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Bodybuilding legend Franco Columbu who was friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger dies aged 78

Bodybuilding legend Franco Columbu who inspired Arnold Schwarzenegger dies aged 78 after getting into trouble while swimming in the ocean in Italy

  • Columbu passed away on Friday in an accident at sea in his native Sardinia, Italy
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger penned a heartfelt tribute to ‘best friend’ in blog today
  • Said his life was ‘more fun, colourful and complete’ because of the father-of-one 
  • Columbu two-time Mr Olympia who starred in Pumping Iron with Arnold in 1977

A former Mr Olympia and one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s closest friends has died at the age of 78.

Franco Columbu passed away on Friday in an accident at sea in his native Sardinia, according to reports in Italy. 

Schwarzenegger penned a heartfelt tribute to ‘best friend’ Columbu, saying his life was ‘more fun, colourful and complete’ because of him.

Former Mr Olympia and one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s closest friends, Franco Columbu (pictured together), has died at the age of 78

Columbu (in his Mr Olympia days) passed away on Friday in an incident at sea in his native Sardinia, according to reports in Italy

Columbu (in his Mr Olympia days) passed away on Friday in an incident at sea in his native Sardinia, according to reports in Italy

Schwarzenegger penned a heartfelt tribute to 'best friend' Columbu, saying his life was 'more fun, colourful and complete' because of him

Schwarzenegger penned a heartfelt tribute to ‘best friend’ Columbu, saying his life was ‘more fun, colourful and complete’ because of him

Writing in Medium, the Hollywood star said: ‘I love you Franco. I will always remember the joy you brought to my life, the advices you gave me, and the twinkle in your eye that never disappeared. You were my best friend.’

The actor has said the reason he refuses the title of ‘self-made man’ is because of the debt of gratitude he owes to Colombu.

Inspiring him in his training, the Italian athlete also supported and encouraged his Austrian friend when he first moved to the US.

Schwarzenegger added: ‘I am devastated today. But I am also so, so grateful for the 54 years of friendship and joy we shared.

The Hollywood star said: 'I love you Franco. I will always remember the joy you brought to my life... and the twinkle in your eye that never disappeared. You were my best friend'

The Hollywood star said: ‘I love you Franco. I will always remember the joy you brought to my life… and the twinkle in your eye that never disappeared. You were my best friend’

The pair met in Munich 54 years ago and instantly struck up a friendship, going on to become training partners

The pair met in Munich 54 years ago and instantly struck up a friendship, going on to become training partners

‘We grew and we learned and we loved. My life was more fun, more colorful, and more complete because of you.’  

The pair met in Munich 54 years ago and instantly struck up a friendship, going on to become training partners and starring together in the hit 1977 documentary Pumping Iron.

They competed at the Mr Olympia together in the 70s and early 80s. Colombu was known as Arnold’s squire, and the Austrian always claimed the Italian was the strongest man he ever knew.

Columbu is survived by his wife, Deborah, and their daughter, Maria.   

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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