The following was submitted to Cinnaminson Patch by Weber Funeral Home in Riverton.
Gregory Matonick, New Jersey’s Superman, and holder of the title of Craziest Feat of Strength, passed away suddenly due to complications after surgery, on Friday, Oct. 12, at his home in Cinnaminson at only 60 years of age.
He is survived by his loving wife Karen Matonick (nee Johnston), his adoring daughter Kira Matonick, as well as her mother and his former spouse Elishia Dallman with whom he still remained friends, his aunt Mary Murawski, cousins Denny, Chris, and Maryann, his in-laws Harry and Billy Johnston, and his best friend Sonny Barry, along with numerous friends in the "Strong Man" community, health and fitness community, and others that he gathered along the way in his many walks of life. He was preceded by his father Joseph "Mickey" Matonick, and his mother Elizabeth ‘Shirley’ Matonick (nee Hewett-Cox).
Services will be held on Monday Oct. 22, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Weber Funeral Home, 112 Broad St., Riverton. In lieu of flowers, monetary donations can be made to Karen Matonick, and sent in care of Weber Funeral Home.
Greg Matonick was born in 1951 in Philadelphia. He moved with his family in 1968 to Cinnaminson and as he grew older, he helped his father run Comet Mini-Bikes, where they built and sold both mini-bikes and parts for motorcycles. As a child, Greg raced go-karts at Clover Raceway in Philadelphia, which fostered and grew his love of both hot rods and motorcycles. In his life, he owned many different muscle cars as well as his beloved custom 1987 Harley Soft-tail motorcycle.
Greg’s passion for fitness began at a young age. He was an avid reader of both books and magazines, and thus was self-taught in areas of diet, fitness and strength training.
He was self-employed, and his first major business came in the form of Atlas Welding, as his father taught him to weld at a young age. He was very generous and passed on the knowledge of this trade to many others. His passion for fitness inspired him to open Atlas Strength and Health Gym in 1980 in Cinnaminson where he personally trained many individuals. Later, his welding business evolved into Atlas Railings and Ornamental Ironwork.
As a young man, Greg discovered a book called “The Mighty Atom,” which was the autobiography of Joseph Greenstein, a famous "Old Time Strongman" who performed incredible feats of strength, some of which included bending steel bars and horseshoes, and biting nails in half with his teeth. Greenstein espoused the idea of "mind over matter," in which he explained that the only thing that limits us is our own mind.
Greenstein mentioned his one and only protégé, Lawrence "Slim the Hammerman" Farman, in his autobiography. Greg had the opportunity to see both Slim The Hammerman and the Mighty Atom perform at Madison Square Garden, and began to attempt similar feats of strength using Greenstein’s philosophy and techniques.
Many years later, Greg developed a relationship with Slim, and was elated to find a community of individuals who shared his passion for strength. He became a source of inspiration for both them and others that he mentored in this art.
He was featured in a "Don Polec’s World" segment on ABC News accompanied by his friend Sonny Barry, where he performed feats of strength for the reporter. He was dubbed New Jersey’s Superman by Don Polec. In 2006, Greg was awarded the Craziest Feat of Strength in a contest created by Grand Master Strong Man Dennis Rogers, known as the Strongest Man in the world, Pound for Pound. By using his teeth and jaw strength, Greg bent a quarter into an “S” shape. It has been said in that this feat has not been performed by anyone in the world using the same technique.
He was recently captured in a documentary film called “Bending Steel,” made by SixKiller Films, which follows the journey of a young man, Chris Schoeck, to become a professional performing "Strong Man," which will premiere on Oct. 25 in New York City. Greg played a role in mentoring Chris, and was proud to have been part of his journey.
Though Greg suffered from many health issues, he did not let them interfere with his life’s passion.
Greg was a devout Christian, and used his talents in performing feats of strength to bring people to the Lord. His greatest strength was his ability to make others believe in themselves, and do what they never thought possible. He was charismatic and persuasive, witty, kind, and giving. He will be loved and sorely missed by his friends, family, and the "bending" community, but most of all by his devoted daughter Kira, and his loving wife Karen.