In the book, “Arnold and Me” by Barbara Outland Baker, the author gives some very telling information about what happened to Arnold at an early age that affected him and influenced him to “crush all enemies” and to succeed on his own terms. An incident occurred during Arnold’s early years that resulted in rejection and a feeling of being “cheated”. Arnold’s parents, had taken his brother Meinhard on a vacation and sent Arnold to a relatives farm instead of bringing him on vacation as well.
“I was sent to my Godmothers farm 50 miles away while they took a vacation to Vienna and Salzburg for 14 days. I was 10 and I didn’t understand that they were going on a vacation when I was left there….the memory recurred so I knew it had an impact on me,” recalled Arnold.
On the other hand, Lee was brought up in a family of near smothering love. A Grandfather, Owen, who loved to have a young Lee accompany him to the gym ,showing him how to workout as a preteen. A Mother who encouraged his bodybuilding, loved his tattoos and even competed with him onstage in a bodybuilding competition.
It appears Arnold grew up with something to prove, an oak chip on his shoulder, whereas Lee was happy go lucky, a bodybuilding natural who reveled in the high volume of reps and sets, training every day, encouraged, loved and with no expectations. He could be a fire extinguisher installer for the rest of his life and his family would never consider that he do anything else.
I was sharing a story on the BBR facebook page yesterday about a funny event that took place between Arnold and Lee back in the 1980’s at probably World Gym. o the family farm on and offstage through the years. Lee was training quads on the leg extension machine when Arnold walks by and says in his thick accent, “Lee, you sure have some big legs. You must be using something to get legs like that.” to which Lee, without missing a beat says “Not all guys have to use stuff, we’re just naturally strong, like your old training partner Franco Columbu who was a lot stronger than you, Arnold”. Arnold smiles and says, C’mon Lee, let’s go in my Hummer” and the two of them left and went for a ride.
This got me wondering what they talked about in that Hummer ride as well as the similarities and differences that these 2 bodybuilding legends had. Lee told me once that around this same time, Arnold use to come train in World Gym in the morning. Joe Gold was there as was Lee. After the workout, the 3 of them would hang out in the gym office and shoot the breeze. I don’t know about you, but I would love to know what they talked about. Lee described Arnold as a true and loyal friend to his best buddies. But so many people were trying to get “at” Arnold, that he had to withdraw and be more distant towards others.
I think Lee and Arnold could have been best of friends if they had been coming up in bodybuilding at the same time. Lee with his Australian accent, sense of humor and love of a good time would compliment Arnold’s high volume approach to training, sense of humor and outlandish personality.
During Arnold’s early years, when he was doing Olympic lifting, I can just hear Arnold trying to coax Lee into doing 1 rep sets of snatches or split jerks.
Arnold: “Ahre you going to try it Lee, don’t be a girly man, I must ahsk you to do just one rep.”
Lee: “For fucks sake, use a weight that you can get 5-6 reps, you douche bag.”
More from the book, “Arnold And Me”: Arnold’s “constant desire to win simply generated each next spontaneous step. His clarity of intention led to such lucid thinking; Arnold acted as if the Almighty Himself coached him.”
This would have driven Lee crazy. Arnold was all about bodybuilding, business and winning in whatever the event was. Lee is laid back, doesn’t want to talk about bodybuilding all of the time and would rather go to the movies with a bucket of popcorn, a Coke and a “pluto pop.”
Friends? Yes. Roommates? Probably not.