Joe Weider

Arnold Schwarzenegger's mentor, the bodybuilding supremo Joe Weider has died aged 93.

Weider, founder of an international empire of muscle pumping dietary supplements, magazines and competitions, brought Schwarzenegger from Austria to the US in 1969.

He coached him to five straight Mr Olympia titles between 1970 and 1975, and a further victory in 1980.

Weider died in Los Angeles on Saturday 23 March, of heart failure, his publicist Charlotte Parker announced.

Schwarzenegger also had Weider to thank for his first break in the movie business.

 "He advised me on my training, on my business ventures, and once, bizarrely, claimed I was a German Shakespearean actor to get me my first acting role in Hercules in New York, even though I barely spoke English," said the former governor of California in a statement.

"He was the godfather of fitness who told all of us to be somebody with a body. He taught us that through hard work and training we could all be champions.

"As I read his articles in Austria, I felt that he was speaking directly to me and I committed to move to America to make my vision of becoming the best bodybuilder, to live the American dream, and to become an actor a reality.

"Joe didn't just inspire my earliest dreams; he made them come true the day he invited me to move to America to pursue my bodybuilding career.

"I will never forget his generosity. One of Joe's greatest qualities is that he wasn't just generous with his money; he freely gave of his time and expertise and became a father figure for me."

Born in a poor neighbourhood of Montreal, Canada, Weider said that he developed his physique in order to defend himself against the local toughs during the Depression after picking up a bodybuilding magazine and making his own weights from bits of metal he found in a scrap yard.

He won his first bodybuilding contest at 17, and went on to found magazines including Flex, Men's Fitness and Muscle and Fitness, whose pages featured Hollywood stars including Sylvester Stallone and Cher and were filled with adverts for his muscle boosting supplements, which were sold in stores around the world.

Weider founded the International Federation of Body Builders, and bodybuilding competitions including Mr Olympia, Ms Olympia and Mr Universe.

"He was there for me constantly throughout my life, and I will miss him dearly," Schwarzenegger said.