By Joseph E. Cates, Curator of Education and Public Programs
He was the strongest man alive, bench pressing more than 700 lbs.— a first in human history. Theodore “Ted” A. Arcidi, a former professional wrestler and power lifter has had quite a remarkable career. The son of a nurse and an orthodontist, Arcidi received a BS from Norwich University in 1982 and went on to graduate school at Tufts University Dental School. While obtaining more science credits to get into dental school, he taught junior high and high school biology. His teaching career was cut short however when power lifting afforded him a chance to compete at a world-class level. It is doubtful anyone could have guessed Arcidi would become a world-record breaker in power lifting when he entered Norwich. At that time, he was a scrawny 165 lb., 5 foot 11-inch kid. When he broke his second world record in 1990, he weighed in at 291 lbs. and bench pressed 718.1 lbs.
Arcidi’s rise to fame began on March 3, 1985, at Gus Rethwisch’s Budweiser World Record Breakers in Honolulu, Hawaii. Arcidi bench pressed 705.5 lbs., making him the first man to bench press over 600 lbs. in an officially recognized power-lifting competition. With this fame came more fame. He joined Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in late 1985. After his WWF run, he went to Calgary and briefly worked for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. Then, Arcidi moved to World Class Championship Wrestling in Dallas, Texas, where he was known as “Mr. 705” (referring to his world-record bench press). After a brief two-year stint, he focused on raising his son and immersed himself in film and television roles.
In our collection we have a Ted Arcidi wrestling action figure and a signed poster. You can also read his oral history online at Norwich University Archives and Special Collections. His interview includes discussions of his career, his overall experiences as an athlete, and his time as a student at Norwich University. Now the father of two boys, Arcidi owns a fitness store, operates a gym in Manchester, New Hampshire, and he continues to act. He has done numerous guest appearances on television and most recently can be found in the upcoming Apple TV mini-series, Defending Jacob, alongside Chris Evans. The Ted Arcidi action figure and promotional poster for his weightlifting supply business are on view in the exhibit 200 Years—200 Objects, open through December 20, 2019.