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Schwarzenegger mourns Joe Weider as 'godfather of fitness,' mentor

March 23, 2013|By Rick Rojas
  • Joe Weider, the fitness impresario considered to be the founder of the sport of bodybuilding, died Saturday at 93.
Joe Weider, the fitness impresario considered to be the founder of the sport… (Weider Publications )

Arnold Schwarzenegger is mourning the death of fitness impresario Joe Weider, who died Saturday at 93, calling Weider his mentor and the "godfather of fitness."

"He taught us that through hard work and training we could all be champions," Schwarzenegger, a Mr. Universe- and Mr. Olympia-winning former bodybuilder turned actor and former California governor, said in a statement released Saturday.

"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," he said.

Weider, the businessman who launched a publishing empire that included such titles as Muscle and Fitness, Shape, and Men's Fitness -- and considered to be the founder of the sport of bodybuilding -- died in Los Angeles of heart failure, the Associated Press reported. 

Schwarzenegger has said that Weider was the one who encouraged him to come to the United States, and also helped him launch an acting career. Weider was instrumental in getting Schwarzenegger his first role, in a TV movie called "Hercules Goes Bananas." 

In an interview with The Times in 1989, Schwarzenegger said that producers asked Weider if he knew of "a muscleman who could act a little.'" Schwarzenegger said Weider told them, 'I got the perfect guy, he's done Shakespearean plays in Germany, he's a great actor, but his English isn't too good."

In his statement Saturday, Schwarzenegger said that Weider's encouragement continued throughout his career, including when he made the transition into politics. "He was there for me constantly throughout my life," Schwarzenegger said, "and I will miss him dearly."

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Twitter: @rar

rick.rojas@latimes.com

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