He first came to international attention as a bodybuilder winning both the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia contests numerous times. He became the face of the then new sport of bodybuilding and that brought him to the attention of the entertainment industry. His first film was a low budget film called “Hercules in New York” for which he was mostly used for his physique. Due to his heavy accent his dialogue had to be dubbed by another actor. His notoriety increased with the bodybuilding documentary “Pumping Iron” which made him a familiar face to American audiences.
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His second foray into films was more successful.