The statue was unveiled on Friday on the front lawn of the Veterans Memorial convention centre to mark Columbus’s 24th annual week of competitive sports – named in Schwarzenegger’s honour the Arnold Sports Festival. The bronze tribute depicts Arnie at the height of his bodybuilding career in a competition bodybuilding pose, and was donated to the city by one of his friends.
The city is not the first place to unveil a statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, however. Last year, a museum based around his childhood Austrian home opened, with its own sculpture, and it was this that inspired Columbus Arnold Sports Festival organisers to approach the film star for a duplicate model.
Both statues are based on a 22-inch statuette of Schwarzenegger made in 1979 by Idaho artist Ralph Crawford, who was hired by the then 32-year-old bodybuilding champion to immortalise a competitive pose that he had perfected. Schwarzenegger then bought the rights to the statue so that he could use it as the basis for trophies to be given out at bodybuilding tournaments. He also had a four-foot version of the statue made for his home, before commissioning the eight-foot version for the statue in Austria.
The relationship between Arnold Schwarzenegger began in 1970, when sports promoter Jim Lorimer persuaded the 23-year-old bodybuilding champ to come to the city and promote the new Mr World competition – and a firm friendship, and business partnership, was born.
Now the sporting event has moved to encompass far more than bodybuilding, with 18,000 athletes coming from across the USA to compete in everything from gymnastics to archery.