Arnold Schwarzenegger: A Tribute To A Great Champion

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No other bodybuilder in the history of the sport has made the same impact. Indeed, Arnold Schwarzenegger remains the greatest, and most influential, bodybuilder of all time in the eyes of many.

In many ways, Arnold helped to change public attitudes toward a sport regarded as deviant and on the margins of what was acceptable social practice at the time.

Indeed, prior to the 1970′s, the period in which Arnold made his mark as the greatest bodybuilder of all time, bodybuilding and its adherents were together seen as a strange and somewhat insular subculture of social deviants.

These attitudes still prevail in some sectors, but due in large part to Arnold’s popularization of the sport, bodybuilding has become not only accepted as a legitimate sporting choice, but as a way of life for many.

Appointed chairman of the inner City Games and the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness, in addition to stanch advocate and mover and shaker of the Special Olympics Movement, Arnold has always been a big supporter of sport and active living as life changing pursuits.

Arnold has also shown that bodybuilders, to belie their often narcissistic and insular reputation, can be multi-dimensional, and succeed in all facets of life, while helping others in the process.

By 1983, Arnold had achieved the American dream; had become a successful actor, one of the worlds greatest athletes, and a wealthy businessman. Still, he never lost touch with the foundational element of his success: the bodybuilding lifestyle.

Wherever possible, Arnold would promote bodybuilding and, practicing what he preached, kept himself in great shape – the kind of shape that could be seen in the many films he acted in.

In 1989, Arnold’s dream of promoting his own show came to fruition, and The Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic (The ASC) was born. The many great bodybuilders who have competed in the ASC over subsequent years have been granted the opportunity to realize their dreams through the efforts of the man who started it all, a man who will remain the backbone of the sport.

Arnold has become an icon, a symbol of a cultural movement, one who has defined, and re-defined, what it means to become one of the few – a bodybuilder, proud of ones healthy physique and the concomitant benefits. We at Bodybuilding.com salute Arnold and his contribution to bodybuilding and hope he will continued to be respected as a great bodybuilder, and, more importantly, a great human being.

The Life & Times Of The Worlds Greatest Bodybuilder…

In 1947, in the small Austrian village of Thal, just outside of Graz, born to parents Gustav and Aurelia, Arnold Schwarzenegger made his way into the world. He would go on to become a household name and revolutionise the fitness industry.

Arnold’s desire to become a great athlete emerged early when in 1953, at the age of six, his father took him to Graz to see Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller

Arnold was impressed by the physical prowess of Weissmuller and decided to emulate his example. Indeed, Arnold went on to become a multitalented athlete, running, swimming, boxing, throwing shot-put and javelin, but excelling in Soccer.

It was during his soccer playing days, at age 13, that Arnold first began his quest for physical supremacy. In 1960, Arnold’s soccer coach took Arnold along with the rest of his team to a local gym, to gain strength for future games.

Arnold picked up a barbell for the first time and, as they say, the rest is history. Arnold said at the time, “it was something. I suddenly just seemed to reach out and find, as if I had been crossing a suspended bridge and finally stepped onto solid ground”.

Arnold found his body morphing into something quite spectacular. “I was six-feet-tall and slender weighing 150lbs, but I did have a good athletic physique and my muscles responded surprisingly quickly with weight-training” More importantly, at the time, girls began to notice his results.

Around this time, Arnold decided that his new goal was to become the “most pumped up guy in the world”. Fascinated by the physiques of cinematic heroes Reg Park and Steve Reeves, Arnold made it his overarching goal to become the most phenomenally built man in the world and conquer the film industry in the process – he knew exactly where he was going at such a young age.

In 1961, Arnold began a friendship with professional bodybuilder and former Mr. Austria, Kurt Marnul, who invited Arnold to train with him at the Athletic Union in Graz. Under Marnuls guidance Arnold’s physique blossomed.

Bodybuilding formed a major part of Arnold’s life in the early sixties, so much so, his father, Gustav, imposed a limit on the frequency of Arnold’s gym training sessions. Gustav became concerned with Arnold’s “obsessional” interest in “Austria’s least favorite sport” and limited Arnold to three-sessions-per-week. To negate this training shortfall, Arnold built a gym at home and continued to train with a vengeance.

In 1965 Arnold, very muscular and strong for his age, won the Austrian Junior Weightlifting championships. After this win, Arnold enlisted in the Austrian army, at 18, for mandatory service, only to go A.W.O.L to win the Junior Mr. Europe bodybuilding championships.

