The Rise And Fall Of Vince McMahon’s World Bodybuilding Federation

The short life of the WBF.

If you’ve been tracking the sport of bodybuilding then you know that after the Golden Era of the 70’s, the 80’s were much less exciting. That’s not to say the talent was any less impressive. Lee Haney was a monstrous and talented bodybuilder who managed to surpass Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Olympia winning streak. It was an era that Rich Gaspari, Lee Labrada, and Dorian Yates took center stage. Yet media coverage was lacking and slowing to a halt and it seemed that interest in bodybuilding had somewhat wavered.

The lack of interest meant a window of opportunity could open up if someone managed to find the right strategy. When there’s opportunity you can bet someone can be expected to take full advantage. Enter Vince McMahon. The owner of the WWE, then known as the WWF, McMahon had hoped to capitalize on the lack of media presence in the sport and start his own bodybuilding federation.

McMahon started off small with the publication Bodybuilding Lifestyles with Tom Platz overseeing the magazine. But that appeared to be the just the beginning. The magazine secured a booth at the 1990 Mr. Olympia and released promotional material that suggested Mr. McMahon was heading into pro bodybuilding with his very own bodybuilding federation. Tom Platz was appointed head of talent development and so the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF) was born.

They had tried and true IFBB professionals take part in a number of events, people like Gary Strydom, Mike Christian and Eddie Robinson to name a few. The problem was that despite those names, talented as they were, they lacked the star power of other individuals that were competing in the IFBB.

The WBF promised bigger and better stage routines with incredible shows. Take a look at Gary Strydom during one of those over the top posing routine on the next page for a real look at what the WBF was all about.

Jonathan Salmon
Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.