From Sardinia to Southern California there is a long way to go, and who knows about it, not Franco Columbu, whose first steps in bodybuilding began on the Italian island of Sardinia, where life has not changed for several centuries, and people live as they did many years ago. Today Columbu is known as the boxing champion, the bodybuilding star, writer, entrepreneur, chiropractic doctor, and actor and producer, all of which was laid on him despite the harsh Catholic upbringing and quiet life in Ollolai (a small modest district in Sardinia).
Franco Columbu was born on August 7, 1941 in a loving, but strict family, from a diaper that taught the boy to discipline and the idea of constant self-improvement. From his childhood, the boy began to master the profession of a farmer and a shepherd, with patience and perseverance. Perhaps, it was these qualities that helped him, when he started to get involved in boxing. Soon he won the title of champion in amateur competitions and switched to weight lifting, and later – bodybuilding.
Among the many titles won by Columbu – “Mr. Italy”, “Mr. Europe”, “Mr. International”, “Mr. Mira”, “Mr. Universe” and “Mr. Olympia.” That’s such a modest farmer’s son from the south coast … The successes in lifting heavy weights, where Franco managed to set a few records – a bench press 525 pounds (238.14 kg), squat 655 pounds (297.10 kg), deadlift 750 pounds (340.19 kg).
Many bodybuilding experts doubted the ability of Franco Colombo to achieve success – for a bodybuilder, this athlete has a fairly low growth (165 cm). However, a two-time victory at the competitions “Mr. Olympia” (in 1976 and 1981) made believe in the forces of Columbu, even the most inveterate cynics.
In 1977, Columbu participated in the competitions “The Strongest Man In The World” and, in fact, won them. However, leading in one of the stages of the competition, the athlete seriously injured his leg and was forced to leave the competition. As a result, Columbu took only 5th place, but, as compensation for injury, received 1 million dollars.
Even before the announcement of the results, he was taken to the hospital. The operation lasted 6 hours, and the doctor said that Columbu will never be able to walk again. However, after three years, Franco recovered so much that, after repeating Schwarzenegger‘s triumphant return in 1980, took first place at the “Mr. Olympia” 1981.
By the way, Franco Columbu and Arnold Schwarzenegger are best friends. They met in 1966 in Munich at the competitions in bodybuilding. However, at competitions “Mr. Olympia” they had to disperse – the athletes performed in different weight classes. And, nevertheless, for many years the athletes were inseparable and always trained together.
After moving to the US (in 1969), Franco Columbu was declared the strongest man in the world.
In addition to bodybuilding and athletics, Columbu managed to prove himself on television. Among the films with his participation – “Pumping Iron”, “Stay Hungry”, “Conan the Barbarian” and “Terminator”. A lot of enthusiasm also sparked “Beretta’s Island”, “Doublecross” and “Ancient Warriors”. In addition, Columbu is the producer and director of the documentary “Sardinia, The Greatest Isle of the Sea”, dedicated to his homeland.