He would serve 7-days in the big house for this ‘aberration’ but interestingly enough, following this time inside, Arnold would resume his military training with the added status of bodybuilding hero, and receive commensurate treatment – extra time off to train for his next big show.

A year later Arnold took his, by this stage, massive physique, to the Mr. Europe competition, and won. A week after this win, Arnold would go on to win Europe’s best built man.

The same year, Arnold competed in the amateur Mr. Universe, finishing second. However, the following year Arnold was to become the youngest man ever, at 20, to win the NABBA Mr. universe. Winning was some thing Arnold would become accustomed to over subsequent years.

People often questioned Arnold in light of his involvement in what was at the time considered a strange sport. Arnold, however, had already planned his life over a long-term and knew exactly what he was doing.

“My involvement had a lot to do with the discipline, the individualism, and the utter integrity of bodybuilding. In two or three years I had changed my body entirely. That told me something. If I had been able to change my body that much. I could also, through the same discipline and determination, change anything else I wanted, I could change my whole outlook on life.”

The year 1968 is a definite milestone in Arnold’s quest for greatness, for it is the year he arrived in America. He arrives with $20 and can barely speak English. However, this was not to stop him from achieving the American dream. During 1968 Arnold would win the IFBB Mr. international, start a mail-order business and gain sponsorship from Joe Weider.

Poignantly, Arnold would suffer a defeat at the American Mr. Universe, at the hands of the ripped and symmetrical Frank Zane – a defeat that would help to propel Arnold to bodybuilding immortality. “I’m going to pay them back. I will show them who is really the best” said Arnold at the time.

Arnold’s words would prove prophetic as he came back, the following year, to win both the IFBB and NABBA Mr. universes in one weekend. Arnold, again won the Mr. Universe in 1970, defeating his boyhood idol Reg Park in the process.

Arnold’s bodybuilding and entertainment careers were advanced during this year, as he won both the Mr. Olympia and the main role in the low-budget film “Hercules in New York”.

Arnold would go on to win a further six Olympia’s and star in some of the best action films of the 80′s and 90′s – indeed he would become a household name the world over.

1974 would prove to be monumental year for Arnold, both in entertainment and bodybuilding terms: cast as a good-guy in the film Stay Hungry, as himself in the highly successful cult-classic Pumping Iron, and to top it off, the winner of a fifth Olympia, beating the popular Franco Columbu and massive Lou Ferrigno.

In 1976 Arnold officially retired from bodybuilding, opting to focus more on the promotional side of the sport – prize money would exceed $100,000 due, in part, to Arnold’s efforts as a promoter.

Life was not any less hectic for Arnold following his retirement; in 77 he writes bestseller “The Education of a Bodybuilder”, poses nude for Cosmopolitan Magazine, wins a Golden Globe for Stay Hungry, begins an involvement with the Special Olympics and meets future wife Maria Shriver.

Arnold achieves his academic goal and graduates from the University of Wisconsin Superior with a B.A. in Business and International Economics in 1979.

The same year he inauspiciously appears in the movie The Villain – regarded by some reviewers as the worst film of the seventies. However, Arnold would redeem himself with arguably two of his best films, Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator, in 80 and 81 respectively.

By 1983 Arnold had achieved what many thought to be the impossible: status as a successful actor, the greatest bodybuilder of all time, and one of the most astute businessmen in America. Arnold becomes an American citizen.

In 1984, Arnold treats his Conan fans to a follow-up: Conan the Destroyer. The same year, the Terminator is released to rave reviews.

In 85 the successfulness of Arnold’s acting career is cemented when he receives the National Association of Theatre Owners International Star of the Year Award.

Another of Arnold’s classic films opens in 1986: Commando. Also in 86, Arnold marries the woman he proposed to the previous year, Maria Shriver.

Arnold’s cinematic prowess reigns in 1987, with the opening of both Predator and The Running Man.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame star (Arnold’s was the 1847th star) is a fitting testimony to a wonderful acting career. Read Heat and Twins open the following year. 1989 is a busy year in a business sense for Arnold, as, along with Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, he opens the first planet Hollywood.

Around this time, Arnold’s first child, Katherine, is born, and, most importantly for bodybuilding fans, the first Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in Columbus Ohio (the richest bodybuilding tournament to date) showcases some of the greats of the modern era.

In 1990, Arnold is appointed as both the chairman of the Inner-City games and the Chairman of the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness. This is also the year Arnold makes his debut on the other side of the camera, directing Tales From the Crypt. On the acting front, Total Recall and Kindergarten Cop open.

Arnold’s second child, Christina, is born in 1991, the year the most expensive film ever made up until that time opens: Terminator 2.

