The World's Strongest Man : The Story of Arnold Schwarzenegger
FHM Magazine South Africa|April 2021
The World’s Strongest Man : The Story of Arnold Schwarzenegger

One of the biggest actors in the world, quite literally, is a household name around the world. The Austrian behemoth went on to dominate not only the world of bodybuilding but became one of the most recognizable actors in history and even went on to become a big-time American politician. Yet the man that gave us so many famous movie quotes did not always have it easy and things could’ve been very different if he didn’t make some life-changing decision at a very young age.

Hasta la vista, baby!

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947, the second son of Gustav and Aurelia Schwarzenegger in an isolated village near Graz, Austria. The country was still reeling from the aftermath of World War II and many families were without food or work. Schwarzenegger's father, Gustav, was the local police chief, and the family lived above the police station where Gustav worked. The Schwarzenegger home was a humble one. In fact, they did not have indoor plumbing until Arnold was a teenager. Before joining the police force, Gustav Schwarzenegger was a military officer, and he ran his household in a strict military fashion. Both Arnold and Meinhard were required to get up before sunrise to tend to their chores. After chores came a rigorous exercise routine, followed by breakfast. His father, however, was struggling with alcohol and would often take it out on his boys. Gustav is reported to have beaten and intimidated Arnold and, when he could, pitted his two boys against one another. He also ridiculed Schwarzenegger's early dreams of becoming a bodybuilder. It was a very uptight feeling at home, Schwarzenegger later recalled. So uptight and uncomfortable, in fact, that Schwarzenegger would later refuse to attend the funeral of his father, who died in 1972, or his brother, who was killed in a car crash in 1971. In an interview with Fortune in 2004, Schwarzenegger told how he suffered what would now be called child abuse at the hands of his father: My hair was pulled. I was hit with belts. So was the kid next door. It was just the way it was. Many of the children I've seen were broken by their parents, which was the German-Austrian mentality. They didn't want to create an individual. It was all about conforming. I was one who did not conform, and whose will could not be broken. Therefore, I became a rebel. Every time I got hit, and every time someone said, 'You can't do this,' I said, 'This is not going to be for much longer because I'm going to move out of here. I want to be rich. I want to be somebody”.

However Gustav did instill a love of sport in his two boys, with Meinhard, who died when he was twenty three years old in a car accident, was a boxing champion and Arnold showed promise as a soccer player. It was while performing exercises to strengthen his legs for soccer that Schwarzenegger turned to the sport that would eventually make him famous, bodybuilding. Schwarzenegger pursued weightlifting and bodybuilding with a passion. He trained for hours a day, both at a local gym and at home where he set up a training area in a room that had no heat. He also studied anatomy and nutrition to understand how to become physically fit. His parents worried that he was obsessed with training, but Schwarzenegger had his eyes on a goal to leave his little village behind and become a success in America.

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