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  1. ** This is an old Interview from 2005 By David Robson - Edited by: Strength Oldschool Dan Lurie would sadly pass away at the age of 90 in 2013. R.I.P Dan Lurie: April 1. 1923 - Nov 6. 2013 In the following interview Dan tells his inspiring story and shares the methods that have helped him to stay in excellent physical shape at age 82. Get the scoop about Dan Lurie right here! Anyone even remotely connected with the iron game will remember one of its greatest ambassadors, Dan Lurie. Back in the 40s and 50s, Dan carved a niche for himself as the worlds strongest, most muscular man. He went on to become arguably bodybuilding’s most successful promoter, starting the World Body Building Guild in 1965 as a way to enhance public awareness, and garner respect, for a sport that was, at the time considered an oddity. Along the way, Dan published several health and fitness related magazines, the most popular of these being Muscle Training Illustrated. From bent pressing with one arm 285lbs, to arm wrestling President Regan, Dan has lived a colorful life, while continually preaching the bodybuilding gospel. Indeed, whether it be through promotion, television, competition, publishing or marketing, Dan took bodybuilding to the masses and helped to transform it from curious spectacle to legitimate sport. His contribution to bodybuilding should never be forgotten for he truly was, and is, one of its more passionate advocates. In the following interview Dan tells his inspiring story and shares the methods that have helped him to stay in excellent physical shape at age 82. (Photo below shows Dan Lurie at the age of 85!) [ Q ] Hi Dan. What have you been up to recently? Well Dave, I just spent the whole day with my son and we went to the Hall of Records in New York. I’ll tell you something crazy Dave. I used to be partners with Joe Weider for several years in the early 1940s and we had a falling out in 1948. In 1947 I registered the name International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) and I held the first IFBB contest on January 15, 1948. Pic above: Joe Weider & Dan Lurie This was the first IFBB show in America. So I came up with the name, but had forgotten about it for 55 years until my son accidentally found the program for that contest, and what we are trying to prove now is that Joe Weider stole the name from me. The IFBB became very famous, but I was the first one to come up with the contest and use the name. So I went to City Hall to find all the records for 1947 – very interesting. [ Q ] And what do you hope to achieve if you can prove you came up with the name? My wife says, “what are you going to get out of it”. If I discovered the airplane, and was the first one to fly the airplane, and they said, “no it was the Wright Brothers who did it”, how would I feel? I am just hoping to get the recognition I deserve. I was forgotten in this field for so many years and would like some acknowledgement. [Q ] Your resume is quite an impressive one and you have been involved in bodybuilding for some time. How old are you and what kind of shape are you in now Dan? I am 82 years young! On April 1, 2006, I will be 83 years young. I am in good shape right now. I workout every morning and I don’t overdo it. I use about 50 lbs and do a lot of repetitions. Pic above: Dan Lurie at 79 years old [ Q ] At what age do you feel you reached your peak as a bodybuilder? At the 1945 Mr America show. Bob Hoffman ran this show and for four years he had everyone from York win the contest. I always wanted to win America’s most muscular man. I did this three times. No one in the world has ever done this three times. In 1945 they had me disqualified saying I was a professional. It was because I was getting too good and was in partnership with Weider. He didn’t want us to get too strong and competitive. They got the AAU to make me professional and I quit competing. You know what happens today when you quit competing. You don’t train like you used to train. In my case I got married. I always worked out, but not with the intensity of one who is competing. I had nothing to prove anymore. [ Q ] How did you get started in bodybuilding Dan? What gave you your big break? I trained for three years at the age of 13 and, at this time, the Daily News in New York was running the Golden Gloves boxing tournament. They put you in all the local arenas and at the end the main show would be at Madison Square Garden. Well I trained for three years and was a pretty good boxer. I was about 5’5″ and 118 lbs. When I was ready to have my first fight, they rejected me because they found I had a heart murmur. A man told me... “Don’t cry kid, I used to be a good boxer but sooner or later someone comes along and beats the dickens out of you so you are better off if you don’t fight.” He told me I had good muscular development and suggested I go into bodybuilding. You know what I said to him? What’s bodybuilding? His name was Terry Robinson (see pic below) and he was Mr. New York State. He will be 90 years old on March 9, 2006. He gave me directions to my first gym with weights. Terry Robinson was a great man. He raised Mario Lanza’s three children. He was the first one to know when Mario died in Italy. He raised Mario’s children after Mario’s wife died a couple of months later of a broken heart. Terry lives in California. He was my mentor and he gave me the direction I needed at that time. So I went into bodybuilding and entered my first New York City contest. I was so bad I came out last. I thought… these guys are monsters, what am I doing here. I was only 17 at the time. But by the time I was 19, in 1942, I was first runner up at the AAU Mr. America contest. They gave me a lot of body part awards and America’s most muscular man title after that. [ Q ] How did you prepare for your first show? What sort of mistakes did you make initially? I didn’t train right. I was too young. It takes time to make your body grow. You can’t just plant the seed and say, “let the vegetables grow tomorrow.” My body was growing and it just needed time and the right training. There were no supplements. I just ate whatever good food I had. My problem was that I could never put weight on. Until I was 125, 130, and then 140 lbs; it took a couple of years. I used to train so hard I burned all the calories. [ Q ] What was your weight when you were at your peak in the 1940s? 168 lbs. I did a one hand bent press of 285 lbs. I never knew how good I was at the time. I thought it was no big deal. [ Q ] And you traveled the country performing feats of strength? I did this when I got on television in 1950. I was a strongman on the TV show, the very famous kid’s show, called The Sealtest Big Top Circus Show. And there I traveled the country doing feats of strength and exhibitions and everything else. [ Q ] What was the bodybuilding culture like back in the 40s and 50s? Whoever did bodybuilding was considered to be a mental nut job. They went crazy and couldn’t see why people would do this. You have to remember, I started because I had a heart murmur. The exercise cured my heart condition. [ Q ] So bodybuilding helped you to improve your health. What else did you find attractive about the sport back then? I enjoyed running all the WBBG shows that I had. All the worlds best built men appeared at my shows, and I had the greatest bodybuilding shows ever. The highlight for me was to get someone that everyone considered a god to appear. They said I would never get him. He lived in Switzerland at the time. His name was Steve Reeves. Pic above: (W.B.B.G) Lou Ferrigno - Dan Lurie - Warren Frederick Pic above: Steve Reeves - Dan Lurie and Aline Reeves I got Steve to come to my show and we put on a great show. We had coming attractions on the screen and in a very famous part of his picture Hercules, Steve Reeves broke down the columns with all his muscles tensing. My son worked the projection room and as Steve Reeves broke down the columns he with his wife and myself walked out on stage and… I’ll never forget how wild the crowd went. They were uncontrollable. They all wanted to jump up on the stage. That would be one of the highlights of all the shows I ran. [ Q ] What other highlights have there been in your bodybuilding career? The hall of fame honoring dozen’s and dozen’s of bodybuilders and movie stars. [ Q ] What was it like to work with Steve Reeves? What kind of guy was he? A nice guy. We used to visit each other at each others homes. When he used to come to my house, he loved to go up to my attic and put on my Seal test Dan muscleman cape that I wore on the TV. I didn’t know, but from 1950 to 1957 he used to watch the show. At that time he was on a Broadway show called Kismet. But we never really met until the 70s when I honored him. We were very good friends and we used to go to Broadway shows together. In fact I had a big fight with him at one time. People were saying – did you have a fight with Steve Reeves. Yes. A snowball fight. We threw snowballs at one another and he loved it. Living in California, he didn’t see much snow. [ Q ] You have been involved in bodybuilding for a long time. At what period was bodybuilding’s greatest era do you think? The golden age of bodybuilding when they didn’t have steroids. Steroids have ruined bodybuilding, and not only for men. If I ever competed in the women’s division today in my best shape, I wouldn’t even place. They would make me look like a beginner. That is how advanced they are – like men. You know how many dozens and dozens of our greatest athletes have died as a result of these drugs. In 1971 I came out on the cover of Muscle Training Illustrated – my magazine – and alerted the world to the dangers of steroids. I said they were killing our athletes. Now some 35 years later it’s all coming out, what with the baseball and other sports also. It’s getting into the colleges and girls are taking them – they are dying by the dozen. That’s why I campaigned to them to save some lives. ** [ STEROID INFO ] ** Strength Oldschool Note: For 100% All Natural Drug Free Vintage Physiques check out the video below: [ Q ] In light of what you have just said, what are your thoughts on the current state of bodybuilding? I don’t follow it like I used to, but when I see these people I don’t believe what they look like. They make Sergio Oliva and Arnold look like beginners. They all seem to look the same. Probably using the same bottle of steroids. Strength Oldschool Note: A bodybuilder by the name of Paul Dillett would have likely made Sergio and Arnold look small. I don’t know if you heard about this in New Zealand, but Arnold’s calves were very poor when he first began competing, and lost to Frank Zane in his first contest in America. Then all of a sudden his calves went from 17 to over 19 inches. [ Q ] This was a result of hard training though. “No, it was a calf transplant.” Today he must have lost a lot of weight but his calves are the same size. If you drop a lot of body weight your whole body shrinks in proportion. Any doctor examining could tell you if he still has the transplants in his calves. [ Q ] This was never covered in the media. They didn’t want to say that about him. Before you say that you need 100 percent truth. I can only say it was rumored for many many years, but I never printed it. By the way, when Arnold came to this country in 1968, my wife and I were the ones who greeted him and Franco Columbu at the airport. Pic above: Thelma - Franco Columbu - Dan Lurie and Arnold [ Q ] Tell me more about this. It was good except he did certain things I didn’t like. He used to fondle the girls in the restaurant. [ Q ] In hindsight, it still must have been good to meet one of the sports icons. I publicized him and helped make him famous and he ended up suing me, period. The whole thing was, he needed money in those days and Joe Weider told him that in America you can sue people and settle, and make a lot of money. [ Q ] Did you get to know Arnold very well? We met a couple of times. We had dinner’s and breakfast’s together. We did TV shows together and he was at the AAU Mr. America shows. He always wanted the publicity and me being a