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ROME (AP) – The Italian bodybuilder, boxer and actor Franco Columbu, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's closest friends, died at the age of 78 ,

Columbu died in a hospital in his on Friday afternoon born in Sardinia, after he had become ill while swimming in the sea.

His longtime friend Schwarzenegger tweeted : "I love you Franco. I will always remember the joy you brought to my life, the advice you gave me and the sparkle in your eyes that has never disappeared.

After beginning his career as a boxer, Columbu began Olympic weightlifting, power lifting and later bodybuilding, winning the prestigious title of Mr. Olympia in 1976 and 1981.

In addition to his athletic career Columbu also participated in popular television series and films. He appeared in Schwarzenegger's films "The Terminator", "The Running Man" and "Conan the Barbarian".

Columbu was Schwarzenegger's best man in 1986 when marrying Maria Shriver. Arnold Schwarzenegger will not bring charges against "idiots" who have stabbed him in the back

More: Arnold Schwarzenegger had "nothing good to say" about Trump during the annual HFPA dinner

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