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    Jul 2013

    Franco Columbu, bodybuilder and Schwarzenegger friend, dies | International - The Sun Chronicle

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    ROME (AP) — Italian bodybuilder, boxer and actor Franco Columbu, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s closest friends, has died in his native Sardinia. He was 78.

    Columbu died at John Paul II hospital in the city of Olbia after he became ill while swimming in the sea, the hospital said. He lived in Los Angeles for years but was vacationing in Sardinia.

    Schwarzenegger, a bodybuilder before he turned to acting, posted a warm farewell on Twitter about the man he called “my best friend.” He often referred to Columbu as the strongest man he ever knew,

    The two men built an enduring friendship after meeting in Germany 54 years ago.

    “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,” the move star and former California governor wrote.

    Franco Columbu, Bodybuilder and Schwarzenegger Friend, Dies at 78
    Mr. Columbu held titles like Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia, and helped bodybuilding broaden its audience by appearing in action films and “Pumping Iron.”

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    Former bodybuilding superstar Franco Columbu’s death was a tragedy and came as a major surprise considering he led a healthy lifestyle, said long-time friend Ric Drasin.

    Speaking on his YouTube Channel podcast Ric’s Corner, the former professional bodybuilder, stuntman, author and ex-professional wrestler said he was still coming to terms with the death of his friend, who reportedly drowned in the ocean off the coast of Sardinia, Italy, last week.

    Like many in the bodybuilding fraternity, Drasin built a long-term friendship with the two-time Mr Olympia and was shocked like millions more were when he first heard the bad news.

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