pennsylvania Powerlifting Championships in Bigler, Pa.
His squat (336 pounds), dead lift (413.3 pounds) and total lift (942.4 pounds) were state/American/world records for the Pennsylvania 100 percent Raw Federation. His bench press (192.9 pounds) was a state/world record for the organization, he said.
“I basically compete against myself because there's not too many guys my age doing this,” Amoroso said. “At the last competition, there was nobody there in my age group… I could lift an empty bar and win, but I wouldn't do that.”
A graduate of the former Pricedale High School and retired manufacturing industrial material engineer, Amoroso has always been a workout junkie. Despite getting out of power lifting more than three decades ago, he never stopped hitting the weights.
“When I traveled all over the country to set up production lines to build cars, motorcycles, buses, whatever city I was in, it was always ‘Where am I staying and where am I working out?' It kept me out of trouble,” he said.
“For me, it relieves the tension for the day. Some golf, some go to drink, I work out. After 50 years, it's a way of life.”
His wife, Jan, said she can't imagine if her husband was not able to exercise five days a week.
“If he hurt himself, I'd have to put him to sleep because he'd be miserable,” she said, laughing. “When he does something, he has to do it right. … Thanksgiving we had 40 people here and I said, ‘Thursday is off limits,' but I have to say he's very dedicated.”
Amoroso does not look his age – something Jan can attest to.
“When we met and he walked in the door, of course we were attracted to each other and then I found out he's 16 years older than me, and I'm thinking, ‘Oh man!'” she said, laughing. “I'm very proud of him, especially when I found out most of the guys he used to work out with no longer exercise.”
Amoroso has a gym in his basement, including squat rack, power rack and Olympic bench. Amoroso goes through 11-week cycles, working up to competition weights, by performing core exercises.
The walls are covered with plaques, pictures from his completion days and T-shirts from the gyms across the country he would hit while on the road for work.
He keeps meticulous track of each workout and competition in notebooks that look more like college Calculus homework. Amoroso then shows a notebook dated 1972, when he was benching 370 pounds and squatting 550.
“I didn't play football because I had a broken leg when I was a kid and my parents wouldn't let me play,” Amoroso said. “But I found something I was half decent at and I took up power lifting when I was 21 years old.”
But Amoroso walked away in 1977. He would not return for more than three decades.
“I got out of it because of work and there was just one federation and everybody competed against each other, there were no age groups,” he said.
For Amoroso, the transition back into power lifting three years ago was smooth, but humbling. His maximum lifts have all plummeted by nearly 200 pounds.
“It's kind of tough to visualize and deal with that. Psychologically, it hurts, but you have to accept the fact that you're older,” Amoroso said, his prevalent grin disappearing for a moment.
“I try to put that out of my mind or I'd go out of my mind. You have to think, ‘OK that was a different life.' This is a new life and a new chance to challenge yourself.”
Amoroso's 40-year old daughter, Lynn, is equally moved. The Washington, D.C., resident printed out pictures of her father from his Nov. 10 competition and attached them to a written tribute.
“Fitness is a way of life… there are no excuses,” she wrote. “He's an inspiration.”
Amoroso believes he hasn't hit his ceiling. He benched 215 pounds three years ago and aims to set new records in April at a competition in Erie.
“I'll shoot for 225 on bench and 350 on squat and 450 dead lift,” he said.
“You can still make improvements at this age. It depends on what you want.”
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2635.