25TH ANNUAL ALBANY SPORTS HALL OF FAME: Biasiotto simply one of a kind

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Albany native and longtime area businessman Tony Powell says he'll never forget that day.

And while the exact date it happened and details of the location are a little hard to recall almost 25 years later, what took place is not.

"It was a local weightlifting competition here in Albany and everyone knew he was going for the world record," said Powell of world renowned powerlifter Judd Biasiotto of Albany. "Here was this guy, all 130-something pounds of him, going after a world record by squatting more than 600 pounds -- and Judd didn't just break the record, he shattered it."

But that amazing feat in 1988 is just one of the numerous reasons Biasiotto is being inducted, along with four others, into the 25th anniversary class of the Albany Sports Hall of Fame tonight at the Civic Center.

In fact, it's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Biasiotto's resume'. And few would argue that he'll enter the HOF this evening as one of the most unique individuals to ever be enshrined.

Aside from owning 101 state powerlifting records, 47 region records, 23 American records, 16 national records and 14 world records, he's written several award-winning books, has worked as a sports psychologist for a handful of professional sports teams and is the founder of "Judd's Love Foundation," a corporation designed to help the disabled and impoverished.

Biasiotto, however, could not be reached by The Herald prior to publishing this story, although his friends were more than happy to recant the impact he's had on both the Albany sports community and his assault on the record books for more than 30 years.

"There's no doubt he's one of a kind," Albany Sports Hall of Fame President Bob Fowler said of Biasiotto. "But above all the things he's accomplished in his life, his claim to fame is that he set all those bodybuilding records without the use of a single drug -- and in this day and age, that's as important as anything else. He's quite a unique guy."

Powell, who owns the locally renowned Tony's Gym that was first opened in 1982, initially met Biasiotto that same year. He said Sunday the two quickly developed a friendship that went beyond your average customer-member relationship.

"When I first met him, I could tell he worked out and was in great shape, but you never would've imagined how much strength this little guy had by looking at him, or how much he could lift," said Powell, who added that Biasiotto became a regular at his gym every day for the 29 years and still comes "at least five days" a week. "But more than his physical strength, he had this mental focus like no one I've ever met. We'd both go to the same local meets, but eventually Judd (progressed) to a much larger platform and I can remember times when he would even leave the country to compete."

During his lifting career, Biasiotto -- who now works as a professor at Albany State when he's not in the gym -- won 11 world titles, including four world championships. In the 1980s, Powerlifting USA ranked Biasiotto as the fourth best powerlifter of all time. In 2000, he was named as one of the Top 50 lifters of the millennium by Powerlifting USA. And later that same year, Biasiotto became the oldest man to win the national and world open bodybuilding championships. His best lifts at a body weight of 132 pounds include a bench press of 319 pounds and a deadlift of 551 pounds.

And of course, no one will ever forget that day in Albany in 1988, when Biasiotto shocked he sports world by squatting an incredible 603 pounds, while weighing in at just 130. That lift, which exceeded the previous ADFPA world record by more than 80 pounds, is still considered one of the most prolific feats of strength in the history of the sport of powerlifting.

"Even those of us who saw him training before that had no idea he was going to try for that much," Powell recalled. "It was amazing. He exceeded everyone's expectations."

Exceeding expectations is something Biasiotto has been doing all his life.

Once his powelifting career ended, Biasiotto began a career of spreading his knowledge through a series of books he wrote -- 57 in all -- as well as penning more than 700 magazine articles. One of his most recent books, "Reflections," received a coveted sports Emmy from the American Sports and Science Academy. He is still currently a features writer for six national magazines, including Muscle and Fitness, Shape and Natural Physique. He is also the editor-in-chief for Exercise for Men Only and Natural Physique.

Biasiotto eventually became the president of World Class Enterprises, a sports fitness corporation, where he went on to work as a sports psychologist with numerous amateur and professional athletes and sports teams, including the Kansas City Royals, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds.

But the accolades don't end there.

Biasiotto was recently selected to the International Platform Association, a non-profit organization that honors the best speakers and orators in the world. And during the last four decades, he has presented more than 1,000 talks and seminars.

Powell says he's heard a few of those speeches in his day, and is enthralled every time he hears Biasiotto give a lecture.

"If you've never heard him give a speech, you should," he said. "It's something else."

Biasiotto has been beset by a series of health problems the last several years, but that hasn't seemed to slow him down, Powell said.

"His focus is still working out, writing and teaching at Albany State, but ever since I met him -- and even more so the last several years -- Judd's main focus has been on helping others in the gym," Powell said. "I can't tell you how many times I've seen him take someone who'd never even worked out before and turn them into a champion weightlifter. I guess you could kind of say he's like an 'unofficial personal trainer' around our gym. He's been a fixture there for the last 29 years and we love having him -- and all his knowledge -- around.

"In fact, I used to joke with him, and I would ask him, 'Judd ... you do so much and you help so many people in so many different ways -- when do you ever sleep?' "

Powell then paused and added with a laugh, "And come to find out, he really never does."

But while Powell, who will be on hand tonight sitting with his friend at the induction, has relished his kinship with Biasiotto over the years, there's still one thing that puzzles him -- and most everyone else who knows Biasiotto: His age.

"We kid all the time that no one knows exactly how old he really is," Powell, 54, said with a chuckle. "It's like his most closely guarded secret -- kinda like the KFC recipe."