Joe Weider, fitness mentor to Schwarzenegger, dies
By JOHN ROGERS
LOS ANGELES — Joe Weider, a legendary figure in bodybuilding who helped popularize the sport worldwide and played a key role in introducing a charismatic young weightlifter named Arnold Schwarznenegger to the world, died Saturday at age 93.
Weider’s publicist, Charlotte Parker, told The Associated Press that the bodybuilder, publisher and promoter died of heart failure at his home in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.
“I knew about Joe Weider long before I met him,” Schwarzenegger, who tweeted the news of his old friend’s death, said in a lengthy statement posted on his website. “He was the godfather of fitness who told all of us to be somebody with a body. He taught us that through hard work and training we could all be champions.”
A bodybuilder with an impressive physique himself, Weider became better known in later years as a behind-the-scenes guru to the sport.
He popularized bodybuilding and spread the message of health and fitness worldwide with such publications as Muscle & Fitness, Flex and Shape. Schwarzenegger himself is the executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex.
He created one of bodybuilding’s pre-eminent events, the Mr. Olympia competition, in 1965, adding to it the Ms. Olympia contest in 1980, the Fitness Olympia in 1995 and the Figure Olympia in 2003.
He also relentlessly promoted Schwarzenegger, who won the Mr. Olympia title a record seven times.
“Every sport needs a hero and I knew that Arnold was the right man,” he once said.
Weider brought Schwarzenegger to the United States early in his career, where he helped train the future governor of California as well as aided him in getting into business. Schwarzenegger also said Weider helped land him his first movie role, in the forgettable film “Hercules in New York,” by passing him off to the producers as a German Shakespearean actor.
“Joe didn’t just inspire my earliest dreams; he made them come true the day he invited me to move to America to pursue my bodybuilding career,” the actor said in his statement. “I will never forget his generosity. One of Joe’s greatest qualities is that he wasn’t just generous with his money; he freely gave of his time and expertise and became a father figure for me.”
Weider also mentored numerous other bodybuilders as well.
Born in Canada in 1919, Weider recalled growing up in a tough section of Montreal.
Just like the apocryphal tale of the skinny kid who starts working out after a bully kicks sand in his face, Weider said he was indeed a small, skinny teenager picked on by bullies when he came across the magazine Strength.
He won his first bodybuilding contest at age 17, and soon after began to publish his first magazine, “Your Physique.”
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.