Many followers of bodybuilding may recall that the Arnold Classic was formerly hosted at the Franklin County Veterans Memorial building in Columbus, OH. Several iconic moments in the sport occurred within the premises, including Arnold Schwarzenegger’s historic victory over then reigning Mr. Olympia Sergio Oliva at the 1970 Mr. World competition. This event served as the catalyst for Schwarzenegger’s ascent to glory in the sport.
The aforementioned building no longer occupies that space. It was demolished in the past decade, and a more remarkable structure now stands in its place. The National Veterans Memorial & Museum (NVMM) pays tribute to all branches of the United States Armed Forces by guiding visitors through a narrative journey recounting the individual tales and shared experiences of Veterans throughout history. It acknowledges and honors the sacrifices and commitments made by America’s heroes and their families.
Lieutenant General Michael Ferriter (Ret.) is one of those heroes, presently serving as the President and CEO of the NVMM. Ferriter has led courageous men and women across the globe during his active military career and takes great pride in his current role of narrating this significant story in a distinctive manner.
“It’s the exclusive NVMM in the country,” stated Ferriter. “It presents the narrative from 1775 to today.”
Ferriter’s current role is quite distinct from his former positions. The military held significant importance in his family, with his father retiring as a Colonel after serving in the Army. During his childhood in Germany, sports played a pivotal role, initially establishing his connection to fitness. After returning to the United States and completing high school, he initially intended to attend West Point, even earning a scholarship. However, at the behest of his father, who had ties to the Citadel, he spent a year at the institution before ultimately graduating in 1979. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the infantry, his career trajectory only ascended from there. Aspiring to become a leader, his unwavering commitment to excelling in that role was evident.”
“I wanted to demonstrate that one can be a leader and maintain peak physical fitness.”
Not many can boast leadership experiences as extensive as Ferriter’s. He was involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Restore Hope. By 2011, he served as assistant chief of staff for installation management and was the commanding general for the United States Army Installation Management Command.
“They entrusted me with the command of over 75 cities in 17 time zones and 123,000 employees.”
Upon his retirement in 2014, Ferriter garnered numerous accolades and awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, and several others. Fitness remains a high priority for Ferriter even today, and he assists others in achieving the same through Jiu-Jitsu. As an Army Ranger, he embraced the ethos of excelling with both weaponry and hand-to-hand combat. Collaborating with Matt Larson and MMA legend Royce Gracie, he contributed to the development of a combat program and actively participated in the training, setting a leading example.
“Numerous leaders hesitated due to the possibility of being subdued by a private. They had to overcome their hesitance. Be a leader.”
Consequently, Larson earned the moniker of the Father of Modern Army Combatives, while Ferriter is recognized as the Godfather of Modern Army Combatives. His affinity for martial arts endures, and he facilitated the installation of mats in over 400 fitness facilities under his command.
“I now hold a three-stripe black belt.”
Michael Ferriter currently oversees a successful academy in the northwest. Prior to taking on his current position at NVMM, he discovered over 4,000 square feet of unused space in the facility and transformed it into a Jiu-Jitsu academy, where he imparts his passion to students with pride.
He proudly stated, “It’s now the top Jiu-Jitsu academy in Ohio. We conduct training sessions eight times a week. We have evidence that we have saved at least four individuals from suicide. We are certain of that.”
Through his efforts in preserving military history and imparting self-defense skills to students, Ferriter exhibits a profound commitment to serving multiple generations of Americans. Physical fitness and dedicated service form the bedrock of his life. He aspires for his example to inspire others to tread a similar path.
“I cherish the connection and camaraderie. Moreover, I aim to be recognized as a person of integrity and character who triumphs. At 67, I maintain a high level of fitness. I believe that being active, staying fit, persisting and pushing oneself toward new goals constitutes thriving in life.”
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