Leading Figures From Bodybuilding And Fitness Remember Joe Weider

Together, we will carry forward the banners of health, fitness and bodybuilding. Joe is gone, but we can further his legacy. His life work lives within us all.

Joe Weider died March 23, 2013, from heart failure, but his legacy is immortal. In his near century of life on Earth, Joe did so much to shape the modern world. From his magazines and mailers, his contests and the galactic creation of the supplement industry, Joe left an entrepreneurial impression on millions of people.

For some, he was a father figure, or a godfather at the trunk of a massive family tree. To others, he was an intuitive business partner, a mentor, a fierce competitor, a dedicated friend and an inspiration. We gathered responses from some legends of the ironworks, to show you just how valuable Weider was to the promotion and perpetuation of health, fitness and, of course, bodybuilding.

Anibal Lopez ///
Pro bodybuilding legend

There is no doubting the influence Joe has had on many men and women wanting to become bodybuilders, including me. As a teenager I sent away for my first set of weights from an ad Joe had in his magazine. I thought that because I bought the set of weights from him that they had special powers that would help me with my bodybuilding goals. When I won the Mr. Brooklyn contest, Joe presented me the first place trophy—that alone was worth winning. Among many other achievements, Joe Weider will be long remembered for his contribution to bodybuilding and the Mr. Olympia contest.

Layne Norton, Ph.D. ///
Fitness expert, BioLayne LLC

I did not know Joe Weider on a personal level, only what I read in the magazines and heard from friends in the industry. I am a bit sad I never got the chance to meet him. Joe was a pioneer in every sense of the word. He helped develop an entire industry that simply did not exist before his influence. I have been fortunate enough to have success in the bodybuilding and fitness industry and I know for certain that myself and many people like me would not have the opportunities that are available to us today had it not been for the work of Joe and Ben Weider. From the bottom of my heart, thank you much Joe. You are a legend and will be missed.

Larry Pepe ///
Bodybuilding radio host and writer

What can you say about the Father of Bodybuilding? Joe serves as an amazing example of a man who followed his passion to pursue something well beyond financial and material success. He is among those scant few who can lay claim to creating an entire industry and placing a worldwide emphasis on and creating an awareness of weight training, nutrition, health and fitness. The number of lives that Joe directly and indirectly impacted could never even begin to be counted. He will live on in eternity as others carry his message forward. Joe has left an iconic, amazing legacy and he and his influence on the industry will be missed sorely and often.

Ronnie Rockel ///
IFBB pro bodybuilder

It is with regret that I have heard of the death of Joe Weider. He laid the foundation for so much of what has become our sport. He could look back on a great and fulfilling life. My best wishes and thoughts are with his loved ones and family.

Dan Solomon ///
Bodybuilding radio announcer

At his core, Joe was a teacher. He taught us to have the courage to dream big. He taught us that bodybuilding is both an art form and a sport. He taught us his Weider principles. I was honored to call Joe a friend, and it's a relationship that has forever changed the course of my life.

I'll miss seeing Joe. I'll miss his gentle handshakes and his honesty. But most of all, I'll miss his passion. Joe Weider changed the world, and it all started with a dream and a typewriter.

Tom Terwilliger ///
IFBB pro bodybuilding legend

What first turned me on to bodybuilding back in the late '70s was Muscle Builder magazine (today's Muscle and Fitness). On the cover was an iconic black and white (Artie Zeller) photo of the Austrian Oak Arnold Schwarzenegger grinding out the final reps of a set of a grueling barbell curls. That magazine cover inspired in me toward a radical transformation from a troubled teen to a champion bodybuilder. That picture would likely never have been taken and that cover never published had it not been for Joe.

He once told me that it was his lifelong mission to inspire young athletes and he certainly made good on that mission. When I had an opportunity to visit Venice Beach for a Muscle & Fitness photo shoot, after winning the Nationals, Joe was in the gym with me the entire day teaching, learning and directing. He was as hand-on a mentor as I have ever met. He loved being in the gym, being around the athletes and being part of the energy. I wonder if he knew just how much of an influence he was on that energy.