publisher, I could help him. [ Q ] As a publisher what magazines did you have? Besides Muscle Training Illustrated I published Boxing Illustrated, Karate Illustrated, Wrestling illustrated, I had a couple of rock and roll magazines and I had a women’s magazine. [ Q ] How did you get into the publishing business and why? When I broke up with Weider there was no communication to reach bodybuilders for a contest. You can’t get contestants to enter if they don’t know about a show. You can’t get an audience. So I started my magazine in 1965 and I had a partner at the time. After 15 issues he said it wasn’t making money so he wanted out. I knew a little about publishing, but after two and a half years in the industry I got to know quite a bit and I took over the magazine at issue number 16. I started to make money on the first issue I put out because I cut my overheads. He had an office in New York City with secretaries. I didn’t have any of that. I used my own office and my office was my business. All I paid was for running costs for the office, pictures and for an editor. So I had a fixed salary; I would know what each issue was going to cost me. If I didn’t I would have gone broke. [ Q ] Before your publishing career you say you were in partnership with Joe Weider. Tell me more about this. I wasn’t involved in his magazines, only the barbell and exercise equipment. He lived in Canada at the time and if you ship anything from Canada they charge 10 percent duty tax. When it got to America you had to pay another 10 percent duty tax. So that means whatever was selling was going to have a 20 percent duty tax as well as all the freight costs. It was easier to find someone to ship from the United States. We became partners because he needed someone to help him distribute. Just like Grimek did for Bob Hoffman, he used me in his ads. I was shown as the skinny kid with a weak heart who became America’s most muscular man using his system. That’s what got me disqualified because I was in his ads and I was a professional. John Grimek was always featured in Bob Hoffman’s ads but he was considered an amateur. [ Q ] How did the falling out occur? When we started in business maybe we made about $ 5,000 dollars in each year. That was gross. By the time we got through maybe we made one thousand dollars or five hundred dollars each for the year, which was nothing. But when we started to go over $ 100,000 dollars he didn’t want to share the profits with me. So he just cut my name out of the ads in the magazines and put his own name in. He was established already so he didn’t need me. He is a very unscrupulous guy. No loyalty at all. There are a lot of things I could tell you about him but it will have to wait until my new book is out. [ Q ] What can you tell me about Joe Weider? “Joe Weider would put a knife in your back. He would use people, and throw them out.” All I can say is he was an extremely hard worker, but very ruthless in business. He would put a knife in your back. He would use people, and throw them out. There were lawsuits. He did a lot of bad things. But that was him. That was his character. I introduced him to his first wife. [ Q ] Have you had any recent contact with Mr. Weider? No, I don’t see him. Years ago I heard he was in hospital having a hernia operation so I called him and we spoke for an hour or so. We spoke about the good old days when we were kids. You tend to forget about these things. We went our own ways. I was successful as far as I know, but I always felt I was a fly and he was an elephant. I just wanted to make a living. Pic above: Joe Weider - Dan Lurie - Peary Rader [Q ] Tell me more about the World Body Building Guild. I started it back in 1965. I never knew I was the creator of the IFBB. Incidentally, Sports Illustrated is going to follow up on this and do a story on how the IFBB name was created by me and how I ran the first IFBB show in America. The World Body Building Guild was very competitive. Joe was always making it his business to run shows on the same day I would run mine in New York City. At one time Tom Minichiello, one of my gym members and a good friend, was involved with the IFBB and was told by Weider to bury me. He was told to run the contest the same day Dan Lurie runs his show. Of course I had such complete sell-outs. I never disqualified anyone. I don’t care who you were with. If you were a member of the IFBB and entered any AAU or my shows, you were disqualified. That’s not fair. A bodybuilder is free to do whatever he wants. Pic above: Owner of Mid City Gym Tom Minichiello Spots Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino (1966). [ Q ] What did the World Body Building Guild achieve? We started the hall of fame that had a lot of famous people being honored. I even honored President Regan. [ Q ] I read that you arm wrestled President Regan. Tell me about this. Who won? He beat me, twice. I wasn’t going to try to beat him. I wanted to give him respect. Besides, he was the oldest man who ever ran for president and they wanted someone to show how strong and youthful he was. So I helped with this, and I have a good ten minute tape. When we left you know what we did to each other? We hugged and kissed each other. Now that’s something for two men to do. And that’s what we did in the White House. [ Q ] What else do you remember about this occasion? He said “Dan when I was a kid I used to read all of your ads in the comic books.” I said, “Mr. President, what were you doing reading comic books.” He said, “I still read them today.” He was the president and he still read comic books. That was an amazing thing. He was a down to earth, warm guy. You see, I went there to honor him. I didn’t complain about anything, about what I wanted him to do. I just went there to honor him. We warmed to each other pretty good. And when we arm wrestled, and he beat me, he said “Come on, you dumped it, you let me beat you.” I said “No Mr. President, you beat me fair and square.” Pic above: President Ronald Reagan and Dan Lurie (60 years Old) Arm Wrestling - 1984. [ Q ] I understand President Reagan was very fit, and was bodybuilding enthusiast for many years. Yes, he used to chop wood on his ranch and horseback ride. We kept in touch after the White House thing. We were supposed to have a rematch but it never happened. It was planned just never happened. The picture of him and me arm wrestling went all over the world. It was on the front page of the New York Times. Many countries featured that picture and ran the story about how the president was so strong he beat a famous strong man. I loved President Regan. He was a warm, decent, down to earth president. Pic above: Young Ronald Reagan. [ Q ] What are some of the strength records you have set over the years? I did 1665 push-ups in 90 minutes and 1225 parallel dips in 90 minutes. I lifted 285 lbs. with one hand over the head. That one was a specialty. I did 1200 pullovers with 55 lbs. Crazy things. Things that involved endurance. People today don’t do this type of training. They train with heavier weights and they end up with injuries and have to stop for a while. I wasn’t going to get hurt. I found my body responded to hundreds and hundreds of repetitions with a lighter weight – 100 lbs. [ Q ] Is this the way you have always trained? Yes and I sweated like a pig. I wore a sweatshirt and people would say “don’t drink water while you workout.” But I was so thirsty I used to gobble it up. They now say “drink water when you workout, it’s good for you.” So who knows. [ Q ] What diet methods have you followed? I always wanted to gain weight so I ate whatever I wanted to. I would lose around three to five pounds every workout. I sweated a lot. Also, I tried not to do much resting in between sets. I rested as little as possible, and it still ended up being a three hour workout. [ Q ] How do you eat today to stay in shape? I eat very lightly, a lot of salads and health foods. And I exercise every morning for about half-an-hour, that’s it. I don’t do too much. I have nothing to prove. [ Q ] What training methods did you establish over the years? When I started manufacturing my own barbells I established the Dan Lurie Barbell Course. I gave it out with a book and pictures and posters. It was very instructive. I was the first one to sell barbells in sporting goods stores. They weren’t sold by York. They were selling mail order and I came out selling to stores. From a $ 5,000 dollar a year start it exploded. Many, many years later I was only doing a small amount because I was only one man. [ Q ] What were gyms like in your day? The equipment was mostly very crude and there were a few mirrors. Now everything is chromed. [ Q ] You discovered Lou Ferrigno. Tell me more about that? Yes, he came to me at 16 years of age. The first thing I asked him was “how far do you want to go in bodybuilding”. I said “You want to be Mr. America?” He said “Mr. America? I don’t want to be Mr. America. I want to be the best built man who ever lived.” That to me was shocking. So I put him on the cover of my magazine and I issued a challenge to Arnold. I said in three years this skinny kid of 6.5 and 185 lbs was going to give him some competition. And he did. And I kept showing the improvements he was making over the years. I had Lou for about six or seven years. Pic above: 1972 Muscle Training Illustrated - Lou Ferrigno Challenges Arnold Schwarzenegger. [ Q ] And Lou ended up switching to Weider. That’s right. He had no contract with me. It was more like a friendship. Weider offered him a $50,000 contract for five years. He did that with Arnold – paid him a big amount over a number of years. Lou switched the night I had Steve Reeves at my show and his father was upset with me because the year before he lost out to Bill Grant who represented Weider. Lou lost out because he took some sort of water pills. The night before he looked unbeatable and when he came the next day I couldn’t believe the change. I don’t know what the heck he was doing. He lost all his definition. [ Q ] How would you like to be remembered Dan? I would like to be remembered as a bodybuilder who loved bodybuilding and treated everyone fair and square. I never hurt any athlete. There were two bodybuilders who sued me – Lou Ferrigno and Arnold. I never said a word about it in my magazine. Now Weider claims he discovered Ferrigno. Bullsh*t. It’s a lie. Just like he said he started the IFBB in 1946. That’s a lie. We have all the old issues and his involvement is not even mentioned. We are doing the research now. He gave me a third page in the Your Physique Magazine when I ran the January 15, 1948 show. He lied and made up stories and people believed it. Joe was a big reader of the Hitler books. I said “Joe, you and I are both Jewish, why are you reading the books on Hitler?” He said, “Think of the power the man had.” He was a 19 year old kid. Who is looking for power at that age. One of Hitler’s sayings was, if you print a lie often enough people will come to know it as the truth. That’s what Joe does. [ Q ] What is most important to you Dan? The most important thing in my life is my wife, my five children and 15 grand children, and soon to be three great grandchildren. That’s the most important thing in my life. Not money. Weider, with all the money he could ever want, has no children although there was some talk around him having a girl at some stage, but who knows. [ Q ] What are the secrets to a long and healthy life? There is no secret. It is all in God’s hands. When I was a kid they said I would live to about five or six years old. People who are healthy die of heart attacks in their 30s 40s and 50s. People in their 70s and 80s… all their lives live until their late 90s. It’s all in God’s hands. We don’t know. [ Q ] Hi Dan. When you went to City Hall to look at the 1947 records to prove you started the IFBB, what exactly did you find? I went to downtown Kings to look for the registering of the name IFBB. But in those days they didn’t keep a register of a name, only corporations. So I could not find a record of it. No record of the sanction. That was done by private clubs. So what I have done is hire the law firm of Adam Atlas from Montreal