Viete, kto bol najlepším priateľom Arnolda Schwarzeneggera? No predsa Franco Columbu. Na jeho život, kariéru a úspechy sa pozrieme v dnešnom článku.

Franco Columbu: Schwarzenegger’s Best Friend and Double Mr. Olympia Winner

Francesco Maria Columbu was born in 1941. He was a son of a shepherd and grew up in the small mountain village of Ollolai in Sardinia. As a child, he had a slim figure and was often involved in many fights, which he said were more childish play than actual fighting. In these petty battles, however, he often ended up losing. But only until the moment he started boxing. He excelled in speed, which is one of the key features in this sport. After a while, however, the box seemed too raw. His next steps were towards weightlifting and bodybuilding. He decided to do this professionally and for this reason, he moved to Germany.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best friend, who starred in movies alongside him

In 1965, he faced in a competition in Munich one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Instead of unhealthy rivalry, however, they became lifelong friends. The inseparable duo then was noticed by Joe Weider, co-founder of the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) and creator of the Mr. Olympia competition. He became their mentor and arranged their trip to California.

Franco Columbu and Arnold Schwarzenegger
source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk

There, their dreams gradually began to come true. They started a company for construction work and got into acting. You could see them both in cult films like Conan the Barbarian or Terminator. Columbu also played in another classic – a sequel to Rambo, where the lead role was played by Sylvester Stallone.

Fitness trainer who helped Sylvester Stallone to achieve his TOP form in Rambo II

It is Franco himself who deserves credit for the fact that Stallone looked much better in Rambo II than he did in the first movie. He took care of his training, thanks to which the famous actor gained 5 kg of muscle mass in just 6 short weeks. In addition to training others, Columbu also pursued a professional career as a bodybuilder. His career was very successful, and he managed to win titles of Mr. Italy, Mr. Europe or Mr. International.

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His personal powerlifting record is 875 kg – benchpress 238 kg, squat 297 kg and deadlift 340 kg.

Among the most important moments of Franco Columbu’s life is the victory in the Mr. Olympia competition in 1976. The fact that he belongs amongst the very talented and strong bodybuilders is also established by his record in powerlifting 875 kg – 238 kg bench press, 297 kg squat and 340 kg deadlift. He was so flexible in exercising, that in addition to bodybuilding, he also tried several other disciplines. These include participating in The World’s Strongest Man competition. He did great and left his opponents on the scoreboard behind.

Franco Columbu: Schwarzenegger's best friend and double Mr. Olympia winner
source: https://www.spcfitz.com

An unfortunate event happened when he accidentally injured his leg and for Columbu this meant that he ended up taking the fifth place in The World’s Strongest Man competition. However, he was awarded $1 million in compensation for his injury.

An injured leg almost caused the end of his career

The compensation was nice, but the doctors’ predictions did not sound positive at all. The leg injury was supposed to be so serious for Franco that it was predicted the end his career. However, he, once again, showed that he is a true warrior. Not only did he manage to recover from his injury, but he also got back into great form. He subsequently showed this on the stage and won Mr. Olympia for the second time!

What’s interesting is that he could not train for a relatively long time during his injury. Nevertheless, he did not back down and won a title in the Guinness Book of Records for the strongest lungs. He managed to inflate a rubber thermophore to burst in an incredible 55 seconds.

A touching reference from Arnold Schwarzenegger

Columbu wasn’t just an active athlete. He obtained a doctorate in chiropractic and was the author of several publications on bodybuilding and healthy diet. He was married twice, had a daughter, but unfortunately, his life ended at the age of 79. The cause of his death was a heart attack.

His best friend Arnold Schwarzenegger then paid him a very sincere tribute on social networks:

My life was more fun, more colourful, and more complete because of you. I will always miss you. But I’ll also know that a part of you lives on in me, in Debbie, in Maria, and in the millions of people you inspired every day you lived. I love you Franco. I will always remember the joy you brought to my life, the advices you gave me, and the twinkle in your eye that never disappeared. You were my best friend.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu
source: theguardian.com

What do you think of Franco Columbu? Are you one of his fans or do you fancy another name from the golden era of bodybuilding in the 90s? If you liked the article, we’ll be grateful if you could share it.


[1] Derek Hall - Franco Columbu: Remembering The Life of Bodybuilding and Strength Legend – https://fitnessvolt.com/franc-columbu-death-facts/

[2] Franco Columbu – https://en.24smi.org/celebrity/116286-franco-columbu.html

[3] Franco Columbu – https://peoplepill.com/people/franco-columbu

[4] Franco Columbu – https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/sep/01/arnold-schwarzenegger-pays-tribute-to-best-friend-franco-columbu-who-dies-aged-78