He was later quoted as saying "Now, I'm a businessman, and I can see the change taking place in me, and I hate that, because I love being in the gym, working out with the guys. That's my first love."

Dennis Wolf ///
IFBB pro bodybuilder

I had the great opportunity to meet Mr. Weider a few times in my career. I remember him teaching me and showing me how to pose and how to correctly hit the front double biceps pose. He was the man who made bodybuilding and fitness industry what it is today. He recognized Arnold's talent and helped make him the most famous bodybuilder on earth. I remember, as if it was yesterday, when we met and he said to me, "You look like a champion!" I'm proud I had the chance to meet the father of our great sport.

Dorian Yates ///
Six-time Mr. Olympia

Joe Weider had more influence on the development of bodybuilding as a sport and lifestyle than any other single person. I personally owe Joe a tremendous debt for creating the opportunity for to pursue my dream of becoming a pro bodybuilder. He created the ultimate contest, Mr. Olympia. What impressed me most about Joe was that despite his great success and wealth he was always available and he maintained an almost childlike love and enthusiasm for the sport.

I remember our lunches and meetings in Woodland Hills, California, the former home of Weider Publications, where he would talk endlessly about the sport we both loved. He could tire me out even though he was twice my age. Thank you for everything, Joe Weider.

Ronnie Coleman ///
Eight-time Mr. Olympia

Joe Weider had the greatest influence on my bodybuilding career—more than anyone else. First, the Weider Principles are what I used to train by when I first started working out. Then, when I met Joe, he personally taught me a lot about dieting and working out. I spent many days at his house, and we would go out for lunch every time I came to L.A. Joe would personally drive me to these lunches in his car.

Even while he was eating lunch with me, he was still giving me advice on how to better digest food by eating slowly. I was a fast eater, especially when I was hungry. He also gave me the longest contract ever when he signed me to a six-year deal after I won my first Mr. Olympia. Not only that, but he signed my girlfriend Vickie Gates to a three-year contract—of course it helped that she had placed third in the Ms. Olympia.

Joe gave me advice on every aspect of bodybuilding every time we were together. That's what I'll always miss about Joe: the long talks we had about bodybuilding over lunch and dinner. He was one of the most receptive people I ever met. Whenever I brought someone over his house to meet him, he was always the nicest guy in the world and always offered these guys advice on bodybuilding, too.

Boyer Coe ///
IFBB pro bodybuilding legend

My association and friendship with Joe spanned several decades. Over the years, we had many business dealings, but we never had any formal agreement or contract. Everything was done on a handshake. I always lived up to the agreement, and so did Joe.

I will always be extremely grateful for the opportunity that Joe gave me, and which he gave everyone. It was up to me to make the most of it. He encouraged me to pursue my lifelong passion of bodybuilding. Were it not for Joe Weider and his great love for bodybuilding, no one would have ever heard of any of us.

Clarence Bass ///
Author of the Ripped book series

Like Arnold and many others, my big break came from Joe Weider. He offered me the opportunity to write the "Ripped" column in Muscle & Fitness, giving me a pipeline to the world over the next 16 years. I will be forever grateful. There will never be another like him. May he rest in peace.

Lionel Beyeke ///
IFBB pro bodybuilder

When I heard that Joe Weider had died, I knew I had lost someone who was close to me. Bodybuilding is like a big family, and Joe was like a second dad for us. I'm involved in bodybuilding because I love it, but I never thought that one could make a living pursuing this sport. But Joe Weider made that come true, and now this sport is international. You will never know how happy I am about that.

Joe, his brother Ben, and all of the people who helped them build this industry of bodybuilding accomplished a huge job. My dream was to salute him one day face to face, but I never had a chance to do this. Now that I have the opportunity, I would like to say to the great man: A big thank you Joe for making my dreams, and those of many others, come true.

