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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu friendship

Posted by: Ray

Arnold & Franco: Brotherhood of Steel

Stuttgart, Germany, 1965 - The best of Aryan strongmen are gathered to decide who is the most powerful man in Europe. Tagged onto proceedings in the wee small hours is the normal bodydbuilding sideshow - the Mr Europe contest. But it is Powerlifting that is the focus of the evening and it is a five foot four powerhouse from Sardinia by the name of Franco Columbu who emerges as the new European Powerlifting Champion. The Junior Mr Europe bodybuilding title goes to another unknown - an Austrian by the name of Schwarzenegger. It is onstage as they both accept their trophies that these two men - the Austrian and the Sardinian - first meet. Their bond over the ensuing 35 years would help push one of them to the dizzying heights of international stardom and the other to a respected career in the world of chiropractic. At the time Franco was living in Munich, while Arnold still back in Austria. Recalls Franco, "I'd never met him before, and as far I know, he'd never competed before. We met at the moment we were given our trophies. I said to him; 'I've never seen you. Where are you from? 'Oh, I'm not from here,' he responded, 'I'm from Austria." A few months later when Franco went to train at his local gym in Munich he was surprised to see the big Austrian again. Arnold approached Franco smiling and asked if he could help him. "Why?" Franco replied. "Because I work here now," Arnold told him. From that moment on the two became workout partners. They were certainly we'll suited for each other. Both men had the focus, determination and drive that was needed to build their world class physiques. Indeed, it was Arnold who coaxed Franco away from powerlifting and into the realms of bodybuilding competition. His primary tactic to get the best out of his partner was to play mind games on Franco. He would constantly complain that Franco was lazy, that he was bow legged and that he didn't have any calves. This would push Franco to train harder, which would in turn inspire Arnold to do more. Their workouts became personal challenges - competitions between each other. Working with what we could consider primitive equipment, these two trained like men possessed in the gym - and their bodies responded. Between 1966 and 1968 Arnold and Franco packed quality pounds of raw muscle onto their frames as well as developing amazing strength levels. In fact, right up until 1968,both were competing in powerlifting events - and winning. Their bench presses were around 500 pounds, deadlifts reaching 650 pounds. Franco recalls how Arnold would play psychological games with him to get the most out of him in the gym: " One day, I was doing squats with 400 or 500 pounds and I just didn't feel strong. I did five or six reps, then put the weight back on the rack. When Arnold saw me putting back the weight, he came over and said; 'Look in the mirror. See those guys watching? They're from Italy, and if they see you quitting in the middle of a set.What will they think?' "I didn't know if the people he pointed out were from Italy or not, but I got back under the bar and did 10 reps. Now Arnold knew I could do 16 reps! 'You lazy bum!'he yelled. Those are the kind of mind games we'd play to push each other as far as possible. "Another time I was doing the bench press, really heavy for six or seven reps. In one set, I got only four reps, then couldn't get the bar off my chest. Instead of helping, Arnold ran out the front door of the gym, turned back and said, 'Franco, let me know when you bring the weight back up.' Then he stood out on the street looking in the window at me. Well, I pushed and struggled and finally managed to get the weight up. When Arnold came back in, I said to him, 'You didn't help - you're unreliable.' But he responded, 'Didn't you get the weight back up? You can get the weight up, but you want help? You're so lazy!" When I heard that it made me so mad that my strength came back and I did the next set with even more weight with no problem." In late 1968, Arnold moved from Munich to California. In 1969 his workout partner joined him and they resumed their workouts together, this time at Joe Gold's original gym in Venice Beach. There they worked their special chemistry in grueling but productive workouts - workouts that propelled them both to multi Mr Olympia titles and set the stage for Arnold's phenomenal rise to mega stardom.

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