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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Olympia Rival Was Offered $700,000 by Vince McMahon Sparking a Tug of War Between IFBB and WBF

Archie Blade

Lou Ferrigno Vince McMahon

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. The Austrian Oak had a stranglehold on the Mr. Olympia contests, winning it 6 times consecutively from 1970 to 1975 before adding one more title in 1980. Lou Ferrigno, who trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger, made it his mission to topple him off his pedestal. However, he failed to do so. Regardless, he made quite a name for himself, attracting attention from Hollywood and a certain wrestling promoter named Vince McMahon.

Also read: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $450 Million Net Worth Was Once in Danger When He Was Accused of S**ual Misconduct by Six Women

Ferrigno first participated at the Mr. Olympia competition back in 1974, placing 2nd. He followed it up with a third-place finish the next year. His attempts to overcome Schwarzenegger were the subject of the 1977 Pumping Iron documentary and earned him a lot of fame.

That same year he was cast as the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk in both the TV series and movies, making him even more famous than he was during his bodybuilding days.

Vince McMahon wanted Lou Ferrigno to be a part of WBF

Ferrigno decided to make a return to bodybuilding in the early 90’s. This was exactly when Vince McMahon was trying to get a foot into the bodybuilding industry as well with his own World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF).

He had quite the names on his roster but it was missing a superstar presence. The then WWF Chairman decided to approach his new venture the same way he did with his wrestling promotion.

For those not aware, when remodeling his wrestling promotion to take over the country, Vince brought in Hulk Hogan to lead the ship. He chose Hogan for one very simple reason. Hogan had just appeared in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky, making him more recognizable to the mainstream audience than the wrestlers he already had.

Vince strapped a rocket to Hogan’s back and made him the face of WWF. The results were there for everyone to see.

To Vince, Ferrigno had the same potential, following his role as The Hulk. To that end, he offered him a massive $1,000,000 contract spread over two years.

Vince started advertising Ferrigno and even had him on the cover of WBF Bodybuilding Lifestyle magazine, teasing a showdown with their then champion Gary Strydom. The only problem here was Ferrigno’s reluctance to sign the deal.

Why did Lou Ferrigno turn down Vince McMahon’s offer?

According to late bodybuilding journalist Peter McGough, Ferrigno was hesitant due to Vince McMahon’s insistence that WBF own the rights to their athlete’s merchandise. Joe Weider, the co-founder of International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness (IFBB), matched the deal with a much greater leeway.

While the cash offer was only half of what Vince McMahon offered, the remainder was made up through advertising in the Weider publications for Lou’s PSI sportswear company and other products. It was this freedom to maintain the rights to his merchandise as well as film roles that swung the pendulum in Weider’s favor.

However, Vince came back even stronger, offering Ferrigno first a $700,000 contract, and according to several reports at the time, another offer in excess of $1 million!

Weider tried to match the contract. However, they remained fearful that the second most popular bodybuilder was on his way to Stamford, Connecticut.

Ultimately, the tug of war came to an end when Ferrigno met Weider and told him that he always saw the IFBB co-founder as a father figure and would never compete in any other organization.

His return to the Mr. Olympia contest did not witness a fairytale finish however. He finished 10th and 12th in the 1992 and 1993 competitions respectively. Though a much better finish than the WBF that dissolved after a mere 13-month existence.

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About the author

Archie Blade

Archie Blade


Archie is a WWE and UFC Editor/Author at the SportsRush. Like most combat sports enthusiasts, his passion for watching people fight began with WWE when he witnessed a young Brock Lesnar massacre Hulk Hogan back in 2002. This very passion soon branched out to boxing and mixed martial arts. Over the years he fell in love with the theatrics that preceded the bell and the poetic carnage that followed after. Each bruise a story to tell, each wound a song of struggle, his greatest desire is to be there to witness it all. His favorite wrestler is Shawn Michaels and he believes that GSP is the greatest to ever step foot inside the octagon. Apart from wrestling, he is also fond of poetry and music.

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