Francis Benfatto ///
IFBB pro bodybuilding legend, former Weider athlete

Joe Weider will be remembered as the godfather of bodybuilding. He was unique, original and avant-garde. I was fortunate to have been part of the art and sport of bodybuilding during the 1980s and 90s. Joe and his brother Ben made these two decades the golden era of bodybuilding stardom.

At the 1990 Olympia, Joe, who was always backstage, did something unusual. He came to me after the results were announced and shoved the Sandow statue in my hands. Then he put the medals around my neck and asked Bob Gardner to take some pictures. He told me: "Francois (which he used to call me), come next year with this shape and condition, to win Mr. Olympia." I was in shock, but I soon learned that Joe did this when he wanted to inspire someone.

Joe was humble and respected his team of athletes. When I needed to see him, I didn't have to wait long before I could speak to him over the phone or in person at his office. He offered me the opportunity to turn pro after he first saw me during the 1987 IFBB World Championships. Later on, he made my dreams come true when he brought me over to Venice, California, in 1991.

Joe loved to assist during photo shoots. He would improve my posture and help me to better display my muscularity, but it was hard work. During this time with him, I learned a lot about posing and muscle contraction. He also gave advice to top photographers, and some didn't like his input—especially when Joe went behind the camera and took pictures. He simply wanted the best pictures, and he would do whatever and stay as long as necessary to get the job done. On one occasion, I remember that we spent an entire day on a complicated cover shoot.

Joe kept a Polaroid of me in his pocket that he used systematically before a photo shoot to improve lighting. This Polaroid represented the famous "David' pose that Joe asked me to take for his magazine. He also liked aesthetic bodybuilders and the artistic side of bodybuilding.

Being a Weider athlete in those days was an honor! Joe will be greatly missed.

Tony Catanzaro ///
Fitness celebrity and natural bodybuilding champion

I was so sorry to hear about Joe's passing on Saturday. He was the father of bodybuilding and made it known all over the world. Joe was a great guy and was loved by everyone in the sport for all the right reasons. He was also a committed, positive individual who captured the hearts of many. I remember my first Weider weight set; as a matter of fact, I still have it and I probably will have it forever. That just shows you the integrity of the Weider brand and Joe's commitment to the sport. We love you Joe. Thank you for all you have done for all of us. God bless you.

Wayne S. DeMilia ///
Pro bodybuilding contest promoter

The greatest tribute anyone from the bodybuilding world can give to Joe Weider is that he was the ultimate bodybuilding fan. He loved the sport; he lived it 24 hours a day. It was his life. There is now a void in the sport. There will never be another Joe Weider.

Master Blaster, rest in peace.

Mauro Di Pasquale ///
Former powerlifting champion; bodybuilding author

There's not much I can say about Joe that others won't say. He was a gentleman who freely gave his time and expertise, not only to friends and people he mentored, but to almost anyone involved in bodybuilding, sports, and nutrition.

He was a true mensh (good person), always gracious and happy to see me even at times when I called on him completely unannounced. I remember once back in the late 1980s when I dropped in on him just to say "hello." He was having a meeting with a number of Olympia bodybuilders, but he took a time-out to give me a warm welcome and a few minutes to visit.

After hearing about his death, I found myself thinking about how much he accomplished. His name and legacy will never be forgotten.

Berry de Mey ///
IFBB pro bodybuilding legend

"If a lost son comes back to his father, he welcomes him with open arms."

These are the most remarkable words Joe ever spoke to me during a more turbulent time of my life. Joe was a father to me. Now he has died. It hurts, but my memories of him are among the best of my life.

I was only 21 when I met Joe for the first time at his Woodland Hills office in 1983. There were so many questions I wanted to ask. He answered them all before I even expressed them. When I left, I thanked him. He replied, "You are going to be a champion." This one experience symbolizes what Joe has done for many athletes and for the sport of bodybuilding. To me, he was and always will be the Master Blaster. Thank you Joe, for what you have done for the sport and for what you have done for me.

