Joe and Ben Weider, the founders of Mr. Olympia and IFBB will forever live in the history of the Sport of Bodybuilding and fitness. They are immortal and the legacy of the Weider brothers will last till eternity.
Dorian Yates, the six time Mr. Olympia, once said: Without Ben and Joe, bodybuilding would probably still be in a little sports hall somewhere.Ó Most professional bodybuilders and fitness athletes will tend to agree. Before Joe and Ben Weider started dedicating their lives to the sport of bodybuilding, in the 40’s, weightlifting and bodybuilding meets were held together, and the distinction between the two was often unclear.
In 1946, Bob Hofman was the General Director of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the governing body that sanctioned strongman, weightlifting, and bodybuilding shows, meets and competitions in North America. Being Canadian, Joe and Ben Weider decided to hold a Mr. Montreal contest, requesting the AAU the necessary permits and authorization. It would be the first AAU Mr. Montreal in history, paving the way to promote fitness and bodybuilding in Canada.
The siblings invested a significant amount of time, effort and money into the show. While the few typical bodybuilding meets of the time were held at community halls and school gyms, the Weiders pulled out all the stops and rented the most famous and illustrious theatre in Quebec, printed thousands of fliers and hired musicians and other entertainers.
The stage was set for a bodybuilding show the likes the world had never seen, giving the sport a higher status and popular recognition.
Much to Joe’s and Ben’s surprise and dismay, at the last minute, the AAU pulled the rug from under their feet and revoked the licence they had issued before. This meant the athletes in the Mr. Montreal contest would no longer be recognized by the Union.
THE DAY THAT CHANGED BODYBUILDING FOREVER, THE BIRTH OF THE IFBB
The AAU’s decision would later prove to be the worst they have ever had. Pressed for time, and with a group of anxious athletes waiting to hit the stage, Joe and Ben made one of those once-in-a-lifetime decisions that change the world: they would drop the AAU, founding their own bodybuilding organization.
Joe took the stage, walked up to the microphone and enthusiastically announced: “As of this moment, we have our own governing body. We’re calling it the International Federation of Bodybuilders, and it’s going to make bodybuilding bigger and better than ever!”
Joe’s enthusiasm was felt both by athletes and by the public. The show went on, nobody seemed to be off-put the unilateral decision of the AAU, and it actually tuned out to be a huge success.
And so the IFBB was born.
Joe, who had started publishing his ÒYour PhysiqueÓ magazine a few years before, in 1940, was now a bodybuilding and fitness insider, having wide access to information, athletes and organizations within the industry. His publications started focusing on bodybuilding as a sports activity on its own merits, distancing itself from weightlifting, and enabling the two sports to progress and evolve into the world popular activities they are today.
When the two siblings created the IFBB, the stage was set attack on all fronts: from one side, through the publications, bodybuilding was being promoted as a lifestyle. From the other side, with the Federation, bodybuilding gained the credibility that only a legally recognized organization could bestow.
The result of this work was the rise of an activity whose popularity quickly soared, promoting a lifestyle that included weight training as a fundamental element in the common man and woman’s daily activities. Weider’s magazines ultimately helped shape the concepts we now have of a beautiful, strong and healthy physique.