Famous Bodybuilder Franco Columbu
Franco Columbu (born August 7, 1941) is an Italian actor, former bodybuilder and World's Strongest Man competitor.
Columbu was born in Ollolai, Sardinia (Italy). Starting out his athletic career as a boxer, Columbu progressed into the sport of Olympic Weightlifting, powerlifting and later bodybuilding, winning the title of Mr. Olympia in 1976 and 1981. At 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) in height (some magazines reported as short as 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m)), Columbu is shorter than most of his bodybuilding competitors, but that did not prevent him from achieving widespread success.
Columbu competed in the 1977 World's Strongest Man competition and was actually in first place in total points during the competition; a remarkable outing, considering that Franco weighed much less than all his competitors. Then came the refrigerator race, which called for a downhill race in which a heavy, bulky, unwieldy refrigerator is strapped to the racer's back.
While actually ahead, Franco stumbled, and was shown on national television collapsing with a grotesquely dislocated leg. This ended his participation in the World's Strongest Man contest (in the end, he finished in fifth place). After a court settlement, he received a reported $1 million in compensation for his injury. It took six hours of surgery to remove all the muscle and fix his leg.
Doctors told him he would never walk again, but Columbu fully recovered in three years. After Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback victory in the 1980 Mr. Olympia, Franco followed suit and won the 1981 Mr. Olympia.
Columbu is a long time friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom he met in Munich in 1965 and against whom he competed in several international-level bodybuilding competitions. For the Mr. Olympia competitions however, he competed in the under 200 lb (90.7 kg) category, whereas Schwarzenegger was in the over 200 lb category.
The final champion was determined by a pose down between the two class winners. The IFBB has since abandoned weight classes. Arnold and Franco were inseparable during the early to mid-1970s and frequently trained together. Columbu served as the best man at the wedding of Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver in 1986. Columbu and Schwarzenegger had been encouraged to come to America by bodybuilding guru Joe Weider in 1969; Weider sponsored them with an $80/week stipend and the two European bodybuilders began a bricklaying and patio business called European Brick Works in 1969, according to a report in The New York Times.
From the time he arrived in America in 1969, Franco Columbu was considered one of the world's strongest men. He held a number of powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting world records. He also performed a strongman act in which he routinely blew up a hot water bottle by inflating it orally, lifted vehicles on stage (while someone else was changing a tire) and deadlifted over 700 lbs for repetitions. He designed a comprehensive workout for men in 1988 to flatten the stomach, narrow the waist, and eliminate love handles. He is both a chiropractor and a weightlifter and his career parallels that of American weightlifting champion Karyn Marshall, who has used chiropractic therapy to train for competitions and who became a chiropractor herself.
In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Columbu has also made intermittent minor forays into acting. Appearing alongside Arnold in Pumping Iron, he has also appeared in cameo roles in Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, The Running Man and starred in his own films such as Beretta's Island. He has also done TV commercials, most notably, Vitalis ("the pump"). Other TV appearances include The Streets of San Francisco (1977) and Dead Lift with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero, the words "A Franco Columbu film" appear on the screen at the beginning of Jack Slater IV (a film within the film) as a tribute to Columbu. In the opening scenes of Conan the Barbarian, Columbu plays a 'pictish scout', complete with mustache, wig and blue body-paint. In The Terminator, Columbu plays the infiltrating Terminator in Reese's flashback/dream in which the picture of Sarah Connor is destroyed by fire. The Columbu Terminator also features as a boss character in the Terminator 3 video game.
Colombu is a qualified chiropractor and, in spite of being ordered in 2004 by the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners to stop claiming on his letterhead that he has a Ph.D. in nutrition, he still claims to hold the degree, even though the degree from Donsbach University is considered bogus.
In Feb. 2006 Columbu was appointed to the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in what was later described as a "coup". He currently sits on the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
Watch a Video Featuring Franco Columbu