75-year-old teacher inspires in weightlifting contest against students

75-year-old Kennedy High teacher inspires in weightlifting contest against students
Kennedy High student Franklin Leiva (left) won the powerlifting challenge, but teacher Sal Morabito (right) wasn't far behind in fourth place.

Nearing his 76th birthday, Kennedy High special education teacher Salvatore Morabito saw no issue with challenging his students — even the football players — to a powerlifting competition.

Morabito did not win his Rack Pull Challenge at the Kennedy High campus on Thursday — nor did he expect to. But he placed fourth with a weight of 455 pounds, and in so doing accomplished a task that is heavier than any barbell. He inspired students by exhibiting the fruits of a lifetime of healthy living.

“Right now I workout four times weekly,” Morabito said. “I have been lifting weight since I was 8.”

And not just lifting, but setting more than 100 world powerlifting records in five different weight classes and age groups in nine federations.

The winners of the weightlifting competition include Aide Dominique Hargraves (left) and Franklin Leiva (right).

“I always compete raw, no equipment,” he said. “Last October, I set eight more world records at an APA meet in Portola in the 165 weight class, 75-79 age division.”

Morabito, who has also coached two special education students to becoming record breakers, believes he may hold more than 60 world records. And aside from that: while living in England, he was one victory from a spot at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo for Judo. He practiced the sport for 29 years and owned a judo club in England at the time.

In the last 19 years in the school district, Morabito has coached weights during his lunch break. Three of the students who defeated him on Thursday have been working out with him.

In the Rack Pull Challenge — which occurred during a midday event at the school featuring fun activities and healthy snacks — 11th grader Franklin Leiva topped the field. The football player lifted more than anyone at 495 pounds.

Runi Manga (left) and Samantha Tagaloa (right)

He was followed by 10th grader Ronnie Luna at 485 pounds, and 12th grader Hedsauth Bautista at 475 pounds.

In the female competition, Aide Dominique Hargraves came out victorious with a lift of 250 pounds. Seven females lifted 225 pounds, including Dr. Allison Huie, who gave 315 pounds an impressive try.

“We will do it again next year,” Morabito said.

Ronnie Luna (left) and Jared Sainz-Castillo (right)
Ylin Tagaloa (left) and Marion Young-Hazzard (right)
Dr. Allison Hui