Living

Before Arnold Schwarzenegger was the 'Terminator'

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

Updated 6:02 PM ET, Thu June 25, 2015
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Before he was the "Terminator" or the 38th governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger was an obsessive teen bodybuilder from Austria who saw pumping iron as a ticket to fame and fortune. Inspired by bodybuilders who found stardom on the big screen, Schwarzenegger figured out early in life that he needed titles and accolades to propel him to greatness. These photos show a 17-year-old Schwarzenegger competing in a bodybuilding competition in Graz, Austria, on May 18, 1965. Foto Fischer/Anzenberger
Schwarzenegger spent his teen years building and sculpting his physique, competing in weightlifting and bodybuilding competitions in his home country. At the 1965 Hotel Steirer Hof meet, he was vying for three bodybuilding titles: the provincial title of Mr. Steiermark (or Mr. Styria), Mr. Hercules and Mr. Austria. Foto Fischer/Anzenberger
"A connoisseur of his own story," as one biographer described, Schwarzenegger said a turning point in his aspirations came when he saw a magazine cover featuring bodybuilder Reg Park in a Hercules film. "It turned out that Hercules was an English guy who'd won the Mr. Universe title in bodybuilding and parlayed that into a movie career -- then took the money and built a gym empire," Schwarzenegger told Laurence Leamer, author of "Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger." "Bingo! I had my role model! If he could do it, I could do it. I'd win Mr. Universe. I'd become a movie star. I'd get rich." Foto Fischer/Anzenberger
Biographers trace the root of Schwarzenegger's ambitions to his strict childhood in Thal, a village outside Graz where he was born in 1947 to Gustav and Aurelia Schwarzenegger. Gustav was a police officer and former Nazi Party member said to favor his older brother. "Maybe I was competitive with my brother or trying to prove something to my father," Schwarzenegger told Leamer. "But it doesn't really matter. Something was there that made me hungry." Foto Fischer/Anzenberger
A natural athlete, Schwarzenegger started playing team sports as a child at the urging of his father. He probably would have excelled in any sport of his choosing, but he was drawn to bodybuilding because it was not a team sport. "I disliked it when we won a game and I didn't get any personal recognition," he said in his 1977 autobiography, "Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder." "The only time I really felt rewarded was when I was singled out as being best." Foto Fischer/Anzenberger
Schwarzenegger tried individual sports like the javelin and shot put, "but none of those things felt right to me," he said in his autobiography. Then his soccer coach brought the team to a bodybuilding gym for weight training and something "clicked," he said. "Those guys were huge and brutal. I found myself walking around them, staring at muscles I'd never even seen before. The weightlifters shone with sweat; they were powerful-looking, Herculean. And there it was before me -- my life, the answer," he said in his autobiography. "It was something I suddenly just seemed to reach out and find, as if I'd been crossing a suspended bridge and finally stepped off onto solid ground." Foto Fischer/Anzenberger
Schwarzenegger started training with bodybuilders. In 1961, he met former Mr. Austria Kurt Marnul, who invited him to train at the Graz Athletic Union in Graz's Liebnauer Stadium. "I started to live for being in the gym," Schwarzenegger said, training five to six times a week and sometimes breaking into the gym on weekends when it was closed. Foto Fischer/Anzenberger
Schwarzenegger idolized bodybuilders-turned-actors such as Mark Forest, Steve Reeves and Gordon Mitchell, but Reg Park was his ideal: "I knew that was going to be me. I would look like Reg Park," he said in his autobiography. "I knew in my mind that I was not geared for elegance. I wanted to be massive. It was the difference between sweat and cologne."
Foto Fischer/Anzenberger
Schwarzenegger placed in the 1965 Mr. Steiermark competition, though sources vary on whether he came in first or second place. Friedrich Fischer, who photographed the event for Sud Ost Tagespost, the daily newspaper in Graz, described Schwarzenegger as "down-to-earth and very ambitious. He was motivated for success." Foto Fischer/Anzenberger
Later in 1965, Schwarzenegger was invited to compete in the junior division of Mr. Europe during basic training of his mandatory military service. He spent a week in detention for deserting, but it was worth it: He came in first and earned an invitation to train in Munich, Germany. Two years later, he won his first Mr. Universe from the National Amateur Bodybuilders Association. The rest, as they say, is history. Foto Fischer/Anzenberger