In 92, Arnold opens his restaurant Shatzi on Main and appears again in the directors chair for Christmas in Connecticut. Between 93 and 00 Arnold appears in many films including, The Last Action Hero, True Lies, Junior, Eraser, Terminator 2: 3D, Jingle All The Way, Batman and Robin, End of Days and The 6th Day.

In 2001, Arnold is awarded with a lifetime achievement award (presented by Muhammad Ali) at the World sports Awards in London and is honoured as the AFMA World Box Office Champ for his contribution to film. The year is capped off with Arnold leading a delegation of statesmen, celebrities and Special Olympics athletes to South Africa to further the Special Olympics cause.

Arnold assumes his well entrenched role as an action hero in Collateral Damage in 2002. He also receives and honorary degree (a Doctor of Humane Letters) from Chapman University – the second such degree he has received, the first given by Arnold’s alma mater, the University of Wisconsin Superior, in 1996.

Prop 49, the After School Safety and Recreational Act, was passed in the California election in 02. Arnold considered this a victory for the whole state of California.

In 2003 Terminator 3 opens and Arnold the action hero is back. Arnold is also back as a major political force: the newly elected Governor of California. On October 8 2003, Arnold’s political yearnings came to fruition as, at the age of 56, he becomes the chief executive of Americas most populus state, and the worlds fifth largest economy.

Looking back on Arnold’s life it is inspiring to see how one man, having begun with so little, could achieve so much. Sport in general, and bodybuilding in particular, have undoubtedly helped to elevate Arnold to the amazing heights he reached.

Indeed, bodybuilding and the fitness movement still factor heavily into Arnold’s life: he promotes his successful Arnold Classic bodybuilding contest annually, supports numerous sporting events including the Special Olympics and maintains a fit and healthy body and mind as he approaches age 60.

Truly a life worth aspiring to.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic

As a promoter, Arnold tried to make bodybuilding accessible to the public, while creating a spectacular event that everyone could enjoy. The Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic (ASC), established in 1989, is a prime example of Arnold’s ability to showcase professional bodybuilders in the best possible light and provide the paying audience with much more than your average bodybuilding show.

From 1976, following his official retirement from bodybuilding, Arnold, teamed with current promotional partner Jim Lorimer, and began promoting the Mr. Olympia, Mr. World and Mr. Universe. Arnold eventually wanted to establish a contest, of his own, with the title bearing his name.

In 1989, his wish came true and the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic became reality. Since this time, thousands have gathered in Columbus Ohio, to watch not only the best professional male and female bodybuilders battle it out, but enjoy a three-day fitness weekend which includes woman’s fitness and figure competitions, a martial arts festival, strength events, a major fitness expo and Arnold training seminar. New this year will be an archery challenge, youth dance-sport classic, fencing, table-tennis and yoga.

However, the biggest event remains the men’s bodybuilding and this year it proves to be anything but a foregone conclusion. The first ASC was won by Rich Gaspari.

Subsequent years have seen the emergence of spectacular athletes such as Vince Taylor, Flex Wheeler, and Mike Francois.

The reigning champion is Jay Cutler, who has won this show for the past three years. This year it is wide open. The top three are touted to be, in no particular order, Lee Priest, Gustavo Badell, and Dexter Jackson. However, Chris Cormier, Melvin Anthony and Victor Martinez are all expected to present a strong challenge.

Arnold’s Competitive History

Arnold has often credited bodybuilding as fostering within him the self belief and determination necessary to achieve all he has achieved. His contest record is an impressive one. He had become a man, accustomed to winning.

The Following Are A List Of Arnold’s Titles:

1965 Mr. Europe – Junior (Germany)
1966 Best Built Man of Europe (Germany)
1966 Mr. Europe (Germany)
1966 International Powerlifting Championship (Germany)
1967 NABBA Mr. Universe – Amateur (England)
1968 NABBA Mr. Universe – Professional (England)
1968 German Powerlifting Championship (Germany)
1968 IFBB Mr. International (Mexico)
1969 IFBB Mr. Universe – Amateur (USA)
1969 NABBA Mr. Universe – Professional (England)
1970 NABBA Mr. Universe – Professional (England)
1970 Mr. World (USA)
1970 IFBB Mr. Olympia (USA)
1971 IFBB Mr. Olympia (France)
1972 IFBB Mr. Olympia (Germany)
1973 IFBB Mr. Olympia (USA)
1974 IFBB Mr. Olympia (USA)
1975 IFBB Mr. Olympia (South Africa)
1980 IFBB Mr. Olympia (Australia


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