Canada and I will know within the next two weeks. Ben Weider said he made the IFBB a Non Profit Corporation in 1946. That is not the truth. He never had it registered. So we are trying to find out when it first came up on the Canadian Government Records as an IFBB Non Profit Corporation. Ben Weider says he registered it as such in 1946. This will involve a complete search of records. It could be a Pandora’s Box I am opening up. Could you imagine? They never paid taxes on their shows and they never had the shows registered. When it first started it was no big deal. They (the Weiders) didn’t know what it (the federation) would turn out to be. [ Q ] What exactly did you find at City Hall? They found the records of the gyms I had formed in 1947. They found the corporation of the Dan Lurie Barbell Company that I formed in late 1948, the year I broke off with Weider. But they could not find any record of the International Federation of Body Building, as it was not a business, not a corporation, but only a sanction. They did not keep records in those days, but there is no question I ran the first IFBB show ever in the world, because Weider ran a show in 1947 (the Mr. Canada in October) but I have the program and nowhere does it say IFBB on it. They may have thought about it at the time though. There was a fellow who later worked for Joe Weider by the name of Emanuel Orlik. In 1965, when I published my magazine, he became my editor. So I never knew him from 1940 up to 1965, but I read his articles and he always mentioned his son, who was involved in the International Federation of Gymnastics. So that is how I came up with the name. I stole those three words “International Federation Of” and just added Body Building. [ Q ] And that’s how you say you originally came up with the name? Yes, because it sounded good to me. [ Q ] So now you are waiting on confirmation on whether Ben Weider registered the IFBB as a Non Profit corporation in 1946. Yes. We are waiting for the lawyers to conduct a search which will give me a complete report. This report will include taxes that were paid and everything you would want to know about the Weiders. [ Q ] In our last interview you say you forgot having started the IFBB. Did you get sidetracked? What happened here? This was because I came up with the name, and then broke off with Weider in late 1948. Then I had no way of getting enough contestants to run a show. If you want to run a show and you can’t reach contestants how do you advertise? So I was out until I started up my own magazine in 1965 – with Reg Park on the cover. Then I was able to start the World Body Building Guild and do what I have been doing for years. [ Q ] So you forgot about the circumstances surrounding your conception of the IFBB name? I forgot about it until my son went to look through all my junk as part of the process of doing a book on my life. Everything was put in boxes and my son said “What is this?” The program he found said International Federation of Body Building. I didn’t remember. I said, "Oh my God, who would believe me after all these years.'” This was about three years ago, since he found it. Weider (Joe) claimed they started the federation in 1936, but Weider is four months older than me. So even if he was born in 1922 he was only 14 in 1936. That’s ridiculous. Joe also claimed he discovered all the air in this world, as well as the peaks on the mountains. He discovered them all. I have a picture of what he really looked like when he started – pathetic. But he became large when he took a statue of the body of Robby Robinson and put his head on top. Pic above: Robby Robinson Posing for Joe Weiders Bronze Statue. Now there is a big lawsuit going on because Robby didn’t say anything initially, because Weider gave him a lot of free publicity. But now that it’s over, and he is not competing, he (Robby) wants his image back. [ Q ] So this clearly was not Joe’s physique you say? Joe Weider used retouching art work on several of his pictures. Putting his face on well built men is not new for Joe. I was in London in the mid-1940’s to cover the NABBA Mr. Universe. In the tall men’s class there were only two entries. “Joe said to me, ‘If I enter I have to come out third.'” Joe never had posing briefs. He came on stage with his pants on. Joe was awarded 3rd place. Now here is the kicker: when Weider printed the story and photos, Joe’s head was put on a very muscular body. He claimed this body was his. A real fraud. What a phony. Joe was always slender and never muscular. I still have the original photos. Joe as he really looked in those days. Earle Forbes took the pictures. How pathetic he looked. Remember Weider’s famous arms crossed chest shot? Joe, never looked like that in his entire lifetime. This picture was created by the late artist George Quaintance, in New York City. Pic above: Your Physique Magazine - Joe Weider on Cover - Artwork by George Quaintance. George was the art director of Your Physique. I was in Quaintance studio when he was working on Weiders retouched picture. George made a drawing of me that appeared on the cover of Weider’s Your Physique magazine. Quaintance was head judge at one of my muscle shows. [ Q ] Joe says he discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. What are your thoughts on this? Joe Weider did not discover, or develop the physiques of Arnold or Lou Ferrigno. Arnold was the NABBA Mr. Universe for several years. In 1969, my wife Thelma and myself went to see Arnold and Franco Columbu off at the TWA JFK airport. Arnold won the Pro and Boyer Coe won the Amateur event. Pic above: Arnold Schwarzenegger - Dan Lurie and Franco Columbu at TWA JFK Airport - 1969. Arnold was already discovered and his picture’s appeared in foreign muscle magazines. How strange it is that I printed photos of Arnold in Muscle Training Illustrated way before Weider did. Weider only printed results of his contests. Pic above: 1967 Arnold and Kurt Marnul. [ Q ] Have you had any contact with Joe since you called him at the hospital? I recently tried to reach his office because they said he had back trouble. His secretary told me he was recovering from his back surgery. [ Q ] So to your knowledge Joe Weider is doing well physically? His secretary says he doesn’t come into the office as often, but he would be 83 now. [ Q ] You explained in our last interview that you worked with Lou Ferrigno for six years. Exactly what was your role here? Lou Ferrigno developed his own physique. I gave him advice and helped him. All I could do was encourage him and give him advice on training, but I found out that he spoke to dozen’s of people and got advice from many different people. When I first met him he was a skinny kid. He told me at the time he would like to be the best bodybuilder that ever lived. Of course we made a challenge to Arnold in Muscle Training Illustrated, and I put Lou on the cover and started publicizing him. From the time he was 16 to the time he left me at around age 22, we had a little more than six years together. Pic above: Young Lou Ferrigno at 17. Pic above: Lou Ferrigno at 20 years of age. [ Q ] What actual involvement did you have in Lou’s training? I would correct his posing all the time. I even paid his expenses to go to his first AAU Mr. America show. I paid for him to go to his first NABBA Universe contest in London. I did a lot of things for him but we didn’t have any kind of written contact – it was like a father and son deal. I would meet Lou at least two times a week, especially on Fridays. He would come over to my office around six o’clock and leave around eight or nine at night. We would go through posing and discuss training. What got his father upset with me was when Bill Grant beat out Lou in 1972 at my WBBG Pro Mr. America. Pic above: 1972 WBBG Pro Mr America - Bill Grant Beating Lou Ferrigno. Although Bill Grant represented Weider, I didn’t care. I just wanted the best man to win. I actually wanted Lou to win. They had 18 or 19 judges. The night before, Lou looked unbeatable but he took some pills on the advice of his friends and I couldn’t believe how the definition was gone in one night. He was lucky he even placed second. His father was angry and said “why didn’t you make sure your number one boy won”. But I run an honest contest and the best man has to win, with the judges deciding this. The next year Lou never showed up at my show. He entered the Weider show and I had my Steve Reeves show where I had to put seats on the stage to fit all the people in. [ Q ] But you did have a pretty good friendship with Lou over the years you were with him? Yes. Lou’s friend Tony Badal brought him to me. In fact Lou was supposed to be the best man at Tony’s wedding. Lou never showed up. I was there. He never told Tony why he didn’t show up. [ Q ] What kind of training program did you have Lou on? I always told him to use a lighter weight. He didn’t agree with me. He couldn’t do the endurance that I used to do. I would take a lighter weight and do maybe five or 10 sets of 15. That was too much for him. He had to take a heavier weight and do three or four sets. That was not my way, but whatever he did it worked for him. Now here is the main thing: I always said “Lou, are you taking any steroids?” He always said, “Are you crazy, I would never take steroids.” He knew of the side effects and the fact they could kill so many people. Well, he lied to me. When I met his father I got proof that Lou was on steroids. And I told Matty (Lou’s father), “You know that Lou is on steroids and that could kill him.” You know what his answer was? “It is not important that he dies, it is important that he wins.” I said, “Matty you are crazy.” Who would want their son to die just so they could win a lousy muscle contest? It’s nothing. I always wanted to put Lou into the insurance business – he was a sheet-metal worker – and I said, “With the publicity you are getting, people would call you to handle their insurance. I would send you to insurance classes.” But he didn’t want that. He wasn’t interested in money. He just wanted to be popular and he almost succeeded in Africa when he came third to Arnold in the Olympia. My friend Reg Park ran the show. Reg came to some of my shows to guest pose. Pic above: 1975 Mr Olympia - Arnold Wins Beating Serge Nubret (2nd) and Lou Ferrigno (3rd). [ Q ] Why did you get sued by Lou Ferrigno? I was sued because I used his picture in the back cover of my magazine selling Jet 707. He was featured with Steve Michalik. I had releases from both of them, but Lou stated that even though he signed the release he was under the age of 21. He claimed that he was under 21, but I proved that he was over 21 when he signed the contract. The release contract had the date and this proved he was over 21. My office secretary put her name down as a witness, and it wasn’t until I had to go through the records and check that I discovered this. In fact, I have the complete file – I looked at it last week. [ Q ] And Lou was successful in suing you? Yes. They had two good lawyers and one of them was associated with the judge. So I ended up having to pay quite a bit of money. And then when I went to a Mr. America contest in California, a couple of years later, and I went backstage. At this time, Lou had forgotten that he sued me, and he greeted me with open arms. He was so glad to see me, an old friend. But when I went backstage again a second time, as Lou passed by, this is what he said to me: “You dirty Jew son of a b*tch, the day my father and I bury you will be the happiest day of our lives.” I was ready to kick him in the testicles, but he would kill me. I’m a little guy. I had one chance, but nothing happened because people separated us. I said, “Lou, there is only one person in this world who is going to take care of you. God will take care of you and judge how I tried to help you and what you turned into.” That was the last contact I, or any of my family made with Lou, except for a few years ago when they were having a sports show in Atlanta Georgia. My son was in the crowd. Lou was on stage talking about the people he was representing. He spotted my son and got off the stage, and he said, “I have to say hello to