George Farah ///
IFBB pro bodybuilder and contest prep guru

I learned about Mr. Weider the first time I picked up a muscle magazine. I was about 11 at the time, and his words of wisdom inspired me so much that I never stopped working toward my dream of becoming an IFBB professional bodybuilder.

Finally, in the year 2000, I got to meet the man behind it all. Shaking Mr. Weider's hand meant the world to me. I explained to Mr. Weider how much of an influence his words had on my career. I will never forget that smile and I am honored that I got the chance to meet with him on many other occasions. He will definitely be missed. Without him, the bodybuilding we know today would never have existed. May he rest in peace.

Thank you, Joe, for being the good man we all know, and for being a big part of making my dream come true. You will never be forgotten.

Robert Goldman M.D., DO, Ph.D. ///
World Chairman IFBB/NPC Medical Commissions

There was no one who lived, ate, and breathed bodybuilding 24/7 like Joe Weider. He was a caring man who wanted the best for all the athletes. He marched to his own drummer, but that is what made him odd and great at the same time. Years ago, he asked me to come in to tape 10 minutes for the Weider Education series. He got so excited about the scientific data I was sharing that he kept me there taping for over seven hours. Joe had this remarkable childlike wonder and fascination for art, information, and knowledge.

Michael George ///
Personal trainer to the stars

An icon, legend, entrepreneur, and inspiration to young men worldwide, Joe helped those who sought their path in life, and found it in the world of exercise. I am forever grateful to Joe for his passion and love of the human body as an art form. He single-handedly exposed and promoted bodybuilding as sport and way of life to the rest of the world.

Joe paved the way for every young bodybuilder while unknowingly launching the health and fitness field as a vocation and academic pursuit. Joe gave weight training and fitness new meaning and credibility. Due to Joe's legacy and tenacity, the field of personal training was born and has evolved into what it is today. We must give great thanks to a man who helped create generations of weight training enthusiasts, personal trainers, and athletes.

Thank you Joe! We wish you well in the world of spirits.

Rich Gaspari ///
IFBB pro bodybuilding legend

It is a sad moment in the bodybuilding and fitness world. We have lost a pioneer, icon, mentor, and friend in Joe Weider. I first became aware of Joe Weider when I read Muscle Builder at 12 years old and I knew that I wanted to be a bodybuilder. After fulfilling my dream of becoming a pro bodybuilder, Joe Weider had a great influence on my continued improvement. He talked to me frequently on the phone and flew me to California to do photos for his magazines. He also helped publicize me so I could make a living as a bodybuilder. He constantly made me aware that I had to work hard. He taught me that working hard in the gym could be used for success in other areas of my life.

Later on, when I started my supplement company Gaspari Nutrition, Joe was there as a friend to motivated me and gave me words of encouragement. I felt like Joe was a second father to me. I wanted to make him proud. He was a great example of how hard work and perseverance pays off. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

For more of Rich's insights on Joe Weider, visit his personal blog.

Michael Kefalianos ///
IFBB pro bodybuilder

Joe was an inspiration to all that follow bodybuilding. His passing brings an end to the era of "old school" bodybuilding. He will truly be missed.

Links to Obituaries

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/sports/joe-weider-founder-of-a-bodybuilding-empire-dies-at-93.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Los Angeles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/23/local/la-me-0324-joe-weider-20130324
Hollywood Life: http://hollywoodlife.com/2013/03/24/joe-weider-dies-arnold-schwarzenegger-more-react/
The Guardian (UK): http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/mar/25/joe-weider
Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2013/03/23/fitness-and-bodybuilding-icon-joe-weider-dies-at-3/
Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/23/entertainment-us-usa-weider-idUSBRE92M0ED20130323
USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/23/joe-weider-fitness-mentor-to-schwarzenegger-dies/2013665/
CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/23/health/california-weider-obit/?hpt=hp_t2