by Christian Duque
When you stop to think about it, who’s the most recognizable figure in the sport of bodybuilding today? Maybe ever? If you were to say names like The Master Blaster Joe Weider or The Big Nasty Ronnie Coleman, I’d say they would definitely fall in the honorable mention category. Most bodybuilding fans know who they are and appreciate their vast contributions to the sport. If you were to ask people somewhat familiar with bodybuilding, you could cast the net a little wider.
Whereas most people would be clueless as to who Joe and/or even Ronnie are, they’d know about Lou Ferrigno from the Incredible Hulk series back in the 1970’s. If you wanted to really cast the net wide and you asked your average person walking about in 2023, most would be hard-pressed to tell you about the original Hulk series, much less who the guy was under the green paint. That being said, if you were to ask anyone on the street today, pretty much anywhere in the world, who Arnold Schwarzenegger is, they’d know right away.
In fact, most people would respond simply with “Arnold is..” They may not even use his full name. There aren’t as many people known just by their first name like that, except for maybe Jesus (the guy from Nazareth).
The point is that people may know Arnold for his movies, his political offices, his bodybuilding or his philanthropy. The fact is whatever you know him for, you know him, and with that level of fame comes an awful lot of responsibility.
Arnold just turned 76 years of age on July 30th, but he doesn’t look like any 76 year old I know. He’s very much the definition of youth even though his years might say otherwise. There’s a difference between being old and acting old. The Oak is in fact 76, but his spirit hasn’t skipped a beat. He still lifts, he runs, cycles, and swims. This is a guy who saw the longevity of guys that came before him, guys like Jack LaLanne who lived to the age of 96 and it was because they didn’t eat junk food, they didn’t drink, and they didn’t let their body deteriorate. Arnold has kept his mind sharp by participating in a number of projects and he keeps his body just as oiled up and ready for action as ever. He lives his life and speaks up wheneber he wants to. One thing the Governor has never shied away from is controversy.
Whether he takes potshots at the most powerful man in bodybuilding or he openly defies a sitting U.S. President, it matters not.
Arnold has never made his contempt for Donald Trump a secret. He didn’t beat around the bush when he was batting for the GOP nomination or when he was the Republican nominee. His criticisms didn’t stop when The Donald became the 45th president of the United States and they didn’t take a softer tone when he ridiculed the leader of the free world for dragging his feet on addressing the pandemic.
Moreover, Arnold didn’t give two shits about seriously pissing off American patriots during the pandemic over his position on slowing down the virus. This was, after all, the era of face masks, hand sanitizer, and mandatory social distancing. When some on the right thought these questionable methods encroached on their freedoms, the Austrian didn’t hold back.
Arnie dropped a bombshell with his now famous/infamous mic drop line of “screw your freedom.” That statement sent shockwaves throughout the Don’t Tread On Me crowd that tends to beat their own chest proclaiming their patriotism and their general disregard for all things they perceive to be weak. Then again the man who knocked milk-drinkers as babies and the weak as girly men was in no mood to see a virus that jeopardized the health of so many and/or hurting more people because some lunkhead felt too important to put a facemask on.
Granted facemasks don’t really stop the virus, not even by 5%, but if that small gesture was going to keep contests and expos from happening, The Oak was down for wearing five of them and he wasn’t about to get peer pressured into taking the moral high ground against them if the second biggest show in the sport wasn’t going to happen.
The Oak isn’t a liberal or a conservative. I don’t think he’s a democrat or a republican, either. He’s a pragmatist.
At the end of the day he’s going to do what needs to be done. His motivation is to achieve the goal in question. Everything else, to quote the great Kai Greene, is minutia. It’s ancillary and/or collateral matters that take away from the main objective. This is a very big picture mentality and it goes beyond the idealism of those who are eager to take a stand on someone’s else’s dime.
In addition to the many other hats he wears, Arnold is a businessman and whenever he signs on to a project, especially one that bears his name and/or likeness, that’s high stakes. Like the Arnold Classic and the “screw your freedoms” comment. The Oak had a responsibility to make sure that contest happened. He owed it to the ticket-buying public, the vendors who reserved booths a year in advance, and to the athletes who prepped for months on end to bring their best physique to the stage. It was his prerogative to make sure he left no stone unturned in the pursuit of that contest and expo taking place.
Arnold at 76 is Arnold as he’s been at any other year of his life. Nothing changes. He’s not going to slow down and if anything we may live to see a change in the U.S. Constitution. Never say never. If there was a way for Arnold to ever run for president, not only would he run, but he’d win. Even if that change never happens, you can expect to see the Governator all over the political scene, maybe do another movie to one-up his longtime rival and best bud Sly Stallone, and/or roll out new Arnold Classics or other events worldwide.
There’s really no telling what Schwarzenegger will do next. I truly feel that everyday is another adventure for him. He knows that whatever he says will make the rounds and he takes that power with tremendous responsibility. To many that means being more diplomatic and measured, but to The Oak, it means whatever he wants it to mean. He has no one to impress and he certainly isn’t catering his opinions to anyone. He will say what he feels and he’ll never apologize for it.
Love him or hate him, you know him, and you simply couldn’t ignore him even if you tried!
Happy Belated Birthday, Arnold.