a very dear old friend,” and they hugged each other. Of course, Lou had nothing against my son Mark. Mark was almost his age. They grew up together. Mark did nothing to hurt him, they were like friends. Mark said Lou was so nice he was like a different person. That was the last contact my son had with him. This would have been around 15-20 years ago. [ Q ] Did you have any contact with Lou at this time? No. He left me after the appearance of Steve Reeves at my show. It was verified at the time that Weider offered him $50,000 for five years. Sounds good, but when you break it down it is only $10,000 per year. That is all he was getting for writing and letting Weider use his name for advertising. That was how Weider operated. By the way: Weider didn’t bring Arnold Schwarzenegger into this country. It was someone who worked for him. A guy called Lud Shusterich. He won America’s Most Muscular Man in 1941, and he worked for Weider in Europe. Pic above: Joe Weider - Arnold Schwarzenegger - Franco Columbu - Lud Schusterich. Lud came from Brooklyn. Later on I became partners with Lud in an equipment company I opened in his home town. He made the arrangements to bring Arnold to America. He said to Joe, “I have someone who is going to be good for you in the magazines; he’s known in Europe and has won NABBA (National Amateur Bodybuilding Association) five or six times.” Pic above: 1969 Letter from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Dan Lurie. Pic above: 1969 Letter Response from Dan Lurie to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course Weider never publicized the NABBA Universe – only the IFBB shows. Arnold also got a $50,000 contract for five years. Then they worked things out and it became like a father and son deal. Lud Shusterich was an architect – he built the Weider buildings in Woodland Hills. [ Q ] Why did Arnold sue you? He sued me because he claimed he never knew about the Sergio and Arnold Challenge, which was to take place in New York City, on September 1974. I offered, at the time, $5000 to the winner of this contest. He accepted and Sergio Oliva accepted. I waited until the show, and the Arnold and Sergio Challenge was to be one of the main features we had. The day before he was supposed to come, a fellow by the name of Andy Bostinto who was a friend of mine and Arnold’s, said I have Arnold’s private number in California and we (Dan and Arnold) spoke for about 20-minutes, making arrangements and determining what flight he was coming in on so he could be picked up. He was telling us that Weider didn’t want him to go because I would fix the contest so he would lose. I said to him, “I have some other news. Sergio has agreed to split the prize two ways.” Whoever comes out first or second, still gets $2500 each. At that time Arnold was getting paid $500 to do an exhibition. Plus I had to pay his expenses to come in from California to New York. Arnold said, “with that money, I’ll be there.” Of course he never showed and all I ever printed in the magazine was that he lost on default, because he never showed up. That’s all I ever said. A couple of years later, while running my first WBBG show in Los Angeles, Arnold calls and wants to have breakfast with me and Franco Columbo and, of course, my wife. So we met at the Century Plaza Hotel, and we had breakfast for about two to two-and-a-half-hours. They must have eaten about three breakfasts – steak, eggs. They ate like they had never seen food in their lives. The bill came to close to $300, just for breakfast. I had a normal breakfast – maybe $15-20. Arnold was telling us how unhappy he was with Weider, that Weider was not publicizing great European bodybuilders. He asked if I would publish some of their pictures, along with some of his articles. Of course I said yes, I would be happy to. Arnold had a bunch of papers in his car and when he pulled up to leave, he gave me the package – about an inch thick. I looked at the package and saw a blue paper. That is how he served me with a summons. I immediately called Franco Columbu and asked him if he knew about this. He said, "Dan, Arnold is my best friend and all I know is that he laughed like a madman after the breakfast". Not only did Arnold get me to pay for the breakfast, he got to serve me with papers at the same time. Franco said he swore he knew nothing – he gave me his word. Franco did however say that Arnold laughed like he got the greatest pleasure in the world. Years later, at another AAU Mr. America in Atlanta City, my wife and I walk in and behind us is Arnold. So I walk in the opposite direction. He went to the left so I went to the right. All of a sudden an arm was put on my shoulder and it was Arnold. He said, “Dan, let’s be friends again.” I said, “Arnold, I could never be your friend after what you did to me.” I helped make him famous. In one issue of Muscle Training Illustrated Magazine, I had 19 pictures of Arnold, before Weider ever published any of his pictures. I said, “I helped make you famous.” He said, “I needed the money then.” We left and my wife said, “Wasn’t Arnold nice?” and I said “No, screw him.” Years later I was scheduled to give Regis Philbin an award for being the most physically fit announcer on television. Regis started with my weights when he was 13 years old and kept in great shape. He said, "Dan I will let you know when you can come and present me with the award". Pic above: Regis Philbin and Hulk Hogan. A couple of weeks went by and I get a call, which asked me to be there on a certain date. When I got there, everyone in the green room was saying that Arnold was there. I didn’t know he was going to be on the show. I was reading my newspaper and my son was with me and I have this big plaque that I’m going to give Regis. Arnold walks into the room and he says, “Dan is that you?” I hadn’t seen him for 20 years or so. I didn’t answer him. Then he said “Lurie, is that you?” I said, “Aren’t you ashamed to even talk to me after what you did?” Again he said he needed the money then. I said, “Arnold, I have three words for you. Give it back.” He went on first and did what he was there to do and then left. He wanted to know what Dan Lurie was doing on the show. He thought I was going to expose him for the rat he was. When I did my part with Regis I didn’t say a word about Arnold. I presented Regis with a nice plaque and that was the end of it. [ Q ] So what exactly did Arnold sue you for in the end? What was the outcome? He claimed he new nothing about the contest between Sergio Oliva and him that I had organized. He wanted a million dollars because I had made a fortune on the show, and since he never gave his permission, which was a lie, he sued me for using his name without his consent. He wasn’t really known at that time though. He was just known among a few muscle fans. It wasn’t until he made the picture Pumping Iron that he got known nationally. He sued me on a false claim. We both agreed not to expose what he got but it was well over six figures, plus the legal costs I paid. Read this great article entitled: "Pumping Iron at 40: An Interview with George Butler by Shawn Perine". Also, I had all my witnesses going back and forth. Every time I had my witnesses go there it was postponed, so we went back about three or four times which cost me. In the end, the judge said he had to settle the case. He got me in the corner and said, “Dan, you could lose a fortune, you are better off settling.” Then he got to Arnold and said, “Arnold, you could lose everything. This guy (Lurie) has a strong case, anything you get from him, take it.” He worked one against the other. I was stubborn and didn’t want to give a penny. My lawyer said my fees were going to be more than that if I were to continue like this. [ Q ] People want to know more about Arnold. What else can you share? I’ll tell you one thing. When I first met him at the airport in 1968, when my wife and I greeted him there, we took him out for lunch and he would grope the waitresses. He would touch their breasts and their behinds, and say to them three words, "I vant sex". I said to Arnold, “You don’t talk that way.” Now he is accused of so many things of that nature. I called him on television a slimy snake. [ Q ] Is there anything about Arnold that you did like? He has a good sense of humor, but he is very sneaky, very untrustworthy. He’s not honorable. He uses people like Weider (Joe) did – he had a good teacher in Weider. Weider was the one who encouraged him to sue me, I know that. Do you know how I know? Because the lawyers Arnold had were Weider’s lawyers. How would he get Weider's lawyers if Weider didn’t give him the name of the law firm. Of course, Weider didn’t like me to be successful with my magazines. He even took me to court to try to stop me from using the name Muscle Training Illustrated. He said it was too close to Muscle Power and Muscle and Fitness. Of course, he lost. He tried to stop my distributors, tried to do everything possible to hurt me. [ Q ] Who would you consider the greatest bodybuilder of all time and why? In my opinion it would be Steve Reeves. Steve Reeves had the most beautiful face to rival any Hollywood actor. He was a soft-spoken gentleman, and he never took steroids. He had a natural body, used to ride his bike up the hills of San Francisco all the time. To me he was the greatest of all time. We used to visit each other at our homes. He loved to put on my Seal test cape. I never knew that he watched the Big Top Circus Show. He liked my kids and my kids would visit him at his farm in San Diego. [ Q ] Did you ever train with Steve Reeves? No, but we used to go out to Broadway shows and share lobsters and steaks together, after the shows. We always enjoyed one another’s company. Strength Oldschool NOTE: Check out this book by Steve Reeves: "Building the Classic Physique The Natural Way". [ Q ] What other qualities did Steve Reeves have that made him, in your eyes, the greatest bodybuilder of all time? He had what the French call ‘armench,’ which means he was a very, very, nice person. [ Q ] I understand you had some involvement with Bernar McFadden and his man Charles Atlas. I was the associate editor on Bernar McFadden’s magazine Physical Culture. He used to take me for lunch to the downtown athletic club – where he was a member. I had him judge some of my muscle shows in the 1940s, and every time he judged a show he would hand me a check for $1000 when he left – for being kind to him. Pic above: 1910 issue of Physical Culture Magazine by Bernarr Macfadden. I gave him a nice build up. But people didn’t respect him in the muscle field. He gave Charles Atlas the title of Worlds Strongest Man. This was done through his magazine. I was supposed to honor Charles Atlas in 1971, I believe. I gave him the date and he phoned me a month before and said he had a problem with some property in Florida, and asked me if I could hold the plaque and give it to him in 1972. That was the year he died, so I went to his funeral and was the only bodybuilder there. I gave the plaque to his sons. The Beach that Atlas went to was Point Lookout in Nassau, Long Island. He had a summer home there. Did a lot of running on the beach. He always treated me nicely. In Charles Atlas we lost a great man who helped many thousands to develop their bodies. Atlas always knocked weights saying only his Dynamic Tension could do the job. It was a lot easier selling paper courses than shipping & packing heavy barbell equipment. Atlas used weights to build up his tremendous body, but never gave credit to the exercise equipment. He was a gentleman all the way. [ Q ] What about Bernarr McFadden did you respect most? He treated me very nice. I was a young kid in my late 20s early 30s. He died at the age of 87 I believe. He always liked to walk fast and in his later years he would jump out of airplanes. He was not a tall man, probably only about 5′ 6″, but he was a very good looking man. Pic above: This book can be checked out and purchased from here. [ Q ] Tell me more about your Instant Action Positrain course. Is it still selling? They aren’t really selling that well today. I had an injunction brought against me by someone who posed in the book. I