National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Order of Merit Recipient Larry Sciacchetano Passes Away

Larry Sciacchetano, who received the Order of Merit from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006, passed away on Tuesday, at the age of 77.

Information about funeral arrangements will be posted when received.

“Larry Sciacchetano left a large footprint upon the sport of wrestling, and he was one of the best spokespeople the sport has ever had,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “He was instrumental in the formation of the United World Wrestling Hall of Fame, while also serving on the Board of Governors for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame board which helped create a collaborative partnership.

“I know from experience that he cared about the athlete’s needs and aspirations, both on and off the mat, as a coach and as a visionary leader,” he added. “Family meant everything to Larry and I want to share our most sincere sympathies with his wife Kathy and their family members.”

Sciacchetano served as president of USA Wrestling and as a member of the United World Wrestling Bureau while also enjoying success as a coach and wrestler.

Well-liked and respected around the world, he made a huge difference in the sport in many different ways 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,” said Rich Bender, Executive Director of USA Wrestling. “ USA Wrestling owes much to Larry Sciacchetano, serving as our president and then with the United World Wrestling Bureau. Our heart goes out to his wife Kathy and his entire family, as well as all of his friends around the world.”

Sciacchetano served two terms as president of USA Wrestling, from 1994-98. During his tenure, the USA won the 1995 World Championship 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, serving a number of terms.  He was a driving force for the development of a Hall of Fame for international wrestling, which is located in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

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. sports 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 Championship 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. Sciacchetana was named the NCAA National Coach of the Year in 1970 and 1975 and was the NCAA Rookie Coach of the Year in 1965.

While at LSU, Sciacchetano coached Kevin Jackson, a Distinguished Member inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. Jackson won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games and is also a two-time World Champion. He is currently the National Freestyle Developmental Coach for USA Wrestling, and previously served as USA Wrestling’s National Freestyle Coach. At LSU, Sciacchetano 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,” said Jackson, who was inducted into the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame on October 11. “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,” he said. “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.”

Sciacchetano coached the Syrian wrestling team at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games and assisted the U.S. staff at the 1992 Olympics. He 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 was a three-time NCAA All-American for Montclair State and was also a finalist in both styles at the 1964 Olympic Trials.

Sciacchetano was twice awarded the FILA Gold Star, the top honor in international wrestling, and also earned the FILA Merit of Honor Award.

Originally from Teaneck, New Jersey, Sciacchetano became a successful businessman, serving as CEO of Pentagon Petroleum Inc., an international oil exploration company.