Muscle Sport Magazine

Dennis Tinerino, HOF Bodybuilder, Dead at 64 From Cancer

The bodybuilding community lost one of its true heroes with the passing of Dennis Tinerino, 64, on May 7. The Hall of Famer had been waging a battle with stomach cancer for the past year and a half. Instead of looking for the right words to say about him, MuscleSport Mag has chosen to reprint his obituary from the Los Angeles Times:

Dennis Tinerino
December 23, 1945 – May 7, 2010


Dennis Tinerino, a four-time Mr. Universe, Mr. America, and Hall of Fame Bodybuilder who went on to become a Christian evangelist with a worldwide ministry, has died. He was 64.

Tinerino died Friday morning May 7 at Northridge Community Hospital in Northridge, California after an 18-month battle with stomach cancer.

Dennis Tinerino was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York on December 23, 1945, the second son of third-generation Italian-American parents. His family moved to Brownsville, Brooklyn when Dennis was eight years old. His father Carmine was a dockworker and Golden Gloves boxer who took Dennis to his first workouts at the Brooklyn Central YMCA when Dennis was 12 years old.

The legendary bodybuilder won his first title as Mr. Brooklyn in 1964. He followed that up with 11 additional titles, including Mr. New York City, and Mr. America in 1967. After winning Mr. America, he competed in the 1967 Mr. Universe, finishing in second place to an up and coming Arnold Schwarzenegger. He came back to win the NABBA Mr. Universe title in England in 1968. Three more Mr. Universe titles followed in 1975, 1980 and 1981. Tinerino also won the title of Pro Mr. Natural America in 1978.

A regular competitor in the Mr. Olympia contests from 1977 through 1982, his highest finish was second in the heavyweight division in 1979. Throughout his career, Tinerino graced the cover of dozens of bodybuilding and fitness magazines, including Muscle & Fitness, Muscular Development, Iron Man, and Strength & Health. He was also featured in many fitness and training ads, and authored his own weight training manuals.

Tinerino was mentored by bodybuilding legends Bill Pearl and Joe Abbenda. He competed against some of the top name bodybuilders in the golden age of the sport, including Reg Park, Dave Draper, Sergio Oliva, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu and Frank Zane. Best known for his doorwide shoulders and washboard abs, “Dennis was one of the best bodybuilders of his era. His blend of size and shape was a classic combination that took him to Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe” according to Joe Weider, the “Father of Bodybuilding” and founder of the IFBB (International Federation of Body Building.)


Among other career accomplishments, Tinerino was named to several Halls of Fame, including the AAU Hall of Fame, the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, the Oldetime Barbell & Strongmen Hall of Fame, the National Fitness Hall of Fame, and in 2006, the IFBB Body Building Hall of Fame.

In 1970 Dennis met and married the love of his life, Anita Conti and together they appeared on the December 1971 cover of Strength & Health Magazine. They moved from Queens, New York to California in 1974 and had three children, Tara, Marissa and Dennis-John.

A SAG actor, Tinerino had several roles in TV commercials and movies, including “Hercules in New York,” with Arnold Schwarzenegger.


After undergoing a spiritual conversion in 1979, Dennis became an ordained Christian minister and founded Dennis Tinerino Ministries. He traveled the world and preached in dozens of countries including England, Italy, Greece, Japan and Australia, as well as throughout the United States.

He was associated with such well-known evangelists as Dr. Jerry Savelle, Pastor Ray McCauley, and Rodney Howard-Browne. Dennis often humorously referred to himself as “The Sermonator” a reference to his long time rival and friend, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was known as “The Terminator” and most recently “The Governator.”

Tinerino’s life and spiritual journey are documented in his autobiography, “Super Size Your Faith,” which was published in 2006.

Along the way Tinerino’s testimony and preaching touched millions of lives around the world. He was loved and respected throughout the Christian community. A big man with a big heart, he was known for his larger-than-life, joyous and fun personality.

Tinerino is survived by his wife Anita, two daughters, Tara and Marissa, son Dennis-John, son-in-law Eli Flora, parents Carmine and Mary, brothers Salvatore and Laurence, nieces Andrea Tinerino McMahon and Ilona Tinerino-Allen, and nephews Vincent and Jared.

A Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday May 12th at Church on the Way, 14300 Sherman Way in Van Nuys, California, East Campus at 11:00 am. Interment will follow at Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be sent to a memorial fund at www.tinerino.com/donations.asp.

Source: Los Angeles Times, www.tinerino.com.


  1. Courtney Smith

    May 14, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Sorry to hear of Dennis’s passing.My condolences go out to his wife,children and his parents.It was through meeting Dennis at a seminar in Wolverhampton,England in March 1980 which led to my conversion to the Christian faith.I trust that Dennis is rejoicing with his Lord now.
    Courtney Smith,England.

  2. eric tan

    September 23, 2010 at 3:46 am

    I take a deep condolences over the death of Dennis – may the deceased have a place in the side of God – Jesus Christ, and the family left behind have fortitude. May God bless Us- Amen

  3. Charles Savoie

    February 5, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I remember seeing him back in the 1970’s doing a TV commercial, something about him cleaning twice his own weight it was attention-demanding. First line of defense against unnatural cellular expression is yellow mustard (isothiocyanates) and lemon (d-limonene) and moderate selenium intake and in case of digestive tract, fiber. Boo! To pharmaceuticals!

  4. Philip Kehoe

    November 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Just thinking about Dennis and went to his website.I’m so sorry Anita and Family.I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Dennis at my gynn in Oshawa,Ontario, Canada in 1980 and took a picture of him.I saw Dennis on TV on 100Huntley St.one day giving his heart felt Testimony.Anita I don’t know if you remember me but I called the house and spoke with you back in 2009 about seeing Dennis and giving him a copy of the picture when I was In La Habra(my relatives live there) Calf.in Aug.2009 but was unable to make it at that time.If you would like a copy please give me an e-mail.Till we meet again my Dear Brother In Jesus Christ John 14.God bless you with His Peace and Comfort Anita and family you are now in my prayers. Sincerely Phil Kehoe.

  5. Dale Kyser

    August 18, 2012 at 9:07 am

    I was thinking about Dennis while I was trying to go to sleep and I decided to get up to see what he was up to. I’m sorry to hear that he had passed two years ago. I met him when he came to Monroe, MI some years ago and he made such an impact on me. He actually called me out of the crowd a few times and prophecied over me! It was a very low time for me and I thank God for using him to speak directly to me! Another amazing thing happened that day. It looked like it was going to pour down rain all day and he was speaking outdoors at the community center. It started to sprinkle while he was speaking and he kept going. After a little bit, he stopped speaking and prayed that God would stop the rain immediately so that he could finish with his sermon. I couldn’t believe it! The rain stopped immediately and didn’t start back until he was done speaking! I will NEVER forget that! He truly was a great man of God! I wanted to look him up so that I could remind him of that day, but now I’ll have to wait until I see him in heaven. I will never forget him and I’m praying for the family. Love you guys!


    Dale Kyser

  6. Louis Robert

    October 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Just like Mr Kyser, I was thinking about other bodybuilders that I got to know in the past (60s, 70s, 80s). I was sadden to find out that he had passed away. I always like to see the add that was often posted on Muscle and Fitness magazines in the 70s and 80s that showed Mr Tinerino with a hugh set of silver weights and barbels. It was a great motivator to work-out. I would always look at the fine lines of his muscles and he had a great chest. That is the kind of bodybuilder in my mind that represent health. My condolences go out to his wife,children and his parents.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *