Larry Sciacchetano, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana passed away at his home on Monday, October 14, 2019. Larry was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1942 and was a loving husband, father, grandfather, coach and entrepreneur.
Larry served as president of USA Wrestling and was a member of the United World Wrestling Bureau during a long career of service to the sport. He also had a successful career as a wrestling coach on the college and international levels, and was a talented college and international athlete as well. Well-liked and respected around the world, Sciacchetano made a huge difference in the sport in many different ways all throughout his life.
“Larry Sciacchetano was one of our sport’s great contributors, making an impact at every level of wrestling, as an athlete, coach and an administrator at the highest levels. USA Wrestling owes much to Larry Sciacchetano, serving as our president and then with the United World Wrestling Bureau” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender.
Sciacchetano served two terms as president of USA Wrestling, from 1994-98. During his tenure, the USA won the 1995 World Team Title in freestyle wrestling and captured the most freestyle medals of any nation at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Under his leadership, USA Wrestling experienced growth in its membership at all levels as well as an expansion of its programs and services to the membership. He also served on a number of USA Wrestling committees.
He was also elected to the United World Wrestling (then FILA) Bureau, the governing council of the international wrestling federation and served a number of terms there. He was a driving force for the development of a Hall of Fame for international wrestling, which is now located in Stillwater, Okla., alongside the U.S. National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
FILA Commissions that Sciacchetano served on included the Hall of Fame Commission (which he chaired), the Promotions Commission, the TV and Marketing Commission, the Coaches Commission and the Internet Hall of Fame Commission. He was also a Secretary of the Pan American Amateur Wrestling Committee (CPLA).
In 1998, he led the U.S. wrestling delegation to the Takhti Cup in Tehran, Iran -- the first time in the nearly 20 years since the Iranian Revolution that a U.S. sport team traveled to that country to compete.
Sciacchetano was also a tremendous wrestling coach on the college level, as well as within international freestyle wrestling circles.
He served as assistant coach of the 1993 World Team, which won the first World Team Title for the United States. He guided U.S. teams on tours of international competition and served as team leader of the 1994 U.S. Freestyle World Team in Istanbul.
On the collegiate level, Sciacchetano coached nine years at Louisiana State, leading the Tigers to seven Southeast Conference titles and two eighth-place finishes at the NCAA tournament. He was also head wrestling coach at Montclair State and New York Maritime College. Twice named the NCAA National Coach of the Year (1970 and 1975) and he was the NCAA’s Rookie Coach of the Year in 1965.
While at LSU, Sciacchetano coached Kevin Jackson, who went on to win a 1992 Olympic gold medal, two World gold medals. Jackson is currently the National Freestyle Developmental Coach for USA Wrestling, and previously served as USA Wrestling’s National Freestyle Coach. At LSU, he also coached Joseph Atiyeh, who won an Olympic silver medal for Syria at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles with Sciacchetano in his corner.
“I was so blessed to have the opportunity to spend last Friday with him at the LSU Hall of Fame induction. He presented me with my award. He was the best coach I ever had. He cared more about my personal life than any athletic accomplishments. I had an opportunity to tell him how much I love him and care about him, how great a coach he was and a better man. He will be truly missed. My heart and prayers go out to his family,” said Kevin Jackson.
Sciacchetano coached the Syrian wrestling team at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games; assisted the U.S. staff at the 1992 Olympics; coached many New York Athletic Club champions; and served five years as the State Chairman of New Jersey. He wrote three books on wrestling.
Undefeated as a high school wrestler in New Jersey, he won NCAA All-America honors three times in the college division for Montclair State. He was also a finalist in both styles at the 1964 Olympic Trials.
Sciacchetano received the Order of Merit from National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006. Sciacchetano was twice awarded the FILA Gold Star, the top honor in international wrestling and also earned the FILA Merit of Honor Award. He was inducted into the Montclair State Athletics Hall of Fame and the Div. III Wrestling Wrestlers and Coaches Hall of Fame.
Originally from Teaneck, N.J., Sciacchetano became a successful businessman, serving as CEO of Pentagon Petroleum Inc., an international oil exploration company.
Larry is survived by his wife Kathy of 54 years, children Pete (Kristi), Mike (Vanessa) and Christine (Patrick) Keenan and grandchildren Ben, Grace, Mia, Riley and Liam Sciacchetano and Sydney and Alex Goldberg. Also survived by brother Lou Sciacchetano.
Public visitation will be held Sunday, October 20, from 5-8 pm CT at Resthaven Gardens of Memory & Funeral Home (11817 Jefferson Hwy. Baton Rouge, LA 70816). A private family burial will be on Monday.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to HOPE Ministries, 4643 Winbourne Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70805 or at www.hopebr.com in Larry’s name.
Family and friends may leave a personal note to the family or leave a story about how Larry impacted their life on Larry’s Facebook page.
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