Florida Panthers 'Muscle Fan' from Palm Beach Gardens shares inspiration behind costume

Rob Veglia mourns recent loss of son but uplifted by fellow fans
Rob Veglia has been a Florida Panthers fan since the team hit the ice in 1993.
Posted at 3:18 PM, Jun 26, 2024

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A Palm Beach Gardens man has become one of the most viral sports fans in the past two years thanks to a muscle costume he sports at every Florida Panthers home game.

Rob Veglia said he and his son would come decked out in the costume and cheer for the cats. The father spoke with WPTV about the back story and why he wears the outfit.

The beauty of sports is cheering for your favorite team with friends, family and fellow fans.

The new Stanley Cup Champions have a mascot and angel that has been cheering for them since 1993.

Veglia has been a fan since day one.

"The Panthers came in 1993. The same year, I moved down to Florida. I always loved hockey so it was a natural fit," Veglia said. "I went down to a few games in Miami and loved it. Then they moved down to Fort Lauderdale, and that's when I became a season ticket holder."

Friends and family know him as Rob, but at Amerant Bank Arena, he's known as "Muscle Fan."

"I mean, we're going to the games, and we were awful for years," Veglia said. "We finally made the playoffs, and I'm like, 'I got to do something bigger.'"

He went into his closet and got the inspiration for his alter ego.

"I had a Halloween costume, and I started adding some Panthers stuff to it, threw on a wig headband, and showed up," Veglia said. "All of a sudden, it was a hit. Everyone loved it, and the crowd got fired up."

The costume won "Muscle Fan" the honor of being the Verizon Ultimate Fan.

While Veglia talked about his journey to becoming "Muscle Fan," his emotions quickly shifted when he thought about his son, Dominic.

"He passed away two months ago," Veglia said.

Rob Veglia
Rob Veglia lost his son to a seizure disorder while the Panthers were in the NHL playoffs.

Dominic was born with a seizure disorder that caused him to become developmentally delayed and bound to a wheelchair.

His disability didn't keep his dad from making him Muscle Fan Junior.

"He's got the mullet. He's got the headband, and he's got the cup," Veglia said.

Unfortunately, he could never watch the Panthers win its first Stanley Cup.

He was put on life support during the Panthers vs. Lightning series.

"We said, 'We want to take him home,'" Veglia said. "This has to end at home. We don't want him in the hospital. We watched the game with him in bed. That was the last thing he saw. He passed away a couple of hours later."

Veglia took a break from everything. He and his wife spent months mourning their son.

After a few weeks, the Panthers and fans noticed he wasn't there and sent the family a note. "Muscle Fan" then returned to action just in time for the championship.

He sat and watched the Panthers win it all on Monday, noticing the crowd making gestures towards him.

"I can't tell you how many people, when they won, just put their arms up and said, "They did it for Dom,'" Veglia said.