was partners at the time with a fellow by the name of John Lima, who at one time was partners with Joe Weider. With the lawsuit, they said they didn’t give me any permission to use the image and they missed out on thousands of dollars with the sale of the books. I have a couple of hundred books left. I don’t sell many of the books today. I used to sell them to Amazon, and they were doing very well – I sold maybe a thousand or so copies, which was good. And then they put a new rule in that if they didn’t sell X-amount, the amount I got would be cut in half. So it didn’t pay for me to continue selling them, so I stopped. [ Q ] What exactly did and/or does your course, provide? Well, you have to try to satisfy all people, from beginners to advanced. It is hard to put it all into one book. The book is a good way for a beginner to get started. In a lot of gyms today, people don’t lift enough weights. They put them on the treadmill. Back in those days I must have had a dozen different gyms running. It was different then because you knew everyone by name. Today it is completely out of hand – you don’t even know who the members are. So there are more in the way of different fitness needs today. [ Q ] And the book provides different ways for people to train, gives people different options? Yes, as much as I could. I always say the most important thing, even today, is walking. It is the greatest thing people can do. [ Q ] What is so great about walking do you think? Because with walking you strengthen the heart and live longer. People, who have walked long distances for most of their lives, have a record of longevity. Anything that is good for the heart is a great thing. I’m coming out with something and we are in the production stages – my grandson is pushing me. It will be called the Dan Lurie Fitness Rope. This will be a type of rope that no one has used before. A beginner finds it very difficult to jump rope, because the rope hits their feet. With my rope, there is no hitting of the feet. A person will never have to stop because the rope has not gone the complete turn. It is in the works of being patented, so I can’t talk about how it works right now. The new rope will be for people of all ages for weight loss. They don’t have to go out in the rain to walk. They will get just as much benefit if they can jump a rope for 30-minutes-a-day. That would be tremendous for the average person. 30 minutes non-stop with the rope is a long time. There is going to be an infomercial – I have people from television interested. First I want to get everything right. [ Q ] I understand you began your own corporation in the 1980s? I became 50-50 partners with John Lima in the 80s, in a separate Corp. We formed a separate Corp and had our office and Fitness showroom located on West 48 St. and Broadway in New York City. Right in the middle of Times Square. I had my own Dan Lurie Fitness World in my own building located in Queens, New York. I was 100 percent owner and it had over 40,000 square feet of space, with a large Parking area. At that time, it was the world’s largest fitness store. [ Q ] In the 40s and 50s would you have considered yourself one of the worlds strongest, most muscular, men? I won America’s most muscular man three-years-in-a-row: 1942, 43 and 44. I was the only one in the history of the AAU to win it three times in a row. The closest was twice. [ Q ] On that basis, would you consider yourself to be one of the most muscular men of that era? Oh sure. I didn’t realize how strong I was until I started out with the bent press. Maybe I was able to do 150 lbs. I remember the first time I did 100 lbs with one hand I thought, wow am I strong. But it’s all in the technique. I then went up to 150 lbs. At Sig Klein’s show I think I did 200 or 210. As the years went by I kept practicing. It has to do with strength, but the strength is not as important as the technique. [ Q ] Could you describe exactly how you would perform the one arm bent press? Bending away from the weight. Getting under the weight – you had to be flexible. The heavier you are the less you could do. Then I ended up doing 285lbs with one hand, at a bodyweight of 168lbs. [ Q ] Was this ever verified? Yes. The AAU people watched it. It was all done in front of a panel of AAU people. They were there also when I did my push-ups and parallel dips. I didn’t know who they were, but I know the names of them now. One was Rudy Zabo. He was in charge of the AAU in New York City. Another by the name of Morris Weissbrot. He was one of the judges in the 1972 Munich Olympics, which was held at one of the Jewish camps where 11 athletes were killed. [ Q ] Was the weight you lifted ever recorded? Yes, but I don’t know what they did with it. They gave me a certificate and that was it. Records weren’t kept like they are today. [ Q ] How close did you come to winning the AAU Mr. America? Bob Hoffman controlled the sport of bodybuilding in the 40s. Four of his men won. In 1942, Frank Leight (photo below), who represented York, won. In '43, Jules Bacon (photo below), who also represented York, beat me although we both won three body parts each. The contest was only between the both of us. Although the other guys were good, they weren’t in our class. In '44, Steve Stanko (pictured below) won. He also represented York and was the only Mr. America in history that could not walk on the stage, and walk up a posing platform. He had trouble with his legs, and he died from that. When it came time for him to pose, they put the lights out and they helped him out on stage. The 1944 America was held in a boxing ring in Chattanooga Tennessee. They turned the lights out, carried him into the ring, helped him up the steps, and put him on the platform. Then the lights went on. When he was through posing, the lights mysteriously went off, and they helped him off the stage. Same thing when they announced the winners. They had to put the lights out. People didn’t know what was happening – they thought it was a black-out or something. All of a sudden you have 20-30 people on stage and they announced the finalists. He won the 1944 Mr. America. Here’s something interesting: in 1942, Frank Leight won the Mr. America contest in Cincinnati, Ohio, but I was picked as the winner the night before. When they gave out the awards, they announced it as a tie between Frank Leight and myself, and they were going to have an independent judge break the tie. You know who the judge was? Sigmund Klein (pictured below). Frank Leight was the manager of his (Sig Klein’s) gym in New York City. Sig should have disqualified himself. So he picked his man. His answer was a taller man is always better built than a shorter man. [ Q ] When was the World Bodybuilding Guild started? It was started in 1965 or 1966. My first dinner was for Sig Klein. The guy who took away my title. I honored him. He never entered any competitions, but he was built nice from the waist up. His legs were weak though. He never competed, just like Jack LaLanne who never competed in any of the AAU Mr. America contests. Famous People Dan Has Met: Prime Minister of the UK, Winston Churchill. Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the US. USA Senator Jacob Javits of N.Y. Mayor Abe Beame of N.Y.C. Mayor Ed Koch of N.Y.C. Mayor Ed Juiliani of N.Y.C. Mayor David Dinkins of N.Y.C. Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Bagin Prime Minister of Israel, Sholm Peres Prime Minister of Israel, Itsik Schmere Prince’s Grace Kelly of Monaco Prince Reniure of Monaco Senator Al Da-Mato of N.Y. Gov. Soapy Williams of Mich. Gov. Hugh Cary of N.Y. and Son Chriss Gov. Mario Como of N.Y. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of Calif. Special Awards To Dan: AAU Hall of Fame Downtown Athletic Club. NYC King Neptune in Coney Island Parade Daughter Sandy Carl – Queen in Coney Island Parade Sports People: Jackie Robinson – Baseball Mel Allen Yankie – Announcer Joe Louis – Boxer Al “Bummy” Davis – Boxer “Schoolboy” Bernie Freiken – Boxer Rocky Graziano – Boxer Jack Demsky – Boxer Tiger Woods – Golf Sonny Liston – Boxer Red Hollsman – Basketball Ivan Putski – Wrestler Super Star Billy Graham – Wrestler Bruno Sammartino – Wrestler Vince McMahon – Wrestling Promoter “Captain” Lou Albana – Wrestler “Andre the Giant” – Wrestler Antono Rocca – Wrestler Show Business People: Alan Burke Regis Philbin Jan Murry Johnny Weismuller Buster Crabbe Mae West Steve Reeves Clint Eastwood Jack Sterling – Ringmaster, Big Top Circus Bob Russell Barker – Big Top Circus, Miss America TV Show Ed McMahon – Clown on Big Top TV show, Johnny Carson’s Sidekick George Burns Woody Allen Lou Costello Eddie Cantor Al Johnson Soffie Kucker Ruth St. Dennis’s husband Ted Shawn Georgie Tapps George Gerswin Ira Gershwin Steve Allen Walter Cronkite Joe Franklin Marilyn Monroe Jerry Lewis Milton Berle Jane Mansfield and husband Mickey Hagerty Bing Crosby Eddie Fisher Eddie Gormay and husband Steve Lawrence Joey Bishop Alan King Jackie Mason Buddy Hackett Carol Channing Excvia Cuget and Wife Charro Mario Lanza, Terry Robinson Shecky Greene Joel and Joan Gray Billy Rose and wife Joyce Matthews Todie Fields Ray Parker Norm Crosby Harry Bellefonte Dom DeLuise Bob Hope Jerry Colona Jan Pierce Debbie Reynolds and her Mother Ed Sullivan Sam Levinson Jack Albertson Danny Styles Jack Albertson [ Q ] Can you elaborate on the World Bodybuilding Guild, and what exactly is the bodybuilding hall of fame? I started it because I wanted to give credit to top bodybuilders in our sport. I felt it was a nice way to get closer to all the people who are interested in our sport. You go to a muscle contest; you sit in your chair. You may wave at some people there and say “how are you?” At a dinner, you can walk around and talk to people – everyone has a badge on with their name. You can go up to the Dias and talk to whoever is being honored, and you are free to take any number of pictures. It was a good thing to do for the people, and it was a good thing to publicize it in my magazines. And we would run a weekend. The Saturday night would be the contest and Sunday would be the dinner. So all the people who entered would come to the dinners too. It was a nice thing to do, and I enjoyed doing it. Of course, after a while I felt there weren’t enough muscle men to honor and I wanted to get a bigger crowd. I therefore went to sports people and movie stars. Dan’s Hall Of Fame Honorees: WBBG Hall Of Fame Dinners & Awards 1965- Sigmund Klein 1967- Bill Pearl 1968- Ricky Wayne 1969- Boyer Coe 1970- Dennis Tinerino 1971- Sergio Oliva 1972- Reg Park 1973- Steve Reeves 1974- Peter Lupus & Bert Reynolds 1975- Robert Redford & Mae West, Joe Bonomo-Chris Dickerson, Dave Draper & The “Mighty Adam” Joe Greenstein 1976- Johnny Weissmuller-Buster Crabbe, Sergio Oliva-Bruno Sammartino 1977- Steve Reeves-Billy Graham, Serge Nubret- Sylvester Stallone & the Greatest Boxer-Joe Louis 1978- Robert Blake- Clint Eastwood, James Bolin-Sen. Jacob Javits, Jack LaLanne-Jim Morris, Bill Pearl & Ivan Putski Special Awards To: President Ronald Reagan Three Prime Ministers of Israel: Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres, and Menahem Begin Prince Rainier of Monte Carlo George Burns Regis Philbin Charles Atlas Joe Franklin Mayor Abe Beame NYC Mayor Ed Koch NYC [ Q ] Were many of the other honorees bodybuilding enthusiasts. Were they in any way connected to the bodybuilding scene? Some were, some weren’t. Clint Eastwood was a bodybuilder. Sylvester Stallone was always a bodybuilder. He was a member of my New York gym. His brother Frankie reminded me that when he and Sly were 13 or 14 years old when they were thrown out of my gym. I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You asked me for dues and we didn’t have the eight or 10 dollars to pay.” Stallone was a very nice person. Then when we had Clint Eastwood, he called in the night before and he said he had a problem. He was in the middle of a movie and the producer left so he had to do it himself. This is something not many people could do. So he sent me someone to take his place, to give the award to – James Roland. He was the one who was married to Barbara Streisand and had a very popular show