Many regard Arnold Schwarzenegger as the most iconic Mr. Olympia of all time. People think so because the seven-time Mr. Olympia brought bodybuilding into the mainstream. The Austrian was the star of Pumping Iron (1977). While the movie made Arnold and Lou Ferrigno famous, many forget that Franco Columbu was also part of the documentary. The Italian was Arnie’s best friend and rival for the 1975 Mr. Olympia title.

Schwarzenegger was always a fierce competitor. While Pumping Iron captured Arnold and Franco’s friendship, a few things Arnold said revealed the Austrian’s true goal.


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Arnold Schwarzenegger had a rivalry with his best friend

In 2019, the Hollywood star sat down for an interview with GQ magazine. As Arnie broke down his most iconic characters, a clip from ‘Pumping Iron’ played. In that clip, Arnie said, “Franco is pretty smart but Franco is a child.” Franco Columbu, two-time Mr. Olympia, competed against Arnold for the overall Mr. Olympia title in 1975. The pair were also great friends and Arnold revealed, “When it comes to the day of the contest, I am his father. He comes to me for advises.”

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However, what Arnold said next was the opposite of what a friend would do. The action star said, “It’s not that hard for me to give him the wrong advises.” Such a statement might make one think about how Arnold could’ve willingly given Franco the wrong advice. But Arnie had a good reason.

Schwarzenegger was among the biggest and best-conditioned bodybuilders of his time. The Austrian also mastered the art of posing. However, Arnie had another tool in the box, mental warfare. On stage, Arnold’s only goal was to win and didn’t shy away from engaging in some mind games. The Austrian did the same thing to Lou Ferrigno, who was a favorite in 1975.

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However, none of this had any effect on Franco and Arnold’s friendship. Not only did the pair remain best friends, but Franco also starred in many of Arnie’s movies including, “Conan the Barbarian”, “The Terminator” and others.

Franco was freakishly strong

The two-time Mr. Olympia was a very strong man. Calling Columbu very strong might be an understatement. The Italian competed in the 1968 German powerlifting championship and totaled 1510 lbs. With 507 lbs, Franco squatted more weight than Arnold. Columbo also matched Arnold’s 683 lbs deadlift in 1969. Arnie was almost a foot taller and weighed at least 60 lbs more than Columbu. Those are some insane numbers from the 5’5 Ft tall Italian.


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There’s little doubt that the pair valued their friendship. They had a great relationship until Columbu passed away in 2019. However, in 1975, the defending champion knew the importance of winning the metal war before stepping on stage. Franco was also Arnie’s rival, and the seven-time Mr. Olympia wanted all the advantage he could get.