Competition is one thing that drives everyone. Even if someone has a mild idea of what bodybuilding is, it’s obvious the competition factor is at an all time high. The drive, determination, and motivation to be better than the person going for the same prize has been known ever since the Golden Era. Two people who have been known for their rivalry are Arnold “The Oak” Schwarzenegger and Lou “Hulk” Ferrigno. What started out as a competition escalated into an intense rivalry.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, referred to many as the worlds greatest bodybuilder, hailed from Austria as as a fit teen thanks to his father and brother. The competition aspect between Arnold and his brother kept the fire lit. The want, rather need, to be first, regardless the competition gave Arnold the mindset of striving to be the best. As everyone can see, this worked out brilliantly.
Schwarzenegger migrated to America in his early twenties with bodybuilding as his gateway. When he arrived, he met up with Joe Weider who trained with him. His training intensity and determination to become the world’s greatest bodybuilder paid off in 1970 when he won Mr. Olympia at the age of 23. This gives him the record of the youngest Mr. Olympia winner in history.
Hailing from New York, Lou Ferrigno was a metal worker with an insane passion for picking up iron. He began competing in 1969 while attaining IFBB Mr. America and IFBB Mr. Universe in the same year. As he picked up his pro cards, his thirst for first place sky rocketed. There was one person standing in his way.
While Arnold defended his title as Mr. Olympia, numerous people tried to strip it from him. None came close except his close friends Franco Columbo and Lou. Franco Columbo was a very close friend of Arnold who trained with him. Never any hard feelings when one another won a contest they both competed in.
As Arnold claimed his fourth Olympia title, Ferrigno’s thirst grew. Claiming second in the same contest, Ferrigno was determined to beat him. The next year (74-75) was the year everyone refers to as the Classic Rivalry.
Their competitive nature was captured in the 1975 documentary Pumping Iron. Here people can see the differences in approach to the competition, both physically and mentally. Arnold has a more laid back approach with an optimistic attitude and positive environment. Lou was more stressed out, listening to his family and friends tell him to train harder with a crude atmosphere.
The rivalry is still up for debate as far as realness. Many say it was just for the film whereas others say it was on the spot reality. No one will ever forget the two men going head to head to achieve the perfect body. Unfortunately for Lou, he took third with Arnold in first and Columbo as runner up. While the dedication from Lou was fantastic, Arnold still prevailed. In fact, there was a scene of Lou admitting defeat backstage prior to the competition to Arnold.
Regardless the outcome, the men distributed an amazing act of what the sport boils down to: Intensity, strict diet, and absolute dedication. The two remain champions to millions around the world and will always remain as the classic rivals.