in New York called “Hotel,” based on a nice hotel in San Francisco – the Fairmont Hotel. [ Q ] You honored Mae West with an award for sexiest woman of the century. Why did you choose her for this award and what was she like? Yes, I met Mae West at her home place. After being with her the first three hours, I told her, “Ms. West, I can’t give you any more of my time.” Of course she was the one who was helping me. I said, “My wife is downstairs and she is going to be quite upset.” She asked if my wife would like to come upstairs and meet her. I said, “No, she’s not one of your fans.” She told me to go downstairs and bring my wife up. And that’s what we did. After a half an hour they were the best of friends. We found out something strange. Mae was born in Brooklyn and her father’s name was Jack West – he was a fighter. In between fights he would rent a horse and wagon and sell fruit in his neighborhood. As a kid, she would go to Rockaway Avenue to pick up the horse and wagon. My grandfather owned the place where the cart was kept so we got very warm – I mean, what a connection. We spoke more about her father and what she did when she was living in Brooklyn. She never flew, but always took the train. She was scared of flying. And of all places, she is now buried in Brooklyn. [ Q ] What else can you tell me about Mae West? I must have sat no more than two feet from her and her skin was so soft – no wrinkles, nothing. She was in her 80s at the time. She looked great. She kept saying, “Feel my arms, I work out.” I felt her arms. She said, “Feel my breasts.” I said, “I’m not going to touch your breasts.” [ Q ] A special time in your life. Yes. I’ll tell you another story that is very special to me. In 1943 I went to Los Angeles to compete in the AAU Mr. America. I had a room-mate who was a 118 lbs weightlifting champion, Joe DePietro. He was like a dwarf – about three feet tall. He came from Patterson, New Jersey. Joe said to me one day, "come with me I want to visit my old friend, he has just bought a house in Beverly Hills". Pic above: Weightlifter Joseph DePietro - 1948 Olympics. He didn’t tell me who this friend was. It turned out to be the home of Lou Costello from Abbott and Costello. But Lou Costello had a heart problem and he was on a hospital bed. They would wheel him from room to room. He couldn’t walk, but we spoke and he grabbed my chest like he was going to beat me up. He was just joking of course. Pic above: Abbott and Costello - 1950s. I took pictures of his swimming pool and his yard. But when I developed the pictures, I found a picture of a baby carriage right next to the swimming pool. The day I left his house, after taking the pictures, his son, who was less than a year old, climbed out of the carriage and drowned. I have the only picture of the baby in the carriage before he died. Last picture probably ever taken of him. I tried to give it to the family but this never happened. This story will be in my book. ** More on this sad and terrible tragedy can be read here. [ Q ] Very touching story Dan. When will your new book be out and what will it entail? It is in the hands of the agents and publishers right now so I don’t know just yet. This book will be my life story and also about the dangers of steroids. It will teach how to become a champion without the use of steroids. ** Dan Lurie's book (Heart of Steel: The Dan Lurie Story) can now be purchased by clicking here. [ Q ] You had some dealings with another anti-steroid campaigner, Steve Michalik? Yes, the 1972 Mr. America. He now talks about the dangers of steroids. They made him mentally crazy. His brother worked for me as an artist and when Steve was about 13, he would come with his brother to my home in Long Island to deliver me the artwork. That’s how far back I go with Steve Michalik. Steroids almost killed Steve – he went through divorces and beat up his friends. The anger. He used to eat the glands from monkeys skulls to get big. [ Q ] Joe Louis and Superstar Billy Graham were others you presented awards to? Yes. I honored Joe Louis the day I honored Steve Reeves. Superstar Billy Graham and his boss Vince McMahon, who was just a youngster at the time, were there. Superstar Billy Graham introduced Steve Reeves. Billy Graham was not a speaker, but no one could have done a better job of introducing Steve Reeves. The God coming down to earth to the people was what Billy Graham said about Steve Reeves. It probably embarrassed Steve Reeves, but he was so loved by the people there. I was Superstars manager for a while, then my son picked out his home no more than five miles from me, and Superstar trained at my gym in Lynbrook L.I., New York. Pic above: Superstar Billy Graham. I gave him a key so he could train at five o’clock in the morning. I also found out that as big as he was, Superstar was taking steroids. He almost died from them with kidney problems and other things. He is crippled today. He could have been the biggest star in wrestling but drugs destroy and they destroyed him. [ Q ] On that note we have to end things Dan. We should talk again. I would like that Dave. Thanks.
  2. 1981 Mr Olympia - The Greatest Booing Contest of All Time By Rick Wayne Edited by: Strength Oldschool * The following is from the book "Muscle Wars" by Rick Wayne. * NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Before proceeding to read this article by Rick Wayne, please watch the video below which graphically shows Franco Columbu at the 1977 World's Strongest Man contest competing in an event where his leg simply snaps! For Franco to be able to compete again, let alone just be able to walk again was simply an amazing feat. Tough as nails was Franco. On to the article... Arnold Schwarzenegger was keeping strictly to business. Which is to say, he avoided the Mr. Olympia contenders as much as possible, for fear any overt friendliness on his part might be misconstrued. When I tried to engage him in conversation, he replied in German. My questions about Franco Columbu’s chances in the contest fell on determinedly deaf ears. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Watch this video on Franco Columbu preparing for and competing at the '81 Olympia... Oscar State brought the contenders out of hiding for the competition preliminaries. “Will the contestants in the Mr. Olympia event please line up onstage. We’re about to begin.” You got the feeling that when the Englishman wasn’t using his voice he kept it stored in his deep freeze. Just then Oscar’s voice hadn’t quite defrosted. The Veterans Memorial Auditorium had never seen a more high-powered Olympia lineup. The champions marched onstage, each clearly bent on proving that all men are not created equal: Johnny Fuller (England); Steve Davis, Danny Padilla, Ken Waller, Ed Corney, Franco Columbu, Tom Platz, Mike Katz, Dennis Tinerino (the United States); Roy Callender (Barbados-Canada); Roger Walker (Australia); Samir Bannout (Lebanon-U.S.A.); Jorma Raty (Finland); Hubert Metz, Jusup Wilkosz (Germany). The audience was quick to pay its respects with an ovation loud enough to be heard at the Sheraton, a mile away. (Perhaps they were also congratulating themselves for having ignored the dark prognostications that preceded the event.) From the very outset the onstage action sizzled. Whoever had been so reckless as to place Callender and Columbu side by side soon had cause to rethink the decision. Even before the contest got underway it was clear that the former was determined to force humble pie down the other man’s throat. Pointing to his massive left thigh, Callender, nostrils flaring and eyes ablaze, turned to Columbu and shouted loud enough to be heard at the back of the theater, “Look, man! Look! ” An excited roar rose from the belly of the thrill-thirsty auditorium. Nine thousand dilated eyeballs zoomed in on the finely carved chunk of ebony that Callender slid alongside Columbu’s much publicized bedeviled leg, the one obvious chink in the one-time Mr. Olympia’s armor. But the ex-Sardinian sheepherder was a veteran of these wars. “No, no, Roy,” he shot back. “You look! ” And with that he brought both arms overhead and down again into a dazzling most-muscular pose. He’d always been especially famous for his spectacular pectorals and deltoids, and no other pose showed them off better. Columbu went on. “Yeah! Take that and that and that! ” – three housebreaking back shots! Oscar State restored things to order and was roundly booed for his trouble. He was about to introduce the bodymen in the lineup when Callender again challenged Columbu, this time to compare abdominals. Then Danny Padilla stepped forward, intent on making his contribution to the onstage anomie. State barked; Padilla froze… and resumed his place at the left end of the lineup. The audience exploded in another round of boos. It was difficult to tell from the audience reaction who among the seventeen contenders was most popular. Initially Padilla, Columbu, Dickerson, Platz, and Callender seemed highly favored. But gradually the Dickerson and Columbu fans lost their voices. I’d received advance warning from my spies in Santa Monica to watch out for a new Tom Platz, but I’d dismissed that as the usual bodybuilding hyperbole. Imagine my surprise when Tom showed up with not only extraordinary thighs and calves, but also with arms, chest, and shoulders that brought the house down every time he displayed them. In previous competitions his biceps and triceps had been especially weak. Somehow, for this contest Tom Platz had acquired precisely the look Olympia fans live for. Of course, the Olympia had never been a showcase for ballerinas. It was a contest that only such marvels as Scott, Oliva, and Arnold could win. Franco Columbu had managed the feat once, but by then the gargantuas had disappeared. Frank Zane? Well yes, he’d won three times, that’s true – but always while Arnold slept. In the absence of cats, mice will rule. If Tom Platz wasn’t the most beautiful hunk you ever saw, he was – yes, count on it – freaky! There was no other word for it. But where Olympia fans were concerned, that was the winning look! Callender’s flaws originated in the mold. His calves both began and ended somewhere behind his knees, which gave an appearance of extraordinary length to his ankles. He was bowlegged. In those areas of his physique responsive to torturous exercise, however, the Barbados native was unbeatable. It was a toss-up between Callender and Platz as to who had the more impressive back. Callender imagined no contest. The fires of self-confidence raged in his dark eyes, hot enough to fry Olympia chickens. Then there was Franco Columbu. Save for his thighs, he was as stunning as he’d been-more so, perhaps-when he beat Frank Zane for bodybuilding’s premier title five years earlier. Danny Padilla’s face reminded you of a rabbit at the end of a long winter’s hibernation. His sunken cheeks and deep-set eyes bespoke torture in the months preceding the Olympia. At 150 pounds he was some thirty pounds under his regular competition bodyweight. But for once Danny was ripped to the bone, almost totally fat-free. And his symmetry was, as usual, perfect. Johnny Fuller had been a lot sharper for other contests. Mike Katz, too. And Jorma Raty had tried desperately to focus attention on the one thing he had going for him, enormous biceps. Hubert Metz had developed nipples that brought to mind nubile maidens at puberty’s front door. Every time Oscar State called him out to pose, the audience chorused, “Bitch tits! Bitch tits! ” - the price some modern bodybuilders pay for their chemically enhanced muscularity. Chris Dickerson was remarkable. He had not participated in the onstage shenanigans that started with Callender and Columbu. Rather, he comported himself as if he truly believed dignity counted in this war of Neanderthals. Ken Waller had entered the contest fully cognizant of the fact that he stood little chance of profiting from the ordeal. He and Arnold had been friends ever since Arnold first came to California. He’d been given a part in Stay Hungry largely because Arnold so ordered. Ever grateful, Waller was taking this occasion to let the world know exactly where he stood in the