Powerful Pat Antonecchia and Mount Professor Dr. Paul Schwartz (Photo by Samantha Wilson)

On September 26th, The Center for Adolescent Research and Development at Mount Saint Mary College hosted Powerful Pat Antonecchia, a former strongman, to share his personal tales of substance abuse and the road to recovery.

Pat was a professional strongman competitor for 25 years. About five years ago, he was diagnosed with kidney damage as a result of his excessive steroid use. In 2009, the damage to his kidneys forced him into an early retirement. When this drastic change occurred, Pat had no other choice but to alter his habits in order to improve the quality of his life.

Pat started physically training in high school, at the age of fifteen. He wanted to be the best he could be, so he pushed himself every day. He was a gifted and muscular individual who held much promise for his future. When Pat graduated high school, he went off to college in Pennsylvania to play football. At the age of nineteen, Pat began to enter strongman competitions. He won regional and state championships in bodybuilding soon after he started. When Pat was first approached by someone and offered steroids, he explained that the decision to try them was easy because everyone around him was doing them. Soon after he began taking them, Pat began to receive reactions from girls and quickly gained more muscle mass; these positive reinforcements got him hooked. He used steroids so that his body could recover faster, and because he wanted to be the biggest and strongest in everything he did. At this time, the use of steroids in college level sports was not illegal.

At Pat’s prime, he was 5’7” and weighed 300+ pounds while on steroids. He always made sure he ate a well-balanced diet to maintain optimal health while he was training and using steroids. He said that in the end, his food bill was probably more costly than the steroids were.

Five years ago, Powerful Pat participated in a study done by doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Ten athletes were part of this study that looked at the effects of prolonged steroid use on the body. Kidney, tissue, and urine samples were collected, and blood was drawn. The study showed that the prolonged use of large amounts of steroids results in being more prone to kidney disease. Steroids can also increase blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and anxiety. When a student asked about “roid-rage,” Pat said, “If you were an ass, steroids made you a bigger ass.”

Before a competition in Toronto where Pat was chosen to compete for the U.A., he went to his mandatory physical appointment to make sure he was healthy enough to compete. His doctor discovered that his blood pressure was through the roof, so Pat wasn’t able to participate that day. The doctor told him that he had two options: he needed to stop using steroids or he was going to die. Pat expressed that he was not chemically addicted to steroids, but that it was difficult for him to lose body mass because he was on them for so long. Pat needed to lose weight and change his lifestyle so he could become healthy again.

This was and still is a struggle for Pat.  He was a national champion power lifter, the strongest male champion in the Battle of the Titans, runner-up in John Wooten’s New World’s Strongest Man Competition, and runner-up at North America’s Strongest Man Championship. Pat was the United States representative at the Strongman Championships in Europe and Canada and winning runner-up in the Canadian Strongest Man Competition. He also holds world records for the 40,000-pound truck pull and the 10,000-pound 2-man truck pull. It was extremely difficult to start a new lifestyle by giving up who he was and who he wanted to be, but it was necessary to ensure his health and life.

Pat now does some acting and was recently featured as a Gotham City Police officer in the new “Dark Knight” movie.  He also does commercials and documentaries.  He holds a degree from Wilkes University, he was a spokesperson for the Vita Pro and Strength Systems USA supplement companies, and he travels to speak about his experience and story.

Powerful Pat Antonecchia was very moving and inspirational throughout his speech. Students interrupted him often to ask questions and he never once hesitated to answer. A lot of students asked about supplements, meal replacements, and things in the nature of working out and building body mass. Pat had no problem giving out information and advice, and he continues to touch the lives of those to whom he speaks.

For more information on Powerful Pat Antonecchia, visit www.powerfulpat.com.