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Tuesday 20 March 2018

Bodybuilder Weider dies aged 93

Arnold Schwarzenegger with Joe Weider during the 39th annual Mr Olympia event in Las Vegas (AP/Eric Jamison)
Arnold Schwarzenegger with Joe Weider during the 39th annual Mr Olympia event in Las Vegas (AP/Eric Jamison)

Joe Weider, a legendary figure in bodybuilding who helped popularise the sport worldwide and played a key role in introducing a charismatic young weightlifter named Arnold Schwarzenegger to the world, has died aged 93.

His publicist, Charlotte Parker, said the bodybuilder, publisher and promoter died of heart failure at his home in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley on Saturday.

"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, Mr Weider became better known in later years as a behind-the-scenes guru to the sport.

He popularised 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.

Mr Weider brought Schwarzenegger to the US early in his career, where he helped train the future governor of California. Schwarzenegger also said Mr 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.

Mr Weider also mentored numerous other bodybuilders.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Weider.

Press Association

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