Franco Columbu – Bodybuilder, Powerlifter and Deadlifter.

There are a lot of height conscious bodybuilders, powerlifters and athletes now-a-days. For a lot of people, being shorter than 6 feet tall seems like a curse – a limitation on their true potential. They need only to look at the life of Franco Columbu to realize how silly the issue of height really is.

Born in Italy, Franco Columbu started out boxing and then progressed to Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting and later bodybuilding. He became a boxing champion, won the title of Mr. Universe, and the of Mr. Olympia twice, in 1976 and 1981. Franco Columbu was 5 feet 5 inches tall, and some magazines even reported him as 5’3″, and yet he had an champion physique and immense powerlifter strength.

Franco Columbo Deadlift

A deadlift of more than 675 lbs

Now-a-days bodybuilding is not synonymous with powerlifting or strength training. Very few out there attempt to do both and only a handful succeed at both, like Johnnie Jackson or Stan The Rhino Efferding. Franco Columbu is one of the modern frontiersman for a killer physique and great strength. Columbu’s personal records are still unbeatable by 99% of the population. He achieved a Bench Press of 525 lbs, Squat 655 lbs, and a deadlift of 750 lbs. He even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the highest lung power.

Franco Columbo Back

Can't get a back like this without deadlifting

In 1977 Columbu almost was the favorite to win World’s Strongest Man when during the Refrigerator race (yes they actually raced while carrying refrigerators.), Columbu tripped and seriously mangled his leg. The doctor’s had to remove muscle and he was told he may never walk on that leg again. Four year laters, Columbu won the 1981 Mr. Olympia.

Franco Columbu Pull-up

Good warmup for a clean set of ten.

Columbu met Arnold Schwarzenegger in Munich in 1965 and competed against him in several bodybuilding competitions. Back then Mr. Olympia had two initial categories – one under 200lb and one over. The finalists of both categories would go on to compete against each other and the winner gained the title of Mr. Olympia. Arnold and Franco became great friends and repeatedly appeared together in photos and films.

Arnold and Franco

Arnold and Franco

Franco excelled at everything he put his mind to.  Next time you feel self-conscious about your height, think about how Franco won Mr. Olympia twice despite being shorter than most bodybuilders, and despite mangling his leg a few years earlier, and don’t waiver in confidence.

7 thoughts on “Franco Columbu – Bodybuilder, Powerlifter and Deadlifter.

  1. In my youth I was always getting books regarding body building. Franco was always on the forefront for his tremendous strength, his ability to lift heavy weights and objects; I remember on one show how he took a thick steel rebar and bent the heck out of it. That left an impression on me and I still remember it till this day. Franco and Arnold were my very favorite bodybuilders in the 70′s and 80′s. Being in Texas I have not heard too much about Franco and would like to follow up. I think the movie Pumping Iron really gave an insight to what he brought to bodybuilding.

    Also, the deadlift was one of my favorites as I could lift a considerable amount when I was in my late teens and early to mid twenties 420-450lbs plus. On a side note, I always thought that Arnold and Franco did alot for the sport of BodyBuilding and Hope that people look back and recognize Franco as one of the most powerful bodybuilders around at that time!! Best Regards!!!

  2. Franco Columbo should have won more titles than he did ( I REMEMBER ) He was cheated out of many that I myself, and many others thought he had won just for his size. He published training books that no other’s can ( COMPARE TO ! ) till this DAY. I have and alway’s ( WILL BE ! ) YOU GOT IT ! FRANCO ! .

  3. If you want to know more about him watch the amazing documentary “Pumping Iron”, I believe Franco had a better physique than Arnold, he was more muscular, but his height played against him.

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