Monday, June 22, 2009

Gold's Gym ... in Kabul?

AFG: Bodybuilding Competition In Kabul

Yup. If you got your Time Magazine this week, look on page 4. Or here, for the one-page Postcard: Kabul article about how bodybuilding is BIG in Afghanistan. So big that Bawar Khan Hotak, the father of Afghani bodybuilding and long-time admirer of Arnold Schwarzenegger, named his first gymnasium in Kabul Gold's Gym, after the place in Venice where Schwarzenegger used to train.

In July 1974, Ted Green of the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about the guy they called the Austrian Oak, the Babe Ruth of Bodybuilding, the 'ultimate in human musculature': Arnold Schwarzenegger. Green was a little ga-ga:

Everyday for 12 years he has lifted weights for hours, shaping a body with a symmetry that's now almost surreal.

Muscles on muscles from neck to calves, so clearly defined yet so bulging as to resemble something by a caricaturist gone slightly mad.

The future governor was all of 28. In the interview, he complained about stereotypes, listing questions he got all the time, like, "Is it true you're all muscles and no brain?" "Is it true you'll turn to fat at 40?" Guess we know the answers to those queries now.

One little aside in the article catches the eye. Summarizing Arnold's history, we learn that from the age of 15, when he took up the sport in Austria, he put in 20 hours a week at the gym--even, for one year, when he was in the army: "he drove a tank --"I liked the feeling of power."

If you go looking for the article on Proquest (it's a fun read), be aware that the page numbering is a bit screwed up. The piece begins on page 50, but the second part is on page 37. The 1969 picture is from the IFBB website--the International Federation of Body Building and Fitness. (yes, I know--that should be IFBBF. But I'm not going to nit pick with folks with biceps like that--are you?)

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