Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘idol’ and bodybuilding icon Dave Draper dies aged 79

Arnold Schwarzenegger was left heartbroken following the death of bodybuilding legend Dave Draper.

The pair used to train together and Draper was one of the Austrian's biggest inspirations as he rose through the bodybuilding and weightlifting ranks.

The iconic actor paid tribute to the man he described as one of his ‘idols’ and posted a lengthy message on social media following the sad news.

“Dave Draper was an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, including me. He was one of my idols,” he began.

“In Austria, I kept his cover of Muscle Builder magazine on the wall above my bed for motivation, and when I saw him starring in 'Don’t Make Waves', I thought, 'My dreams are possible.'

"When I got to America and finally met Dave, I learned his heart was as big as his pecs.

“He even hand-built my first furniture when I moved to Santa Monica, and let me tell you, he was talented.

"Can you imagine meeting your idol and becoming his training partner and traveling all over the world together? I was in heaven.”

Schwarzenegger continued: “He couldn’t have been more welcoming, and he was a fantastic training partner who always pushed everyone around him in the gym to be better.

“He was an amazing writer and a great family man. I will miss the Blond Bomber, but his memory will always be with me. My thoughts are with Laree and the whole family.”

At 21, Draper won the Mr. New Jersey title, before winning the IFBB Mr. America events in 1965 and 1966.

He would move to Santa Monica, California, working for the Weider Barbell Company until 1969. During this period he also worked in motion pictures.

While in California, Draper initially trained at a gym many called "The Dungeon", which he described as "a large, awful space dug out of the ground on the corner of 4th and Broadway", and later trained at the original Gold's Gym.

He trained in the company of the world's top bodybuilders which included Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, Mike Katz and Robby Robinson.

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