Schwarzenegger- Mentzer-Coe fracas. The first three men to be called out for comparisons were, Padilla, Callender, and Columbu. They strutted striations in their pecs and abs, in their quads and in their delts. They hoisted their scanty posing briefs to expose more thigh - to the squealing delight of susceptible parties in the audience - and smiled, smiled, smiled. Someone hollered, “Stand up, Danny. Stand tall! ” - a ridiculous demand to make of someone standing only five-foot-three. (Or was it another competitor’s fan adding his own dig at Danny’s lack of stature?) Of course there’s always more to an Olympia than the mere display of big muscles. The way a man behaves onstage and his public image for example, whether he was on the cover of the latest Muscle & Fitness - are deciding factors, too. There’s always an eager curiosity about who will lose his cool in front of the audience, and the audience isn’t above making its own contribution to the game. At one point in the proceedings a voice yelled out, “Hey, Waller, when you gonna give Katz his shirt back? ” - which was a house-breaker. (In the movie Pumping Iron, Waller had been made to seem something of a villain, in accordance with the script. While Mike Katz, competing in the South Africa-sponsored 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe, was onstage posing, George Butler had filmed Waller disposing of Mikes shirt. The fans were convinced Waller had maliciously played a trick on “the nice schoolteacher who never did anyone harm.) By the middle of Round Two, it seemed Platz was having his way, judging only by the applause. But Columbu, Callender, and Padilla were not about to be intimidated. If they went down to defeat, at least they had put up a helluva fight. Traditionally, it was during the free posing round that Chris Dickerson separated himself from the rest of the herd. His practiced posing ability had more than once pulled the judges’ eyes off others who boasted the kind of development that characterized a title winner. This time, however, it was too obvious Platz had better legs and a superior back-never mind that his symmetry left much to be desired. It seemed that the judges would have to choose between one man who had more than his share of muscle (Platz) and another who, though not gargantuan, displayed lines that were a joy to behold (Dickerson). That didn’t mean Callender wasn’t still dangerous as a cornered jungle cat. A consistent favorite, he struck poses reminiscent of the pre-Schwarzenegger Sergio Oliva. And then, despite shaky underpinnings, there was still a formidable Franco Columbu to consider. The judges’ evaluations would be followed with close attention. Well, most of the judges’ evaluations. During the earlier Mr. International warmup Oscar State had found reason to privately declare Mrs. Matuyama (pictured above) less than competent. However, in deference to her high IFBB position in her native Japan-not to forget her status as a purveyor of Weider products-she was permitted to retain her place on the judges’ panel. The old lady was allowed to go through the motions of judging both the Mr. International and Mr. Olympia contests, altogether oblivious to the fact that she’d effectively been bounced. At the end of the day, without one word to Mrs. Matuyama herself, her scorecards would be trashed. Although the prejudging engendered its own excitement, the real show came with the Olympia finals. And some effort had gone into making it a real show indeed. Dick Cooper had been a Member of the Olympia production team for nearly six years. A stage designer who’d worked in vaudeville for twenty-five years, he’d attended his first bodybuilding event in 1970 - Jim Lorimer’s Pro Mr. World, in which Arnold defeated Sergio Oliva for the first time - and come away disappointed by the show’s lack of window dressing. A man after Bud Parker’s heart, Cooper saw bodybuilding as “theater.” As far as he was concerned, Lorimer’s Pro World suggested a potentially great play murdered by actors appearing without makeup on a stage without decent lighting or sets. When Lorimer hired him as technical designer for the 1976 Olympia, the former vaudevillian saw a wonderful opportunity to dress up bodybuilding, to present the sport in its true light, as it were – ”as an exciting spectacle.” In 1981 Cooper outdid himself, with special backlighting and ingenious use of the stage curtains. The evening show opened with the Mr. International contenders blacked out and standing on strategically positioned steps, each man holding the pose for which he was best known, a Mount Rushmore of muscle in silhouette. Backed by the rousing theme from 2001, Cooper’s intro was enough to raise goosebumps on the most seasoned first-nighter. Not surprising that the audience rewarded the stage designer with a standing ovation. “I officially welcome you to the Mr. International and Mr. Olympia contests, ” intoned Ben Weider, beginning his ritualistic opening address. “My brother Joe created the Olympia as the biggest and best professional event on the IFBB calendar. The IFBB has set a criterion for the competition that’s very high indeed. To be eligible, a competitor must -” “Where’s Mike Mentzer? ” shouted a backseat spoilsport. “Yeah! ” another hollered. “And Coe? ” Other dissident voices joined in. “Where’s Albert Beckles? And Frank Zane? Who kept them out? ” Weider persevered. “To compete in the Olympia a bodybuilder must have been a Mr. Universe winner or have placed first or second or third in the IFBB’s grand prix events. It is my opinion that tonight’s will be the greatest of all Olympia contests …… “It had better be! ” said a voice to the left of me. “Especially after Sydney.” “This will be the sixth Olympia staged in Columbus,” Weider continued. “Columbus has seen more Olympias than any other city in the world. And with good reason.” The politician in Ben Weider was about to make his appearance. “In Columbus,” he said, “we have the great organizational ability of the best promotional team in bodybuilding history. I’m speaking of Jim Lorimer and Arnold Schwarzenegger." Equal measures of cheers and boos. “We live in a democracy,” Weider went on. “Everyone is free to express his personal opinion. But I’d like to remind you of one thing: Arnold Schwarzenegger has played a key, a critical role in the development of the sport we all love." He must have sensed touching the collective bodybuilding soul. The theater had suddenly gone quiet. “We love Jim, and we love Arnold,” affirmed the IFBB president to a now converted audience. “Yes, we all do. And we’re going to continue working with this wonderful team. Together with the IFBB, Jim and Arnold will go on presenting the best contests in this great city of Columbus.” What could possibly go wrong after that? Clearly the fans had been waiting for even the smallest indication that in Arnold there was much more saint than devil. After all, they had worshipped him for over a decade. They were not about to admit that in all that time they’d foolishly been cheering on a bodybuilder Beelzebub. They were eager to forget past misdemeanors. Now all that mattered was the future, the immediate future in particular. Ben Weider quit while he was ahead, making room at the lectern for emcee Len Boslin. For the next hour or so the action concentrated on the Mr. International. There was some disagreement in the audience over a tie between two California heavyweights, Rod Koontz and Larry Jackson, but peace was restored with the announcement that the overall winner was the popular Scott Wilson, also from California. And then it was time for the folks who brought you such great classics as 'Gone with the Wind' and 'King Kong' to show off their latest epic, 'Conan the Barbarian'. No, not the actual movie, but color slides of Arnold Schwarzenegger in what were evidently considered some of his best scenes. In a voice raised on hyperbole a Hollywood flack informed the audience that Arnold’s current movie adventure was scheduled for general release that November, with “all indications pointing to a major box office smash.” That may have puzzled those who’d read a New York magazine report entitled “Studio Brass Said to Cringe at Barbarian Movie,” in which Universal Studio’s advertising and publicity vice-president, David Weitzner, was cited as confirming that a decision had been made at the screening to postpone release of the movie until spring, because Conan “simply needs a lot of work.” And then Cine-fantastique magazine had devoted its September issue to the movie, noting along the way that it was tentatively set for release around Christmas but might not be seen until early 1982. (The movie was actually released in May of 1982 and earned a respectable $100 million worldwide.) * 1981 - Cinefantastique magazine - Vol. 11 / No 3: Conan The Barbarian. Vintage original cover art painting accomplished in acrylic and airbrush on 11 x 14.5 in. artists' board of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman, created for the cover of Cinefantastique magazine. The Columbus slide preview ended with a recorded introduction: “Ladies and gentlemen, the star of Conan, five times Mr. Universe, seven times Mr. Olympia -” Arnold! Arnold! Arnold! The spotlight picked him out at Len Boslin’s mike, smiling boyishly, a pampered, manicured, civilized Conan basking in the comfortable warmth of his welcome. If earlier the fans had seemed less than happy about his reported conduct in Australia, they were ready now to pretend the ‘80 Olympia had gone off as smoothly as a Buckingham Palace tea party. Arnold shared his experiences in making Conan the Barbarian, crowed about the new arts he’d mastered in the process-swordplay, horseback riding-then introduced his newest pal, movie director John Milius. He dished out bouquets, one or two of them booby-trapped. He praised Jim Lorimer for his contributions to their partnership; thanked Joe Weider “for all the publicity, some good, some not so good! ” (a veiled reference to Weider’s coverage of the Sydney controversy in Muscle & Fitness); and eulogized IFBB president Ben Weider. To those who wondered why the Olympia promoters had accepted sponsorship by Diet 7-Up, a drink with no known muscle- building properties, Arnold quipped, “Perhaps it contains a secret formula or something that’ll help your body to grow. Who knows what bodybuilders are popping into their mouths these days. I hear they’ll eat anything! ” But then Diet 7-Up had invested thousands in TV and radio ads starring Arnold and Loni Anderson, a project Arnold mentioned finding “most enjoyable.” And then the Reverend Schwarzenegger stepped into his pulpit. “We started out with high ambitions,” he said. “Thanks to your support we’ve been successful to a point. The Olympia is today one of the world’s most exciting sports activities. We’ve rescued bodybuilding from the basements and the comic books, put it on primetime TV. But there’s still a long way to go before we can command the popular respect given baseball and boxing.” Applause! Applause! Applause! If the sport was to advance further, bodybuilders would first have to learn to pull together like brothers, to work hard toward common goals, to stick together. “We must quit the backbiting and the senseless public attacks on each other,” enjoined the Reverend Schwarzenegger. “Our sport can leap forward, or it can die. It’s up to you and me! ” It was a time for unifying the House of Bodybuilding, for settling differences - but amicably. It was a time for celebrating the Brotherhood of Iron! The deacons of the Brotherhood followed the sermon. They came out one by one to offer a minute of free posing. Those who had been popular at the earlier preliminaries maintained their popularity. But some had clearly lost their nerve. Danny Padilla floated in on the strains of “The Theme from Exodus,” but he was clearly a canary among hawks. Johnny Fuller, maybe because he carried more weight than he was used to, walked like a somnambulist, as if unconscious of his surroundings. Samir Bannout seemed unsure of himself at first, but the crowd’s reaction to him restored his normal self-confidence. The heavy artillery cannonade began with Roy Callender’s