One of Arnold’s most celebrated training partners, powerlifter Franco Columbu became a thickly-muscled phenom in bodybuilding’s Golden Era.
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Columbu was born in Sardinia, Italy on August 7, 1941.
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Schwarzenegger and Columbu first met in Munich, Germany in 1965, and became fast friends. In 1969, Columbu and Schwarzenegger moved to California where, sponsored by Joe Weider, they became regular fixtures on the bodybuilding scene.
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The two started a bricklaying business together. Columbu served as best man at Schwarzenegger’s 1986 wedding to Maria Shriver.
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He was also an accomplished strongman competitor, but he suffered a serious injury while competing in the 1977 World’s Strongest Man. During the refrigerator race, in which competitors race with a refrigerator strapped to their backs, he stumbled and broke his leg. Doctors said he would never walk again.
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Not only did he make a full recovery, he came back in 1981 to win his second Mr. Olympia title.
Amongst some of his more unique skills, he became a Guinness Book of World Records titleholder in 1979 when he blew up a hot water bottle until it burst using just his mouth.