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  1. #1
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    GBN Bodybulder of the Week "Franco Columbo"

    GBN Bodybulder of the Week "Franco Columbo"

    From a small town in Italy, nicknamed The Sardinian Samson for his incredible strength and power. Franco Columbo came to America, trained with the best and competed in countless events for years, such as The World’s Strongest Man and Mr. Olympia.

    Known for his incredible muscle definition, the 5ft 5-inch powerhouse dominated the word of bodybuilding throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.


    Franco Columbo not only made a name for himself by competing and winning in Mr. Olympia, and many powerlifting championships, but he was also a boxer and strong man.

    He also starred in TV shows and movies and the famous documentary Pumping Iron, which is still a massive hit today among the bodybuilding community. It follows the training of Franco and some of the other greats such as Arnold in preparation for Mr. Olympia.


    1966: Mr. Europe, 4th
    1968: NABBA Mr. Universe (Most Muscular)
    1969: IFBB Mr. Europe (Medium)
    1969: NABBA Mr. Universe (Most Muscular)
    1969: NABBA Mr. Universe (Short)
    1969: IFBB Mr. Universe (Short)
    1970: IFBB Mr. Europe (Short & Overall)
    1970: AAU Mr. World (Pro Short)
    1970: IFBB Mr. World (Short)
    1970: IFBB Mr. Universe (Short & Overall)
    1971: IFBB Mr. Universe (Short & Overall)
    1971: IFBB Mr. World (Short & Overall)
    1974 Mr. Olympia (Lightweight)
    1975 Mr. Olympia (Lightweight)
    1976 Mr. Olympia (Lightweight & Overall)
    1981 Mr. Olympia

    Powerlifting titles

    Champion of Italy
    Champion of Germany
    Champion of Europe

    World’s Strongest Man competition

    1977: World strongest man, 5th place (after becoming injured)

    Powerlifting Best Lifts

    Bench press 525 Lbs / 238 kg
    Squat (exercise) 655 Lbs / 297 kg
    Deadlift 750 Lbs / 340.2 kg (in some training sessions he was reported to have lifted over 780 Lbs / 353.8 kg, all at a bodyweight of 185 Lbs / 83.9 kg)


    Amateur Boxing Champion of Italy

    From Powerlifting to Mr. Olympia

    GBN Bodybulder of the Week "Franco Columbo"

    Franco was born in Ollolai, Sardinia Italy. He first started his career as a boxer then later moved into powerlifting, and weightlifting, and later progressed into bodybuilding. He went on to win the Mr. Olympia title in 1974, 75 , 76, 77 and 1981.

    He was much shorter than most of his competitors at 5 ft 5 inches, but Franco’s determination and perfection made him a fierce competitor.

    Franco competed in the world’s first 1977 World’s Strongest Man competition. He came in 5th place overall, considering he was much smaller in stature than most of his competitors, this was an outstanding effort. But unfortunately, he suffered a serious leg injury in a race.

    The race involved a fridge being strapped to Franco’s back with a sprint to the finish line. Franco stumbled and dislocated his leg. This was the last time he competed in the World’s Strongest Man event. The next time Franco competed was in the 1981 Mr. Olympia where he took 1st place.

    Landscaping with Schwarzenegger

    Being a lifelong friend of Schwarzenegger, who he first met in Munich in 1965 where the two competed against each other on several occasions, they soon became the best of friends.

    In 1969 Joe Weider sponsored the two European bodybuilders and gave them a $80 allowance per week to train in America. To pay their way and continue living in America, the two started a bricklaying and patio business called European Brick Works in 1969.

    Being considered one of the world’s strongest men, he continued to compete in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting and held a number of world records. Franco also created a training guide in 1988 for men wanting to get in shape. He also trained movie stars such as Sylvester Stallon for the Rambo and Rocky movies, where he turned a thin Stallone into a muscle-bound soldier. He then went on to become a chiropractor.

