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Maurice Catarcio, 76; Fitness Crusader Pushed for Lifelong Exercise

May 18, 2005|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Maurice Catarcio, 76, who earned his place in Guinness World Records by pulling a boat with 125 passengers as he swam 300 feet across a lake when he was 69, died Thursday of cancer in Del Haven, N.J.

Catarcio, a former professional wrestler and longtime chairman of the Cape May County Bridge Commission in New Jersey, took his personal fitness crusade public after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer in 1991. He had been a bodybuilder and weightlifter since age 11, and from 1957 to 1960 competed in the World Wrestling Federation as "The Matador."

To illustrate how his fitness regimen helped him survive cancer and a heart attack, Catarcio performed such stunts as tearing in half 17 decks of playing cards in 59 seconds, lifting a refrigerator with three women on it and pulling a 27,000-pound bus down a New York street on "The Late Show With David Letterman."

Catarcio set the Guinness record Sept. 12, 1998, when he pulled an 80-foot sightseeing boat attached to him by a harness, as he swam the backstroke. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound muscleman had a 51-inch chest and 35-inch waist.

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