\As the Mr.Olympia came to another close by crowing Phil “the Gift” Heath as the Sandow holder for the 7th time, let’s pull back and the study the origin of the biggest bodybuilding federation in the world.
Before proceeding it is important to note that the alleged founder of the IFBB, Joe Weider’s life is a mystery of its own. From a gypsy telling Weider’s mother of his imminent fame, to a magic massgain #7, and even a super-secret lab hidden in a broom closet…the International Federation of BodyBuilding is not spared from this convolution. Due to the fact that this topic is so controversial, we highly suggest you get a good eight hours of sleep supported by a handful of ZMA’s, take a big gulp of that C4, or if you lean more towards the 400mg of caffeine per inch scoop offered by ProSupps, time to ingest that potion, keep those hands steady, and pay close attention.
Our first stop begins in Montreal in the year 1946. As the Weider brothers were about to start their 1946 Mr. Montreal contest, the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada (AAUC), who basically controlled every aspect of amateur sport in Canada, barged in and declared that this particular event would NOT be sanctioned by the overarching AAU, therefore any competitor participating would be deemed professional, thus ineligible to participate in any amateur sport (which included most bodybuilding and weightlifting events). At that very moment, Joe Weider declared that his brother Ben and he were creating their own federation, and ‘WE SHALL CALL IT’…the IFBB. Of course there were those few skeptics who believed that the Weider brothers had one too many massgain number seven’s. Following the Iron Brothers in their rebellious venture would mean a high risk of not being a professional bodybuilder, ever. Regardless, as the story goes, some abs were shown, biceps were flexed, lats were flared, and the crowd went wild; the International Federation of BodyBuilding was thus created.
This is the most commonly agreed upon origin story of the International Federation of BodyBuilding. But is this story engraved in stone (or in Iron, pun intended)? Time to analyze.
In 1946, there is no mention whatsoever of this particular event or of a thing called the IFBB in ‘Your Physique’ or ‘Muscle Builder’, both of which were magazines governed and published by the Weiders. The letters I.F.B.B actually made their first appearance one year after the faithful Montreal night, but the mentioned pulled sanction by the AAU leading to the creation of the federation was nowhere to be found. The Weiders even referred to 1948 (two years after!) as the “first fulltime season for the IFBB.” Odd right?
To make things a little more complicated, four time “America’s most developed man” Dan Lurie, claimed that the event unsanctioned by the AAU was the contest he held in 1947, forcing him to push the competition to 1948 and create his own federation called, you guessed it, the International Federation of BodyBuilding. This is supported with a print of Lurie’s program for the Mr. New York State show containing the words “sanctioned by the International Federation of Body Building.”
This next point adds a little more heat to the topic. At the end of the 1940s, Dan Lurie was deemed a professional by the AAU due to photographs of the latter displayed in Weider’s ‘Your Physique’. Despite the fact that Lurie claimed he did not receive any financial compensation for the images, the AAU, headed by no other than Weider’s archenemy Bob Hoffman, banned Lurie from any AAU event, meaning nearly every bodybuilding contest. At around the same moment Joe Weider moved to Jersey City to expand the Weider brand, and with the help of New York resident Dan Lurie, they began shipping weight sets in the United States and Canada. Although a full post will be dedicated to Dan Lurie, it is important to reveal that Lurie brought Weider to court after a falling out, claiming that Joe Weider refused to pay Lurie his dues as an equal partner.
Back to the IFBB and the Weiders. In a 1947 issue of ‘Your Physique’ the authors mention that the federation was in the works, but nothing had been finalized at that point. The following year, when Joe Weider stated that the IFBB was finally up and running, he retroactively sanctioned his 1947 contest as an IFBB sanctioned event (now this might be Weider butting heads with Lurie.)
Randy Roach, who covers the IFBB origin extensively, displays proof that in 1948 (year when the Weiders AND Lurie claim the federation was a go) the IFBB was not yet a legal entity, thus, for the sake of sanctioned sports, non-existent.
To end, apparently, the first name that Joe Weider came up with was the International Body Builders Club…I know what you’re thinking, thank the Iron Gods that someone replaced the ‘C’ with an ‘F’; that someone was Emmanuel Orlick who credited himself for finding the name and proposing it to Weider. This is mentioned in a correspondence between Orlick and George Jowett.
Alright! We hope the ZMA’s paid off or that the pre-workout didn’t run out at the wrong moment. This IFBB business is very complicated and controversial stuff. To the best of knowledge, it remains unclear of who founded the IFBB and when it was actually created. Some modern scholars agree with the Weider story while others lean towards Lurie and his 1948 Mr. New York State poster. One thing is for sure, and this is the take home message: the IFBB was founded at the end of the 1940s, finally illuminating the path for hardcore (and not so hardcore) bodybuilders who wished for two things: become their own entity and have that entity recognized as unique; a separate culture from weightlifting.