The Arnold Sports Festival is the largest multi-sport event in the nation with more than 18,000 athletes from 80 nations competing in 50 sports and events.
The story of the Arnold Sports Festival dates to 1970, when Columbus sports promoter Jim Lorimer invited a young Austrian bodybuilder named Arnold Schwarzenegger to Columbus to compete in the Mr. World contest held with that year’s World Weightlifting Championships.
Schwarzenegger won the contest, earned $1,000, and vowed to return to Columbus one day to partner with Lorimer and promote the sport of bodybuilding. After winning the Mr. Olympia contest every year between 1970-1975, Schwarzenegger was true to his word.
Schwarzenegger and Lorimer partnered to promote the Mr. Olympia contest in Columbus six times between 1976 and 1986 before founding the Arnold Classic in 1989. When Schwarzenegger was appointed the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, he charged Lorimer with expanding the scope of the Arnold Classic weekend to include other sports. Martial arts and gymnastics were among the first added.
More events have been added each year with the weekend eventually being renamed the Arnold Sports Festival in 2006. The 50 sports and events now feature 14 Olympic sports, as well as five IFBB Pro League contests, the Arnold Strongman Classic, and the Arnold Amateur, one of the largest and most prestigious amateur bodybuilding contests in the world.
The Arnold Sports Festival began globalization in 2011 with the first Arnold Classic Europe in Madrid, Spain. The Arnold Classic Brasil made its debut in 2013 and plans are under way for future expansion in South Africa and Australia.
Interested? Check out our current Arnold events in the “Events” tab, and check out the Arnold Jump Rope Rulebook for more information on how you can compete in a jump rope event at an Arnold Sports Festival.