Franco Columbu

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Franco Columbu (born August 17, 1941) is an Italian actor, former bodybuilder and World's Strongest Man competitor.

Contents

Biography

Bodybuilding

Columbu was born in Ollolai, Sardinia (Italy). Starting out his athletic career as a boxer, Columbu progressed into the sport of Olympic Weightlifting, powerlifting and later bodybuilding, winning the title of Mr. Olympia in 1976 and 1981. At 5 feet and 5 inches in height (some magazines reported as short as 5'3"), Columbu is shorter than most of his bodybuilding competitors, but that did not prevent him from achieving widespread success.

Columbu competed in the 1977 World's Strongest Man competition and was actually in first place. During the Refrigerator race, while ahead, he stumbled, and was shown on national television collapsing with a grotesquely dislocated leg. That ended his participation in the World's Strongest Man contest. In the end, he finished in fifth place. He received a reported $1 million in compensation for his injury.[1]

It took six hours of surgery to remove all the muscle and fix his leg. Doctors told him he would never walk again, but Columbu fully recovered in three years.[citation needed] After Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback victory in the 1980 Mr. Olympia, Franco followed suit and won the 1981 Mr. Olympia.

Columbu is a long time friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger,[2] whom he met in Munich in 1965 and against whom he competed in several international-level bodybuilding competitions. For the Mr. Olympia competitions however, he competed in the under 200 lb (90.7 kg) category, whereas Schwarzenegger was in the over 200 lb category. The final champion was determined by a pose down between the two class winners. The IFBB has since abandoned weight classes. Arnold and Franco were inseparable during the early to mid-1970s and frequently trained together. Columbu served as the best man at the wedding of Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver in 1986.[3] Columbu and Schwarzenegger had been encouraged to come to America by bodybuilding guru Joe Weider in 1969; Weider sponsored them with an $80/week stipend and the two European bodybuilders began a bricklaying and patio business called European Brick Works in 1969, according to a report in The New York Times.[4]

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