display. The opera house decorum that had greeted the likes of Steve Davis, Hubert Metz, and Jorma Raty broke upon Callender’s appearance into thunderous awriiights and glass-shattering whistles- until his sixth pose, when suddenly the music stopped. For a second or two you could’ve heard a bedbug snore. Then the threats started coming, followed closely by shocking expletives. Meanwhile, Callender maintained a heroic pose, hands on hips, dark, glistening features lit up by a knowing smile. Ten seconds limped by before the music came on again, only to die a second time right in the middle of Callender’s next pose. This time he threw up his arms and rolled his eyes heavenward, as if to say, “Lord, what have I done to deserve this crucifixion? ” The audience also wanted to know. They started to boo. Suddenly it seemed a nasty odor had invaded the atmosphere, the smell associated with a particular strain of Australian rat. A dozen angry fans rushed the stage shouting, “Sabotaaage! Sabotaaage! Sabotaaage! ” Callender signaled the fans to cool it. Low-rent backstage behavior notwithstanding, he decided to pose without his specially recorded musical accompaniment. Wild cheers greeted the heroic decision. At the end of his presentation, dozens of overexcited supporters rushed the stage to acclaim him Mr. Olympia 1981. What an act for Franco Columbu to follow. The old warrior’s reception was lukewarm, but he plunged into his routine regardless, determined not to be put off by the crowd’s hostility or indifference, presumably counting on the judges to do their work without prejudice. When his turn came, Tom Platz turned on his own heat and soon had the fans scrambling over each other like zoo monkeys. There was no discernible drop in temperature when Chris Dickerson came on. His display climaxed the free-posing round. The officials wasted no time announcing the finalists: Padilla, Wilkosz, Callender, Columbu, Platz, Dickerson. No surprises here. The audience congratulated the judges. And now the high point of the contest, the last lap-the posedown! And mass hysteria! At last Len Boslin was ready with the final result: “In sixth place, Jusup Wilkosz of Germany…. In fifth place, Danny Padilla of the U.S.A. . . . In fourth place, Roy Callender! ” A full second elapsed before the penny dropped. When It did, the theater exploded in a barrage of boos. And worse! The fallout rained right through the further announcements that Platz and Dickerson had placed second and third respectively. “Oh no! Oh no! That sonofabitch Arnold’s done it to us again! ” Amidst the booing and hissing and cursing, it’s likely no one in the audience actually heard Len Boslin declare Franco Columbu winner of the 1981 Olympia. Certainly Joe Weider didn’t. Right after the announcement that Callender placed fourth, Weider rose from his front row seat, saying as he headed out of the theater, “I want no part of this…. No one’s getting me up on that stage.” So it was Ben Weider who finally did the honors, presenting the new Mr. Olympia his $25,000 and Sandow trophy while angry boos bounced off the auditorium walls. From his position at the right of the posing platform, Franco Columbu surveyed the bedlam, noted with concern that his wife, Anita, sat rigid in her seat, hands over her eyes, saw Joe Welder get up and walk into the churning sea of protesters. Backstage, bodybuilding’s new king talked with reporters. He said he’d underestimated the competition and was relieved that it was all over now. Then he flashed his famous mischievous grin and added, “What you sink? Maybe I try again next year? ” The saucy little devil. You couldn’t help admiring his chutzpah. * 1981 Mr Olympia Judges Scorecards... Arnold laughed and laughed and laughed. He called the ‘81 Olympia “the greatest booing contest of all time,” greater by far than that in Sydney the year before. But all he would say about the controversial judges’ decision was, “I am very happy for Franco.” Diplomacy had never been Chris Dickerson’s strongest point. When a reporter asked how Chris felt about the result of the contest, he replied, “Let the IFBB keep their damn title. I sure as hell can live without it.” A Dickerson victory, he said, might have relegitimized the Olympia after its loss of face in Australia. In his heart, Dickerson had never been an IFBB man. He had strongly resisted all attempts by the AAU’s National Physique Committee some years before to affiliate with the Montreal-based organization. By then it was clear the AAU had become the also-ran in bodybuilding promotion. At a 1977 meeting to discuss the prospect of affiliation, Dickerson had expressed the opinion that “we are being bluffed to go in and be taken over by the IFBB.” The AAU committee subsequently voted sixteen to thirteen not to affiliate. A whole year passed before that position was reversed. But that’s another story … Oscar State’s view of the Olympia outcome varied. At first he said outright that he didn’t like it. Later he said he wanted to “offer my congratulations to Columbu on a terrific comeback. ” And still later Oscar wanted to go on record as having said the judges’ decision should be accepted in good faith “for the sake of bodybuilding.” Roy Callender said the contest left him feeling like a lost sheep. “Right now,” he remarked wryly, “Mike Mentzer and Boyer Coe must be laughing their heads off.” He’d always held the view that he couldn’t be fooled twice, he said, but the 1981 Olympia had proved him wrong. Danny Padilla was furious and wanted everyone to know it. He said, “I wouldn’t have minded so much if they had fixed the contest but still given me a reasonable place. But fifth! ” The winner had but one leg, commented Padilla. Tom Platz had poor symmetry and Chris Dickerson had no muscles. Platz retained his cool. He told reporters he couldn’t wait to get to bed. He’d already made up his mind to win the Olympia “or die trying.” There wasn’t much else to be said; what was done was done. He felt no bitterness toward the winner nor, for that matter, toward Arnold. Two weeks after the event Padilla underwent a change of heart, singing a more reverent tune. “Franco was as impressive at the ‘81 Olympia as he’d always been. It was an honor just being onstage with the guy. He’s been my hero for years.” Of course, Arnold hadn’t stopped laughing. Between puffs on a cigar he informed me his personal favorite at the Olympia was Tom Platz. When I asked why, he replied, “Well, did you get a look at his thighs? All I thought about during Tom’s stage routine was how I’d have given anything for legs like he’s got! ” He didn’t want to talk about Platz’s symmetry, but he was happy to discuss the booing that had greeted the Olympia results. “In the sixties,” said Arnold, “Joe Weider promoted two stars at a time, maybe three. You had someone like Larry Scott, who was always featured in Weider’s magazines as a regular Mr. Nice fellow, and on the other hand there was Harold Poole, the Villain. At Olympia time you had the good guy versus the bad, the perfect gimmick for selling box office tickets." “Later we saw the emergence of Sergio Oliva as the great Big Bad Wolf, so Weider invented Schwarzenegger, the Great White Hope of bodybuilding. Oliva and I always had great admiration for each other, but the Weider magazines told a different story.” When he quit in 1975, said Arnold, bodybuilding took a dive. Weider no longer had a superstar, so he set out to create a replacement. After years of effort, however, all he had to show for his trouble was a group of “ministers,” each with his own fan club. Fans turned up at contests to root for their respective heroes. You ended up with a lot of booing and bitterness. “Then again", observed bodybuilding’s former Great White Hope, “you also hear a lot of booing at football matches, at boxing tournaments-even at rock concerts.” In Arnold’s opinion, bodybuilding had changed considerably since his Mr. Olympia days. He thought money was at the root of it. The stars depended on the contests for their livelihood. They did no other work. Day in and day out it was work out, lie in the Venice Beach sun, work out, sleep, work out … The rent, car payments, everything depended on the Olympia first prize or some grand Prix purse. All of which, by Arnold’s measure, accounted for the bitterness among the leading contenders. Much of the anger about Australia was rooted in that sad state of affairs. Bodybuilding was no longer pure sport. For too many, bodybuilding was now a matter of life or death. Winning was everything. It was Arnold’s considered opinion that Joe Weider had deliberately set him up as the target of the collective animosity of bodybuilding audiences. As a consequence of the way in which Weider had promoted him over the years, millions of fans the world over had come to see Arnold Schwarzenegger as the incarnated soul of bodybuilding, as nothing less than the spokesman for the bodybuilding establishment. He was the sport’s most visible representative, so when there was dissatisfaction, he was the one who had to pay. Joe Weider was “a clever manipulator”. When the 1980 Olympia blew up into a major controversy, Weider had nimbly sidestepped the issue, publishing article after article that subtly suggested Arnold had received help from friends on the judging panel. “He did a great job of directing the hostility in my direction,” Arnold told me. “In Columbus, Weider refused to show up onstage to present the winner’s check. He put on a great act, pretending he was disappointed by the judges’ decision. But only a few days earlier he’d expressed to me the view that Franco could win the contest. That’s why I call Weider the ultimate actor. Hollywood could use him." There had been talk that Arnold had persuaded Frank Zane to stay out of the ‘81 Olympia so as to make things easier on Columbu. Arnold denied the allegation. Things had cooled between him and Zane after The Sydney Affair, he said. However, when he’d returned from filming Conan in Spain, he’d invited Zane to compete in the upcoming Olympia. When Zane refused, he’d offered him a Guest shot on the show. Zane declined – he needed a break, he said. Zane later confirmed Arnold’s story, but he refused to go along with the suggestion that he and Arnold were once again “very good friends.” Said Zane, “Let’s just say we’re communicating again.” Ben Weider never imagined for one minute that his judges had been less than honest. But that didn’t mean the IFBB president wanted to go on record as having agreed with their verdict – or as disagreeing! On the question of Sven-Ole Thorsen’s (pictured above) reinstatement as an Olympia judge, Weider said that following Thorsen’s suspension the Danish federation had pleaded with the IFBB’s executive committee to reconsider. So the IFBB had decided to give Thorsen another try. He was allowed to judge the ‘81 European Championships in London and had “redeemed himself.” (Thorsen, the president of the IFBB’s Danish affiliate, insisted he’d never been suspended, and Oscar State confirmed that – someone, he said, was putting someone on.) Joe Weider wasn’t surprised at Arnold’s attempt to make him the scapegoat. He said he was flattered to find that Arnold considered him clever enough to be capable of fooling all the people all the time. “If the bodybuilding world has developed ill feelings toward Arnold,” said Weider, “that’s a consequence of Arnold’s own behavior. His derisive comments after the ‘80 Olympia made him unpopular with fans and contenders. Anyway, Arnold has always regarded me with ambivalence. I am his farther figure. He once told a mutual friend that the man he most admires is the man he also hates most: Joe Weider! " To buy the book 'Muscle Wars' by Rick Wayne, click here.
  3. A rags-to-riches biopic of visionary Joe Weider, set in the world of fitness. Brothers Joe and Ben Weider were the architects of muscle. Along the way they discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger, inspired female empowerment, championed diversity and started a world-wide movement. If you have watched this movie and wish to share your thoughts for discussion please add your comments below.
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