Franco Columbu: Big Thing in a Small Package


As Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best friend, Franco Columbu realized a whole lot of issues over time from “the Oak.” A type of was to not wait to be contacted by photographers when in your finest form. As a substitute, the very best concept is to achieve out to photographers and arrange picture shoots.

This twisting again pose was additionally a favourite of Franco’s good good friend Arnold Schwarzenegger Invoice Dobbins
Franco Columbu sitting on a barbell bench at World Gym in 1981
This is among the images shot on the deck at World Gymnasium in 1981. Invoice Dobbins
Bodybuilding legend Franco Columbu posing in front of dumbbell rack
Pound for pound, Franco Columbu was one of many strongest males in professional bodybuilding. Invoice Dobbins
Legendary bodybuilder Franco Columbu memorial picture
This iconic picture of Franco Columbu was blown up and featured at his memorial in 2019. Invoice Dobbins

“It is mindless to play ‘laborious to get’ relating to images,“ Franco informed me. Plus, he additionally realized from Arnold that it was finest to do the images earlier than somewhat than after a contest. “Flexing and posing for photographers just a few days earlier than you compete simply makes you tougher and extra outlined,” he defined. Too many bodybuilders keep away from this, Franco believed, as a result of they’re reluctant to take off their shirts and present their physiques pre-contest. That made no sense to him. Both you might be in form, otherwise you aren’t. In case you are not in form, you shouldn’t be posing for images. In case you are, you don’t have anything to cover.

So, I used to be not that shocked in 1981 after I obtained a cellphone name from Franco inviting me to shoot him on the deck of the unique World Gym in Santa Monica. He was preparing for the Mr. Olympia and wished images for Flex journal to point out off his wonderful situation.

It was a hazy day there near the seaside (what they name the marine layer), however the mild was nice for black-and-white coaching images. Franco was in nice form, strolling round in shorts and no shirt. In reality, he saved difficult Chris Dickerson to take off his shirt. Chris was having nothing to do with that, and shortly disappeared downstairs to the dressing room.

We obtained some terrific pictures that day. In reality, one upper-body picture exhibiting that outstanding break up in his higher chest was a featured blow-up at Franco’s memorial after this death in 2019. Franco went on to win the Olympia title later that 12 months, which was considerably controversial as a result of his legs weren’t at their finest as a result of an harm suffered taping “The World’s Strongest Man” TV present in 1977. That harm occurred throughout an occasion by which opponents have been alleged to run with a fridge on their backs, strapped to a metallic body. Since Franco was solely 5’5”, the body was too lengthy for him, dragged on the bottom and induced him to fall — hurting his leg. This was all established within the subsequent lawsuit which Franco received.

However despite his short stature, Franco had a historical past of athletic involvement earlier than bodybuilding. He was a wonderful boxer and a champion powerlifter. After years within the health club coaching for weightlifting, Franco determined to strive bodybuilding. “Once I informed Arnold, I wished to compete in bodybuilding,” Franco informed me, “he tried to speak me out of it. He didn’t assume I had the proper genetics.”

Arnold will not be fallacious fairly often; on this case he was.

Franco Columbu, Rachel McLish and Joe Weider
Franco Columbu, Rachel McLish, and Joe Weider at an occasion at Muscle Seaside, Venice CA. Invoice Dobbins

Franco Columbu Info

Nickname: The Sardinian Strongman

Born: Aug. 7, 1941 Ollolai, Nuoro, Sardinia, Italy

Died: Aug. 30, 2019 (aged 78) San Teodoro, Province of Sassari, Sardinia, Italy

Peak: 5’5″

Weight: 185 lbs

Profession Wins: 

  • 1970 IFBB Mr. World (Quick)
  • 1970 IFBB Mr. Universe (Quick & General)
  • 1971 IFBB Mr. World (Quick & General)
  • 1974 Mr. Olympia (Light-weight)
  • 1975 Mr. Olympia (Light-weight)
  • 1976 Mr. Olympia (Light-weight & General)
  • 1981 Mr. Olympia
  • 1977 World Strongest Man (fifth place winner)

Private Data for Lifting:

  • Bench Press: 525 kilos (238 kg)
  • Squat: 655 kilos (297 kg)
  • Deadlift: 750 kilos (340 kg)


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