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The first comprehensive history of bodybuilding in North America, Esprit de Corps reveals how bodybuilding emerged from weightlifting as a popular sport. Inspired by 19th century strongmen Eugene Sandow and Louis Cyr, the muscles-by-mail icon Charles Atlas, as well as the musclemen movies of Steve Reeves in the mid 20th century, bodybuilding soon eclipsed weightlifting in popularity. Montreal brothers Ben and Joe Weider’s leadership was central to this evolution. From his parent’s modest Montreal home in 1940, teenage weightlifter Joe Weider launched his publishing and business empire, staging physique contests, and eventually founding the world’s premier bodybuilding organization, the International Federation of Bodybuilders (1947). While Ben ran Canadian operations, fending off competitor Adrien Gagnon’s nationalist and racist attacks, Joe expanded the business into the United States encountering rival Bob Hoffman’s angry opposition, anti-Semitism, even allegations that Joe promoted homosexuality. A bitter feud resulted. Joe’s protégé, Arnold Schwarzenegger, revitalized the sport in the 70s and beyond, making it respectable and acceptable. In 1998, The International Olympic Committee recognized the sport officially. The use of performance enhancing drugs and a continuing debate over the ideal body type challenge bodybuilders today.
Bodybuilding, North America, Sport history, Weider
Woycke, James, "Esprit de Corps: A History of North American Bodybuilding" (2016). History eBook Collection. 2.