Columbu is a longtime friend of Schwarzenegger,  whom he met in Stuttgart in 1965 and against whom he competed in several international-level bodybuilding competitions. For the Mr. Olympia competitions however, he competed in the under-200 lb ( kg) category, whereas Schwarzenegger was in the over-200 lb category. The IFBB has since abandoned weight classes. Arnold and Franco were inseparable friends and training partners during the late 60s to mid-1970s. Columbu served as Schwarzenegger's best man at his wedding to Maria Shriver in 1986.  Columbu and Schwarzenegger had been encouraged to come to America by bodybuilding guru Joe Weider in 1969; Weider sponsored them with an $80/week stipend. They arrived in America and began a bricklaying and patio business called European Brick Works in 1969.