Joe Weider, a child of the Great Depression who built a bodybuilding empire, has died at the age of 93. The cause was heart failure, said his publicist.
Weider grew an empire of magazines, fitness equipment, doubtful dietary supplements and Olympic-style contests featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
As a teenager in Montreal, he hated being roughed up by neighborhood hooligans, discovered bodybuilding in a magazine and bought into it for life.
He developed a V-shaped torso with bulging biceps and abs like Michelangelo’s David, and was still ripped and jut-jawed in his 70s and 80s.
In the intervening decades, Weider moved to the United States as a young man, founded many of the world’s most popular bodybuilding magazines.
He founded Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Men’s Fitness and Shape. They had 25 million readers and were crammed with photos of greased bodybuilders.
Celebrities were also drawn to Weider. Among them: Sylvester Stallone, Cher and Schwarzenegger, who considered Weider a mentor and knew him well.
Riding waves of post-World War II fascination with bodybuilding, Weider and his brother Ben founded the International Federation of Body Builders.
He sponsored the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia contests and other competitions for men and women for over 60 years and in some 170 countries.