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Original Issue

The Godfather of Physique

Joe Weider, 1919--2013

Joe Weider, a fitness magnate who in 1968 brought an unknown Austrian bodybuilding champion named Arnold Schwarzenegger to the U.S., died in Los Angeles on Saturday at the age of 93. A native of Montreal, Weider dropped out of school after seventh grade to go to work. Fifteen years later he and his younger brother, Ben (who died in 2008), founded the International Federation of Body Builders, which sanctioned such events as Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia. With a deep tan and a sculpted physique, Weider was the perfect salesman for his magazines, which included, Muscle andFitness, Flex and Men's Fitness. Weider used his publications—which he sold for $350 million to American Media in '03—to promote his own line of nutritional supplements and exercise equipment. He also used them to boost the profiles of young bodybuilders, including Schwarzenegger, who was paid a salary to write columns. "When you push yourself to the limit in the gym, you begin to get feelings of vigor and power and self-esteem," Weider once said. "[Body builders] actually feel a little sorry for the average person, struggling to feel worthwhile, wasting his vitality, watching his body deteriorate."