When Italian bodybuilder and actor Franco Columbu died at hospital in his native Sardinia from the consequences of an accident at sea, his best friend of many years, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, was left utterly heartbroken.
Columbu started his athletic career as a boxer, but then turned to Olympic Weightlifting, powerlifting and later bodybuilding. He was named Mr. Olympia twice, in 1976 and 1981. He and Schwarzenegger first met in Munich in 1965 and competed against each other during several occasions. Despite that, they became best friends and remained close until the very end.
The two appeared together in a number of movies, including The Terminator, The Running Man and Conan the Barbarian.
Following Columbu’s passing, the actor and former governor of California posted a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, writing that his life was “more fun, more colourful, and more complete” thanks to Columbu.
“From the minute we met in Munich, you were my partner in crime,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “We pushed each other, we competed with each other, and we laughed at every moment along the way.”
The two friends were encouraged to come to America by bodybuilding guru Joe Weider in 1969and from the moment they stepped foot on U.S soil, they were considered one of the strongest men ever.
“I knew I wouldn’t be the same without my best friend, so I asked Joe Weider to bring you to training with me,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “I could live without money or my parents, but not without you.”
Their friendship was truly one of a kind. Columbu was Schwarzenegger’s best man when he tied the knot with Maria Shriver in 1986.
“We did everything together, including the pumps, chess matches, construction work, lunches, practical jokes, and life lessons,” Schwarzenegger added. “We grew together by learning and loving.”
With Columbu’s passing, the world of bodybuilding and weightlifting lost a legend. May he rest in peace.