Long before making his way to the squared circle, Ken Patera had his sights on the colored circles that represent the Olympic Games.
Ken won a gold medal in the Unlimited class at the 1971 Pan American Games and a silver medal at the 1971 World Championships. He had also won a Pan American gold medal in 1967 in the shot put. He attended Brigham Young University where he was on the track team, placing third in the shot put at the 1967 NCAA Championship. He was sixth at the 1968 Olympic Trials, after which he concentrated on weightlifting.
Patera once famously stated that he was only defeated by Vasily Alekseyev because Alekseyev’s doctors provided him with better performance-enhancing drugs. Patera won US titles as a super-heavy in 1969-72 and was the first American to clean & jerk over 500 lbs (227 kg). He later became a well-known professional wrestler in the United States, and also competed with some success in strongman contests, finishing third in the first World’s Strongest Man event, held in 1977.
Patera went on to become one of the best known villains in professional wrestling. He wrestled for the World Wrestling Federation, National Wrestling Alliance and American Wrestling Association and in 1977 and 1981 was named “Most Hated Wrestler of the Year.” He briefly held the WWF Intercontinental Championship in 1980 and concurrently held the NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship. Patera’s brother, Jack Patera, played linebacker for the Baltimore Colts, Chicago Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL and coached the Seattle Seahawks from 1976-82.
Personal Best: SP – 20.10 (1972).