About Ben Weider


Ben Weider (1923 - 2008)
Ben (Benjamin) Weider was born on February 1, 1923 in St-Lin, a small village in the Les Laurentides region, north of Montreal, Que. Canada. He's the son of Louis and Anna Weider, Polish Jewish emigrants from the town of Kurów in Poland.

Ben and his older brother Joseph Edwin (Joe) - born in 1920 - grew up in an unsavory Montreal neighborhood, where Ben Weider was often targeted by young men. Inspired by reading the Charles Atlas magazine, they learned to practice bodybuilding at home with improvised equipment.

The Weider brothers started to publish Your Physique, because according to them, the other magazines devoted to the physical culture were not based on scientific basis. In 1943, the circulation of the magazine grew and distribution expanded in other Canadian provinces. Soon after, the brothers expanded their empire by including fitness equipment and dietary supplements.

Joe was 17 years old. He went through back issues of Bob Hoffman's magazine Strength and Health and wrote down the names and addresses of guys in the "Pen Pals" section. With his 7 dollars in savings, he bought 600 post cards, sent them out to his mailing list, and sold subscriptions to his new magazine (75 cents for 6 bimonthly issues) - which didn't exist yet! With the money he received, he rented a typewriter and worked at night on his dining room table when his mother was asleep.

Your Physique (August 1940, Vol. 1, No. 1).
Barton Horvath is on the cover.
Your Physique ran from 1940 to 1952 through 17 volumes. Many Weider magazines, exercise equipment, muscle-building courses, and supplements were to follow and the rest was history! Not bad for a 17-year-old kid with 7 bucks to his name!

In 1942, Ben Weider was taken into the army. He got into Canadian intelligence and served there for 3 years. After World War II, he returned to Montreal and began to help his brother.

In 1945, Ben Weider and his brother Joe, respectively, ran Weider Equipment Company Limited and Weider Health & Fitness in Canada and the United States, both of which manufacture and sell their own sporting products around the world. The following year, Ben also founded and chaired the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB), which eventually became the most powerful and influential bodybuilding federation in the world, having absorbed in his orbit, other smaller federations. In the same year, in 1946, Joe and Ben Weider began to promote bodybuilding competitions, including the Mr. Canada contest.

The Brothers of Iron, Joe and Ben Weider changed the world. While Joe published the magazines, Ben organized the IFBB into the iconic sports organization. For professionals and amateurs, for men and women, the IFBB guided bodybuilding into the modern era, and remains the supervising body for the sport.


A Bicorne Hat worn by Napoleon during the invasion of Russia in 1812
Ben is also recognized as a self-taught expert in Napoleonic history. He was president of the Napoleonic International Society, which defends the memory of Napoleon Ier. In Napoleonic circles, Weider was known as a forceful advocate of the theory that Napoleon was assassinated by a member of his entourage during his exile in Saint Helena. He co-authored several books, Assassination at St. Helena and Assassination at St. Helena Revisited, with Sten Forshufvud and The Murder of Napoleon, with David Hapgood about this. Weider also founded the International Napoleonic Society, of which he was the President, and wrote numerous articles for this organization.

Weider owned one of the most extensive collections of Napoleon memorabilia, including one of the bicorne hats worn by Napoleon during the invasion of Russia in 1812, of which only 12 are known to still exist today. Three weeks before his death, he donated his entire set of Napoleonic artifacts, over 60 pieces in all, to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, making it one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. Prince Charles Napoleon, great-great-grandson of Napoleon's youngest brother Jerome, was on hand to inaugurate the museum's new permanent gallery on Oct. 23, 2008. (You will find the complete collection belonging to the Museum of Fine Arts, annexed to this document).

There is also the Rare Book Library at the University of Montreal, which has received its documentary collection on Napoleon, particularly on the theories concerning his death. This collection of old and rare books, period newspapers, archival documents, medals and modern illustrated studies can trace the history and fate of Napoleon. It also includes two major scrapbooks of newspaper clippings recounting the international impact of the theory advanced by Mr. Weider that the Emperor of the French was poisoned. There is also audiovisual material with lectures by Mr. Weider, television shows, and so on.

The Museum of Civilization, located in Quebec City also has some of the objects that belonged to Ben Weider.