Legendary bodybuilder Ed Corney has unfortunately passed away on the first day of the new year, at the age of 85. Corney was an iconic figure in the world of bodybuilding, winning several events organized by the International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness (IFBB). Before he reached a famous status he was working for the Coast Guard of the United States. He was made enthusiastic for bodybuilding when he became friends with an amateur bodybuilder.
What started as a hobby, slowly but surely became a passion for Corney. Still, it was only seventeen years later when he won his first contests, which were mainly local Californian contests. His most remarkable period in the sport was the early 1970s. He was active for about five years, entering all sorts of bodybuilding competitions until he became "Mister USA" in 1971, followed by the "Mister America" title in 1972. Due to his win in those competitions, he was eligible to participate in the IFBB Mister Universe in 1972. This was an event held in Baghdad, which automatically shows how much the world has changed in just 50 years time. I can't see any sort of event being held in Iraq in 2019, or the next couple of years at least, if ever again. Corney went on to win that event and achieved world fame, at least among those who followed the bodybuilding as a professional sport back in the days. More trophies and titles belonging to these trophies were won in the following years. He was crowned "Mister Wold" in 1973, and both "Mister International" and, "Mister World" in 1974.
In 1975 writers George Butler and Charles Gaines released a book named Pumping Iron, based on the two major bodybuilding events held earlier that year, Mister Universe and Mister Olympia. Corney featured on the cover of the book. Two years later, a movie with the exact same name was released by a production company named White Mountain Films. Corney starred in the movie together with several other famous bodybuilders from that time. He was pictured on the promotional posters for the movie and this was he became known to a much wider range of people worldwide. Probably the person who gained the most from featuring in that movie was Austrian participant Arnold Schwarzenegger, who became one of the most famous actors in the world. Corney would finish in second place on both of these events, as well as in the 1975 World Pro Championships. I wouldn't go as far as calling Corney a personal hero for myself. After all, I was not even born when he was performing at his top level. I did become a Schwarzenegger fan at some point during my life though, and when I did, I also saw this movie. I most definitely was aware of his career up until a certain level, more or less, around this time period I would say. From 1976 onwards Corney would win no more contests. He still won some medals here and there, but winning was out of the question from that moment on. He ended his professional career in 1983 but continued on amateur level until 1989, when he finally retired.
After his retirement, Corney made a comeback into the sport in 1994, at the age of 61. He started to compete in the Master Series, which are competitive bodybuilding contests for people older than 60 years old. That same year and the year after he won the Masters Series of the Mister Olympia competition, two years after that, he added a silver medal to his tally. An amazing story that described his strength, fitness, and determination happened in 1999 when he was faced with a near death experience. He got a heart attack during surgery and ended up in a coma. He woke up out of the coma but seemed to be paralyzed for the rest of his life, as he ended up in a wheelchair. Remarkably Corney didn't give up, did as much as he could to stay healthy as much as possible given the situation. This resulted in a situation no one could have imagined at the time. He managed to train himself into walking again, meaning he no longer needed the wheelchair and started to even compete in bodybuilding again. He even still participated in bodybuilding events in 2018. Some people may call it sad that a man of his age didn't have anything other to do in his life than bodybuilding, other people will admire him for being able to achieve such performances with this background story. I personally don't have much affection with the bodybuilding sport, but I am definitely part of the latter group. I find it remarkable to know that someone, first of all, lived for his sport, and second of all achieved that much with it until his death. To me, the 60+ achievements and the way he became healthy after suffering from that heart attack are what made Corney such a special person.
Corney died two days ago due to a brain aneurysm.
May he rest in peace...
Thank you for reading