MONTREAL -- Ben Weider, who helped make bodybuilding an international sport and was chiefly responsible for launching the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the United States, died Friday in a Montreal hospital. He was 85.
Weider and his brother, Joe, co-founded the International Brotherhood of Body Builders in 1946, an organization which sanctions thousands of amateur and professional bodybuilding competitions around the world. The Weiders’ billion-dollar business includes gyms, nutritional supplements and magazines such as Muscle and Fitness. Joe Weider received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from Club Industry’s Fitness Business Pro in 2003.
In 1968, the Weiders brought Schwarzenegger, who was then an unknown Austrian bodybuilder, to California.
“Without them having done that, I mean I wouldn’t have known how to come over here,” Schwarzenegger told The Associated Press on Saturday. “I sure didn’t have the money. So that was a very important kind of stepping stone for me.”
Ben Weider also was a historian on Napoleon Bonaparte and won the French Legion of Honor for his investigative work into Napoleon’s death.
The cause of Weider’s death was not immediately known. A family spokesperson said Weider had not been ill. The funeral will be held today in Montreal.