    He’s trained movie stars such as Sylvester Stallon for the Rambo and Rocky movies, where he turned a thin Stallone into a muscle-bound soldier. He then went on to become a chiropractor.

    GBN Bodybulder of the Week "Franco Columbo"

    Training Night and Day

    In the early days of training, there was a lot of push and drive from other competitors to support each other through rigorous workouts. At times, Franco remembers training for up to two hours in the morning and then again for another two hours at night.

    This was due to the fact he was 10 weeks out from Mr. Olympia and he wanted more definition. He pushed through the workouts and admitted that he did see the results that he wanted, but he couldn’t move afterward.

    Franco says it’s easy to get big, he says that there are plenty of guys who are massive and have amazing physiques, but not that many that have the right proportions. For Franco, this came years down the line with a lot of development in other areas first before moving on to create a full rounded physique.

    Boxing Career

    Franco first got a taste for training when he started boxing at an early age. He did well as a boxer but found it very difficult to continue with the excessive aches and pains from previous fights.

    In one fight he won by knockout in the first round, but the next day he realized he had injuries over his body and couldn’t remember what happened. For him, this was the deciding moment to start weight training seriously.

    An Art Form

    In today’s world of competing, Franco is a big fan of trying to bring back the smaller waist and prevent people competing with over enhanced waistlines. He believes that bodybuilding is a sport, and also an art form.

    The way people compete now with loud music and performers who demand the audience’s attention is not the way Franco likes it. He prefers to earn the respect of the crown, believing that if you’ve done the hard work you will be applauded.

    Training The Stars

    Franco designed many programs over the years, one of being for Sylvester Stallone. “Sly” as he’s known in Hollywood needed to pack on an extra 10lbs of lean muscle in time for the shooting of Rambo First Blood II.

    The only problem was that he only had 6 weeks to do it. Sly approached Franco in the hope that he could help him get to where he needed to be and fast.

    Franco rose to the challenge and put Sly to work, and hard. He would train him twice per day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Looking back at Rambo I and II you can see a huge difference in his shape and size. You can follow Franco’s program and him talking about the training method he used to bulk Sly up online.

    Idols and Influences

    Seeing that Franco’s best buddy and training partner was Arnold, it’s safe to say that Mr. Schwarzenegger was probably his main influence inside, and on occasion, outside of the gym.

    Being the best man at Arnold’s wedding and supporting him through every training session, the two would rarely be seen apart. Franco describes Arnold as the best training partner he ever had.

    Franco doesn’t spend as much time in the gym as he used to, instead he’ll go for shorter workouts lasting around 20 minutes three times per week. He also likes to play tennis with Arnold on the weekends, cycling and hiking are all on his list of activities.

    What we can learn from Franco Columbo

    Franco had a passion for all things fitness related, especially anything involving lifting weights and testing his strength. From boxing to strongman competitions and all the way to Mr. Olympia, Franco’s done it all. If you inspire to be big and strong like Franco or have the desire to progress to greatness, don’t let anything stop you.

    It didn’t stop Franco, even months after a serious leg injury, he was back up on his feet training for the Olympia where he took 1st place. With the same determination and true grit as franco, you too can have your very own physique of greatness.

    GBN Bodybulder of the Week "Franco Columbo"

  2. #2
    MuscleMecca God
    KaiGold's Avatar
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    Apr 2014

    Re: GBN Bodybulder of the Week "Franco Columbo"

    Did you just copy this from the Franco Columbu bio here?

    The musclemecca bodybuilding news guy

  3. #3
    Mecca Maniac Folk Artist's Avatar
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    May 2018

    Re: GBN Bodybulder of the Week "Franco Columbo"

    I like Franco from the old school days of bodybuilding and remember him in the late 70s in a magazine called Muscle Builder & Power. I had my weights down in the basement and a copy of this magazine, and remember a lot of good workout tips he would give you in this magazine. I really grew up with these bodybuilders of the 70s and they look so natural and healthy and not so freakish.



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