Joe Weider Legendary Bodybuilding and Fitness Icon Dies at 93

Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:36pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

November 29, 1919 - March 23, 2013
LOS ANGELES--(Business Wire)--
Joe Weider, the legendary fitness and publishing figure who popularized the
modern conception of fitness and nutrition, and is considered the father of the
sport of bodybuilding, died this morning in Los Angeles of heart failure. He was
93 years old.
Joe Weider, Fitness Publishing Icon and Father of Modern Bodybuilding died in
Los Angeles on March 23, 2013. (Photo: Business Wire)

Joe Weider`s influence is felt in every area of fitness and health. He created a
massive fitness publishing empire, which included Muscle and Fitness, Flex,
Shape, and Men`s Fitness magazines. He popularized the use of fitness equipment
in people`s homes and was a leader in establishing the use of nutritional
supplements. The company he founded, Weider Health and Fitness, became
synonymous with fitness, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. 

A weight training pioneer, fitness crusader, and magazine publisher, Joe Weider
overcame the challenges of childhood poverty and lack of education to create a
sports movement that changed modern culture`s conception of physical beauty and
the way athletes and everyman exercises and diets. Through the magazines he
published, the sports federation (International Federation of Bodybuilders) he
created, the bodybuilding contests he promoted, and his groundbreaking advocacy
of fitness for women, Joe Weider created a sports legacy that has a worldwide
reach and affected the lives of millions of people. 

Born in 1919, Joseph Weider grew up in a tough neighborhood in Montreal, Canada
during the Great Depression. An undersized child, Joe became easy prey for older
and tougher teenagers, which prompted him to head off to the Montreal YMHA to
request to train with their wrestling team. The coach turned him down for fear
he`d be hurt. 

Undaunted, Joe made his way to a local newsstand in search of inspiration. "I
went to the local 5 and dime store and I bought two magazines for a few
pennies," he recalled. "One was the 1930 edition of the Milo Barbell Company`s
magazine, Strength and it really opened my eyes." 

Inspired by the message and images within their pages, Joe scavenged a local
train yard for an old axle and two flywheels, which he cobbled into a makeshift
barbell. He lifted, pumped and pressed the scrap metal endlessly, transforming
his physique from scrawny to brawny. His reputation as a powerhouse quickly
began to spread throughout Montreal. 

"Then somebody knocked at my parents` door and asked for me," he continued. "He
said `I represent the Verdun weightlifting club. Would you like to come try out
for our team?` When I saw the gym, saw the guys working out, supporting one
another, I was mesmerized. That experience changed my life." 

At 17 Joe competed in his first weightlifting contest which earned him a
national ranking. Letters and calls began inundating the Weider household with
requests for Joe`s advice. Realizing he hadn`t the time to attend to each query
he chose to create his own magazine. 

With $7 in his pocket he began to work on the first issue of Your Physique,
which was published in August of 1940. Orders poured in immediately and within
18 months Joe had turned a $10,000 profit. Soon he started the Weider Barbell
Co., a mail order business, using his magazine to advertise its wares. 

In 1946, Joe and his younger brother Ben rented Montreal`s Monument National
Theater to host the first Mr. Canada contest. They formed the International
Federation of Bodybuilders that night. 

In 1965 Joe created the Mr. Olympia contest, which to this day is the premier
event in bodybuilding. Joe created the Ms. Olympia contest in 1980, and added
the Fitness Olympia contest in 1995 and the Figure Olympia in 2003. He also
mentored numerous young bodybuilders, including young Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Recognizing Arnold`s potential, he said, "Every sport needs a hero and I knew
that Arnold was the right man." Joe brought Arnold to the United States from
Austria, financing his trip and helped him become established in business. Joe
maintained a very close relationship with Arnold for the rest of his life-they
were close friends and visited frequently. 

To help support his family young Joe Weider was forced to drop out of school in
the seventh grade. Self educated, he was an avid student of history and a
collector of art, particularly of the American West. In 2010 he oversaw the
donation of money and priceless bodybuilding artifacts, photos and documents
that established the Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture at the
University of Texas, Austin. 

Twelve years ago Joe was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a heart condition with
which he was expected to survive about three years. Doctors credit his amazing
fitness and nutrition ethic-until recently he trained every morning and made
frequent public appearances-for allowing him to survive an additional nine

He is survived by his wife, Betty Weider. 

Additional information about Joe can be found on his website at

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:

for Weider Health and Fitness
Charlotte Parker, 818-990-2252
Joel Parker, 818-990-2252

Copyright Business Wire 2013

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