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Best Of The Best: Inaugural Class Of The International Sports Hall Of Fame

This year’s Arnold Sports Festival began a new tradition: inducting the worthy into an unprecedented Hall of Fame.

For most of us, the dream of being a sports star died when we realized we were too short, too lazy or too injured to carry on competitively. But in those glory days of playground hail-Maries and driveway last second 3-pointers, envisioning your spot in the Hall of Fame was the epitome of childhood wishes.

To be in a Hall of Fame is to be immortalized. What could be better than being inducted in Canton, Ohio for your NFL greatness or flying into Springfield, Mass. to be a part of NBA history; what kid didn't want to be enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y?

There are some sports that don't have a Hall of Fame. Thanks to Dr. Robert Goldman and the Arnold Sports Festival, the International Sports Hall of Fame is the newest annual tradition that will be a part of the festivities in Columbus, Ohio.

Its mission is simple: recognize and appreciate the greatest athletes and contributors in the world of sports. From powerlifting to mixed martial arts, bodybuilding to strongman, and every other sport you can think of, this is the ultimate who's who.

The class of 2012 is the inaugural class of the International Sports Hall of Fame. These men and women personify everything that is great in the world of sport.

Randy Couture

Randy Couture is an American mixed martial artist, Greco-Roman wrestler and actor. Throughout his run in the UFC, Couture became a 3-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, 2-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, an Interim UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and the UFC 13 Heavyweight Tournament Winner.

Couture is the first fighter to win two UFC titles in different divisions (heavyweight and light heavyweight). He competed in a record 15 title fights and holds 5 title reigns, the most in the UFC. His last fight with Lyoto Machida marked his 24th fight in the UFC, the third most in UFC history.

One of the inaugural members of the UFC Hall of Fame, Couture is the only athlete in UFC history to win a championship after becoming a Hall of Fame member; and he's the oldest title holder ever in the UFC and MMA.

Cory Everson

As a competitor and spokesperson, Cory Everson was at one time the primary force in women's bodybuilding.

She got her start as a track and field athlete at the University of Wisconsin. Cory got her start as a bodybuilder with the encouragement of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her first contest was in 1980, but she didn't have a breakout year until 1984 when she won the IFBB Ms. Olympia crown, toppling reigning champion Carla Dunlap and 2-time champ Rachel McLish.

From then until she closed out her competitive career in 1989, Everson won six consecutive IFBB Ms. Olympia titles - never losing again on the Olympia stage. Cory was the sport's most popular female during her reign and she attracted tremendous media attention throughout the world.

After retirement from competition, Cory's overall athleticism and bubbling personality led to several television and movie roles.

Mark Henry

Mark Henry stands at 6'3" and weighs approximately 420 pounds. He is best known as the former World Heavyweight Champion in WWE, but he's also much, much more. He is a 2-time Olympian, the winner of national and world titles in powerlifting and weightlifting, the world record holder in powerlifting and a strength prodigy. Many experts in the field consider him to be the most naturally-gifted strongman in history.

Drug-free for his lifetime, Henry comes from a family of giant men. His Great Uncle Chudd stood 6-foot-7 and weighed approximately 500 pounds. Chudd never wore a pair of manufactured shoes. He was known as the strongest man in the woods of east Texas.

Mark Henry held all the American Junior records in his first year of competition. He went on to win four national championships and a gold medal in the Pan American Games.

By 1996, Henry had received international fame as the "Strongest Man in the World." In 2002, he won the very first Arnold Classic Strong Man competition.

Jack Lalanne

There's only one the "Godfather of Fitness," and that man was Jack Lalanne. During college, his goal was to become a medical doctor. But after he graduated, decided to go to Chiropractic College.

Although he graduated, he was more interested in helping people to take preventative measures for their health.

In 1936, Jack opened the first modern health studio in Oakland, Calif. He only paid $45 per month for rent. Jack often said "People thought I was a charlatan and a nut. Doctors said weightlifting would give people heart attacks; women would look like men and sports coaches predicted that athletes would get muscle bound and banned them from lifting weights." Since then, science has proven that Jack's philosophy - a healthy diet followed by systematic exercise - was correct.

Jack developed the first prototypes of modern exercise equipment. They include: the first leg extension machine, the Smith Machine, the first weight selectors, and the first cable pulley- machines.

He was often asked by the press why he did goofball stunts like swimming handcuffed and shackled, while towing 70 rowboats with 70 people in them on his 70th birthday. His answer: "To draw attention to my profession and prove to people that, regardless of your age, anything is possible and the old assumptions about being over the hill just aren't true."

Jack's his widow Elaine said during his acceptance speech that Jack always ended his interviews and lectures with: "anything in life is possible, and YOU can make it happen!"

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Since the fitness festival is named after him, you'd better believe that Arnold belongs in this club. He began competing in bodybuilding in 1962.

His 1980 comeback Olympia win, gave him a then-record total of 7 Olympia and 5 Mr. Universe championships.

Arnold is also famous for his many acting roles including "Conan" and "The Terminator." He was also politically active as the governor of California from 2003 to 2011.

Schwarzenegger remained a prominent presence in the sport of bodybuilding throughout his acting and political careers. He wrote several books and numerous articles on the sport. In 1976, after "retiring" from competition, he partnered with Jim Lorimer and worked on competitions including the Mr. Olympia in the 1980s.

In 1989, the duo promoted the Arnold Classic, which would eventually evolve into the Arnold Sports Festival. Today the ASF attracts an estimated 200,000 people from around the world to participate and attend one of the biggest multi-sport events on the calendar.

Jim Lorimer

A surprise to everyone in the room, including the man himself, Arnold's longtime business partner, Jim Lorimer, was also enshrined in the inaugural class of the Hall.

Lorimer promoted weightlifting competitions since the 1960s. He began promoting the Mr. World Championship in 1970; this contest attracted Arnold, who would win the show, upsetting reigning Mr. Olympia, Sergio Oliva.

Arnold used the momentum to win the Olympia for the first time a few weeks later. After the Mr. World, Arnold told Lorimer it was the best contest he ever attended, and he was interested in partnering when he retired. The Lorimer/Schwarzenegger partnership continues to this day, making the ASF better each year.

The Arnold Sports Festival will host the International Sports Hall of Fame annually in Columbus, Ohio, where Lorimer lives.

For more information about the International Sports Hall of Fame as well as the inductees, go to:

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