Extreme fitness

Arnold Schwarzenegger leads tributes to Hall of Fame bodybuilder Ed Corney

  • American will forever be immortalised in the movie, Pumping Iron, where he was Schwarzenegger’s training partner
  • Former Mr Universe dies on New Year’s Day after suffering from a brain aneurysm
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 7:52pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 January, 2019, 8:10pm

He will be remembered for one of the most iconic scenes from bodybuilding’s most famous docudrama. The scene in Pumping Iron switches to Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach, California where Arnold Schwarzenegger and his training, partner, Ed Corney, are doing multiple sets of squats.

Then came the agonising moment that will forever be ingrained in the minds of bodybuilding fans that exemplifies the “golden age” of bodybuilding in the mid-1970s. The scene intensifies as Corney tries to complete his set.

“Five ... six .. keep going ... eight .. c’mon let’s get serious!,” Schwarzenegger tells Corney in the scene. “Two more, I wanna see two more no matter what! One more Eddie and flex your legs when you come up ....

“Arrghh,” Corney finally completes the set. “That’s it!,” says Schwarzenegger as Corney collapses to the ground in exhaustion.

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Corney was one of the stars of director George Butler’s Pumping Iron, which became a cult classic and helped launch Schwarzenegger into superstardom.

Corney appears on the front cover of the book Pumping Iron, before it was made into a film in 1977 that starred some of the top bodybuilders at the time – Robby Robinson, Ken Waller, Serge Nubret, the Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno and of course Schwarzenegger. The film enjoyed unlikely box office success and help kick-start the fitness craze that dominated the 1980s.

Now many of those bodybuilders who appeared in the film are paying their respects to legendary Hall of Fame bodybuilder Corney, who suffered a brain aneurysm on Christmas Day and died a week later on New Year’s Day. He was 85 years old.

Seven-time Mr Olympia and action star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was one of the first to pay tribute to the former Mr Universe, tweeting: “Ed Corney was a jewel of a guy. He was one of the greatest posers bodybuilding has ever seen, and he was a fantastic training partner. He inspired me and I’ll miss him dearly. My thoughts are with his family.”

Schwarzenegger later posted on Reddit: “As you all know, I’m obsessed with inspiring today’s best bodybuilders to step up their posing. I hope some of them will take this opportunity to watch Ed’s old routines and try to emulate him. I just spoke to the Lorimers [promoters Jim and Bob] and asked them to rename our best poser award at the Arnold Classic the Ed Corney Best Posing Award.”

Bodybuilding fans will also remember Corney for his outstanding posing routines and was considered the best in the craft, earning the nickname, “Master Poser” .

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Corney started bodybuilding competition late, entering his first event at the age of 33 where he won the Mr Fremont title in 1967. As he was coming up, he was competing against younger bodybuilders such as Schwarzenegger. Although not the biggest bodybuilder at under 88 kgs at the time – he still won two Mr Universe titles in 1971 and 1972 – his majestic posing stood him out from the rest.

A resident of Hawaii, Corney was inducted in the International Federation of Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 2004. He had retired from the sport in 1989 only to make a return in 1994 by competing in the Master’s Olympia 60+, winning in 1989 and 1990 before competing for the last time at the 1998 Arnold Classic.

In 1999, Corney suffered a heart attack during shoulder surgery and then suffered two strokes and was confined to a wheelchair for some time. But he fought his way back to health and he continued to hit the gym almost right up until his demise. News of his death was announced by his grandson, Gabriel Johnson, on New Year’s Day.