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From Sylvester Stallone to Lou Ferrigno, Rivals With Whom Arnold Schwarzenegger Finally Made Peace in the End

Published 11/18/2023, 4:30 AM EST

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Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the biggest names in the bodybuilding world. Regarded as a people person because of his witty nature the Governator always tried to give back to society. However, despite having a witty and friendly nature, throughout his career, he was involved in numerous rivalries, and not all of these were in the arena.

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Having had a successful career in three different fields made Schwarzenegger stand out in the crowd. However, he had a tough journey to reach the top, filled with major competition. During his bodybuilding prime, he fiercely vied against, Frank Zane, Sergio Oliva, Lou Ferrigno, and Mike Mentzer. When he stepped into showbiz his biggest rivalry began with action hero Sylvester Stallone. Later they became the most talked about rivals of all time.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rivalry with fellow bodybuilders


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Schwarzenegger, on many occasions and on different platforms has admitted that he was a very competitive person. When he was a kid and living with his family he used to compete with his brother, to seek validation from his father. However, this competitiveness of his never left him and became a pivotal part of his life and helped him win several titles in bodybuilding. His rivalry took place when he first participated in the Mr. Olympia contest in 1969. This was the first time he ever lost at a contest. This was to three-time Mr. Olympia Sergio ‘The Myth’ Oliva.

In his Netflix documentary film, he mentioned that it was shocking and he couldn’t believe that he didn’t win and finished second to Oliva. He took it personally and trained harder, this was the time when he moved to Los Angeles permanently. In the very next year, Schwarzenegger defeated Oliva and later won five consecutive Olympia titles. After dethroning the Oliva, another new competitor emerged in the name of Lou Ferrigno.


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Both Arnie and Lou Ferrigno, are legendary figures in both bodybuilding and the entertainment industry. Their first encounter was on the stage of Mr. Olympia in 1974, when Ferrigno gave a tough challenge to the reigning champion, Schwarzenegger. However, Arnie emerged victorious and won his fifth consecutive title. On the other hand, Ferrigno came second to Schwarzenegger.

Young Sylvester Stallone Idolized the Same “Ridiculously Handsome” Character That Inspired Arnold Schwarzenegger to Pursue Bodybuilding

The feud between them began after this event. ‘The Incredible Hulk’ was determined to defeat Schwarzenegger but finished behind him every time. Besides bodybuilding, their clash took to showbiz as well. After the release of the Pumping Iron documentary, both legends got offers in movies because of their incredible physique. Ferrigno did Marvel’s series of movies as ‘Hulk’. Despite the rivalry, the pair used to train together.

An interview sparked the clash between friends

Afterward, The seven-time Mr. Olympia got engaged in another rivalry with an old friend and three-time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane. The ‘God of Aesthetics,’ once defeated Schwarzenegger during the Mr. Universe contest. Their rivalry began after an interview. Zane recently recalled the time when things between him and Schwarzenegger completely changed.

The controversy took place when Arnie came back on the stage of Mr. Olympia and defeated the reigning champion Zane in 1980. During a recent interview, Zane first said that they were all going to the same gym. They used to train at Gold’s gym in Venice. Where became friends and helped each other and it was an act known as total cooperation. As they weren’t competing at that time.

The story turned around before the 1980 Mr. Olympia. After Zane held the trophy of Mr. Olympia for the third time in 1979. And in the interview with Arnold, he asked him how it felt to win three times in a row. To which he replied, “Arnold, it feels even better than when I beat you for Mr. Universe.” He said further that maybe it made him angry “So he came back the next year, and it was debatable as to if he should have won. It always is. He wasn’t in his best shape, but he was okay. So that’s how it all got started.” The 76-year-old’s win in 1980 is still deemed one of the most controversial wins at the Mr. Olympia stage. On the other hand, Arnie’s major feud in Hollywood was with none other than Sylvester Stallone.


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The Feud Between the Terminator and Rambo

During his youth, the Terminator believed thought the only way to be on the top was to defeat everyone. This belief led to another most talked-about conflict between him and the super-jacked action hero Sylvester Stallone. They both began their acting career at almost the same time. They not only fought for higher box office figures or awards but also over things like who killed more people on screen.

Recently, Schwarzenegger opened up about his feud with Sly and credited him for his success. Because of Sly, Schwarzenegger pushed his boundaries to perform better. Earlier, in Stallone’s documentary, Arnold mentioned, “Sly all of a sudden, with Rambo, he stepped into my arena. All of a sudden he was ripped, and muscles, and everyone was talking about his body. And so that created competition, of course.” Schwarzenegger reminisced about the height of their rivalry and said, “We were movie rivals, but we took the competitiveness to the extreme – we each had to have the best body, we had to kill more people in our films, and we had to have the biggest guns. It got out of control, and we tried to derail each other.”


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No matter how many rivalries the Terminator had throughout his career in multiple fields, it seems that he came out on top most times. It is this dedication that enabled him to become a fan favorite. Which rivalry of Arnolf Schwarzenegger was the fiercest? Let us know in the comments below.


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Written by:

Arpita Shrivastava


One take at a time

Hi, I'm Arpita Shrivastava, a fitness and bodybuilding writer at EssentiallySports. When I started college, my fascination shifted to combat sports and I began training for Judo. I did it for two years until an injury compelled me to step away from the mat.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Manikandan