“Let’s See if You Can Beat a 180-Pound Little Guy”: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Late Best Friend Often Got Under His Skin To Bring Out the Success-Hungry Beast in Him

Published 09/01/2023, 11:30 AM EDT

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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu met during a powerlifting/bodybuilding meet at Stuttgart, Germany in the 60s. The Austrian and the Italian were youngsters and belonged to different weight classes. However, the pair impressed one another with their strength and physique. Hence, instead of becoming rivals, the two became friends. That friendship lasted until Columbu died in 2019.

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The decades in between saw the two friends strive and find glory in the bodybuilding stage. After Schwarzenegger came to America in 1968, he began missing his training. It wasn’t easy, but Arnie convinced Joe Weider to bring Franco Columbu to America as well. In 2015, Arnie explained what made Franco Columbu the ideal training partner.

Franco Columbu knew how to push the right buttons

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In 2015, the Austrian Oak worked with Bodybuilding.com to create The Blueprint to Cut. During his interview, Arnold Schwarzenegger opened up on the importance of training partners. While talking about how he became so successful in bodybuilding, Arnie gave Franco Columbu’s example. The 76-year-old said whenever he felt down Columbu would motivate him.

The Italian bodybuilder knew the five-time Mr. Universe had an intense hunger to become successful. Hence, Columbu used it to fuel Arnie’s motivation. “Let’s pump up the day. Today, I challenge you to a bench press competition!” the two-time Mr. Olympia would tell his friend. He also didn’t shy away from hurting Arnie’s ego to motivate him.

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“Let’s see if you can be the 180-pound little guy,” Columbu would tell the Austrian Oak. The two-time Mr. Olympia’s open challenges always fired up Schwarzenegger to work out even if he felt down. “He would know how to push the buttons because that’s the responsibility of training partners,” Schwarzenegger said during the interview. However, Arnie also helped his friend.

Arnold Schwarzenegger never stopped supporting his friend

Arnold Schwarzenegger ventured into acting after conquering bodybuilding. However, instead of leaving his friend behind he arranged for Caolumbu to have cameos in several of his movies. The seven-time Mr. Olympia once said Franco Columbu’s support was the reason he succeded in life. Hence, he never abandoned his friend for fame.

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In fact, bodybuilding and Hollywood weren’t the only things the duo teamed up for. When Schwarzenegger and Columbu were new in America, they decided to go into business together. Since bodybuilding shows didn’t pay much in the 70s, Arnie and Columbu set up a construction business. The pair became successful and earned their first million even before Schwarzenegger acted in his first film in 1976.

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Through his story about his late best friend, Arnold Schwarzenegger yet again showed the importance of having a training partner.

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Written by:

Sagnik Bagchi

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Sagnik Bagchi is a sports writer at EssentiallySports who specializes in American sports. He has a deep understanding of combat sports, gymnastics, and weightlifting. He holds a Master's Degree in English Literature from a top university.
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