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Joe Tonti

Strongman / Weightlifter ∙ Monaca

 

 

 

 

Joe Tonti was one of the most versatile athletes ever produced in Beaver County, but he most famous as a professional strongman. His ability to perform feats of strength while standing or walking on his hands earned him the title of “Upside Down Man” and he received national recognition in such syndicated national newspaper cartoon features as Robert Ripley’s “Believe It or Not”, John Hicks’ “Strange as It Seems”, and Paul Roberts’ “World Wonders.” His upside down tricks performed while standing on his hands included pulling an 11,500 pound truck, two freight cars walking down 143 flights of steps, and balancing a 175 pound weight on the back of his neck. Joe was a professional wrestler for fifteen years and also boxed professionally and served as a sparring partner for heavyweight champ Max Baer and light heavyweight champ Tommy Loughren. Joe also competed in diving, swimming, and gymnastics against Olympic and World Champions. He wrote two books, one on “Care of the Body” and the other on Jui Jitsu, and he was a lecturer, school teacher, actor, and stage producer. Joe starred in football and track at Midland High School (1923-1927), Geneva College (1928), and Temple University (1931-1933). He died in 1959 at the age of 51 after a 33 year athletic career that was nothing short of amazing.