Nation e-Edition

Joe Weider is dead

Joe Weider is dead

Tue, March 26, 2013 - 11:00 AM

Joe Weider the godfather and the most influential figure in bodybuilding, who reached millions of people through global magazines like Muscle & Fitness, and Flex, is dead.

Weider, who died on Saturday of heart failure aged 93, was responsible for the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the most revered bodybuilding champion in history.

It was  Weider who brought the Austrian Oak to the United States in 1968 and gave him $100 a week to write articles for magazines that endorsed Weider products.

From a 15-cent magazine called Your Physique, Weider went on to expand a weight-manufacturing company into a diverse bodybuilding empire.

At its peak, he was reaching millions of readers through 16 magazines like Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Fitness, Flex and Shape, and selling them mail-order nutritional supplements to speed the dream of rippling muscles.

By the 1980s he was marketing his weight-lifting equipment in 6,000 retail outlets and nutritional products in 12,000 stores in the United States alone. By the 1990s, he was selling in at least 60 countries and grossing hundreds of millions of dollars annually for his Los Angeles-based enterprise, Weider America’s Total Fitness Company.

Boosted by major events like Mr  Olympia and Mr. Universe, Joe nd his brother Ben made their fortunes before bodybuilding’s popularity was eclipsed by the richer drama of professional wrestling. Lou Ferrigno, who played the Incredible Hulk on television, also came through the ranks of Weider star bodybuilders.

The brothers sold the magazines for more than $350-million in 2002. Ben Weider, who visited Barbados in the late 1980s at the invitation of then local president Roy Callender, died in 2008.

Praising Joe Weider’s “fantastic legacy of a fitter world,” Schwarzenegger — who went on to be a Hollywood star and former governor of California — said he was the man who made his dreams come true, by inviting him to Los Angeles as a professional bodybuilder.

“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,’” Schwarzenegger said.

“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…. 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.” (MK)

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