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Iron man of bodybuilding

Iron man of bodybuilding

April 1982: Joe Weider, famed muscleman, poses with a bust of himself in his Woodland Hills office.

This image, by Harry Chase, appeared in the April 24, 1982, Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Alan Drooz’s profile begins:

The most powerful man in bodybuilding is not Arnold Schwarzenegger or Franco Columbu or Lou Ferrigno.

Rather, he is a 60ish, barrel-chested, slightly paunchy magazine publisher who spends most of his time at a work table in his sleek offices in Woodland Hills.

For 35 years, Joe Weider has been the godfather of the sport, taking it from basements to its current respectability. And he is working to make it an Olympic event.

For 35 years, he has been the sport’s guru, sought out by the heavies like Arnold and Lou for his revolutionary training methods.

For much of that time, he has been viewed — unjustly, say those concerned — as a villain in the sport he built, a manipulator who pulls the strings in major contests and decides who will be stars.

Weiner and his brother, Ben, who runs the East Coast end of their many-pronged business from their hometown of Montreal, are the cornerstones of bodybuilding.

Opponents, largely from rival organizations, have accused the Weiders of fixing contests, blackballing bodybuilders who don’t join their federation and favoring a select handful to get all the publicity.

However, Joe’s involvement now is largely through his magazine, Muscle and Fitness. The more reserved of the brothers and a workaholic, he answers questions with one eye on his work. But the topic of manipulation makes him bristle. The last person to suggest it in print is being sued.

The subject transforms his mustache-dominated face from that of a lined, over-worked businessman to an angry defender of what is right. When he warms to the subject, he looks more like the strongman he is pictured as in his ads.

“It’s so ridiculous,” he said. “All you’ve got to do is figure it out. We have 80 shows, seven to nine judges a show. Can you imagine my going to every judge and saying ‘Pick this guy’? All these bodybuilders are my friends. Whoever wins, what do I care?

“What we try to do is develop stars, not control them. I don’t run Arnold. I’ve got enough work to build the sport. All our competitors sponsor events and products at our shows. If we controlled it, would we let our competitors in?

“I’ve found you can never build anything being a tyrant or to dominate people.”

This portrait accompanied the 2013 Los Angeles Times obituary of Weider when he died at 93.

Before cropping, the original image by Chase, shown below, was a deep vertical. Chase included the stairs and body building paintings on the wall above Weider.

1982 photo of body-building guru Joseph Weider for obit.

An April 1982 portrait of bodybuilding guru Joseph Weider. Credit: Harry Chase / Los Angeles Times.

1 Comment

  1. August 19, 2016, 9:38 am

    The absolute don of bodybuilding and one of the reasons i compete as a bodybuilder and Personal Trainer God Bless this man

    By: ben1892

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