Although he was 85 years old, the passing of Ben Weider comes as a shock to the bodybuilding world. He died at a Montreal hospital of an undisclosed illness. Just a few short weeks ago, Weider was standing on the Mr. Olympia stage crowning Dexter Jackson in Las Vegas.
A legend for helping to turn bodybuilding into a worldwide fitness phenomenon, Ben Weider died overnight in a Montreal hospital, it was announced Saturday.
He was 85.
Weider and his older brother Joe founded the International Federation of Body Building in 1940, and spent six decades promoting the sport once “reviled” as a “fringe activity,” according to a statement by Weider Health and Fitness.
“Beginning in 1947, Ben traveled the world, promoting his sport, organizing exhibitions and competitive events,” it said.
“At the height of Cold War tensions, he courted sports officials of militantly anti-Western regimes in the then-Soviet Union and Communist China,” it added.
The brothers set up fitness centers, sold weight-lifting equipment and promoted nutritional supplements for body builders.
Ben Weider also pushed to have body-building included in the Olympics, but it achieved only provisional status in 1998.
For his efforts, Weider was awarded in 1975 the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and later became an officer of the order.
He also co-authored one of the best selling history books about Napolean, earning him the French Legion of Honor for his investigative work into the French leader’s death.
Next week, a collection of his Napoleonic artifacts are to be unveiled in a permanent gallery at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
A funeral is being for Monday in Montreal. Weider is survived by his wife Huguette Derouin and their three sons, Louis, Eric and Mark.