Joe Weider Dies At 93: Bodybuilding Maven Mentored A Young Arnold Schwarzenegger And Put The Muscle In Old Media

Joe Weider
Joe Weider poses for a portrait with some very familiar weightlifting equipment at a Los Angeles home in this undated file photograph.

Joe Weider -- the founder of a multimillion-dollar magazine empire encompassing titles such as Flex, Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Hers, Natural Health, and Shape -- died of heart failure in Los Angeles Saturday at 4:30 a.m. PDT (7:30 a.m. EDT), multiple media outlets reported. He was 93.

Weider Publications LLC is now a unit of the privately held American Media Inc.

Among other enterprises, Joe Weider and brother Ben Weider also co-founded in 1946 the International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness, or IFBB, which is considered the overseer of the highest level of competitive bodybuilding in the world.

In this context, Joe Weider created the Mr. Olympia, Ms. Olympia and Masters Olympia bodybuilding contests.

Arnold Schwarzenegger -- not only the winner of two California gubernatorial elections but also the winner of seven Mr. Olympia titles -- recalled Joe Weider in an online statement Saturday. Following is the full text:

"Today, I lost a dear friend and mentor, and the world lost one its strongest advocates of living a healthy lifestyle. Joe Weider was a titan in the fitness industry and one of the kindest men I have ever met.

"I knew about Joe Weider long before I met him -- 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. When I was a young boy in Austria, his muscle magazines provided me with the inspiration and the blueprint to push myself beyond my limits and imagine a much bigger future. I know that countless others around the world found motivation in the pages of his publications just as I did, but as I read his articles in Austria, I felt that he was speaking directly to me and I committed to move to America to make my vision of becoming the best bodybuilder, to live the American dream, and to become an actor a reality.

"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. 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. He advised me on my training, on my business ventures, and once, bizarrely, claimed I was a German Shakespearean actor to get me my first acting role in 'Hercules in New York,' even though I barely spoke English. As my career took off, he was always nearby, giving advice, promoting my movies or my crusade as the chairman of the President's Council on Fitness in the pages of his magazines, and appearing at my fundraisers and events when I decided to run for governor. He was there for me constantly throughout my life, and I will miss him dearly.

"He leaves behind a fantastic legacy of a fitter world. Very few people can claim to have influenced as many lives as Joe did through his magazines, his supplements, his training equipment, and his big-hearted personality. Joe was known for urging everyone, 'Exceed yourself,' and there is no question that throughout his life, he did just that.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his extraordinary wife, the love of his life, Betty, and all of his family and friends."

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