Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger paid tribute to fitness publisher Joe Weider after he died on Saturday aged 93, calling him a “father figure” who helped Austrian-born Arnie achieve the American dream.
Weider, who built a multimillion-dollar publishing empire that included Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Shape and Men’s Fitness magazines, died of heart failure at his home in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Arnie called him the “godfather of fitness,” saying: “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,” Schwarzenegger added, in a statement posted on his Twitter feed.
Weider was born in Montreal in 1920, and began bodybuilding as a young teenager to stand up to bullies in the gang-infested neighborhood where his family lived.
He created the Mr Olympia event in 1965, and discovered Schwarzenegger at a body-building contest in Europe two years later, the LA Times reported.
Schwarzenegger recalled how he heard about Weider even before he arrived in the US, where he became a champion bodybuilder, Hollywood superstar and governor of California from 2003 to 2011.
“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,” Schwarzenegger said.
“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,” he said.
“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,” Schwarzenegger added.
Weider’s younger brother Ben, with whom he founded the International Federation of Body Building and Fitness in 1940 and spent six decades promoting the sport, died in 2008.
Of his mentor, Schwarzenegger said: “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 was there for me constantly throughout my life, and I will miss him dearly,” Schwarzenegger added.