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Joe Weider, ‘godfather of fitness’ dies at 93

AFP-JIJI

Arnold Schwarzenegger paid tribute to fitness publisher Joe Weider after he died Saturday aged 93, calling him a “father figure” who helped the Austrian movie star 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.”

“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 teenager to stand up to bullies in the gang-infested neighborhood where his family lived.

He created the Mr. Olympia contest in 1965, and discovered Schwarzenegger at a body-building contest in Europe two years later, the LA Times reported.

“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. “Joe didn’t just inspire my earliest dreams; he made them come true.”