A photo of Franco Columbu from his official Instagram account.
A photo of Franco Columbu from his official Instagram account.

ROME - Italian bodybuilder, boxer and actor Franco Columbu, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's closest friends, has died at age 78. 
 
Columbu died in a hospital in his native Sardinia on Friday afternoon after becoming ill while he was swimming in the sea. 
 
His longtime friend Schwarzenegger tweeted:

 After starting his career as a boxer, Columbu progressed into Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting and later bodybuilding, winning the prestigious title of Mr. Olympia in 1976 and 1981. 
 
Besides his athletic career, Columbu also acted in popular TV series and movies. He appeared in Schwarzenegger's films The Terminator, The Running Man and Conan the Barbarian.  
  
Columbu was Schwarzenegger's best man at his marriage to Maria Shriver in 1986.