I've admired Franco Columbu since I first saw him in the 1977 World's Strongest Man competition.
At 5'5", he is quite possibly the strongest bodybuilder ever. He most certainly is the strongest guy ever under five and a half feet.
Franco started his athletic career as a skinny boxer; he routinely knocked out his opponents. After losing the boxing bug, he moved on to weightlifting and powerlifting, where he set some pretty high standards. In fact, he held world records for considerable lengths of time.
One of the most fascinating exhibits of raw power is seeing Franco do his strongman stunts. He routinely deadlifts 700 pounds for reps, blow up a rubber hot water bottle, and lifts a car while somebody changes a tire.
In that 1975 WSM, Franco was nearly crippled when he was competing in an event where the competitors had to run a distance with a refrigerator on their backs! Franco stepped on a pebble (I think) and his leg bent in a way it never should have.
After extensive surgery and physical therapy, he went on to win the 1981 Mr Olympia (he had already won once in 1976, serving, at that time, as only the 4th bodybuilder to ever hold the title).
Prior to 1981, Franco studied to become a Doctor of Chiropractic and succeeded just before his Mr O victory.
It is reported that Franco ultimately bench pressed over 500 pounds.
He has starred in many movies and he's written several books. I just finished reading Coming On Strong, kind of like Franco's version of the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, Education of a Bodybuilder.
Franco Columbu was truly a unique character back in the early days of what I consider to be the beginning of the modern era of bodybuilding.
Return to the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame from Franco Columbu