Arnold Sports Festival promoters Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and James J. Lorimer present an annual Lifetime Achievement Award each to an individual who has made notable contributions to the fitness industry and offered a lifetime of service to the enhancement of sports performance and promotion.
The 2016 recipient is Dr. Rafael Santonja, the president of the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness for the past ten years. The IFBB is the worldwide governing body for bodybuilding and fitness. Santonja was first elected to replace the legendary Ben Weider in 2006 before being re-elected in 2010 and 2014. Ben Weider and his brother, Joe, founded the IFBB in 1946 and Ben Weider served as its president until retiring in 2006. Prior to becoming IFBB president, Santonja was Ben Weider’s personal assistant as well as president of the European Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation.
The IFBB is the second-largest sports federation in the world with more than 190 member nations. Santonja has worked tirelessly to get the sport of bodybuilding and fitness recognized by the International Olympic Committee. The sport is now recognized by more than 90 national Olympic committees and is part of several IOC-affiliated regional games, including the European Games. The IFBB holds more than 2,500 competitions each year on the local, national, regional and World Championship levels.
Photo courtesy Arnold Sports Festival (Dave Emery)