Coney Island Legend Lost at 104-Years-Young

He called himself the 'World's Strongest Man"

By Andrew Siff
|  Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010  |  Updated 7:09 AM EDT
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Coney Island Legend Lost at 104-Years-Young

Charles Denson

In this March 19, 2008 photo provided by Charles Denson, famed Coney Island strongman Joe Rollino shadow boxes in a pose on his 103rd birthday in New York. Rollino, who once lifted 3,200 pounds in his heyday and bent quarters with his fingers at 104, died Monday, Jan. 11, 2010, after he was hit by a minivan.

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Coney Island Legend Lost at 104-Years-Young

Joe Rollino never ate meat. He never backed down from a challenge. And he stuck to a daily routine: coffee, newspaper, lottery ticket. Maybe an afternoon swim in the ocean, even in the winter. Turns out that pattern served him pretty well. Rollino lived to be 104.
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Joe Rollino never ate meat, and he never backed down from a challenge.

And he stuck to a daily routine: coffee, newspaper, lottery ticket. Maybe an afternoon swim in the ocean, even in the winter.

Turns out that pattern served him pretty well. Rollino lived to be 104. He might have even made it to 105, but the scrappy former Coney Island strongman died after being hit by a minivan crossing Bay Ridge Parkway in Brooklyn Monday morning.

The driver was not charged.

"I'm sick about it," said longtime friend and neighbor, Eileen Bille. "He was like a grandfather to my kids."

Bille says Rollino regaled her family with stories. About his exploits in World War II. His time on the boardwalk lifting unimaginable weights. And his victories in the boxing ring, when he was known as Kid Dundee.

"He'd want this- rather than disease," said Bille. "This is how he'd want to go."

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