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Joe Weider, fitness mentor to Schwarzenegger, dies

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 23, 2013 at 11:28 pm •  Published: March 23, 2013

"Joe didn't just inspire my earliest dreams; he made them come true the day he invited me to move to America to pursue my bodybuilding career," the actor said in his statement. "I will never forget his generosity. One of Joe's greatest qualities is that he wasn't just generous with his money; he freely gave of his time and expertise and became a father figure for me."

Weider also mentored numerous other bodybuilders.

Born in Canada in 1919, Weider recalled growing up in a tough section of Montreal.

Just like the apocryphal tale of the skinny kid who starts working out after a bully kicks sand in his face, Weider said he was indeed a small, skinny teenager picked on by bullies when he came across the magazine Strength.

He had tried to join a local wrestling team, he said, but was turned down by the coach who feared he was so small he'd be hurt.

Inspired by the magazine, he built his own weights from scrap parts found in a railroad yard and pumped them relentlessly.

Word of his efforts got around and he was invited to join a weightlifting club.

"When I saw the gym, saw the guys working out, supporting one another, I was mesmerized," he recalled.

He won his first bodybuilding ranking at age 17, and soon after began to publish his first magazine, Your Physique.

Later he started a mail-order barbell business, and in 1946 he and his younger brother staged the first Mr. Canada contest in at Montreal's Monument National Theater. At the same time, they formed the International Federation of Bodybuilders.

In recent years, Weider donated much of his bodybuilding memorabilia to the University of Texas at Austin, which opened the Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture in 2011.

He is survived by his wife.