Bodybuilding Pioneer Joe Weider Dead at 93

Fitness icon brought Schwarzenegger to America

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 24, 2013 6:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – Joe Weider, a bodybuilding enthusiast who built a publishing empire and brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to Hollywood, died yesterday of heart failure, the LA Times reports. He was 93. Born in Montreal, Weider pumped weights at a young age to protect himself from neighborhood bullies. He started his own bodybuilding magazine at age 17, and spent the next 30 years promoting the new fitness craze and creating contests for bodybuilders—including the Mr. Olympia competition in 1965.

In the 1970s he paid for Schwarzenegger's life in LA and helped turn him into a star—even telling movie producers he was a Shakespearean actor. "It was all bull," says Schwarzenegger. "I didn't speak much English at all." While Weider pioneered modern bodybuilding with magazines like Men's Fitness and Flex, he was criticized for a big ego and tough business style. He was known to call himself the Jesus Christ of his field. "You get a lot of atheists and devil worshipers that hate God," he once said. "Why should I be loved by everybody?"

This Oct. 25, 2003 file photo shows then California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, raising the arm of Joe Weider, the creator of Mr. Olympia Bodybuilding competition, in Las Vegas.
This Oct. 25, 2003 file photo shows then California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, raising the arm of Joe Weider, the creator of Mr. Olympia Bodybuilding competition, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Eric Jamison, File)
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