A brief look back at the Austrian Oak.
Today at Generation Iron we are celebrating the birth of one of the most influential bodybuilders in the history of the sport: Arnold Schwarzenegger. As you may have already been able to tell, we have been talking a lot about Arnold these past two days. We’ve posted his classic workout as well as put him #1 on our list of Top 5 Physiques. It’s all because we are so pumped (pun intended) to celebrate Arnold’s birth into this world!
So today we are posting a brief retrospective on the legend that is Arnold Schwarzenegger. A man who truly needs no introduction… except this one.
Today, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a household name. Known for being a Governor, a movie star, and a master class bodybuilder. But like all fantastic stories – he didn’t start off that way. Arnold has gone on record that his childhood wasn’t particularly ideal. His family lived in poor conditions and his father always favored Arnold’s older brother.
But everything changed when through soccer he touched his first dumbbell. At age 15 he started lifting weights and ignited the spark that would lead to his legendary career.
Throughout his youth, Arnold grew up idolizing bodybuilder and actor Steve Reeves. This led to his ambitious dream to one day not only become a pro bodybuilder, but also become a Hollywood celebrity. All of the pieces were put into place.
Into the Army
Arnold served in the Austrian Army in 1965. This was a required one year service that all 18 year old Austrians had to accomplish. Arnold went AWOL during his training in order to sneak off and compete in the Junior Mr. Europe contest – which he won. He was then voted best built man in Europe which led to great fame and allowed him to find his ticket out of Austria – The Mr. Universe competition.
Arnold didn’t end up winning Mr. Universe until 1967 at the age of 20 (which made him the youngest winner at the time). He then went on to win three more times.
Photo courtesy of flickr.
Bodybuilding had become a viable way for Arnold to finally leave Europe and move to the US at the age of 21. Speaking little English, Arnold started training at Gold’s Gym in LA. He set his sights on the Mr. Olympia title and after one loss in 1969, he returned with his first win in 1970. At age 23, he was the youngest bodybuilder to win Mr. Olympia. Of course you all know the rest of the story. He then went on the win 5 more times up to 1975 and then retired from competitive bodybuilding.
That retirement didn’t last long. As his film career started to grow, he found himself in the lead role as Conan the Barbarian. He came into such great shape for the movie that he decided to compete in the 1980 Mr. Olympia – something that he kept secret for a long while. He took the big O one last time and then officially retired from bodybuilding – this time for real.
Bodybuilding Star to Movie Star
But bodybuilding is only half of his legacy. Arnold was able to pull off what at that time seemed impossible – he used his enormous physical body and charisma to become a massive Hollywood celebrity.
He first dawned the screen with Hercules in NY, only to be credited as “Arnold Strong.” This was the first time that anyone saw Arnold on the big screen. Shortly after, he improved significantly with the film Stay Hungry, where his charisma struck the world so much that they actually awarded him the Golden Globe for “New Male Star of the Year.” Even though he had already premiered with Hercules in NY. Of course he didn’t really get into the spotlight until Pumping Iron – which not only popularized bodybuilding but put Arnold’s name into households across the nation.
He then went on to superstar status. First staring as Conan the Barbarian and then skyrocketing with The Terminator. This led to a slew of action roles in the 80’s and 90’s – making him the poster boy for all things action and adventure. His signature comedic personality also led to a string of comedies that entertained people across the world. We could list all the films here – but there are so many (and, come on, most of you already know them right?) that we’ll just let his A-list status speak for itself.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The Governator and Acting Revival
In 2003, Arnold retired from acting and announced his candidacy for the Governor of California election which exploded into world news and plenty of pun related catch phrases. Arnold eventually won the election by about 1.3 million votes. While this isn’t the place to take a stance on politics, he must have done something right as he was officially reelected for Governor in 2006.
Of course, all things must end. Arnold left office after his second term and to no one’s surprise immediately returned to acting. Which also meant the return to some soon-to-be-classic big action movies. It’s almost starting to feel like the 80’s again – with new Arnold action flicks coming out every year.
Yes it’s another great year to be Arnold Schwarzenegger – so from the entire Generation Iron team, Happy Birthday to one of the most legendary bodybuilders and entertainers of our time.
To further celebrate, we’re officially taking 20% off our Arnold apparel at the GI Store. A small birthday gift in the name of a very big pro.
Cover photo courtesy of Photo Celebrities.