Years Before His Triple Heart Surgeries, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bad Knee Prevented Him From Attending a Deeply Intimate Event in His Life

Published 09/11/2023, 9:13 AM EDT

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Arnold Schwarzenegger learned about his heart condition in his early 30s. Since then, he has undergone three heart surgeries. However, a little more than five years before he learned of his heart condition, the young bodybuilding champion suffered a freak injury. Arnie left home at a young age to pursue his bodybuilding dreams. After arriving in America in 1968, Arnie quickly claimed the ultimate crown in bodybuilding.

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America gave the Austrian Oak a platform to shine, and by 1970, Arnie won the Mr. Olympia title. He continued his triumphant run in 1971, but during a tour of South Africa, the champion bodybuilder injured his knee. Little did he know, the injury would prevent him from attending a significant and intimate family event involving his once unsupportive father.

Arnold Schwarzenegger barely reacted to the news

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Shortly after returning from his South Africa tour, the seven-time Mr. Olympia got some concerning news about his father. Arnie learned that his mother had been trying to get a hold of him while he was in South Africa. When the Mr. Universe winner contacted her, she told him to come to Austria as his father had suffered a stroke. So, the bodybuilding champion returned to his homeland.

via Getty

“He was in the hospital when I got there, and he recognized me, but it was terrible,” Schwarzenegger wrote in his 2012 biography. The then-reigning Mr. Olympia said Gustav Schwarzenegger couldn’t talk, bit his tongue and tried to put a cigarette on his hand. While Arnie felt contempt toward his father, “It was painful and upsetting,” to see the ice-curling champion in a near-vegetative state.

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However, the knee injury he had sustained during his tour needed surgery. So, when his father stabilized, Schwarzenegger left for L.A. After a successful surgery, the doctors put the Mr. Olmpiya’s entire leg in a cast, and he could barely walk even on crutches. That’s when he received a call. “Your father has died,” said Schwarzenegger’s mother.

While it was heartbreaking, Arnie barely reacted to the news. “I didn’t cry or freak out,” he wrote in Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story. Schwarzenegger’s surgeon instructed him not to fly with the heavy cast, and Arni couldn’t attend his father’s funeral. So, how did the Austrian sustain such a significant injury?

Why did the bodybuilder build the stage he posed on?

While Schwarzenegger had no role to play in the heart valve defect he inherited from his mother, the knee injury was a different story. In his book, Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote he went to Durban, South Africa, for an exhibition. However, when he arrived, the reigning Mr. Olympia found there was no posing platform for vent.

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Since a posing platform was a must-have for the audience to view Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilding icon decided to build one. However, “midway through my routine, the whole thing collapsed with a scary crash,” he wrote. Schwarzenegger landed straight on his back, with his leg pinned under him. The accident tore his knee cartilage and dislocated his knee cap.

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While Arnold Schwarzenegger never had a great relationship with his father, his passing was a painful event. Although he didn’t show it, the Austrian Oak felt sad when Gustav Schwarzenegger passed away.

Watch this story | Arnold Schwarzenegger’s late friend and training partner disclosed the unknown truth about bodybuilding in a resurfaced video

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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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Edited by:

Brandon Gabriel

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