Monday, October 20, 2008
Ben Weider, Dead at 85
School dropout changed the way society thought of fitness, discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger and became a Napoleonic scholar
MONTREAL — He was a school dropout from Montreal who took bodybuilding out of sweat-soaked gyms and helped usher in the modern-day fitness boom – and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan and Saddam Hussein in the process.
Ben Weider, an unprepossessing gentleman who traded in muscle-making but peddled in messages of bridge-building and peace, died in Montreal on Friday at age 85.
Among those who paid tribute to him were Mr. Schwarzenegger, who was an unknown muscle-man in Austria in the 1960s when Mr. Weider and his brother, Joe, plucked the teenager from obscurity.
“Ben Weider was one of the most amazing people I have ever known. He and his brother, Joe, grew up poor in Montreal, but through their vision, hard work and determination, became founding fathers of bodybuilding and the worldwide fitness revolution,” the California Governor said in a statement.
“Ben and Joe were like fathers to me, bringing me to America when I was a young man just making my way in the world. I never would have achieved the success I have enjoyed in life without them and they supported me in everything I have ever done.”
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