Franco Columbo Dead at 78

2x Mr. Olympia Franco Columbo Dead at 78 – Former 2x Mr. Olympia, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best friend, has died from an apparent swimming accident.

The bodybuilding world was delt another major blow today. It has been reported that 2x Mr. Olympia champion, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best friend, Franco Columbo died from an apparent swimming incident while at the beach in the town of San Teodoro in Sardinia, Italy. The incident occurred around 2pm local time. Emergency services rushed Columbo to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Franco Columbo was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best friend. The two met in Munich, Germany, and quickly formed a bond that lasted for over 54 years. When Arnold first came to America, he was alone, and didn’t have any friends. Arnold then asked Joe Weider to bring Columbo to America as a training partner. Arnold said the following on an Instagram post.

“When I finally got to America, I was alone. I’d left my family, my country, my whole life behind. So when I asked Joe Weider to bring you to train with me, it was because I knew I wasn’t the same without my best friend. I could thrive without money, without my parents, but I couldn’t thrive without you.”

Arnold finished up the Instagram post with a heart felt message to his longtime friend.

“I love you Franco. I will always remember the joy you brought to my life, the advices you gave me, and the twinkly in your eye that never disappeared. You were my best friend.”

Franco wasn’t just a successful bodybuilder, he was also a successful strong man. There is a scene in Pumping Iron where Franco picks up a car and moves it out of the way. He even finished in fifth place at the Inaugural Worlds Strongest Man contest in 1977. The most amazing part of this story is that Franco was unable to finish the competition, and still finished in fifth place.

During the fridge carry event, Franco collapsed. He dislocated both his knee and ankle. On the way to the hospital, Franco had the following to say, “I know it’s not broken…I saw it was dislocated. The biggest problem is that it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not too much pain.” The dislocated leg didn’t stop Franco. He recovered, and went on to win the 1981 Mr. Olympia.

Outside of bodybuilding, Franco was a chiropractor. He earned his degree in 1977 from the Cleveland Chiropractic College. In 2006, he was appointed to the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Franco is survived by his wife Debbie, and his daughter Maria. Franco was the first PowerBuilder in history. The so called PowerBuilders of today can’t hold a light to Franco, or what he accomplished. He is one of the greatest bodybuilders of all-time, and will be greatly missed.

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