The Impact of Legend, Joe Weider

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Shawn Ray

Inside Shawn's world

The Mastermind Behind Bodybuilding's Global Rise

When you mention the sport of bodybuilding, you have to mention the Master Blaster, Joe Weider, who, along with his brother Ben, put the sport on the map. The history of our sport, which is recognized worldwide, has its roots in the sweat equity of the Weider Brothers as they tirelessly worked to gain exposure and acceptance through Weider Magazines, gyms, and supplements.

In 1983, I became a bodybuilder, competing in my first show at the age of 17. Upon receiving my 2nd place trophy in the Teenage division, I immediately began the process of educating myself on how to become number one. Not to mention, I instantly became addicted to the sport and wanted to learn all I could by purchasing the Weider Magazines Flex and Muscle & Fitness, which were considered the Bible of Bodybuilding. The more I competed, the more I learned about proper foods, training techniques, philosophies, supplements, and competitions.

Joe Weider had the best athletes in the world under contract for photos and interviews in his magazines and books, where they’d be put on display to encourage the next generation of athletes to pursue a healthier lifestyle, which includes me! I continued to compete and win shows that were leveling up each time: Teenage Mr. Orange County, Teenage Mr. Los Angeles, Teenage Mr. California, Teenage National Champion, and Junior Mr. World, all by the time I turned 20 years old. It was then that Joe Weider contacted me for my first cover shoot for Flex Magazine in 1986, only three years into my career!

My Journey with Joe Weider

Joe Weider had the best athletes in the world under contract for photos and interviews in his magazines and books, where they’d be put on display to encourage the next generation of athletes to pursue a healthier lifestyle, which includes me! 

I continued to compete and win shows that were leveling up each time: Teenage Mr. Orange County, Teenage Mr. Los Angeles, Teenage Mr. California, Teenage National Champion, and Junior Mr. World, all by the time I turned 20 years old. 

It was then that Joe Weider contacted me for my first cover shoot for Flex Magazine in 1986, only three years into my career!

From this golden opportunity to not only be photographed by the world’s best physique photographers but also get featured in our sport’s number one fitness publications was a dream come true for a young aspiring athlete like me, as I was still just a 20-year-old college student! 

Joe was known for rewarding those athletes who were winning shows and marketable, and the old saying goes, ‘what’s good for Joe was also good for me.’ 

But I had to keep winning, so I set my sights on the next level of competition in the men’s open division.

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In 1987, I went on to win the Mr. California and the NPC National Championships, which launched my pro career and landed me a Weider Professional Contract, certifying my career. Joe and I had signed a one-year contract that lasted 18 years, which went beyond my competition years into my retirement. I was featured on more Flex Magazine covers than any athlete in history, including Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Guiding Light Through 14 Years of Pursuing Excellence

While my entire professional career lasted 14 years in pursuit of the elusive Sandow Trophy, Joe Weider was the one who oversaw my career and gave me inspiration to be great! 

Joe critiqued my physique and guided my aspirations to be the best I could be in the land of giants. 

While as an athlete, my focus was my body, but Joe saw to it that I learned the importance of marketing, branding, and promoting, which still serves my career today in life’s lessons and the business of bodybuilding!

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